The world UNESCO heritage site of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, with its rising ridges and valleys is Africa’s oldest rain forest – it’s also well known or synonymous with gorilla trekking. But visiting Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable forest goes beyond being just a Gorilla experience. There is so much else to see, do and experience.
Mountain gorilla trekking
Mountain gorillas are undoubtedly the highlight of a trip to Uganda. At an elevation ranging from 1160 to 2600 meters above sea level Bwindi Impenetrable forest is blessed with 400 (2011 census) mountain Gorillas. These gentle giants are a must-see, well worth including on your bucket list.
Bird watching in Africa’s leading birding haven
Bird watching with over 350 species, including 23 Albertine endemic species around the waterfall trail and in the Mubwindi swamp land – from where Bwindi derives her name – in the Ruhija sector makes Bwindi Impenetrable forest one of Africa’s leading birding destinations.
A walk in this rain forest, with it’s misty covering, you could catch a glimpse of a northern double collared sunbird, or the globally threatened species, the shelly’s crimson wing, Chapin’s flycatcher and African green broadbill – one of the most sought after species in this part of the country. Uganda’s national bird – the grey crowned crane is a common sighting too!
Forest walk to waterfall trail
For the adventurous, this is the perfect way to experience the depth of impenetrable forest. Starting from Buhoma – at the north gate, Munyaga river trail gets you to beautiful pristine waterfalls a truly rewarding experience. The sounds of the forest and the gentle cover of morning mist makes your walk enchanting. Along the way you will see plenty of flora and fauna, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, lots of colorful butterflies, orchids, tree ferns, epiphytic ferns. If one waterfall isn’t enough there is always another trail in Rushaga – at the south gate, that boasts another amazing forest experience.
Meet Ankole long-horned cows
On a road trip to any of 4 gates to Bwindi,(Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga & Nkuringo) you will not miss these native Ankole long-horned (sometimes called ‘Watusi’) cows in south western part of Uganda. Most of these cows carry a pair of unmistakable cream-white horns, large at the base; these massive horns curve elegantly above the head forming a sharp pointed ending which can grow up to eight feet.
Meet warm & friendly local people
While enjoying the scenery, along the way you will witness the traditional way of life of the local people; very hardworking, you’ll see them toiling the fields, celebrating harvests, or planting lots of plantain that is locally known as ‘matooke’. Children with wide smiles calling out to you, “Mzungu, Mzungu”. It’s their own way of expressing how happy they are to see you.
Spectacular Virunga Volcanoes
Volcanoes dominate the beautiful landscape, towering over the beautiful scenery on this Uganda trip, with Muhavura at 4127m. Gahinga at 3474m, Sabyinyo at 3669m – these volcanoes are the ‘islands in the sky’ of Uganda.
Visit Lake Bunyonyi
This lava dammed lake is a stunning stretch of water with 29 little islands dispersed throughout, overlooked by the volcanoes. It is one of the safest lakes in Africa for activities such as swimming and canoeing. On a boat ride, look out for “akampene” – the punishment island – where until 1940’s unmarried pregnant girls (getting pregnant before marriage was against cultural norms) were dropped and left to die helplessly or starve to death or drown trying to swim ashore. They were often saved by poor men who could not afford the bride price.
After gorilla trekking, you can spend an afternoon canoeing or bird watching, here you can see lots of small little birds – ‘a place of many little birds’ from where they name Bunyonyi is derived.
Beautiful, cool weather all year round.
Many would think that Uganda – because of it’s proximity to the Equator – would have soaring high temperatures every day! It’s unusual to have a regular dry-summer season in Bwindi. At an elevation between 1160 to 2607m (3806 to 8553ft) rains can shower anytime in Bwindi forest.
It is recommended that visitors pack rain wear, waterproof clothing and appropriate hiking shoes to wear during gorilla trekking missions and forest walks. Daytime temperatures range from 23C/73F at times dropping to as low as 11C/52F. Uganda is actually a place of cool temperatures for most times of the year with a beautiful sunrise at 7am every morning.