BWINDI NATIONAL PARK


Located in south-western Uganda, at the junction of the plain and mountain forests, Bwindi impenetrable forest covers 32,000 ha and is known for its exceptional biodiversity, with more than 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns. Many types of birds and butterflies can also be found there, as well as many endangered species, including the infamous mountain gorillas. It also hosts rich fauna including numerous butterflies, home for half of the world’s mountain gorilla’s population. Community benefits arising from the mountain gorilla and other ecotourism may be the only hope for the future conservation of this unique site. It occupies about 331km2 and hosts numerous primates like the eastern chimps, blue and red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and baboons. It also supports mammals like elephants, bush pigs, giant forest hog, bats and rodents.


AREAS OF I NTEREST
Buhoma
It is located in the NW of the park and faces the dark hilly forests of bwindi. Three gorilla gropus can be tracked from here. Bird watching is also a major activity with great opportunities to the albertine rift. Other activities include mountain biking and nature walks to waterfalls and parts of the forest. There are also numerous accommodations to suit all budgets and many local craft stalls

Nkuringo

this is situated on the southern end of the park and it became bwindis second tracking trail head in 2004.Tracking the Nkuringo groups is strenuous, for the forest home lies a full 600m below the trailhead at Ntungamo village on Nteko ridge. Walks along the ridge-top road provide superb views north towards the forested hills of Bwindi and south to the Virunga volcanoes. There are also opportunities to discover the Bakiga culture through village walks, vibrant dance performances and cultural workshops organized by community groups

Rushaga

Shongi trailhead, in the southeast of the park opened for gorilla tourism in 2009 and three groups (Shongi, Mishaya and Kahungye) can be tracked from this point. The trail descends into the depths of the forest directly to the south of the park. this area also offers village walks, bird watching and a spectacular waterfall

Ruhija

On the eastern side, sitting on top of the hill at 2,345m, Ruhija is home to the Bitukura, Oruzoojo and Kyaguriro gorilla groupsand its on the eastern side of the park sitting up the hill at 2345m. This is Uganda’s highest tracking trail, and one of only two areas (the other being Rushaga) where elephants reside.
A six-hour bamboo trail leads to Rwamunyoni Peak; at 2,607m, it is the highest point in the park and notable for good birding. Also of interest to birders is the three-hour trail descending to Mubwindi swamp along which one could find the endemic and localized African Green Broadbill

ACTIVITIES
 There are numerous activities to get engaged in while in this icredible national park.
Gorilla tracking
 This is the main activity carried out in this park. There are several different groups of gorilla's, with group H being the largest. Tracking can take from anywhere between 15 minutes to a full day, depending on where the gorillas are. They move often and far - one group of tourists can be back at the UWA camp within two hours on one day, while the next day, tracking the same group of gorillas can keep you walking until night falls. There is no way to say how easy or difficult it will be. Elderly people should carefully consider how fit they are and how long they are willing to hike and climb because paths can be so steep you have to hold on to bushes and grass to prevent you from slipping, and climbing a hill can require hands and feet. There are no 'exits' while trekking, no shortcuts back home. Beware that refunds are only given in extraordinary circumstances (no gorillas seen, which is unusual), and are only partial refunds.
Registration for tracking starts at 8.30AM, briefing is at 9. The trackers leave before and communicate with their guides to let them know if and where they have found the gorillas. After getting there, they have a maximum of 1 hour near the gorillas. You can get up to several meters of them, but you can be instructed to move further away should the gorillas get restless. Considering the terrain, it is not always possible to get this close, so a camera with a zoom lens can be of great use and remember the use of flash is not allowed. While in the rainforest, you are also asked to keep your voices down.
Should you be ill or have a cold, do remember that you may be refused participation. Since gorillas are genetically so close to humans, they are susceptible to many of the same diseases. As there are only about 700 mountain gorillas left in the world, their safety comes first.


Hiking in the area
 Walk from Buhoma to Nkoringo (5 hours walk, through Bwindi forest, guide required, and permits). Walk from Nkoringo to Lake Mutanda (3 hours walk)(one lodge to stay on the lake) (dug out canoe with boatman needed to cross the lake, 3 hours, gorgeous scenery, check the weather isn't stormy) to Kisoro (one hour from lakeside). No guide required for the walk from Nkoringo to Kisoro, plenty of people around to ask the way, porters available in Nkoringo village. Sadly the local trekking company does seem to be running a scam of overcharging customers for services and accommodation, doubling prices (observed November 2010), the guide is a superfluous 'middle man', whereas porter knows the way and offers a genuine service. From Kisoro you can take a transport to Mgahing National Park to climb any of the three volcanoes.


Bird watching
This forest is also an ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 bird species recorded including 23 endemics like the blue headed sun bird and the short tailed wabler. The commonly seen ones are the African blue and white tailed blue fly catchjers, the red headed bluebill and African emerald cuckoo. It takes place along the main trails of Buhoma waterfall trail and along the
Mubwindi trail in Ruhija


Mountain cycling and biking..
Along this 13km trail, you may see wildlife like the bushbucks, black and white colobus and red tailed monkeys. The six hour round trip departs in the morning and is organized by Buhoma community rest camp.


ACCOMODATION
This awesome home of the mountain gorilla’s park has great accommodation site both in and outside the park. Inside the park we have the silver back lodge, Nkuringo gorilla camp, and sanctuary gorilla forest camp. These provide good services to visitors on their visit to the park. Outside the park are also numerous lodges and camp sites that are close to the park and offer services to the tourist. These include the crested crane lodge Bwindi, travelers rest hotel and lake Bunyonyi over land resort.
Generally, a visit to this park is memorable as accommodation and security are great.  

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