Have your heart set on visiting Uganda soon? If so, including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in your plans is a virtual must for many reasons. Below, we’ll share our top reasons by you should select Bwindi national park for your gorilla safari.
It is one of the few mountain gorilla habitats left in the world
The 20th century was one of the worst periods in history when it comes to the mass extinction of species. The mountain gorilla was almost one of those, but thanks to the intervention of brave souls like Dian Fossey and other conservationists, the government of Uganda got seriously involved in helping to protect these vulnerable animals.
Today, travellers from around the world come to Bwindi National Park for gorilla tours, as they have rebounded in number to the point where there are now 400 gorillas living within park boundaries, which is almost half the mountain gorillas which currently exist in the wild worldwide.
Note that a trek to see the mountain gorillas is not an easy undertaking; for starters, you need to shell out at least $600 USD before you are even allowed to depart on a trip to see them.
Once you do, you’ll quickly realize this is no ordinary walk in the woods. According to the clues trackers find, you’ll be scaling your way up wet, steep volcanic slopes and hacking your way from thick brush.
As arduous as this sounds, it will all be worth it once you finally happen upon a band of these special animals, as you be able to watch as some of our closest cousins (we share 98% of our DNA with these guys) go about their business.
Capable of body language which closely mirrors our own, the feeling you’ll get while gazing upon our evolutionary predecessors will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced in your life.
Be sure to listen to your guide’s instructions about remaining well away from them and remaining silent, as they could flee or worse.
The highest number of Gorilla Families
Today, Bwindi impenetrable forests is hosting over 500 mountain gorilla species which is the highest number as compared to the Virunga conservation region which is distributed into 3 border locations in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and a portion in Uganda still.
The Bwindi National Park has a total number of 13 habituated gorilla groups in Uganda available for tourists to trek in the different forest regions and 2 other groups available for gorilla habituation experience. This is the highest offer of gorilla groups in comparison to Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park having 10 habituated families and Virunga national park protecting 6 families.
There are animals other than mountain gorillas within its border
The park which protects Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to more than just mountain gorillas, as there are numerous other animal species you’ll encounter as you hike its trails. Within its borders, you’ll find 120 different kinds of mammals, various kinds of frogs, chameleons, and geckos, 220 different types of butterfly, and over 340 different species of birds.
Chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, and the L’Hoest’s monkey are the other primate species found in Bwindi, but elephants, jackals, and African golden cats are also mammals that can be found in this dense wilderness.
As you walk or bike the paths which crisscross their way through this park, keep your eyes open and your pair of binoculars within easy reach, as you’ll never know when you’ll get to check out one of these beautiful creatures.
Its flora will please ecologically-minded travelers
Sitting on the Equator and at least 3,900 feet above sea level, the resultant climate has created the conditions ideal for the growth of various kinds of flora. With elevations varying greatly within park boundaries, the kinds of trees, plants, and flowers change as you move higher or lower, so keep your eyes open as you make your way along Bwindi’s trails.
From various types of ferns to countless varieties of orchids and towering trees, the greenery you’ll find along its paths will enliven your spirit – as places in the world go, there are few better places to take a forest bath.
Learn about the traditions of the Batwa People
The establishment of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a very recent development in the history of Uganda. Created in 1991 from two previously created forest reserves, the rules for access changed which made it more difficult for the Batwa, an indigenous tribe, to make a living.
As hunter-gatherers who had a light footprint on the land before they were forced out of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, they struggled to get by in the immediate aftermath of their eviction.
In time, however, the Batwa adapted to this new reality by allowing tourists visiting the area to discover their culture. Today, for a small fee paid to Batwa guides, you are able to see how they have lived off the land for eons to the present day.
As a result of this initiative, the living conditions of a people forced to live in the modern world after countless generations of living a simple life have improved considerably. Include it in your itinerary – not only will it enrich your Ugandan holiday, but you will be helping to improve the lives of people struggling to find their feet in a brave new world.
Sample Ugandan cuisine at local restaurants
Ever wonder what local residents in the Bwindi area eat on a daily basis? Don’t stick to the western options served at the resorts where you’ll be staying during your visit – pay a visit to a local restaurant and sample some regional fare.
In particular, try eating a Rolex – no, you won’t be eating a watch, but rather, a burrito-like wrap that is made by filling a chapati with scrambled eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and ground meat, and then rolling it up before cooking it.
At only 50 US cents per roll, it is an inexpensive but delicious treat to which many Ugandans and backpackers have taken a liking since its invention in 2003.
If you are looking for a quick snack, try some cassava chips with locally produced salsa and guacamole – it is well-loved by local friends looking for a snack over a few drinks, so join them and enjoy a bit of cultural exchange!