Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is located in South Western Uganda and occupies 331 sq km. It lies on the edge of the Western Rift valley (Albertine rift) and shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro districts. The park occupies different vegetation zones but predominantly a tropical rain forest. This is one of the few remaining forests in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age. Bwindi Impenetrable national park is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas (326 gorillas). In the World today, it is estimated that there are only 700 remaining mountain gorillas.
Apart from the rare mountain gorillas, the park also has over 120 mammalian species including 11 primates, 200 species of butterflies and about 324 different tree species. These primates include the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, L’Hoest Monkey, Red Tailed monkeys among others. The forest is also rich in birdlife (360 species) with 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics being present in the park. Among the notable bird species include the Short-tailed Warbler, Gruer’s Rush Warbler, Bar-tailed Trogon, Yellow-eyed black Fly-catcher, Dusky Crimson Wing, White-tailed Blue Monarch, Wilcock’s Honey-guide, Rusty-faced woodland Warbler Kivu Ground Thrush, among others. These birds cannot be easily cited anywhere in East Africa. Ihimbo hot springs is another tourist attraction, it was discovered by the Bakiga settlers in the 1950s, and the boiling water that bubbled from the spring rapidly acquired national fame for its therapeutic powers.
One legend tells of a flat chested girl who bathed there and emerged with an enviably voluptuous bosom, another man who lost his leg in accident and regained it after swimming in the hot water. Because of it’s popularity, Ihimbo has attracted up to 1000 individuals annually from all around the country.
Visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable forest can also visit Kanungu town to see the church where more than 500 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (MRTCG) vanished from the fire after being convinced that they were going to heaven through fire. This event occurred on 17th March 2000 and it is one of the massive religious massacre events in the whole world.
NATURE WALKS IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATION
The Bwindi impenetrable national park is a national park located in southwestern part Uganda, its near kanungu, kisoro district, and Kabale. This park is commonly known for being a home of the endangered primates, the great mountain Gorillas, where half of the world’s population of Gorillas live. It’s one of the best destinations for the majority of tourists that come to visit Uganda for adventure. The Bwindi national park covers an area of 331 square kilometers and it was established in 1991, in 1994 it was made a world heritage site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. The Bwindi national park has a tropical type of climate ranging from 7 150 c to a maximum of 20-27Oc and rainfall ranging from 1400mm to 1900mm. The reason why it’s called impenetrable is because of the thick and intact trees, grass and shrubs that make it not easy to penetrate through.
The fact that Bwindi impenetrable national park accommodates the biggest percentage of the Gorillas in the whole world (340 gorillas), 116 habituated), it’s also a habitat to other wildlife species, 130 mammals like baboons, chimps, elephants, to mention but a few, 200 butterflies 42 endemics to Albertine rift valley, 350 Bird species, and many more wildlife species. These species are found in all sectors of Bwindi national park, the Buhoma sector, the Rushaga sector, the Ruhija sector, and the Nkuringo sector.
CNN ranked Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park as number 15 of 23 hiking trails. Best destinations in the world for hiking and nature walk, this is a good recognition and recommendation for the Uganda tourism industry and a big step to the tourism business in Uganda.
The national geographic channel also ranked Uganda as the best destination to tour before you die, the only place that inhabits the biggest percentage of the mountain gorilla in the whole world. Great recognition and recommendation to the Uganda tourism industry.
On 24th April 2019, CNN article by john Minihane during earth day celebration, Bwindi impenetrable national park was listed as the first beautiful place around the world and a UNESCO protected national park home with habituated gorillas. It’s a great acknowledgment.
A nature walk in Bwindi impenetrable national park simply means penetrating through the thick and intact impenetrable forest of Bwindi In Bwindi impenetrable national park nature walk is done in trails. Nature walk Activities carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable national park include, gorillas tracking, gorillas habituation, Batwa trails, community walk, nature walks, hiking and birding.
Gorilla trekking, this Gorilla tracking exercise in Bwindi national park simply is a guided long walk through the forest searching for the endangered gorillas. The gorillas are not territorial, they move to different hunting spots looking for food, they don’t have permanent places to live, every day they make new nests where they feed on. Bwindi Impenetrable national park inhabits half of the gorillas in the world. Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in western Uganda, Mgahinga national park in western Uganda, Virunga national park in Congo and finally the Volcanoes in Rwanda only. To track Gorillas, you entitled to acquire a gorilla permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority or through a tour and travel company.
For tourists who wish to do physical fitness in a healthy environment, a nature walk in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park is be the best activity that could change your life, and for budget travelers that can’t afford to purchase a gorilla permit, For tourists who would wish to venture more about Bwindi impenetrable forest, those that wish to do permit which costs 600$, 2019 but increasing to 700$ from 1st July 2020, this is the best alternative as there are chances of meeting Gorillas and animals during the Nature walk. The Batwa culture trails: During the Batwa nature, you will have a good opportunity to associate and have a good time with the people of the forest.
The Batwa are the endangered group of people commonly known as pygmies who are believed to have originated from Itusi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, They are believed to have lived for over 600,000 years according to the anthropologists. Batwa migrated to Bwindi to search for wildlife since they depended on hunting and gathering fruits. They lived in grass-thatched huts, their entire life in the forest with wild animals like gorillas, baboons, monkeys, and birds to mention but a few .they were named the keepers of the forest. The Batwa’s life is totally different from other humans in the modern world, no education, no health facilities, no religion, and they live naturally. Life became hard for the Batwa culture in 1991, when the Uganda government evicted them from Bwindi impenetrable forest, reason being:
- the government of Uganda upgraded Bwindi forest to a conservation area then to a national park due to the fact that the rare and endangered gorillas live
- since the Batwa depended on hunting for a living that they were going to make the conservation of these primates difficult as they would kill them during the hunt and chase them from their habitats.
- To prevent transmission of diseases between the Batwa and the gorillas since the endangered gorillas share 98 DNA with human beings
The life of the Batwa has not been easy though the government gazetted for them Echuya game reserve in kisoro outside the park, life is not all that since they were forcefully evicted from their land.
Treated them badly, called ignorant people by the modern Ugandans, they earn a living through pottery and doing casual jobs, digging in people’s plantations. They are the poorest ethnic group of people in Uganda since they never got involved in any economic activities that could sustain them, depended on hunting and gathering fruits.
Today some of the non-government organizations like USAID have come out together with the government of Uganda to create a place for them to practice their old way of lifestyle. Some schools, hospitals have been put in place to help them get access to the basic needs of life and have their rights respected.
To enjoy and experience Bwindi impenetrable forest take a nature walk in Bwindi Impenetrable forest, from gorillas to chimpanzees, baboons elephants in the same area
Culture walk, you reach out to the some of the communities that live near the park like the Bakiga, you get to learn about the Bakiga culture, how they make local beer from banana plantations, (omulamba), and they will take you through how they used to live a living in the early years.
Buhoma- Nkuringo trails, this trail takes approximately 3 hours connecting to the two villages’ buhoma and Nkuringo, and you get the chance to see the hills’ mist of the park, not only that also the chance to see different animal species on the way like the gorillas, baboons and monkeys and birds.
Rushura hill trail, this trail takes approximately 3 hours, a hike to the top of this hill, you get a chance to see the forest, the Virunga Volcanoes on the other side, the Rwenzori Mountains and the western rift valley and Lake Edward not forgetting wildlife species like l hoest’s monkeys, chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkey, butterflies, and antelopes. Nature walk becomes the best activity to venture the Bwindi impenetrable compared to other activities.
Bamboo trail, bamboo shoots are favorable food for the gorillas, they are chances of seeing gorillas feeding during your walk-in Bwindi national park, bamboo is found on top heights on an elevation of 2607mand 550ft above the sea level, to reach Rwamunyo where these bamboos and alpine tree species are found it takes like 6 hours in the forest to reach there.
River Ivi trail, the walk takes 14km and 6- 7 hours from Nyabweru to reach a place called “mukempunu” which is translated to a Rukiga word the place of pigs. The is walk takes 6 hours on the way, you will get the chance to see the variety of animals like the gorillas, birds to mention but a few, this makes it the best activity compared to others. A guided nature walk in Bwindi is an interesting and adventurous one.
Ruhija community walk, Ruhija is a small village hill up in the mist bordering Bwindi Impenetrable forest one of the starting point for trekking gorillas, there are schools and hospital in this place, taking a nature walk in this place you are contributing a lot towards the wellbeing of the Batwa community and less Privileged people who live near the park. This is also a joyful activity, you get a chance to walk to the hills, see how the Bakiga terrace their lands for plantation and digging with the hoes, they terrace their land to control from soil erosion, it’s the most local method used since the land is hilly.
To carry out nature walk activity, one must consider the following, you must wear long-sleeved tops and trousers, safety boots, hand gloves, hat a walking stick to protect yourself from thorns and itchy plants during the walk
Conclusion, in short, nature walk in Bwindi is one of the best activities carried out in Bwindi impenetrable national park, because it gives an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, different culture and communities, interactions and learning a lot from the local people who live near the park. Experience Uganda’s wildlife to your exceptions.