Bwindi Impenetrable National park can be accessed by road and this journey to the park Is amazing that it enables tourists to view and observe different attractions like the rolling hills of Kigezi region, Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda Equator, River Katonga, road side crafts, different vegetation zones, rivers and escarpments before reaching Bwindi and this is roughly 550km and Its recommended that a 4 wheels drive is preferably used since it can access the rough roads.
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is a UNESCO World Heritage that is situated in the South Western part of Uganda in Kanungu District sharing a border with Congo and Its one of the two parks in Uganda where you can go and see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitant.. Bwindi harbors more than half of the remaining world’s gorilla population making it a famous destination for mountain gorilla trekking. Bwindi is divided into four sectors that is Buhoma sector in the Northern part of Bwindi having 5 habituated gorilla families, Ruhija sector in the Eastern part of Bwindi having four habituated gorilla families, Rushaga in the southern part having 8 habituated gorilla groups and one group under the habituation process and lastly Nkuringo sector with the least gorilla families having 3 habituated groups with one still under habituation. Bwindi is the only place where tourists can go for gorilla habituation experience. Bwindi is a home to other primate species like chimpanzees, bird species including the 23 of the 24 Albertine Rift Endemics, mammals like 20 elephant species, 200butterfly species, over 200tree species, different vegetation zones.
Bwindi is in the south western part so accessing it involves driving towards the south west and this can be done through use of Road transport since there are several routes one can choose from while getting to Bwindi. We all know that Bwindi is divided into four sectors therefore the distance from Kampala to Bwindi will also depend on the area or sector of Bwindi your targeting to trek in. Depart from Kampala pass by and make a stop over at the equator in Kayabwe then proceed to Masaka up to Kabale which is about 414km and this is about 5 to 8 hours drive then from Kabale head to Kanungu to Kanyantorogo finally to Buhoma sector park headquarters and its about 120km and this will be 3½ hours drive. Alternatively you can use Kampala to Kabale about 414km and proceed to Ruhija sector then finally to Buhoma which is about 95km and it’s a 3hours drive. Still from Kampala we can choose to pass by Queen Elizabeth and then head to the northern part which is Buhoma sector this is like 2 to 3 hours drive from Kampala to Mbarara it is about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the Southern part which Rushaga and Nkuringo just a 1½ hours drive. It should be noted that the road through Ishasha sector is impassable especially during the rainy season and the bridges partially break down due to the heavy trucks heading to DRC. But an alternative route can be used Ishaka road then Rukungiri to Nengo and then Kihihi finally Buhoma. Remember all these routes or roads converge at Butogota which is 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. If your to use a public means a daily bus leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihihi from here you can a taxi to Buhoma for about 20kms. To get to Nkuringo sector you will need to hire private car to reach the sector. The Distance from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National park takes almost a whole day approximately 9 to 10 hours drive.
Kampala via Masaka to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma. This route follows a highway to Kabale about 414km and takes 5 to 6 hours and then follows a marram road for 120km passing through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo and this takes 4 to 5hours.
Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Kihihi to Buhoma. This is the quickest and most direct route from Kampala following tarmac road to Rukungiri of about 390km followed by marram road to Buhoma and its 82km.
Kampala to Kabale to Ruhija to Buhoma and this route is 95km on a marram road and takes about 3 to 4hours.
Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo. Nkuringo is 105km from Kabale and this drive takes 4 hours on a mountainous marram road. Some tourist might spend a night in Kisoro which is 80km from Kabale before proceeding to Nkuringo the road from Kisoro is 35km which takes 1½hours . A four wheels drive is recommended since the roads to Nkuringo are so good.
Distance from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National park by Air. Here one flies to Kisoro or Kihihi from there will be picked by professional guide who will drive you to the park. Those heading to Buhoma sector or Ruhija sector will use the Kayonza airstrip or Kihihi airstrip while those targeting the southern part of the park (Rushaga and Nkuringo) will use Kisoro airfield which is 34km and takes 1½hours.
While accessing to Bwindi from Kampala the recommended type of vehicle to use is 4×4 safari vehicle with professional guide driver and well serviced. This depends on the range of the safari. If it’s the luxury safari then a 4×4 land cruiser is used. This carries up to five person and if it’s a budget safari then 4×4 super custom or van should be used super custom carries from one to seven and a van is used for a group.
Once can choose to travel any time from Kampala to Bwindi but there is the best time to travel and this is during the dry season of the year. During this period there is completely no rainfall but since it’s a rainforest and has a tropical type of climate rain is expected to drop any time meaning there could be very little rainfall and this is in the months of Dec, Jan, Feb, June, July, August and September. This is the best time because roads to Bwindi will b passable and easily accessed since they will dry. However, since one can travel any time depending on when they are ready for the journey. One can choose to travel even in the wet season where there are heavy rains and short rains depending on the months though you should expect the challenges from the bad roads which get slippery, slick and muddy making them impassable and this is in the months of March, April, May, October and November. It should be noted that during the months of October and November this is the worst weather since they receive heavy rains.
There are many tourist activities that can be carried out while on a tour to Bwindi and these include; Gorilla trekking. This is the number one activity that most of the tourist come for to Bwindi Impenetrable park. This involves hiking the jungle to track the different gorilla groups in Bwindi in their natural habitant. Gorilla trekking takes about 2 to 8 hours depending the kind of gorilla your tracking and this takes about 8 people to trek a particular group. Before one thinks of going for trekking must be of 15 years and above and must have purchased a gorilla trekking permit which cost 700dollars to the foreign non residents, 600dollar to the foreign residents and 250000shs to the East African citizens. Gorilla trekking takes place in the different sectors of Bwindi and each sector has different gorilla families and these are Buhoma having Mubare group, Habinyanja group, Rushegura group, Muyambi group and Katwe gorilla family, Ruhija sector with Bitukura family, Oruzogo family, Kyaguliro family and Mukiza gorilla family, Rushaga sector having Nshongi family, Bikingi group, Mishaya gorilla family, Kahungye group, Busingye gorilla group Bweza group, Mucunguzi group and Rwigi gorilla family and Nkuringo sector has Nkuringo group, Christmas group and Bushaho gorilla family. During gorilla trekking only one hour is given to the visitors with the gorillas.
Gorilla habituation experience. Bwindi impenetrable national park is the only park in Uganda where gorilla habituation experience occurs. This involves visiting the gorillas which are not yet open for trekking they are still under training and habituation. There are two gorilla families which are under habituation and these are found in the southern part of the park. Rushaga sector has the Kutu gorilla family and Nkuringo has the Posho gorilla group. This therefore means there are 8 gorilla habituation permits available per day in Bwindi. Since four people only are allowed to go visit a particular family per day and only four hours are given to them with the gorillas. This therefore means that the permits should be booked earlier like 6months back since they are very few thus get sold out quickly. The habituation permits cost 1500dollars to the foreign non residents, 1000dollars to the foreign residents and 750000shs to the East African citizens. This experience gives more time to visitor with the gorillas therefore visitors learn more about the gorillas behaviors and habits.
Bird watching or Birding. Since the park is a he to over 360 bird species. This makes it a birders spot. Birding can be done following the River Ivy trail, Birding trails taking you to the swampy and bamboo areas where most of the birds are found and the following birds will be spotted Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori Turaco, Brown crowned Tchagra, Regal sunbird, blue headed sunbird, Bronze sunbird, dusky turtle dove, dusky crimson wing, Cape Robin chat, Olive thrush, Red faced woodland, Alpine chat, Scarlet tufted , black kite, Malachite sunbird, handsome francolin, Crowned crane, Crowned hornbill, blue headed Coucal, Yellow vented bulbul, Olive pigeon, Pin tailed whydah, White necked raven, Speckled mouse bird, Paradise flycatcher, Kivu ground thrush, Archers Robin chat, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Collared Apalis, Stripe breasted Apalis, Dwarf honeyguide, Mountain masked Apalis, Shelly’s Greenbul, Doherty’s bush, African pygmy kingfisher, Carruthers Cisticola, Common buzzard, African Goshawk, Cinnamon chested bee eater, African broadbill, Grey throated Barbets among others.
Primate tracking. Since Bwindi has 11species of primates including chimpanzee therefore chimpanzee tracking I’ll be carried out, Blue monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, Vervets, L’Hoests, Pottos, Baboons, Spectacled Galago, Demidoff’s Galago, De Brazza.
Game drives these would be full day game drives, half day game drives and night game drives. During the game drives you I’ll be able to see different attractions in the park like the animals of Bwindi like antelopes, bush bucks, Wild pigs, Civet among others, tree species like African Brown Mahogany, Bamboo trees, fern species, flora and fauna exploring the beauty of Bwindi forest.
Village walks. These involve walking around the community. And here tourists will get a chance to interact with the locals since there will be one on one interaction. And through the village walks tourists I’ll get a chance to discover and explore the different cultural activities of the locals. Thus learning about their lifestyles, cultures, since they get involved in the day to day activities like visiting farms and plantations, cooking food and dinning with the locals. Visitors are entertained by the locals with the traditional dances and songs like the Kikiga dance, story telling and legends about their history. This village walk can be done following the Suma waterfall trail. During the village nature walks visitors choose to visit homesteads of the locals, schools with in the area like St Peters primary school, different projects in the area.
Forest nature walks. This involves hiking the forest through different trails like the Buhoma Nkuringo trail. This will take you from the northern part of the park to the southern part of the park and crosses through the park connecting to 2 villages. This will give spectacular views of the smoggy hillside as you hike to slope the hill toward the Nkuringo. Forest nature walks will take through the Batwa trail thus encountering the Batwa culture, you will see the different animals in the park like the Civet, Clawless otter among others, different bird species, vegetation zones, and the beautiful sceneries of the deep valleys, Mafuga forest, Lake Bunyonyi, beautiful colored butterfly species, Amphibian and Reptile species in the park. Therefore Bwindi has a lot to offer that you won’t regret choosing it as a destination will give memorable moments. Other activities include Canoeing on Lake Mutanda, Mountain biking and the cycling tours organised for women.
wildlife viewing. Bwindi is a home to different mammals like the wild pigs, duikers, bush bucks, forest elephants, warthogs, giant forest hog, golden cats, leopard, buffaloes and among others will be seen during wildlife viewing.
Batwa cultural experience. The Batwa people were the first people to live in the forest before it was gazeted as a national park. The Batwa had different cultures, skills like hunting skills, gathering skills, all these are exhibited to the tourists with the aim of depicting their past life. The traditional songs, dances, poems are being performed as a way of entertaining the tourists. There will be story telling and legends. Tourists will also come across the different arts and crafts made by the local women like the mats, bags, hats and they I’ll be taught how to make them and also buy thus supporting the locals.