Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (BNP) is situated in south western Uganda, on the edge of the Western Rift Valley (Albertine rift) and is shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro districts. It was gazette in 1991 and covers 331 sq km on an altitude range of 1,160 metres (Ishasha gorge) to 2,607 metres (Rwamanyonyi Peak). The park is owned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a parastatal government body. The park has total protection, although communities adjacent to the park can access some of its resources.
The annual average temperature range is 7°C – 20°C Species Diversity: Bwindi is home to approximately 400 Uganda gorillas, almost a half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas with 10 different families. The rain forest is spread over a series of valleys and ridges that rise to between 1,160 to 2,607 metres above sea level and form the beginning of the Albertine Rift Valley.
There are also 350 species of birds ,23 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley and 14 that are only found in Bwindi, over 200 species of butterflies. This afromontane forest has dense under storey of fern, vines and shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here with 8 endemic plants, the 3 waterfalls and home to the Batwa Community.
The park is inhabited by about 440 individual mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), known as the Bwindi population, which makes up almost half of all the mountain gorillas in the world. The rest of the worldwide mountain gorilla population is in the nearby Virunga Mountains. A 2006 census of the mountain gorilla population in the park showed that its numbers had increased modestly from an estimated 300 individuals in 1997 to 320 individuals in 2002 to 340 individuals in 2006. Today they’re about 880 mountain gorillas in the world. Disease and habitat loss are the greatest threat to the gorillas. Poaching is also a threat.
Research on the Bwindi population lags behind that of the Virunga National Park population, but some preliminary research on the Bwindi gorilla population has been carried out by Craig Stanford. This research has shown that the Bwindi gorilla‘s diet is markedly higher in fruit than that of the Virunga population, and that the Bwindi gorillas, even silverbacks, are more likely to climb trees to feed on foliage, fruits, and epiphytes. In some months, the Bwindi gorilla diet is very similar to that of Bwindi chimpanzees. It was also found that Bwindi gorillas travel farther per day than Virunga gorillas, particularly on days when feeding primarily on fruit than when they are feeding on fibrous foods. Additionally, Bwindi gorillas are much more likely to build their nests in trees, nearly always in Alchornea floribunda (locally, “Echizogwa”), a small understory tree.
Mountain gorillas are an endangered species, with an estimated total population of about 650 individuals. There are no mountain gorillas in captivity. In the 1960s and 1970s, mountain gorillas were captured to begin a population of them in captive facilities. No baby gorillas survived in captivity, and no mountain gorillas are known of that are currently in captivity.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is separated into 4 gorilla viewing areas:
Buhoma, the park’s headquarters located in the north of the park. In addition, the Buhoma Gorilla Families include Habinyanja, Mubare and Rushegura.
Ruhija, highest gorilla tracking trail-head and lies in the east of park. The Ruhija Gorilla Families are Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro.
Nkuringo covering the south-western area of Bwindi Forest. Furthermore, the most challenging of all gorilla tracking locations. Most noteworthy the Nkuringo Gorilla Family is only one, Nkuringo.
Rushaga covering the southern edge of Bwindi Forest, most of all became a gorilla site in 2009. In addition, the Rushaga Gorilla Families are Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza.
Bwindi Area Activities
Gorilla Trekking with 96 permits available daily, this experience can be strenuous depending on where family groups are located, but gorilla trekking activities generally depart at about 8am after a briefing session at 7.30am.
Forest Walks range from 3 – 8 hours and these include;
Munyanga River Trail- Short walk to view birds and primates along the forest edge- 30 minutes hiking,
Muzabajiro Loop Trail offers opportunities to climb summit of Rukubira Hill- Views of Bwindi Forest, Virunga Volcanoes, Western rift valley- 3 hours hiking,
Water fall Trail –3-hour hike for monkeys and general scenery in the forest and River Ivi Trail an 8 hour a 14km trail through Buhoma to Nkuringo offering opportunities for primate and bird watching.
Bird Watching along Munyanga River Trail, Village walks / Cultural Interactions-3 hours Village walk highlights of local beer brewing, traditional healer/medicine man/ typical homestead.
Batwa Experience with a fascinating insight into the traditional forest life of the Batwa people.
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Best Time to Visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP
Bwindi Forest is open for gorilla tracking all year long, but the best time is from June to August and December to February. At this time there is much less rain or they’ve just started after a dry spell, and forest trails aren’t that slippery.
|Best time to go:||June to August and December to February (Drier trails make for easy mountain gorilla tracking)|
|High Season:||June to September (Gorilla permits need to be booked long in advance at any time of the year)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October & November (Some lodges and camps close down)|
|Best Weather:||June, July and December to February (Less rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||April, May and September to November (High rainfall, forest trails might become slick and hard to travel)|
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