The rims of Albertine rift valley harbor Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is one of the aged national parks in Uganda. The wavy landscape and thickness of forests have famed the park with their preservation of almost half of the globe’s population of mountain gorillas and gorilla enthusiasts travel from near and far to engage with the park as it’s the only place in Africa that offers breathtaking gorilla habituation experience and among only three destinations where gorilla trekking tours take place.
Unique attractions in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Famed for the extinct glorious mountain gorillas, the sky-searching hills and Impenetrable thick forest conspire to harbor these longtime hunted mountain giants invaluably. Gorilla enthusiasts definitely know that a rare and memorable gorilla safari ensues in the prestigious Bwindi Park because it harbors over 600 individuals which are almost half of what is left in the world. Tourists are sold to believe the magical closeness humans they share with these fury giants in the one hour they spend observing their traits while in Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo, and Rushaga gorilla sectors where they can be traced.
Tourists will know they are truly alive while galloping over demanding landscapes, skipping thick shrubs, kissing tree branches, and listening to chirping sounds made by the birds while on a trek for these glorious mountain gorillas and all the adrenaline will be restored to normal on site of these apes.
Wilderness has given knowledge to the indigenous tribe of Batwa people and has made them humans. Experiencing the traditional life of these individuals will give tourists a sense of being part of them as they learn how they used to hunt wild animals, laying traps and nets, and interesting discoveries like the use of tree houses and caves.
Walking through the forest with an experienced Twa guide takes you down memory lane, singing traditional songs of old good days and generally learning about their interesting life before they were displaced from the forest.
Other primates in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The park offers intriguing feelings to visitors with its historical mountain gorillas but it offers a variety of magical forms and colors of other primates that are exquisitely interesting to tourists. These impenetrable high thick trees that gang up to make a forest are sacred to prominent primates like chimpanzees, baboons, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, de’Brazza’s monkeys, potto, demidoff’ Galago and spectacled galago whose charming behavior of springing from one tree to another keeps visitors in high spirits.
A collection of water sources as well as thick and towering trees definitely attracts all kinds of bird species. With the presence of River Ivy in the park, more than 346 bird species storm the park with over 90% of them being endemic to the Albertine Rift.
Species like a strange weaver, red-fronted and peckers, strange weaver, regal sunbird, Rwenzori batis will entertain visitors with various colors and their chirping sounds and interesting voices produced.
The park obtained its Impenetrable name from the thick shrubs and vines that cover the landscape of the park. The medium and high elevations of the park thrive through mixed forests that include Newtonia, red stinkwood, and East African yellow wood, and the low areas survive on parinari, African mahogany, and the Newtonia buchachanii.
Gorilla families and regions in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
The park harbors over 600 individuals divided into 50 gorilla families and 13 individuals who prefer being loners in the vastness of the park. 21 families are habituated and can be accessed through the four tracking regions of Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo, and Ruhija as explained below.
Gorilla Families in Buhoma sector.
- Mubare family group
Old is indeed gold because this is the oldest habituated family in Uganda as it was habituated in 1993. Obtaining its good name from the sky-rising Mubare hills, has nine members including 6 adults, one teenager, and three toddlers with Kanyonyi being the dominant silverback.
- Habinyanja gorilla family
The group was first sighted close to a swamp / Nyanja in the local language that’s how it adopted its name. With over 25 members sometime back, the family split up due to power struggles creating the Rushegura family, leaving only 17 members in the family.
The peculiar truth about this family is that it’s led by a shrewd alpha female known as Makara who protects one black back, 5 adult females, 3 juveniles, 6 infants, and one sub-adult.
- Rushegura gorilla family
Breaking out from Habinyanja, it was called Habinyanja 2 before later getting renamed that came from tree species called Ebishegura where they harbored. Kabukojo the lead silverback is entitled to keeping safe 4 blackbacks, 4 adult females, 4 juveniles, and 4 infants.
- Katwe gorilla family
This is a new group in Buhoma region and was opened for trekking in 2018. The group consists of just 7 members led by one dominant Silverback.
- Muyambi gorilla family
The newest of all gorilla families in Buhoma. It was availed for trekking in 2019. Muyambi split away from the Mubare family and together with six other members settled to form their own family made of 7 individuals.
Gorilla Families in Rushaga sector.
- Nshongi gorilla family
It is famous for being the largest group that was habituated with over 32 members, however, the group split up in 2010 and the Mishaya gorilla family was born in 2013. Strangely the group has four silver backs where Nshongi was the founding leader. It hosts seven blackbacks but didn’t make any leadership coups. Currently headed by an able silverback, he protects 3 adult females, one sub-adult, 3 infants, and 2 juveniles.
- Bikingi gorilla family
The death of Mishaya led to the dispersal of some of the members of the Mishaya family as they had no male to lead them therefore some joined the Bweza family and others found a home in the Bikingi family.
The group was born alongside some unhabituated gorillas that joined to make them 15 members of this family. One Silverback, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 2 juveniles, and 5 infants.
- Mishaya gorilla family
This was established by Mishaya who broke off from Nshongi but unfortunately, the family fell into despair after his death in 2014. The family had only 7 members by 2015 but it was restored back to 12 members through acquiring friends along the way and successful battles.
- Kahungye gorilla family
This family was named after a hill in Kahungye where they were discovered and opened for trekking activities with 29 members in 2011. The family split up due to intra-male rivalries and the Busingye family was formed that reduced members of the family to 17. Rumanzi has responsibility over 2 more Silverbacks, 3 Blackbacks, 3 female adults, 3 sub-adults, 3 juveniles, and 2 infants.
- Bweza gorilla family
Bweza group biologically originates from the largest habituated group called Nshongi as he left the group to form a new family with Mishaya but as well split away from him to become independent in 2012 with some six members. The family has 12 members currently which encompasses 2 Silverbacks, 4 Blackbacks, 3 female adults, one sub-adult, and two toddlers.
- Busingye gorilla family
This is a splinter from the Kahungye gorilla family in June 2012. Busingye locally means peace but this silverback acts contrary to his name as he is always picking fights with other gorilla families, showing power and supremacy. Busingye is the founder of the family and protects 3 female adults, one juvenile, and 4 infants.
- Kutu gorilla family
This is a new gorilla family in this region and is still under habituation. The family has 8 members and one Silverback.
- Mucunguzi gorilla family
This family split off from Bweza by the third and youngest Silverback at the time they were still in Bweza. It is also among the newly established families in Rushaga and consists of 8 members.
- Rwigi gorilla family
This family is a Kahungye splinter and is just recently opened for trekking. Rwigi decided to walk away and make his own family after a misunderstanding broke off between him and Kahungye. The park is made up of 10 individuals that offer rare interesting moments to tourists who gallop over the Rushaga sector in search of it.
Gorilla Families in Nkuringo sector.
- Nkuringo gorilla family
Nkuringo means a round hill in the Rukiga local language and this is the oldest habituated family in 1997. With the slaughter of Rafiki their leader in 2020 by unmerciful poachers, the family is
led by Rwamutwe a black back who safeguards his fellow that includes a blackback, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 3 juveniles, and 2 infants.
- Bushaho gorilla family
Silverback Bahati moved away from the Nkuringo gorilla family and was followed by some individuals from Nkuringo and other unhabituated gorillas, later the family was habituated as a whole for tourism and named 4 Bushaho after the topography of where the individuals stayed. Bahamian preserves one black back, 3 adult females, one sub-adult, one juvenile, and one infant.
Gorilla Families in Ruhija Sector.
- Bitukura gorilla family
Named after a river where they were first sighted, the family started off with 24 members but because of disputes have settled with 13 members. Tourists get to enjoy watching the closeness of 4 Silverbacks, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 3 infants all under the rule of Ndahura.
- Oruzogo gorilla family
They were named after the Oruzogo plant that they have dominated feeding on as a family. It is one of the most popular families famed for its playful toddlers and juveniles. Bakwate heads the family that comprises of 2Silverback, 2 Blackbacks, 2 sub-adults, 5 adults, one juvenile, and 5 infants.
- Kyaguriro gorilla family
Rukara who engaged in a coup that overthrew Mukiza an inexperienced Silverback is the head of this family and looks after 2 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 2 infants, and 2 juveniles.
- Mukiza gorilla family
This was once under the leadership of Rukara as it was called Kyaguriro B in 2016 after the inexperienced Mukiza was overthrown by Rukara after the demise of Rukina. Mukiza manned up and later formed a family where he shields 4 adult females, one sub-female, and 4 infants.
When to visit Bwindi Forest?
Visitors should flock to the park in the months that stretch from June to August or in December to February for those that miss the first dry period. The dry seasons are ideally the best for this activity since they are less demanding than wet seasons that come along with impasse roads and trails.
You can get to Bwindi through Kampala when in Uganda or Kigali if you land in Rwanda. It is also possible to combine activities in Rwanda and Bwindi such as hiking mount Bisoke in Volcanoes and gorilla trekking in Bwindi.
Activities in Bwindi national park.
This activity is quite demanding as it involves moving through thick vegetation but the sight of the mountain gorillas is quite rewarding as it offers visitors one hour of observing and capturing exquisite moments of these gigantic.
Watching them feed, communicate and engage together as a family is a priceless experience that only gorilla enthusiasts get a chance to witness. And above all, trekked are awarded with congratulatory certificates for engaging in the activity.
Gorilla habituation experience
Similar to gorilla trekking, visitors bare walking on foot through harsh landscapes in search of the different family groups found in the park. Visitors who would wish to spend more than one hour with these giant apes should flock to Bwindi as it’s the only park in Africa that offers this life-changing gorilla habituation safari. Tourists can join the conservationists while they go through the day of familiarizing these magnificent apes with humans – their close relatives.
The thick lush green thickets and forests of Bwindi ensure that the park is a destination for birders with over 350 bird species some being endemic to the Albertine Rift. The colors of these birds and their sounds are interestingly enormous and satisfy the visitors of the park.
Munyanga waterfall trails, Rushura hill walks, Muzubijiro loop, Ivy River, Buhoma to Nkuringo walk, and Habinyanja trails are readily available in the park for tourists in love with discovering nature as they feel its presence face to face coupled with sighting these giant apes if luck is on their side.
The search for these endangered apes necessitates tourists to engage in galloping over wavy landscapes with the support of hiking sticks. Hiking usually resumes from the north to the south and is underway for over 5-9 hours. The most challenging hike is the Kashasha River trail. Read more about gorilla trekking necessities.
Cultural tour experiences
The Batwa pygmies can be met up close while on a nature walk around the park. While engaging with these indigenous people, tourist norms and principles will come to pass for a moment as they will be lost in traditional ways of hunting, cooking, and engaging more with their traditions, food, and way of life.