Is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park your dream destination? Have you ever heard about gorilla highlands in Africa? Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is situated in South-Western Uganda just at the extreme Rift Valley. The park has one of the most astounding varied elevations sloping down and upwards with incomparably spectacular flora and fauna specifically the uncommonly seen forest birds and the world’s largest wild Apes as well as river gorges and misty hills. The Park spreads up to 321 square kilometers of which; the largest part is mainly forested with bamboo and shrubs. Bwindi’s elevation is between 1160 and 2607 meters above sea level.
Other places are usual, but Bwindi is a different case to talk about given the fact that its Uganda’s ancient and most biologically rich tropical rain forest. There are probably several forests in the world but few of them offer distinct attractions like the thick Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in East Africa. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO heritage site in Uganda ever since 1994.
For several decades, the park has been recognized for its abundant wildlife and specifically being a home to over 400 of the world’s rare mountain gorillas. Out of 880 mountain gorillas that are still living in the world, half of them are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. Mountain gorillas are scientifically called “Gorilla beringei beringei” and they are worldly recognized as the critically endangered species of all the primates. Mountain gorillas form the main attraction in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and currently, there are 12 (twelve) Habituated Gorilla Groups that are designated for tourism. There are mainly four different trailheads for visitors to track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and they include; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Visitor’s expectations in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park are centered just on the rare mountain gorillas; this forest a refuge to over 120 mammals which makes it the second in position in terms of mammal species, the other park is Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park is also offers habitat to about 11 (eleven) primate species which include the black and white colobus (Colobus guereza) and the rare L’Hoests’ monkeys (Cercopithecus lhoesti), blue monkeys (Cercopithecus Mitis), red tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius), baboons (Papio Anubis) and chimpanzees. Besides mountain gorillas, the Eastern Chimpanzees are some of the world’s endangered Apes; scientifically, they are known as “Pan Troglodyte’s schweinfurthi.” Bwindi also inhabits nocturnal Ape species like potto (Perodicticus potto), Demidoff’s Galago (Galagoides demidoff) as well as the spectacled Galago (Galago Matschiei).
As well, there are several forest elephants (Loxodonta Africana), Bush Pigs (Potamochoerus larvatus), Giant Forest Hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni), Black fronted Duikers (Cephalophus nigrifrons), Yellow backed Duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor), Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis), Civet (Civettictis civetta) and Side stripped jackal (Canis adustus) as well as bats and rodents.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a place that never leaves out birders interest unanswered; the forest is also a home to 350 unique forest birds including the 23 endemic Albertine species, 25 of them are restricted-range species and 4 are world widely threatened.
Below is a list of birds in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Each bird is provided with scientific name. These include; African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri), Grauer’s Rush Warbler (Bradypterus graueri), Chapin’s Flycatcher “Muscicapa lendu” and Shelley’s Crimson wing (Cryptospiza shelleyi). The Albertine Rift endemic species have been able to survive in the forest due to ideal climatic conditions which have also helped these species to adapt the conditions. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a home to 3 (three) species of birds which are described as “relictual” and they only live in particular areas and these includes the African Green Broadbill, Grauer’s Warbler (Graueria vittata) and short tailed warbler (Hemitesia Neumann). The broadbill and the short tailed warbler are said to be more closely similar to Asian than African species.
Besides Albertine Rift endemic species, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also a home to countless central and West African bird species popularly known from only a handful sites in East African region. They include the Fraser’s Eagle Owl “Budo poensis”, Western Bronzenaped Pigeon “Columba iriditorques”, White bellied Robin Chat “Cossyphicula roberti”; Lagden’s Bush shrike “Malaconotus lagden” and the rare Oberlander’s Ground Thrush “Zoothera oberlaenderi”
Besides birds, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest also protects about 220 butterfly species and 42 of them are Albertine Rift endemic species. There are only 3 butterflies’ species that are notably unique in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and they include the Cream banded swallowtail (Papilio leucotaenia), Graphium gudenusi and Charaxes foumierae as well as the endangered African giant swallowtail (Papilio antimachus).
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is also recognized for its 27 Amphibian species; eleven (11) of which are Albertine Rift endemic while the 6 (six) are of global conservation interest including the Western Rift Leaf folding frog (Afrixalus orophilus) and Ahl’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius castaneus).
Further more, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also protects 14 snake species and 9 of them are endemic to Bwindi; there are also 6 chameleon species and 14 species of lizards.
In terms of flora, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the endowed places one must visit. There are over 1000 flowering species of plants including the 163 tree species and 104 ferns. The Northern side of the park is concentrated with Guineo Conolian flora and they comprise two internationally recognized species like Brown Mahogany (Lovoa swynnertonii) and Brazzeia longipedicellata.
However, there are several ways of accessing Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park; there are charter flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi town which links up to Buhoma sector or Kisoro Airstrip which links to Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga sector. Visitors to Bwindi can also take flight from Kajjansi Airfield.
On road, one can take the Kampala-Kabale-Ruhija route or Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma/Nyondo. Alternatively, you can take the Kampala-Kabale-Kisoro-Rushaga/Nkuringo route.
In conclusion, Bwindi’s biodiversity is still undiscovered which makes it a true haven of authentic wilderness experiences in Uganda, East Africa. Despite the popular mountain gorilla experiences, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park also has a range of wildlife species for tourists to enjoy. Come and enjoy Bwindi’s naturalness and you won’t regret in life.