The Bwindi forest was gazetted in 1942 but upgraded to national park status in 1992 and recognized as a world heritage site in 1994. The park is 327 sq km with tangled vegetation draped over a deeply fissured landscape of slippery valleys and high draughty ridges. One of Africa’s most ancient forests Bwindi is home to rare endangered mountain gorilla in Uganda and ranks among world’s premier wildlife reserve. Temperature range fro 7-20 degree Celsius with annual rainfall up to 2390mm. More rainfall is received in March-May and Sept- November. Altitude range from 1160m-2600m above sea level.
FLORA AND FAUNA:
Bwindi supports a tremendous biodiversity mainly resulting from two factors; Wide habitat range due to variation in altitude from 1160 with lowland forest to 2600m dominated by the Afromontane vegetation. It is also one of the oldest forests in Africa believed to have survived from the hard conditions of the last ice age 12000-18000 years ago.
The species list include 310 butterfly,51 reptiles,200 trees,88months and exceptional 120 types of mammals including 10 primates. Chimpanzee, L’hoest’s, red tailed, blue monkeys, Black and white Columbus, baboons and the Mountain Gorillas are the most famous in Bwindi.
Bwindi is a prime destination for bird watchers with 350 species; seven of which are listed on the IUCN red data and 90% of the Albertine rift endemics can be seen from here. The 23 species endemic to Albertine rift 14 are not found anywhere else in Uganda. These include; African green Broad bill, White-tailed blue flycatcher, brown necked parrot, White-bellied robin chat and fraze’s eagle owl.
GORILLA TRACKING IN BWINDI:
BUHOMA; The busiest place for tracking gorillas because it is the trail head for three groups namely Mubare(M)opened in 1993, Habinyanja (H) 1998,Rushegura (R) opened in 2002 with a wide range of accommodation facilities. Though the main activity is gorilla tracking here you can also do other walks both in the forest and community. The most popular forest walks include;
- Muyaga River trail which ideal short walk to view birds and primates along the forest edge.
- Water falls trail leads through the Forest, passing beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns, orchids and climax with the sparkling views of the water falls. Rushura hill walk provides expansive views across the plains of western rift valley, Lake Edward and the Ruwenzori ranges.
- Muzabajiro walk; this trail will take you to the peak of Rukubira Hill for a breathtaking view of Bwindi Forest, the Rift valley and the Virungas.
- River Ivi trail: it follows the old road through the forest ermerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the forest. This is the longest walk and requires adequate preparation but highly recommended for birders.
Buhoma Community walk: This village walk is organized by the local community and the proceeds from it is used for the community development projects. It brings you closer to the village life by; visiting typical homesteads, traditional healer, Banana beer brewer, and traditional dance in performed.
This is another site where you can track the Bitukura group of Gorrillas opened in 2009. Before 2009 this part of Bwindi was popular for research and Bird watching especially the Albertine rift endemics. Besides the gorilla tracking, the walk to Mubwindi swamp is challenging but rewarding especially for birders and primate trackers.
Accommodation is available with wide option from medium range to budget. This area is mostly above 1900 m above sea level and can be cold during the rainy season. Other walks include;
- Community walks through the village trail to Mburamizi.
- The bamboo zone walks which climax with a panoramic view of lake Bunyonyi.
The Nsonzi group was opened in 2010 and is located in Kisoro district. The southern part of Bwindi Forest. Gorilla tracking and walk to the water falls are the most popular activities in this area. Accommodation here includes The Gorilla Safari Lodge and the cheaper option is in Rubuguri.
The trail head lies on the Isolated Nteko bridge with enjoy the grandstand view of Bwindi and the Virungas in the south. Gorilla tracking activities hear was opened in 2004 with (N. group) Visitors should be fit as the park lies in a steep area 600 m below the road.
The accommodation in this area is the Clouds lodge ( High end) other option is in Kisoro near lake Mutanda (Nkuringo safari lodge and Mutanda eco tourism centre).
ACTIVITIES AT BWINDI
– Gorilla Tracking
– Bird Watching
– Cultural Encounters
– Hiking & Nature Walks
– Cycling & Mountain Biking