ABOUT BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, located in south-western Uganda, is an area of 32,092 hectares where Afromontane lowland forests extend to the montane belt. This biodiverse hotspot boasts a large number of tree species for its altitude in East Africa and is home to an abundance of wildlife including endemic butterflies and some of the richest mammalian assemblages in Africa. Spanning 25,000 years, this mist-covered landscape hosts almost 400 varieties of plants and serves as a haven for roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas – many of which are habituated and can be tracked by visitors. Bwindi offers unparalleled natural beauty and scientific significance that all nature lovers should explore!
This region is home to an array of animal life, boasting a wide variety of mammals from primates like baboons and chimpanzees, as well as iconic creatures such as elephants and antelopes. Not forgetting the astonishing 350 species of birds – including 23 Albertine Rift endemics – this forest offers something for everyone!
WEATHER IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
The forest’s altitude which is 4265ft to 8553ft influences its climate. The park’s proximity to the equator means that temperatures are mostly consistent throughout the year, hovering around 23°C in the day and dropping to roughly 11°C at night. Temperatures tend to be lower at higher altitudes within the forest. Rain falls throughout the year and short downpours are possible even during the dry season. The park’s annual rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900mm. The peak of the rainy season happens in March to April and from September to November. It however does not experience really dry seasons. The drier seasons; The months of June and July and December to February receive very low rainfall and are referred to as the drier season.
ATTRACTIONS IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
One of the leading highlights of the forest is the chance to see primates in the wild. Bwindi is the only place in the world in which mountain gorillas and chimpanzees still co-exist. Other animals found in the region include elephants, duiker, bushpig, giant forest hog and several small cat species. More attractions include 160 species of trees, over 100 species of ferns, and over 200 butterfly species. The forest is also famous for the “Albertine rift Endemic”, a group of Birds specific to the Western Rift valley. Over 346 species of birds have been recorded in the region.
Mountain gorillas are one of Africa’s most prominent endangered species. There are approximately 400 gorillas in the protected area accounting for about half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. They consist of about 14 different family groups that are used to human interaction allowing guided groups a chance to see them in the wild.
Bwindi mountain gorillas display thicker and longer hair than other gorilla species. Males can reach a weight of about 195 kg which is about double that of the females. Typical height is about five feet (1.5 m), but they can get slightly taller when fully erect. The arm span can reach about 7 feet 7 inches (2.3 m), which assists in navigation amongst the trees.
Adult males are affectionately referred to as silverbacks. This name comes from the silver or grayish hair that develops along the arch of the back as these males age.
On the trekking day, tourists assemble at the park headquarters. They are briefed about the dos and don’ts when in the vicinity of the gorillas. Tourists are then led off to their tracking sectors from where they embark on the tracking expeditions. Once located, tourists spend an hour interacting and discovering more about these interesting creatures. After the encounter, tourists are guided back to the national park headquarters for their certificates of participation.
Chimpanzees of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest boasts a unique and diverse population of chimpanzees, the one and only Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. With about 98% of their DNA matching that of our own species, they are our closest wild relatives you could find! A mature chimpanzee typically stands at an impressive 1.6m tall and weighs between 40-60kgs – pretty hefty for a primate! Not to mention their signature black mane with exception of those toes, palms, face, fingers and soles! Chimpanzees in Bwindi National Park are accustomed to living in communities with the Alpha male leading the pack; if you’re lucky you might even spot some on your next visit to either Buhoma in the north or Nkuringo sector down south.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest is a haven for birds. Due to its biodiversity, Bwindi is a home to various birds with over 300 bird species and 24 species endemic to the Albertine rift. Among the various bird species that can be seen here include the African broadbill, fowls, Turacos like the black-billed Turacos and many others.
Bwindi forest has over 100 mammal species among these include bush pigs, forest hogs, forest Elephant, duikers, bush bucks, African golden cats.
The forest also protects about 220 butterfly species and 42 of them are Albertine Rift endemic species. Some butterflies’ species are notably unique in Bwindi impenetrable forest. They include the cream banded swallow tail (Papilio leucotaenia), Graphium gudenusi and Charaxes foumierae as well as the endangered African giant swallowtail (Papilio antimachus).
It is also recognized for its 27 Amphibian species that have been recorded in the park, 11 of which are Albertine Rift endemic while the 6 are of global conservation interest including the Western Rift Leaf folding frog (Afrixalus orophilus) and Ahl’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius castaneus).
Bwindi Impenetrable forest hosts a good number of reptiles. The forest protects 14 snake species and 9 of them are endemic to Bwindi. There are also 6 chameleon species and 14 species of lizards.
Bwindi Impenetrable natural forest used to be home to the Batwa clan of Uganda. They used to live and survive on the forest’s resources. Due to the conservation programs and efforts, the group was driven out of the forest and they currently live around the forest. Visiting the Batwa offers a great experience and a chance to discover their unique cultural practices and way of living. Batwa present great hunting skills, traditional entertainment, community walks among others to tourists.
The list of tourist attractions and activities that can be enjoyed while visiting Bwindi Impenetrable forest is endless. Due to its biodiversity, it’s Uganda’s number one leading tourist destination, thanks to its mountain gorillas. It can be visited at any time of the year though the most preferred is the dry season when the ground is less slippery.