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Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
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Gorillas In Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers an area of 331 square kilometres of montane and lowland forests. The primeval forest is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo in southwestern Uganda and the park’s biodiversity and gorilla trekking are two of its renowned attractions.

This national park is composed mainly of afromontane forests, which can be found along the equator, the rift valley and the Drakensberg Mountain Range in Africa, but also in the southern Arabian peninsula. These forests are found at an elevation of above 1500-2000 meters near the equator and 300 meters elevation in the Knysna-Amatole Montane Forests in South Africa.

There is something about exploring an ancient primeval rainforest, made even better when combined with gorilla trekking. The forest has been around since the Ice Age, approximately 2.6 million years ago. For more than two millennia, the forest has provided a home to a diverse number of species that occupy every layer, from the forest floor to the upper reaches of the canopy. There are currently 220 tree species and 100 fern species recorded in Bwindi National Park.

History‌ ‌of‌ Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

  • 1932: Two blocks – of what would today be known as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – were proclaimed as Crown Forest Reserves; the southern block named Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve and the northern block named Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve. Together these reserves covered an area of 207 square kilometres.
  • 1942: Both Kastor and Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve were combined and expanded forming an area of 298 square kilometres. The area governed by Ugandan Forest Department and the government was then named the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest.
  • 1964: In order to protect the resident mountain gorillas, the reserve was proclaimed as an animal sanctuary renaming it Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve.
  • 1966: The Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve was expanded with the addition of two other forest reserves, which increased the area to approximately 321 square kilometres.
  • In 1991: Three reserves – Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve, Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and Rwenzori Mountains Reserve – gained their national park status all at the same time. The Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve became Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which covered 330.8 square kilometres of land. With its new elevated national park status, the park’s purpose was the preservation of the wide range of species living within it.
  • 1993: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gained popularity as gorilla trekking adventures increased.
  • 1994: Not only did the park gain an additional 10 square kilometres of land, but it also made the World Heritage list. The same year, the management of the park became the responsibility of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
  • 2003: Additional expansion of 4.2 square kilometres increased the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park area.

Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Although the majority of safari visitors are attracted to Bwindi to see the mountain gorillas, the park is home to ten other primates and a total of 120 mammals. The ten other primate species found in the park are blue monkey, black and white colobus monkey, baboon, chimpanzee, De Brazza monkey, Demidoff’s galago, L’Hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkey and spectacled galago. Amongst the mammals found are buffalo, bush pig, clawless otter, civet, duiker, elephant, giant forest hog, golden cat, side-striped jackal and several species of rodent and bat.

With around 350 bird species, Bwindi is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda. It is home to some rare and threatened species, which include Chapin’s flycatcher, Grauer’s broadbill and Shelley’s crimson-wing. Other commonly sighted bird species are black-billed turaco, blue-headed sunbird, handsome francolin, mountain masked apalis, purple-breasted sunbird, regal sunbird and western bronze-naped pigeon. Furthermore, the park is never in short supply of butterflies, as it has 200 species inhabiting the park at any given time.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s Premier Attraction

✔       Mountain Gorillas

Visitors arriving from all over the world are interested in the popular gorilla trekking activity in the southern parks, namely Nkuringo and Rushaga. Visitors are required to procure a permit through the Uganda Wildlife Authority before they can participate in the activity (children younger than 15 years aren’t allowed to participate). On a gorilla trek once a mountain gorilla family are found, you are allowed to spend one hour with them – watching them go about their daily activities and interactions, an awe-inspiring experience. These famous gorillas have made their home in the truly impenetrable part of the park covering 331 square kilometres of the Virunga volcanic mountain range, which is on the edge of the western rift valley in the southwestern region of Uganda.

When to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Although people enjoy gorilla trekking at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park throughout the year, the periods between June to August and December to February are considered the best time to visit the national park. In these months, the probability of gorilla viewing increases and the experience is made enjoyable and safer by the dry forest trails.

For bird watching, the best time to visit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is from March to September. The heavy rainfall from March to May might dampen your plan a bit, but with the arrival of June, there’s a significant decline in the rains.

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