Bwindi, the birthplace of mountain gorilla trekking, is a jungle paradise covered in dense misty Afromontane forest that clings to steep mountain slopes and cloaks secret valleys. This biologically diverse forest enthralls trekkers with its massive trees and dense understory of ferns and vines – hence the name ‘Impenetrable’.
Bwindi is one of three places to trek for mountain gorillas, and hosts 340 of the 700 mountain gorillas remaining in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to an astonishing variety of animals, birds, plants and insects – plenty to do in addition to gorilla trekking.
Bird-watchers flock to Bwindi as there are an estimated 350 bird species with 23 endemic to the Albertine Rift and 14 recorded nowhere else in Uganda. Globally threatened species such as African green broadbill and Shelley’s crimsonwing (there is no known photo of this bird taken in the wild, other than those netted during research) are also found here.
Bwindi is a scenic 1-hour charter flight from Entebbe International Airport, or a 7-8 hour drive across Uganda. This trip can be broken up with visits to Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale National Park.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi
Most people go to Bwindi to trek for mountain gorillas, and by doing that they are helping to ensure the ongoing protection of these hugely threatened great apes. The success rate for finding gorillas is about 90%, and hikes can go on for as long as 8 hours, or be as short as an hour.
We have clients who found gorillas amongst their lodge units and did not have to put on their hiking boots to enjoy their permitted one hour in the company of the gorillas!
But to be safe, prepare to be out for at least 4-6 hours and make sure that you can walk at a medium pace for that length of time, with frequent rest periods. We encourage you to hire a porter to carry your food, water and camera equipment – not only will this make your walk easier, it will provide much-needed employment for the locals and strengthen their understanding that the gorillas are important providers. And to top it off, you will get to enjoy a closer bond with a local person – surely one of the many enjoyable aspects of being on safari in Africa.
Your gorilla trek will start with an important briefing about safety and the rules to be followed while in the park. Your trek will be guided by extremely experienced and very professional local guides and trackers. Wear sturdy hiking boots, a sun hat and layers of clothing. Temperatures can change within minutes from hot and muggy to cold and wet if you get caught in a rain storm. Always pack waterproofing for your camera equipment.
Read this informative article about mountain gorillas.