Bwindi Forest is an old-growth or virgin forest and is one of the oldest and most ecologically diverse forests in Uganda. Located in the southwest on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, it covers an area of approximately 331 square kilometres and is famously home to almost half the world’s last surviving mountain gorillas.
The forest is also the source of five major rivers which flow into Lake Edward. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
In addition to the mountain gorillas, the forest is also home to over 120 species of mammals, and 350 species of birds and contains almost 400 species of plants some of which are found nowhere else on earth. It is also home to the Batwa who earn their living off the forest’s bounty.
This 3-day Trek is ideal for the quick getaway from the concrete jungle that is the modern city and will have you trekking up and down thick forested hills and ridges under a canopy and through undergrowth that is tens of thousands of years old! Fitness is key as it can take up to 5 hours to find a group of mountain gorillas.
Day 1: Kampala – Mbarara – Bwindi
The journey from Kampala to Bwindi is about 450 km so we will set off from Kampala as early as 6:30 a.m. This scenic drive will take us through central Uganda crossing the Equator in Mpigi district onto Masaka then Lyantonde. The Equator divides the northern and southern hemispheres and is an ideal spot to take a break and a selfie!
We will arrive in Mbarara in the afternoon and proceed to the Great Lakes Museum along Ntungamo-Kabale road. The Great Lakes Museum was opened in 2014 to preserve and promote the history and culture of the surrounding peoples.
The last stretch will take us through a gradually rising beautiful landscape of rolling hills fetching up in the picturesque highlands of Kigezi, famously nicknamed “The Switzerland of Africa” for its climate. Arriving at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the early/late evening, we will check into our lodgings, relax and have dinner.
Day 2: Gorilla Tracking & Cultural Trek
Very early in the morning, we will receive a briefing from the park guides on the dos and don’ts and then we’ll venture off into the forest.
Tracking gorillas is an exhilarating experience taking you deep into the thick jungle and requires a modest level of physical fitness as it can take anywhere from 2- 4 hours to find the gorillas. Once you have found the gorillas, you’ll be able to spend up to one hour with them!
“At a distance of about fifteen feet, a mountain gorilla with her baby appears. She comes out of the bushes, looks at me and lies down. My presence does not seem to bother her. She just wants to rest, whether I am there or not. I can almost touch her. My heart dances with joy. I am in a good position to take pictures, so I let my camera do its work. It is the thrill of a lifetime. I cannot but agree with the American zoologist George Schaller, the first to study gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes, who once said: ‘No one who looks into the eyes of a gorilla, gentle and vulnerable, can remain unchanged.”
— Stella & Trudy
In the afternoon we can take an optional guided trek to visit the surrounding communities. You’ll meet and interact with the locals and immerse yourself in some of the traditional pastimes like cultural dances and storytelling.
Returning to the lodge late in the day and settling in for a quiet evening, dinner and a good night’s sleep.
NOTE: Please note that if you are unwell with anything contagious, even a common cold, you may be denied any of the treks to ensure the safety of these creatures.
Day 3: Bwindi – Queen Elizabeth – Kampala
After breakfast, we’ll drive through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for the tree-climbing lions. We’ll lunch in Kasese before continuing our journey to Kampala via Fort Portal.