Bwindi Impenetrable national park is one of the four destinations where one can go for gorilla trekking and it is found in the South Western part of Uganda in the Kanungu District. Bwindi Impenetrable is a habitant to about 440 mountain gorillas therefore it is a famous destination for the gorillas. It is also a natural habitant to 360 bird species, 120 mammals,10 primate species, 200 butterfly species, 324 tree species but amongst the star attraction are the mountain gorillas since its what brings most of the tourists in the park. Bwindi Impenetrable national park has got tropical climate with an average temperature ranging from a minimum of 7degrees to 20degrees Celsius to a maximum of 20degrees to 27degrees Celsius. This means that Bwindi Impenetrable receives up to 2390mm of rain each year and the Altitudes vary from 1160m to 2607m above the sea level. Since Bwindi has a raised topography this means the climate is cool and the park is also close to the equator meaning rain can come any time when you least expect it however means Bwindi is not fully dry during the dry season. There are two seasons on which tourism is being based on that is the peak season ( dry season ) which normally takes months of December, January, February, June, July, August and early September and the low season ( wet season ) taking months of March, April, May, October, November. During the wet season park receives heavy rainfall or it’s drizzling almost every time and the dry season there either once in a while little rainfall or the park is fully shinning. The temperatures during day time are about 30 degrees Celsius and in the nights and morning usually cold temperature dropping as low as nine degrees Celsius. The wet season in Bwindi is further subdivided into two that is heavy rains season taking months of September to November. During this time its rains cats and dogs raining for two hours and above in a day and the short rain season with months of March to May implying that there is little rainfall. During the heavy rains in Bwindi there are migratory birds making it good and possible for them to be spotted during the wet season.
Travelling to Bwindi can be subjected to the two seasons of tourism. There are two seasons that is to say the peak or high season and low season. One should note that gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable can be done anytime one wishes to but there is always that perfect and best time for everything. If you want to enjoy and have an amazing gorilla trekking experience its always better to focus on the seasons conditions. The peak season is also considered to be dry season in the park where Bwindi does not receive rain fall or receives very little once in awhile therefore this means that gorilla trekking is very possible, convenient and easy to be carried out simply because there are no disturbances or barriers unlike the wet season where its expected to rain heavily leading to impassable roads. Here are the Variations of the conditions between the wet season and the dry season. Dry season this takes up months between December to February and June to early September. During the dry season the roads, trails and pathways are clear, and passable because its shining and they are dry this makes it easy for the trekkers to use them.
2 The vegetation and shrubs are short therefore making it easy and clear for the trekkers to view them and also making it easy to pass through the forest.
3 During the dry season there are many visitors in the park therefore booking a gorilla trekking permit one has to do it in advance coz they are quickly sold out therefore there is some competition even with the accommodation facilities they are quickly finished up due to the flooded visitors in the park. The demand for the gorilla permits is very high.
4 Clear photography. Since the weather is clear without mists, no rainfall clear light, short vegetation visitors will get clear photos since there are no obstructions.
5 The temperatures during this season are warm and cool thus favoring the trekkers during hiking and having a conducive weather for the stay.
Wet season: This is in between the months of March to May and October to November. Here the park is very muddy due to the heavy rains received and very cold. Therefore the roads and trails are slippery, slick and impassable thus becoming a challenge to gorilla trekking
2 Since it drops oftenly the soils tend to become fertile thus rapid growth of the vegetation hindering clear view of the gorillas and also making difficult to hike through the forest.
3 There are less crowds in the park. Since most of the tourist like to visit Bwindi in the dry season there are few of them during the wet season and this calls up for some advantages like when booking for gorilla permits there is no competition and the Uganda Wildlife Authority tends to put some discounts on the cost of the permit to attract tourists and the accommodation facilities tend to lower the rates of the lodges to attract tourists to book and stay with them.
4 The over grown shrubs, rain drops, mist and foggy weather are a challenge to photography thus visitors tend to struggle to get clear photos of the gorillas.
5 Since it is raining, the soils are fertile which enables growth of the plants there is plenty of food for the gorillas. They tend not to move far in search for what to eat since its available and in their reach. Trekkers therefore wont have to track the mountain gorillas for long since they are close to their natural habitants. These two season have their own advantages and disadvantages over the other. Now that you know the conditions in which you I’ll trek from depending on the season you have visited Bwindi you can go ahead and she you want to go for gorilla trekking.
Break down of the trekking season month by month. Dry season January to February are usually fairly dry therefore experiencing good conditions for trekking therefore its best time to travel for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park. The roads are dry and passable. June, July, August and early September which is considered as the major gorilla trekking season. So here you need to book in advance the gorilla permits since they are easily sold out. December is considered to the busiest month in the park. Due to the festive season people tend to spend the holidays and vacations in the park. Wet season break down March, April, May are known as the short rains. In these months there is rain but its not heavy. Mid September, October and November known as the heavy rains. During these months it rains heavily and this means that the roads are slippery and muddy due to the daily pours. Therefore during this season the gorilla permits are lowered therefore trekking during this season trekking is relatively cheaper.
Since travelling is not limited to any kind of the day one can go for gorilla trekking any time they feel like they are ready for it but before you embark on your journey to Bwindi you need to first know the when to go for the easiest trekking conditions despite of the low rate in the wet seasons. The best and perfect recommended time to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National park is during the peak or high or dry season since Bwindi forest is 327square kilometers and it contains both montane and lowland forests meaning its only accessible only foot. This is normally in the months of December, January, February, June, July, August and early September when it tends to shine. The month of December is always the busiest due to its nature of the festive season most of the people are looking for where to spend the holidays and vacations from. Since during the dry season the pathways are dry thus easy to hike remember gorilla trekking requires one to hike through the forest while tracking the gorillas and its an exercise done for about 3 to 4 hours so it becomes easy to accomplish it when the roads and trails are passable and it wont be so tiresome.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable takes place in the four gorilla trekking sectors where there are fully habituated gorilla families and these include Buhoma sector which is found in the North Western part of Bwindi and has 5 gorilla families which includes Mubare gorilla family the first and oldest habituated group in Bwindi, Habinyanja gorilla family, Rushegura gorilla family, Katwe gorilla family and the Muyambi gorilla family. Rushaga gorilla trekking sector which is situated in the Southern part of Bwindi and has the largest number of the gorilla families like Nshongi gorilla family, Bikingi family, Mishaya gorilla group, Kahungye gorilla family, Busingye gorilla family, Bweza gorilla group, Mucunguzi gorilla family, Rwigi gorilla group and its where gorilla habituation takes place having the Kutu gorilla group under habituation process. Ruhija gorilla trekking sector found in Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park and has four habituated gorilla groups namely Oruzogo gorilla group, Mukiza gorilla group, Bitukura gorilla family and Kyaguliro gorilla family which is mainly used for Research and lastly we have the Nkuringo gorilla trekking sector which is also found in the Southern part of the park and has the least number of habituated families which are Nkuringo gorilla family, Bushaho gorilla group, Christmas gorilla family and Posho gorilla family which is still under the habituation process.
Gorilla habituation experience involves a hike to visit gorilla families which are in still under habituation process. This process is being carried out in the Southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park. This activity involves a group of 4 people visiting the gorilla family and there are two gorilla families in Bwindi that are still under habituation process and these are Posho gorilla family found in Nkuringo sector and Kutu gorilla family found in Rushaga sector. Visiting these gorillas one has to have a permit which is acquired from the UWA offices and these permits should be booked earlier like 6months to the habituation experience day. This also starts with the early morning briefing at the park head quarters and then head to jungle and only a period of 4 hours is given to the tourists to spend with the habituating gorillas. A habituating permit costs 15000dollars to the foreign non residents, 1000dollara to the foreign residents and 750000sh to the East African citizens.
In Bwindi Impenetrable national park there are other activities that are being engaged. Since the park is a habitant to many living things there are other activities one can be part of during the visit to Bwindi and these include; Game viewing this involves watching or seeing the different attraction in the park. Since there are many wildlife that are harbored in the forest like the leopard, Civet, Wild pigs, Giant forest hog, Warthogs among others. And the best time to do this is still in the months of the dry season (December to February and June to early September) when the pathways are dry. Bird watching since there are majority of bird species in the Bwindi forest that can be spotted. Birding is an activity unlike others that the recommended or best time to spot the different types of birds is during the wet season. This is so because during this season the migratory birds are within the forest perimeters and the wet season is when most of the birds are breeding so this will help you a lot to see most of them. Forest nature walks which involves hiking through the forest. This is best don and easily done during the dry season since the forest trails are dry and it involves climbing the steep slopes which won’t be slippery thus not making it tiresome for the visitors. During the forest nature walks you will earn to see the beautiful scenic views, vegetation, different bird species, animals and most of the attractions in the park. Still during the forest walk you will be able to encounter the Batwa culture where they first used to stay in the forest. Primate viewing which is also best carried out in the dry season. Primates like chimpanzees, gorillas, Baboons. Other activities include Boat riding, Village walks, Camping, Mountain biking among others.
Before you go for gorilla trekking you need to know what is required to pack during the trekking the essentials whether your trekking in the dry or wet season. You will have to pack long sleeved shirt and long trousers, hiking waterproof boots of light weight, gardening gloves, hiking stick, hut an sun glasses, two masks, camera with no flashlight, insect repellent, energizers, enough, sun cream.