Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
One of the best places to see mountain gorillas in Africa is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and a visit here is undoubtedly the most popular wildlife experience in Uganda. Around 400 individuals (about half of the world’s gorilla population) live in different groups within Bwindi’s 25,000-year-old jungle. The thick leafy canopy is so dominating it earned the forest the name Bwindi meaning ‘Place of Darkness‘.
About Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The variety of flora and fauna that is found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest can be attributed mainly to altitude and antiquity. The 331 km² park insouth-west Uganda survived the last Ice Age and in places reaches heights of over 8,000 feet. There are roughly 120 species of mammal, 350 species of bird, 160 species of tree and 100 species of fern in this diverse habitat.
There are four areas from which trekking is done – Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Logistically, Buhoma and Ruhija to the north of the forest are the easiest to tie into a Uganda safari itinerary due to their geographical locations. However, they do tend to get booked to capacity well in advance. Rushaga and Nkuringo are both accessible by road or by light aircraft and so are also viable options for those wondering where to see gorillas in Uganda.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Wildlife
Bwindi is home to roughly 400 mountain gorillas, as well as ten other primate species including chimpanzees, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, De Brazza monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, spectacled galagos, and l’Hoest’s monkeys amongst others. It should however be noted that chimp sightings in the forest are rare on safaris in Bwindi.
There are populations of elephant and Cape buffalo in Bwindi but sightings of them are not common. Duikers, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, otters, jackals and civets can all be found living in the forest too, alongside over 200 species of butterflies.
The main activities in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are gorilla trekking and the gorilla habituation experience, as well as hiking, mountain biking and birding excursions. Cultural experiences with the local Batwa people and village walks are also possible.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The total number of recorded species in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is approximately 350, and the area is one of the best birding spots in Africa, with a variety of rare species present.
There are several near-endemic species such as the blue-headed sunbird, Grauer’s broadbill, regal sunbird and the Shelley’s crimsonwing. 23 bird species found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are only found within the Albertine Rift.
Best Places to Stay in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
There are a number of excellent lodges to stay at on a tailor-made safari in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, both to the north and south of the park, near Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Accommodation does book up quite far in advance so planning your trip well ahead is advised.
There are no guarantees that trekking from any area will be easier than another as the gorilla families do move around in the forest.
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Best Time to Visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Gorillas can be seen in the forest at any time of year on a bespoke Bwindi safari. However, trekking to see them can be trickier when it has been raining. December, January, June, July and August are typically the drier months although it can rain at any time of the year. The park is open year-round.