Bwindi Gorilla Forest – UGANDA
Part of a short or long safari in Uganda could be the gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. It would be a cheated Uganda trip if it doesn’t head to these fearsome apes of the forest.
With backpacks, tourists soaked in waterproof hiking shoes, long sleeves, rain coats and walking sticks, led by an armed ranger guide into the forest, to search for the mountain gorillas in their natural habitats, just to spend one magical hour in their presence is gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking is one of the most exclusive tourism activities in Africa. Mountain gorillas being endangered animals, the activity is done in only three African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Over 700 gorillas reside in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. This is almost three quarters of the total population of mountain gorillas in the world. The park is located in south western Uganda, in the Virunga chained ranges that are still shared in three countries.
The impenetrable forest is one of the oldest and most biologically diverse forests in Africa that survived the ice age. Covering approximately 331 square kilometers, Bwindi is the prime home for mountain gorillas in Africa.
Trekking the gorillas in Bwindi starts with a brief orientation about the guidelines of gorilla trekking while in the forest. Tourists are divided into groups of eight trekkers to visit a single gorilla family in a day. Hunting for these mighty apes requires the physically fit, the fact that it involves a simple hike, walking through both slippery and rugged trails, jumping over huge hills of dang, a sign that there are forest elephants and buffaloes in Bwindi.
Trekkers are allowed to spend one magical hour visualizing the apes, to see how they feed, play jumping from one tree to the other and the mighty silverback watching over its family. Tourists can take as many pictures and short videos as they want, as long as the camera has no flash.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park takes about 2 to 6 hours in the forest. It all depends on the movement of the apes and the speed of the trekkers.
Bwindi has 15 gorilla families dwelling in four gorilla regions of Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo and Ruhija. Regardless of where you trek, just be sure of an awesome experience. Nothing thrills like watching the silverback right in its red eyes, it’s an experience that cannot easily get off your memory.
All trekkers to visit a gorilla family in Bwindi are required to be with a gorilla family. A permit costs 700 USD. It is advisable to book the permit in six months’ advance to avoid last minute disappointments. Gorilla permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, however, to avoid the bureaucracy, let one of the many travel companies in Uganda save you from the long process.
Besides gorilla trekking, trekkers in Bwindi can still visit the Batwa Community, the first inhabitants of the forest before they were resettled outside the park. The visit is a cultural retreat that exposes tourists to the local way of living of the Batwa. Trekkers also engage in nature walks and birding.
About accommodation, this is one thing trekkers shouldn’t worry about. A good number of hotels has been constructed in and around the park, from super budget, midrange to the high end luxury hotels.