Hiking & Trekking in Bwindi Forest
Besides gorilla trekking, Bwindi offers yet another interesting activity-hiking/nature walks where tourists can get to explore several attractions in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The hiking is normally from the north of Bwindi to the South. You can have an overnight stay and continue the next day down to Lake Mutanda where you paddle across in a wooden dugout and continue to the town of Kisoro.Aboat ride is also possible at Lake Mutanda.
The hiking time ranges from 5 to 9 hours or less. You can opt to have a Kashasha River Trail: While on this trail, be ready to spend at least 5 hours and it involves steeper inclines especially if you take the Buhoma to Nkuringo route which is 600 meters up at the end of the trail .Knowledgeable and experienced guides will answer all your questions about the wildlife and the birds, plants, flowers, ferns and trees in the area.
Popular Hikes in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Tourists can choose to add hiking on their package when they visit Bwindi for gorilla trekking safaris. Alternatively, tourists who cannot afford the prices of gorilla permits can opt for nature walks/hiking through the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable. With all the hiking trails, tourists can get to discover and explore the different bird species, plant/tree species, several primates species, butterfly species and several waterfalls found within the Park. Some of the hiking trails within this Park include;
Kashasha River Trail
The Kashasha River trail is a 4-5 hours hike and ushers you into the jungles of the ancient forest and the end of the trail is 600 meters high. This interesting trail involves walking through steeper inclines and using the Buhooma-Nkuringo route. Most times, this trail begins from Nkuringo Park headquarters then goes down through a community land until reaching the Park Buffer zone. This trail passes the junction of the two Rivers inside the forest, thereafter another 20 minutes ascent to meet with the alternative route. This trail is inside the forest and about 90 minutes walk from Buhooma and several bird species, plants/flowers and trees especially ferns can be spoted. If you want to enjoy the most stunning views, then go through this trail. It is more interesting to use this trail from Buhooma to Nkuringo, taking 7 hours or more. The trek from Nkuringo to the Buhooma Park headquaiterrs while using this Kashasha River Trail is just 5 hours. Kashasha River Trail is one of the most interesting trails because it offers an intimate experience of the natural wonders within this misty rain forest environment, and the birds are plenty when using this trail.
Mubwindi Swamp Trail
This 4-5 hours fantastic trail goes along a path in the jungles and slopes/descends through the magical rainforest with breathtaking viewpoints along the way of rich valleys and the Virunga massif. While on the Mubwindi Swamp trail, tourists are likely to encounter some primates especially the Chimpanzees and monkeys, numerous bird species, forest elephants, luckily even the mountain gorillas and the bush pigs because majority of those wildlife are found within this area of the Forest. Unlike other trails, tourists using this trail need to first seek for permission/authorization from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Bird watchers will find this trail the most favorable and perfect for their adventure.
Hiking through the Bamboo Trail takes 7 hours and involves climbing a steep area of up to the highest point in Rwamunyonyi hill at 2607 meters above sea level. As you hike using this trail, you will encounter different vegetation and plant species that include the Bamboo forest with over 14 different plant species until when you reach the Afro-montane vegetation zone. During this trail, you will encounter different birds and plant species. The view point of this trail (top of Rwamunyonyi Hill) rewards hikers with spectacular view of Lake Bunyonyi and the breathtaking views of the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. This is one of the mind-boggling trails and worth your time and effort. Since this trail is conducted from Ruhija sector/area yet it is about one hour from Buhooma, tourits are always advised to stay in Ruhija sector so that they can connect easily and faster for the activity.
Muzabajiro Loop Trail
This 3-4 hours trail rewards tourists with the most beautiful view because it involves walking through the forest, and climbing to Rukubira Hill where tourists enjoy the fantastic view of the Virunga Mountains Massif, Buhooma areas of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the western rift Valley below.
Ivy River Trail
The Ivy River Trail is a 14km/full day’s walk with the most fascinating experiences and is conducted through an old road in the Jungles. While on this trail, tourists can encounter several mammal species including bush pigs, several primate species, bird and butterfly species and also some of the local community members while from the market. An alternative route for this trail can be from Buhooma to Nkuringo. The trail usually takes six and a half to seven and a half hours. The start of the trail can be from Nkuringo or Buhooma. Sometimes this trail starts from Nkuringo Park headquarters, then follow a murram road downhill as you are rewarded with breathtaking views for about 7kms and turn right to Ivy River. It is 2-3 hours walking from the Nkuringo Park headquarters to the Ivy River, while from this River to Buhooma as you walk through the forest takes approximately 4 hours hence total walking time is about 6 hours. Tourists ascend and descend gently through the interesting areas of the jungles with numerous viewpoints from the murram road from or to Nkuringo while overlooking mist covered valleys. This trail is commonly used by the local community members when travelling to or from Nkuringo especially during market days to the Nteko Village, Situated on the Southern Boundary of the Park. Some of the interesting animals you are likely to encounter include duikers, bush pigs, some famous bird species, monkeys and beautifully colored butterflies.
The Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail
This trail always takes 4-6 hours. After passing through the Munyanga River, tourists use a fairly steep slope of the Habigorogoro and Riyoyi Ridge overlooking the Buhooma River. The most interesting features on this trail is the “African corner” named after a rock that represents the map of Africa. With the steep ascent, keen hikers can relish a more relaxed gentle slope to the Habinyanja Swamp. Bird watchers will also find this trail interesting because they might encounter the African Back duck, Black Bee-eaters, Pel’s Fishing Owl among others.
Rushura Hill trail
This trail passes through a forest shared by two countries. Rushura hill is the highest point in Buhoma sector, and the trail begins near Buhooma Park headquarters, through the terraced gardens and breathtaking forests. What makes this trail worth trying is that tourists are rewarded with several scenic viewpoints. The moment you get to the top of this hill, you will be amazed by the mind blowing views of the Western Rift Valley, Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable forest and then Virunga Volcanoes. This hike is considered the most scenic because when on top of the mountain (about 1,915 meters high) you have the greatest views of the surrounding areas.
Munyanga Waterfall Trail
This trail starts from Buhooma along River Ivy-Nkuringo Trail and culminates into the breathtaking views of the three crystal clear waterfalls that are 33 meters high. This trail is the perfect one for tourists with little time to spare. Some of the important features that can be seen on this trail include monkeys, tree species like the epithetic ferns, orchids, birds, colorful and beautiful butterfly species
The Ruizi River Trail
This trail is so far the longest trail in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and usually takes the whole day and is the best for birdwatchers.
The Buhooma-Nkuringo Trail
This 3-4 hours trail crosses right through the Park, then connects the two villages and offers a spectacular view of the smoggy hillsides as hikers descend the hills towards Nkuringo. Hikers do not need to go with luggage because they can find them on the other side of the trail. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivy River trail.