Bwindi National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is over 25,000 years old, dating back to the Pleistocene Ice Age and one of the most ecologically-rich rainforests in the world with 120 species of mammal and 350 bird species recorded there. Bwindi is best known for its primate population – there are 11 species in all – and is the only forest in the world to support both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
Bwindi National Park in south-western Uganda also known as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and previously stretched as far as the Virunga Mountains, forming the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. The highlight of visiting Bwindi is of course the chance to track mountain gorillas. Over half the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population is resident in the park with 15 troops in all made up of over 400 individual mountain gorillas. Whilst gorillas are the main drawer to Bwindi, there are chimpanzees as well as around 120 other species, although it is far from a traditional safari experience.
The forest is split into two parts, the north which centres around the tiny villages of Buhoma and Ruhija offers true forest isolation with the great walls of green all around you, while the south focuses on the steeper and more challenging Nkuringo sector, which sits high on the edge of the forest and offers stunning views down toward the distant Virunga volcanoes. The terrain in Bwindi is challenging and you need to be prepared for up to five hours of trekking to reach the gorillas with undulating pathways, but the reward of seeing the mountain gorillas at close quarters really does make the effort worthwhile.
As well as offering the chance to track gorillas, you have the opportunity to help researchers habituate gorillas, with the aim of making them more familiar with human presence with the goal of maintaining peace and harmony between the mountain gorillas and their human visitors. This is a truly unique experience which at this time is only possible in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is limited to a maximum of four people at a time. If you are looking for a once in a lifetime gorilla experience, this is it.