The 3 Wonders of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In the remote South Western Uganda in East Africa lies the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a popular gem that is famous for hosting the mountain gorillas. This iconic ancient tropical rain forest is one of the fast-growing tourism destinations in Africa.
Perched close to the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Bwindi is highly gifted tropical rain forest that has emerged as a formidable tourism destination. This magnificent ancient rain forest lies on the edges of the Albertine Rift Valley. It is one of the few forests that flourished through the last ice age and scientists believe that it dates back to over 25,000 years. Its natural endowments including exciting wildlife spectacles and stunning landscapes have made it to be among the CNN’s best 25 destinations to visit this year.
Today Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a popular hotspot and it continues to offer competitively priced and high-quality wildlife experiences that are worthy sharing. Here are the three wonders of Uganda’s UNESCO World Heritage sites;
Meet the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi
Mountain gorillas are the major draw for most visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are about 1050 mountain gorillas left in the world and Bwindi hosts roughly half of this remnant population. The endangered mountain gorillas roam freely within the park’s dense tropical rainforest.
Today, gorilla tracking is the most popular adventure activity that is done in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and it can be done any time of the year. Every year, thousands of travelers brave the rough roads and meet up the mountain gorillas in the wild jungle.
Looking into the expressive brown eyes of the mountain gorillas is surely a life changing experience that has been highly rated by tourists who have got the chance to go gorilla trekking in Africa. Though the experience comes at a high price of US$700 for a one-hour session, it is worthy taking in the dense tropical rain forests of Central Africa.
The walk to see the mountain gorillas is also for the brave hearted. A considerable degree of fitness is needed since it involves climbing up the slopes of mountain ranges that consist of narrow, deep valleys and impenetrable green forests cloaked with mist.
Gorilla tracking is done in four sectors that is Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Nkuringo regions. The four regions feature a total of twenty habituated gorilla families that are visited in a highly regulated activity. Each gorilla family is visited by a maximum of up to eight guests every day and gorilla watching is strictly done for just one hour.
If you are looking to gorilla trekking in Bwindi, it is important to book your experience early enough. It is recommended to book your trip atleast 6 months before your actual travel dates if you are looking to visiting the mountain gorillas during the peak months of June to September and December to March.
Meet the Batwa
The primeval forest of Bwindi used to host the Batwa people, an indigenous pygmy tribe that lived in the forest for ages.
The Batwa are among the oldest surviving tribes of Africa. They used to live in the Bwindi Forest for millennia and all their life depended on the forest. They survived by hunting and fruit gathering with the tropical rain forest and they lived in harmony with the wildlife.
The Batwa lived along the gorillas in a sustainable manner. However, to safeguard the protection of the mountain gorillas, conservation organizations advised the resettlement of the Batwa to areas outside the park.
1n 1991 the government of Uganda evicted the Batwa out of the forest without any compensation and they were resettled on the edges of the forest. Today, an estimated population of over 6000 Batwa live close to the park.
For tourists visiting Bwindi, you can experience the culture of the Batwa people on two organized tourism programs run by the forest; the Batwa Experience and the Batwa Trail. During the tour, you will learn firsthand the life of the Batwa including hunting, fruit gathering, traditional ways of making fires, harvesting medicines from the forest and more.
Till today, the Batwa have spiritual and religious ties to the forest.
Meet the Chimpanzees
Bwindi is also a safe haven for chimpanzees, man’s closest cousins. Though these great apes are outshone by the mountain gorillas, hosts a significant population of chimpanzees, with a population that is estimated to be over 500 individuals. Bwindi National Park brags as the only forest in Africa in which the two apes occur together.
Though chimpanzee tracking has not yet been developed in the park, the existence of chimpanzees is a wonder that is jealously protected by the park authorities and conservation organizations.
Apart from chimpanzees, Bwindi Forest also is home to a number of other primate species, including black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza), L’Hoest’s guenon (Cercopithecus l’hoesti), red-tailed guenon (C. ascanius schmidti), blue guenon (C. mitis mitis), vervet (C. aethiops), baboon (Papio anubis) plus several nocturnal primates.
Bwindi is the ultimate destination that should not miss on your bucket list. Its broader biodiversity is not limited to mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. The park brags of a checklist of 90 mammals including eleven primates. The park is also a birders haven with 23 localized bird species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift.
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