TOURIST ACTIVITIES IN BWINDI NP
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to almost half of the 1000 or so gorillas left in the world. Gorilla tracking is the biggest attraction for most visitors to these parks. However, gorilla trekking involves several hours of hiking through dense jungles and even then you may not see them as they tend to move around. But if you do get to track them down, you can get real close to them as they are accustomed to humans. Remember to book your gorilla tracking permits in advance as only a few permits are issued per day. You can book your permits at the UWA office at Kampala or through Mwanzo Tours Uganda a tour operator company. Bwindi Impenetrable
Gorilla trekking is defined as a hike to the tropical forests of Africa to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat and once found you spend 1 hour with them while learning about their behavior, habits and lifestyles while taking photos for lifetime experience.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park has got 4 sectors for trekking gorillas and these are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. The 4 sectors have a total of about 19 families. Trekking permits must be bought before by booking directly with the reservations office at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Headquarters or through a reputable tour agent/operator like Mwanzo Tours Uganda. Permits can be paid for up to two years in advance.
Only 8 visitors are allowed to view the gorillas for one hour per day, participants must be aged 15 and above. and they will be accompanied by the ranger guides while with the Gorillas. Trekking the gorillas can last from a few hours to a whole day, depending on how far the group has moved since it was observed nesting up the previous evening.
Gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga
It is only in Uganda that you can be with a Mountain Gorilla Family for 4 hours on a Gorilla Habituation Experience along with researchers in Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest. This amazing experience to be with a Mountain Gorilla Family as it is being habituated is a one of a kind experience in Africa. There are presently two family groups being habituated, meaning that they becoming used to human contact and will not run away from visitors trekking them.
There are six main nature trails in Buhoma for those who wish to explore the “impenetrable forest”, including waterfall walks, forest walks, primate encounters, mountain views and impressive birdlife. Muyanga Waterfall Walk departs from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and culminates in the sensational sight of the falls plummeting 33 meters. Rushura Hill Walk passes through one forest shared by two countries. On a clear day you can view Lakes Edward and George and the Rwenzori Mountains as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes. Muzubijiro Loop is a 6km walk around a hill, where you will encounter primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virungas.
The Ivi River Walk is 14km and takes around seven hours. The trail passes a place known as Mukempunu meaning “a place of pigs”where wild pigs can often be found. The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail takes three to four hours, and crosses right through the park, connecting the two villages and offering impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend the hills towards Nkuringo. You can leave your luggage with your driver, who will meet you at the other side. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja Trail takes 4-6hrs. After crossing the Munyaga River, it takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. Found along this trail is the legendry “African Corner” named after a rock piece depicting a map of Africa. Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enkoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the mighty Habinyanja swamp. Birders on this trail should watch out for the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, among others.
Bwindi a varied habitat which is Uganda’s oldest forest means it is the ideal home for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill. Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.
Cycling/ Mountain Biking
Mountain biking follows a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. Along this 13km trail you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys. The six-seven hour round trip departs in the morning, and is organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp under the “Ride for a Woman“community development initiative.
The Batwa forest experience
The Batwa were the original people of the forest, they were there for thousands of years before the Bantu People, the Cultivators of the Land arrived. The Batwa People commonly known as pygmies were hunter-gatherers and lived in the forests of Southwest Uganda and beyond. They left a small ecological footprint on the forest and lived in harmony with nature. You can visit the forest especially outside of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with the Batwa People and learn of their traditional ways of hunting and fruit gathering. The Batwa Experience takes place mainly in the Buhoma area.
Canoeing is perfect in Lake Mutanda. The Lake sits in an area with remarkable beauty and great views of the Virunga ranges of mountains. Moreover, forest birds love visiting and nesting in the papyrus swamps and beautiful lake islands making them excellent for bird watching. While on the dug-out canoe, expect to encounter several local fishermen and villagers washing and collecting water by the Lakeside.
Visiting Bwindi Community hospital
This hospital is found in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The hospital is of good quality by local standards and this is partly because it receives generous donations from tourists and other visitors to the park. The hospital has a special section for children, provides eye and dental care beside the other common clinical services. Bwindi Community Hospital has helped reduce the mortality rate among the local communities and helped take services closer to people in need. Tourists are allowed access to most parts of the hospital to learn something about the healthcare system in a developing country.
Visiting the Bwindi Bar and Restaurant
For those who love food and drinks, this is a must go to place while at the Buhoma sector of Bwindi. The facility trains young underprivileged people on the essentials of hospitality management including preparing some of the tastiest local and international dishes around. This is the place to go if you want to try out local food like Uganda’s famous Rolex, cassava chips, Bwindi Salsa, Matooke and groundnut sauce. You can also order for American coffee and brownies among other internationally known meals. Those and many more are some of the activities travellers can get involved in or enjoy while on trip to Bwindi impenetrable national park.