Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is found in the south-western part of Uganda near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) situated on the border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. Here is practical Information to help you get to Bwindi National Park whether by Air or Road. Get info about the best routes to reach Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South Western Uganda.
The park can be accessed by road and it is 520 Kilometres from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Normally for one to enjoy the journey, 4 Wheel drives are recommended taking the below routes:
Move from Kampala-Kabale about 414 Kilometres, about 5-8 hours drive, then Kabale-Kanungu- Kanyantorogo – Buhoma Park Headquarters, about 120 kms, a 3.5 hour-drive.
Alternatively you can move from Kampala-Kabale about 414 Kms, and then proceed to Ruhija and finally to Buhoma which is 95 kilometres, a three-hour drive. From Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern sector like 2 to 3 hours drives, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. All those roads converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometres from the Buhoma entrance-gate.
A daily bus leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihihi.You can get a taxi from here for about 20 km to Buhoma. Nkuringo has no public means unless when you hire a private vehicle from Kisoro.
For those on self guided Uganda safari, please consider a whole day since it may take you approximately 9-10 hours to drive on a winding road.
Popular Routes to Bwindi
Bwindi lies in south-western Uganda, about 530km from Kampala. The park can be reached by road from several directions.
Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mweya)-Kihihi-Buhoma
This route passes the park’s southerly Ishasha sector, providing the chance of a stopover to search for the famous tree-climbing lions. Bwindi is 160km from Mweya and 64km from Ishasha.
This route follows a tarmac highway to Kabale (414km) and takes 5-6 hours. The next section, which follows winding murram roads for 120km, passes through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo and takes 4-5 hrs. A 4WD vehicle is required.
This, the quickest and most direct route from Kampala, follows tarmac roads to Rukungiri (390km) followed by 82km on murram roads to Buhoma.
The Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma segment on this route is 95 kilometres on a murram road and takes 3-4 hours. The Ruhija section is in poor condition and should only be attempted with a 4WD vehicle. The public does not frequently use this road.
Nkuringo is 105km from Kabale. The drive takes 4 hours on a mountainous murram road. Most visitors overnight in Kisoro (80km from Kabale) before proceeding to Nkuringo. The road from Kisoro is a winding 35km that takes 1-1.5 hours. A 4WD vehicle is recommended for both approaches to Nkuringo.
Route 2 Via Kabale.
At the second junction on the Kisoro road sign posted Bwindi you will arrive at Buhoma via Ruhija. This is the most scenic route. 4 wheel drive is recommended especially during the rain season.
Route 3 via Ntumgamo.
1 km after Ntumgarmo town turn right sign posted Rukungiri. This is an all weather tarmac road that will eventually be completed through to the Ishasha border post. This is the fatsed route if travelling directly from the east. At Rukungiri follow signs for Kanungu where you will pick up the Kabale-Buhoma route at the traffic circle. This is the fastest route to Bwindi from Kampala since the completion of the Ntumgamo-Rukungiri tarmac road.
It is 108km to the Park Headquarters at Buhoma from Kabale which is 414 km from Kampala. Driving the Kabale-Buhoma road requires at times a 4 Wheel drive vehicle.
All junctions on the road from Kabale to Buhoma are well sign posted (Bwindi National Park). The route takes you 17 km from Kabale on the Kisoro road where you must follow the right fork at the junction at the trading centre which takes you down to and across the floating pontoon where a toll of Ush1,000- is payable to Kabale Council at the barrier
The route continues to Kanungu. At the traffic circle turn left direction Kanyantorogo where again turn left at this traffic circle. All directions are sign posted ‘Bwindi’. Pass Ntumgarmo Tea Factory and through the village of Butogota. A right turn some 15 km from Bwindi which is well sign posted signals your nearly there.
By Public Transport:
There is a direct bus between Kampala and Buhoma daily in both directions. Fare is Ushs25,000-. The bus leaves Kampala at around 06.00am, arriving in Buhoma around 6 pm. The bus leaves Buhoma at 05.00am. The other alternative is the irregular pick-ups and taxis that connect Kabale and Butogota. If there is no transport from Kabale to Butogota, take a Kihihi taxi as far as Kanyantorogo, from where you can pick up the bus as it comes through from Kampala or take a private hire vehicle. Thursday is market day in Butogota when transport to there is more abundant. From Butogota you will have to arrange a taxi/pickup to take you through to Buhoma. The asking price for the vehicle hire is usually around Ushs20,000- although with bargaining people have paid as little as Ushs13,000-. There are always vehicles around for hire. The alternative is to walk the 17 kms.
How to Access Bwindi Sectors
Getting to Nkuringo
Nkuringo is where those tracking the Nkuringo group of habituated Mountain Gorilla’s come to commence the tracking activity. The village is 39 km from Kisoro town and 90 km from Kabale travelling via Rubuguri. The route is signposted off the main Kabale-Kisoro route at KM45. Driving time from Kabale is 3 hours. Driving time from Kisoro is 90 minutes and well signposted.
Drive Times to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The driving time to Bwindi depends on where you come from. If you are from Kigali, Rwanda, its 3-4 hours drive while from Kampala or Entebbe Airport, it is 8 -9 hours drive. The journey is amazing as it enable visitors view the rolling hills of Kigezi region, Lake Bunyonyi, the Uganda Equator, road side craft and fresh fruit shops. The changes in vegetation, rivers and escarpments before reaching Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – the home of mountain gorillas. In terms of kilometers, from Kampala to Bwindi is 550 kilometers on a fairly good road that is currently under construction.
From Lake Mburo national park in Kiruhura district, it’s approximately 5-6 hours. Some companies prefer stopping over in Lake Mburo to break the long distance to the home of Mountain Gorillas. If you are from Queen Elizabeth National Park (the second Largest park in Uganda), the driving duration is approximately 5-6 hours passing through ishasha section (the territory of the tree climbing lions) of the park, to Kihihi town and then Buhoma Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
It should be noted that, the road through Ishasha sector is impassable most especially in rainy seasons when bridges tend to breakdown partly due to heavy down power and heavy tracks going to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Alternatively, you can use a short cut that drivers use but in most cases, you might find yourself using the Ishaka road then Rukungiri to Nengo and then Kihihi and lastly to Buhoma.
Getting to Bwindi from Kigali Rwanda
For those coming from Kigali to Bwindi Forest park, Virunga express bus service has different bus terminals in Rwanda so board any Virunga bus from any part of Rwanda up to Kigali Virunga Express office in Nyabugogo Taxi Park. They also have Virunga Express costa buses on routes from Gisenyi, Musanze and Butare daily from Kigali to Kabale at 3:00 pm (Rwanda time)
If you are in Musanze (Ruhengeri) board the Matatu to Chanika-Rwanda-Uganda boarder and then contact Car Rental Uganda company to pick you and proceed to the next destination.
The Southern Region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a reasonable distance from Kigali Airport.
Uganda has many trusted tour operators who can organise you a stress free trip to Bwindi Impenetrable National park.
You can choose to fly from Entebbe or from Kampala at Kajansi airfield to the up to date tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips. Bwindi is actually well served by 3 airfields at Kihihi plus Kayonza for the northern area in addition to Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area including Mishaya, Nshongi and Nkuringo.