Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – the secret south
Anywhere that includes ‘impenetrable’ in its name is sure to be remote; but there’s remote and remoter when it comes to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Rainforest. This ancient forest (estimated to date back more than 25,000 years) in south western Uganda is home to over half the world’s endangered mountain gorillas, a further 11 primate species including chimpanzees, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and black and white colobus, and around 120 mammal species. The birds are awesome too with 90% of the Albertine Rift endemics found here, making it the place to tick off those birds you won’t see elsewhere.
Tracking the mountain gorillas is the big draw here and most visitors to Bwindi will head to Buhoma village which is the best-known area with a great number of lodges to suit all budgets. If you’d prefer to get off the beaten track our suggestion is to head south to the little known, and very beautiful, Nkuringo region. The area is home to three habituated gorilla families, with a further seven families in Rushaga which is just a 50 minute drive away.
Gorilla treks last an hour with a maximum of eight other people, however from Nkuringo there is another incredibly special and unique experience on offer. In an exclusive group of just four, you are able to join trackers and researchers to spend up to four hours with the mountain gorillas during their habituation. This is the painstaking process of getting wild mountain gorillas used to the sight of people. It involves different groups of people, including trackers, conservationists, researchers and rangers approaching the gorilla family and spending time with them. It takes two to three years to complete.
Accommodation options in the area are few but Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is superb. Sitting 2,000 metres above sea level, it’s Uganda’s highest lodge and enjoys stunning views all the way to the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda, and across the border into the Congo, where the glow of Nyiragongo Volcano can be seen on a clear night. Each of the eight en-suite rooms has a sitting room with a cosy fireplace, perfect for a roaring fire on those colder nights. Lush gardens and sheltered verandas provide plentiful spots from which to simply sit and absorb the beautiful scenery.
If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have on gorilla tracking in Uganda (or indeed Rwanda), please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday that includes gorilla tracking, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa and tracked mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, as well as lowland gorillas in Congo. They can offer expert advice on all these destinations and recommend the right one for you. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.