The national park comprises of about 321 sq km of thick jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot. This park is partitioned into four gorilla tracking sectors including Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors;
The Buhoma was the first to be established for gorilla trekking and is the most famous of all the four sectors in Bwindi Forest. It is also at this sector where other natural walks take place like; Munyanga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma, which is a short stroll for watching birds and primates along the forest edge, the waterfall trail which passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic plants and also orchids to visit three stunning waterfalls, there is also Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail and the River Ivi Trail of which the last fallows an old road the forest, emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The Buhoma community walk and culture exhibitions which take up to three hours visiting the local homestead, the traditional healer, and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Of late, the Batwa cultural experience has been established in this sector of the park. Gorilla groups/families in this sector incorporate; Rushegura, Mubare, and Habinyanja.
The Nkuringo sector which was established near to the Buhoma sector is approximately 10km from Buhoma despite the fact that this distance is by the think jungle and a stroll through the forest takes about 4 hours. Connecting by vehicle from the two areas takes around 7 to 8 hours. Villages at Nkuringo sector also organize a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith, and brewers. Nkuringo gorilla family is the only gorilla group in this sector.
The Ruhija sector which is popular for its various bird species on top of the mountain gorillas is considered as the most remote sector of all the four. There is a three-hour trek to visit the Mubwindi swamp which hosts a variety of bird species and is a perfect sector for bird lovers. The mountain gorilla families found in Ruhija sector include; Ruhija, Bitukura, and Kyaguriro.
The Rushaga sector which hosts the highest number of gorilla groups which include Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, and Busingye. It is located between Kabale and Nkuringo from either Ruhija or Kampala.
Bwindi Forest National Park can be accessed either by air from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip or by road from Kampala.
From Entebbe International Airport, there are scheduled flights to Kihihi which is near the northern part of Bwindi Forest and there are also flights to Kisoro which is near the Southern sector of the park. Flights to Kisoro only leave in the morning while Kihihi has both morning and afternoon departure from Entebbe Airport. You can also do charter flights from Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kisoro or Kihihi.
The main tourist activity in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is; Gorilla trekking limited to a maximum of 8 tourists per particular gorilla family per day – Gorilla permits must be booked in advance since they are on very high demand all year round. You can do this by contacting the Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA) or by contacting any Uganda local tour operator for advice. There are many tour companies in the country which offers affordable and cheap gorilla tours in Bwindi Forest and can also help you book a gorilla permit like; African Jungle Adventures Ltd, Gorilla Expedition Ltd, Able Safaris Ltd, Acacia Safaris, Across Africa Holidays Ltd, Adrift – The Adventure Company, Adventure Natural African Safaris (U) Ltd, Adventure Vacation Safaris Ltd, Afri Tours And Travel Ltd, Africa Adventure Safaris, Africa’s Great Exploration Safaris, African Adventure Travelers, African Big Five Safaris, African Pearl Safaris, African White Rhino Safaris among others.
Guided forest walks, bird watching tours, and other primates watching are also done in this park. There is also another interesting tour activity (Batwa Pygmies) whereby recently the Batwa Cultural Experience was introduced.
At the point when to go & What to Expect
Uganda is suitable for travel at any time of the year and it is sunny most of the year with temperatures seldom rising over 29 degrees. The average yearly temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius.
For a gorilla safari in Bwindi forest, you have to be fairly physically fit, equipped for the humid, muddy conditions of a rainforest hike, and healthy because it is quite tiresome but interesting. You won’t be allowed to go gorilla trekking in Uganda if you have a cold or similar illness because mountain gorillas are vulnerable to numerous human diseases. The region’s mid-December to February and June to September dry seasons are the best time to go gorilla trekking in Uganda however you can still expect a tough day on foot: it’s in some cases humid, wet and sloppy with steep slopes and tangled vegetation. Never the less, the possibilities of finding gorilla groups are often around 95%.
When a habituated gorilla group has been found by your tour guide, you can settle down for 60 minutes to take photos and watch them as they feed and groom while their babies tumble about the undergrowth – all under the watchful gaze of the great silverback male. Sitting just a couple of meters from a gorilla and looking its soft brown eyes is a memorable experience.