Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda: Why it’s one of the best places to go gorilla trekking
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park lies in the southwest part of Uganda. The diverse East African forest is a very safe place for guests and a sanctuary for 120 mammals including various primates, such as chimpanzees, over 340 bird species, 220 butterfly species, over 1000 species of flowering plants, and most notably about 350 gorillas, about half of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.
When is the best time to trek gorillas?
Bwindi has a tropical climate, and temperatures range from 7 to 27 degrees Celsius (about 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is the main consideration for planning a gorilla safari: the two rainy seasons are from March to April and from September to November. As a tropical area, rain can occur at any time, but gorilla trekking is very reliable outside of these months.
Where do I stay and how do I get there?
To reach Bwindi, most travelers arrive into the Entebbe international airport and then fly or drive to the Western region of Uganda. Small airports on the northern or southern border of the forest are served using a regional carrier. The drive from Entebbe lasts about eight hours, but offers a unique experience to see the country itself as one passes through many towns along the way.
The Buhoma region is the most developed hub for gorilla trekking and hosts different accommodation options, from mid-range to luxury lodges. From Buhoma, three habituated gorilla families can be reached on foot from the nearby National Park centre where guests meet their assigned rangers from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. Only eight trekkers can be assigned to each gorilla family.
Other, more remote areas of Bwindi also have camps and provide trekking, though the drives to reach them can be more arduous and time-consuming. On the eastern edge of Bwindi, the steeper terrain lends itself to avid birders seeking out the different species at the varying elevations.
Guests visiting Bwindi often combine their trip with another primate experience – chimpanzee trekking. Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale National Park lie north of Bwindi and are usually reached by vehicle. Kibale which has excellent chimp trekking and a safari itinerary in Uganda can include chimp trekking in Kibale and gorilla trekking in Bwindi just one travel day apart, though we recommend that guests allocate a couple of days in between to visit the incredible wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park – the elephants, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, and antelope species that gather along the shores of the Kazinga Channel.