Bwindi Impenetrable National park was once a Forest Reserve, impenetrable of course, it was gazetted in 1942 and upgraded to park status in 1992. ‘Bwindi’ in the local lukiga language means impenetrable and rightly so for Bwindi is virtually impenetrable. Bwindi is unique because it not only the most diverse of Uganda’s national parks but is also one of Africa’s most diverse forests.

Its 327km2 of forest is ancient and it’s been thriving over at least 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list which includes 350 species of bird, 310 of butterfly, 51 of reptiles, 200 of trees ,88 moths and an exceptional 120 types of mammal including 10 primates.
The latter include chimpanzee, L hoests, Red tailed and Blue Monkey, Black and White colobus and Baboon. Most famous of Bwindi yet unmentioned resident is the mountain gorilla whose estimated number is 240. Although Bwindi terrain is difficult to negotiate it’s well worth the effort to appreciate her biodiversity. Gorilla tracking though is Bwindi’s main attraction. Mountain gorillas can be tracked from two locations Buhoma and Nkuringo. Buhoma on the northern edge of the forest has three habituated gorilla groups –Mubare, Habinyanja A and Habinyanja B and is by far the busier site.

Nkuringo on the southern edge of the forest is 10km away from Buhoma and it takes four hours to wall the opened footpaths between the two sites which is quicker than the bumpy and circuitous drive around the edge of the forest.

The Nkuringo trailhead lies on Nteko ridge a remote and undeveloped area with beautiful scenery. The ridge enjoys grand views of the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi forest to the north while the Virunga Volcanoes slash zig-zaggedly across the southern horizon. The entire chain is visible including the active cones in Congo, Nyirangongo and Nyamuragira.
The easy water fall trail is a delightful hike and the community walks by villagers interesting insights into the rural lifestyles including visits to traditional healers, blacksmiths and brewers.

Getting to Bwindi Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in south western Uganda about 530 km from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The park is accessible by tourists on their gorilla trekking safaris by car drive or scheduled charters flights. However, road trips require 4WD vehicles.

By flight

You can fly from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfields to kisoro at Kihihi airstrip. Kihihi airstrip is about 15 km away from Bwindi and it takes 40 minutes drive on dirt roads to the park.

Tourists going to the Buhoma sector in the south and the main headquarters of Bwindi will land at Butogota near green tea plantations and drive for 30 minutes to the park.

Alternatively, fly from Entebbe within 2hours to another airstrip in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park.

By car

You’ll find no difficulty in organizing with a tour operator to match your road trip needs. There are no fixed departures but rather tailor made according to your budget and proposed routes.

You can get to Bwindi from Queen Elizabeth National park within 3 hours via Ishasha sector on a game drive spotting tree climbing lions. Ishasha is about 64 km from Buhoma the main gorilla trekking sector north of Bwindi. Visitors at Mweya safari lodge in Queen Elizabeth national park will reach Bwindi with 5 hour drive covering 160 km on dirt roads.

Tourists in Lake Mburo national park can also drive for 4-6 hours to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park via Mbarara-kabale.

The longer and direct route from Kampala city or Entebbe via Mbarara-kabale-Nkuringo Road takes about 7-9 hours. Visitors intending to use this route, usually depart very early before 08:00am to avoid traffic jam. This route passes through rural Uganda with amazing en route attractions such as Mpambire village drum, Igongo cultural museum and Bakiga museum.

Another route to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is that from Kampala via Kanungu- Butogota-Kihihi entering Buhoma gorilla trekking center. It takes 6-8 hours on average speed 80 km per hour.

The route from Kampala via Ntungamo-Rukungiri to Buhoma takes 7-8 hours. Whether it’s a rainy or a dry season you will still need 4WD vehicle.

If you want to trek gorillas in the southern sector of Bwindi for instance at Rushaga or Nkuringo, you will drive for 6-7 hours via Kabale-kisoro towns to your lodge near the gorilla trekking point.

Where to Stay in Bwindi Forest

Bwindi forest is a thick hilly jungle in western Uganda and a home to mountain gorillas. It has been a choice gorilla safari destination for many and it’s still because of its natural beauty never fades. If you like primates and gorillas in particular, I believe one day Bwindi forest will make your dream of seeing mountain gorillas come true. No gorilla trekking tour to Bwindi Forest that has ever been disappointing because seeing gorillas is a must in just a single trek in all the four park sectors-Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. As may have heard about different gorilla safari lodges and campsites but not every lodge is budget. And those planning to track gorillas at affordable rates and sleep in cost friendly lodges and campsites, here are some of the gorilla safari lodges to consider when you visit Bwindi forest on budget.

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