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Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

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South west of Uganda a mysterious and lush green drapes across the rift valley – Bwindi impenetrable forest national park also a UNESCO world heritage site is home to half of the world’s population of the remaining mountain gorillas. The 333km2, medium altitude habitat mostly ever green forest and montane tangled vines and undergrowth vegetation make the park impenetrable giving home to both inexplicable and incredible at least 20species of mammals here in one of the richest eco system in Africa besides the 11 species of primates including a healthy chimpanzee population and substantial number of L’hoest’s, red tailed monkey and blue monkey as well as black and white colobus monkey and the olive baboon among others. Other residents of the park include the forest elephant, quite aggressive compared to the savannah counterparts, buffaloes 6 antelope species, bush bucks, 5 types of the forest duiker, and the seldom seen leopard, many species of bats and rodents at least 346 species of birds including rare forest birds like the Albertine rift endemics –  the African green broadbill together with the Grauer’s Rush Warbler are key species in this part of the world, white tailed blue fly catcher is a common among the high altitude dwellers, the mostly heard than seen brown necked parrot, white bellied robin chat, and the Frazer’s eagle Owl together with the nocturnal Rwenzori Nightjar are key species most hardcore birders look out for when they make visits to the Ruhija area which is more on a higher elevation than the other parts of the park, 14 species of snakes, 27species of  frogs and toads, 6 chameleon species, 14 lizards, skinks, and geckos and at least 202 species of butterflies are residents in the forest of bwindi’s biggest claim to fame is the fact that it is a sanctuary to approximately half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas this is the world’s most endangered  great ape.

The famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 mainly for the protection and conservation of the gorillas that were becoming extinct at the time. Today the forest harbors a population of close to 400 gorillas that live in about 15 troops. Because these gorillas are highly endangered in a bid to protect them only 8 people are allowed per day to visit a group. This allows minimal disturbance to them. However apart from gorilla treks there are a lot more activities that can be done is this gigantic misty forest. There are networks of well developed trails for nature walks especially for plant and bird lovers, mountain biking, cultural encounters, and bird watching as Bwindi has been the number one birding site in the whole of Africa.

The park can be accessed by air through the Entebbe international airport and Kajansi airstrip from Kampala to the Kisoro, Kihihi or kayonnza air strips as well as by road from several direction which include: Through queen Elizabeth National park Mweya- Kihihi then Buhoma, Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma, Kampala- Ntungamo- Rukungiri- Kihihi- Buhoma. The Kabale- Ruhija- Buhoma Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo, flights that end in Rwanda can have approximately 5 hours of driving Via the Kabale Katuna Border to Ruhija starting point, if you make a choice to visit Africa and you decide on Safari to Uganda and Rwanda, do not hesitate to include gorilla tracking on your itinerary, time and resources allowing, try both experiences in Uganda and Rwanda as they are both completely different, include other primates like the Golden monkeys which are also endangered and only in the virungas conservation area, a well-trained and information guide should be a pre-requisite for this safari as they create everlasting memories, do not under look their role in spicing up your holiday!

Linda Barbara

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