In southwestern Uganda, a natural jewel harbors the critically endangered species, the mountain gorillas. This remarkable natural habitat is none other than Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It covers a total surface area of about 331 km2 under the watch of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park shelters one of the most interesting species of animals in the universe and that is why many people visit and would want to visit it. Due to its remoteness, it is not a destination, you would visit in a day.
The perfect duration to visit Bwindi is 3 days. The three days permit you to travel to the park and spend a night getting ready for the gorilla trekking experience, the second day is sacrificed for the tracking expedition and the last day is to get back to Kampala or Entebbe where you may have started your trip.
It would be a disservice to end this write-up in brief, let’s put how to spend 3 days in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in perspective.
Traveling from Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi for an overnight stay.
Because Bwindi is located far away from the main gateway (Entebbe Airport) for most international travelers, tourists spend their first day on the safari traveling to Bwindi.
The recommended time to start the journey is early morning due to the long distance covered and time spent reaching Bwindi (about 473km and 9 hours). You must know the sector; you will be tracking the gorillas as this will much play on the route to take.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is such a vast area with four sections (Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Rushaga) which are detached from one another and located in different districts. You can use the Kabale or Kanungu route depending on the sector from which you will be tracking the gorillas.
However, be sure to reach your lodge for a stay night late in the evening. You are advised to keep in contact with your lodge while traveling for better arrangements for your check-in and hosting.
You definitely reach the lodge very tired. The lodge does not waste any time, they simply verify your booking and lead you straight to your room. You could either first take a shower and have a meal or vice versa.
The discretion is left to you to decide your course of action. The meals are always mouthwatering, you can either choose to go local or continental. The lodges prepare various foods and serve special meals for persons with allergies and taboos.
After dinner, you will have to get to your room to rest for the following day’s gorilla trekking activity.
Meeting The Gorillas in The Mist (Gorilla Tracking Experience)
The second day is the most eventful time of the gorilla safar trip. It is the day; the mountain gorillas are encountered in their natural setting. Before the sun rises, you have to be up to prepare to get to the head offices of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Ensure to check all the essentials, you need for the gorilla tracking experience.
So, after breakfast, your driver guide takes you to the Bwindi Park offices. If you are on a self drive in Uganda, you lead yourself. At the head offices, you go through a briefing about the dos and don’ts of the gorilla tracking activity. Your gorilla permit is also verified at that time. In the due course, you are assigned to a group of other 7 visitors to track a certain gorilla family in the forest.
At the completion of the briefing, you lead to the starting point where you get into the real jungle to start the tracking. Bwindi is such a hilly place that requires you to wear hiking boots, have a trekking stick, hire a porter to carry your luggage, and have enough drinking water and snacks to keep you up to pace.
Moreso, the gorillas reside in far and dense forests, and it is strenuous to reach their abodes. It normally takes 2-6 hours to find the gorillas. The challenge is not felt so much because of the interesting and informative commentary conducted by the gorilla patron about the gorillas and the forest at large. It keeps you occupied and gets you going till you reach the ultimate prize.
When you reach the locale of the gorillas, you are instructed to keep silent and not make any movement until the gorilla patron tells you to do so. The gorilla patron must first anticipate the mood of the gorillas on that day to ensure that they are okay with receiving the visitors. Most times, the gorillas are in the mood of having the presence of people around them because they are habituated.
At the first glance, you will be shocked by the gigantic size of the silverback, the Alpha male gorilla. It is such a huge creature and ugly looking that can draw some nerve-cracking moments.
But you have to know, that gorillas are gentle, peaceful, and hospitable animals. They have never caused any harm to any tourist since the time memorial of the gorilla tracking era. When you follow the instruction given by the gorilla patron, you will have no problem with the gorillas.
After the gorilla patron has scanned the environment, you are permitted to start taking pictures, and videos and observing the gorillas. The gorillas are fascinating animals that exhibit interesting social characteristics like showing compassion to one another, their vocal communication, and the ability to use tools like tree branches to help them gather food or construct their nests. Normally, they leave visitors captivated, emotional and awestruck and many have regarded it a lifetime experience to encounter the gorillas in their default setting.
You depart the gorilla locale at the hour mark to end your gorilla tracking experience. When out of the forest, you drive to your lodge lunch and rest to shake off the tiredness brought on by the trekking experience.
In the evening, you can opt to go for a community walk or stay at the lodge and enjoy the pristine and nonchalant environment as you sip a few drinks. For a community walk, it involves visiting the social places of the local people such as markets, schools, hospitals, and hangouts to closely interact with them as you get involved in their activities or contributed to their cause.
This village walk is one of the best ways to know some traditions and ethos of the local people in Uganda. If you wish to have some entertainment, there are various traditional performance groups to rendition cultural dances, songs, and drama. The community walk opens your mind to other dynamics of life. You get to know happiness is not all about money and modernity but also about unity and love for one another.
As it gets to dusk, you will have to get to your lodge for dinner and have a chit-chat on the terrace of the lodge with your pals if you come with any on your trip or the ones that you made at the lodge. After dinner time, it will be resting time to get ready for the long journey to Kampala to end your trip.
Check Out of The Lodge and Leave Bwindi For Kampala to End Your trip.
Be sure to wake up in the morning to have time to pack your bags and not forget anything at the lodge. Have a sumptuous breakfast bid farewell to the lodge staff and then wave goodbye to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
As you head out of the Kigezi region, you are treated to a scenic view of the captivating green Kabale contours. This is one of the most scenic drives, you can ever experience in a lifetime. Lunchtime normally finds travelers in Mbarara, the most preferred place to have a meal is Agip Motel.
After lunch, you will have to proceed to Kampala, en route the Equator Monument is found along the roadside in Kayabwe. You may have a stopover to take some pictures and also witness the water experiment justifying the presence of the Equator in the area.
You can as well buy some souvenirs around the place and then embark on your journey till you reach Kampala. At the turn of the evening, you will be already in Kampala either heading to the hotel, home, or the airport to end the 3 days Bwindi safari trip.
Bwindi Travel Trips
The gorilla permit costs 700$ for non-foreign residents, 500$ for foreign residents, and 250,000Ugx for east African citizens. The gorilla permits can be booked directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or indirectly through a local tour ground handler. It is highly demanded and issued on a first come and first serve basis, so visitors are advised to purchase it at the earliest time possible.
Ensure to be free from any airborne disease such as flu, cold, cough, Ebola, cholera, and covid-19 when visiting Bwindi. The gorillas are susceptible to human diseases because of the similarity in their immune system. For foreign travelers, a yellow fever vaccination card must be produced at the airport to let you into Uganda.
For convenience, you are advised to arrange your tour with a local tour operator who will organize accommodation, meals, park activities, and transport on your behalf.
If you opt to do the trip on your own, be sure to rent a 4×4 car in Uganda. These cars are tested and proven to be the perfect machines to challenge any terrain. The terrain of Bwindi is hilly and hence the need for a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Gorilla trekking is such a physical activity, you are advised to do some exercises like jogging, walking, and other drills to enhance your body fitness to be ready for the challenge.
Don’t forget to carry a good camera as the gorilla tracking experience is all about the stunning and eye-catching moments captured candidly.