Kanungu, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, covering 32,092ha is deemed an almost impenetrable rain-forest due to its thick undergrowth vines and other vegetation.
The dense hills of Bwindi provide a natural habitat which supports roughly half of the world’s population of the 840 mountain gorillas.
The elusive Mountain Gorilla is the park’s main attraction with an estimated 350 mountain gorillas living in the forest. An estimated 116 of Bwindi’s gorillas are habituated. All of these habituated gorillas are known individually by the rangers and have been given names in order to identify them.
The males can weigh more than 200kgs (450lb) and some silverbacks exceed 6ft. Gorilla tracking for which Bwindi is famous known for is no doubt a wondrous experience.
However, there are strict limits on access in order disturb them as little as possible. Only eight people may track each of the habituated gorilla group each day. It takes two to eight hours to track the mountain gorillas depending on where the group is located.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park buzzes with birdsong and insects calls, being one of the top ten birding sites in Africa where you can see a large variety of birds (350 species with 23 endemic to the Albertine Rift and 14 recorded nowhere else in Uganda) such as hornbills, African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsoning, turacos and among others, antelopes, elephants, chimpanzees and monkeys.
The park is sanctuary for colobus monkeys, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.
The National Park has more than 120 mammal species, 202 species of butterflies (42 are endemic to the Albertine Rift), 163 species of trees, 104 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many other engendered species.
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is nestled deep inside Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which is frequently visited by gorilla families due to its unique location. At this camp, you get an opportunity to interact with the communities around, including the local Bakiga and Batwa Pygmies.
From showcasing their culture, housing, food, ways of life art and crafts, demonstrating how fire was made in medieval ages, to tea growing on Kisoro landscapes, the Batwa and all other communities around shall inspire you.
Accommodation available at Bwindi are eight up-market tented camps, a lodge, community-run budget rooms and camping that are available near the Buhoma entrance gate.
Bwindi can be reached with daily scheduled flights from Entebbe to Kihihi airstrip. You can also get there from Queen Elizabeth National Park in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours).
The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from Buhoma entrance gate. 4×4 car recommended during the rainy season.