Home of the endangered mountain gorilla
As its name suggests, Bwindi is famed for its dense forests, which provide the ideal cover for its equally famous residents, the endangered mountain gorillas. One of Uganda’s newest parks (it was opened in 1991); pristine and largely undiscovered Bwindi is also one of her most prized ecological gems.
Quite apart from the gorillas, the park features volcanic peaks, bamboo forests, extensive swamps, clouds of rare butterflies, 120 species of mammals, an exotic selection of monkeys (including chimpanzee) and some 346 species of birds.
It also features a number of truly spectacular hiking trails, which offer breathtaking views of tumbling waterfalls, Lake Edward, the Ruwenzori Mountains and the hazy peaks of the volcanoes of Zaire’s Parc National des Virungas .
Size: 331 sq km.
Location: South-western Uganda, 120 km north-east of Kabale.
Altitude: 1,160-2,607 metres above sea level.
Vegetation: Tropical rainforest with very dense under storey of thick growth. The park has an extensive stand of bamboo. There are over 163 species of trees, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda and 16 of which show very limited distribution.
Fauna: Although the park has at least 120 species of mammals, it is particularly known for its mountain gorillas. Other species include; chimpanzee, bushpig, giant forest hog and two types of duiker. There are a few elephant.
Birds: 346 species, of which 184 are typical forest species. Seven species are listed as endangered. Of particular interest are the Kivu ground thrush, white-bellied robin chat, red-throated alethe, collared apalis, short-tailed warbler, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Ruwenzori batis, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver and Shelly’s crimsonwing.
Butterflies: 200 recorded species
About the park
The park is part of the Rukiga Highlands, formed by the upsurges of the western Rift Valley. Bwindi also contains the two-kilometre square Mubwindi Swamp and a number of other, small swamps.
When to go
Because it is primarily composed of rain forests, Bwindi is wet all year round, but especially so April-May and October-November (Annual mean temperature ranges from a minimum of 7-15°C to a maximum of 20-27°C with an annual rainfall ranging from 1,400 to 1,900 mm). However, due to the scarcity of gorilla-viewing permits, visitors are advised to go at anytime of year.
Mountain gorilla viewing is the main attraction in Bwindi. Until recently, two gorilla groups, Mubare and Habinyanja were habituated in the vicinity of Buhoma. In 2003, however, the Habinyanja group split into groups A and B.
Six permits to track each of the two established groups are issued daily, while four are issued for the new splinter group. Booking is recommended three months in advance (no longer than a year).