The Ultimate Gorilla Experience – Bwindi Impenetrable

The Mubare gorilla group was the first to become available for tourism in Uganda in April 1993. Nine groups are now habituated for tourism, and one group for research.

Spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys, Bwindi is the source of five major rivers, which flow into Lake Edward.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rain forests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 459 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.

This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.

Bwindi is a home to atleast 200 butterfly species including the eight albertine rift endemics.Also a home to many reptiles.

The neighboring towns of Buhoma and Nkuringo both have an impressive array of luxury lodges, rustic bandas, and budget campsites, as well as restaurants, craft stalls, and guiding services. Opportunities abound to discover the local Bakiga and Batwa Pygmy cultures through performances, workshops, and village walks.



Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be accessed following several routes. Here are some of the most common routes to take.

Kampala City – Ntungamo Town – Rukungiri Town – Kihihi Town – Buhoma Town

This is perhaps the quickest and most direct route for tourists traveling from Kampala. The route follows a tarmacked jorueny for about 390 kilometers to Rukungiri followed by 82 kilometers on winding murram roads to the park’s headquarters at Buhoma.

Kampala City – Kabale Town – Kanungu Town – Buhoma HQ

The route is tarmacked for about 414 kilometers between Kampala and Kabale for approximately 6 hours after which tourists follow a winding murram road for 120 kilometers through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo for another 5 hrs until you reach Buhoma where the park’s headquarters are found. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended.

Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mweya) – Kihihi Town – Buhoma HQ

This route leads through Queen Elizabeth National Park’s southerly called Ishasha, providing the chance of a stopover in search of the iconic tree-climbing lions. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is approximately 160 kilometers from Mweya and about 64 kilometers from Ishasha. The journey is mainly along a dirt road. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended.

Kampala City – Kabale Town – Ruhija Sector – Buhoma HQ

The distance from Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma is about 95 kilometers over a winding murram road; a journey that lasts about 4 hours. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended.

Kampala City – Kabale Town – Nkuringo Sector

The distance from Kabale to Nkuringo is about 105 kilometers; approximately 4 hours in total along a mountainous murram road. The majority of tourists often overnight in Kisoro which is about 80 kilometers from Kabale town before proceeding to Nkuringo or the Rushaga sector the following morning for the gorilla trek. The road from Kisoro is a winding 35-kilometer journey that takes at least one hour or an hour and a half. A 4WD vehicle is recommended for both approaches to Nkuringo.


Bwindi is served by a series of flights including a daily scheduled flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro Airstrip for tourists visiting the park’s southern sectors of Nkuringo and Rushaga. From Kisoro, tourists will need a 4WD vehicle to transfer them along a winding murram road to their lodge in time for the next day’s trek. The park’s northerly frontier is served by a schedule of daily flights from Entebbe to Kihihi airstrip from which tourists will need a 4WD vehicle to transfer them along a winding murram road to their lodge in time for the next day’s trek.

Scheduled and chartered flights last only about 1 hour and 10 minutes.


Gorilla Tracking

A gorilla tracking safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a lifetime dream for almost every traveler and has been dubbed by some as the best wildlife experience on earth. Coming face to face with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, seeing the sheer might yet gentleness of the silverbacks and the playful nature of the juveniles and infants is an unforgettable experience. Gorilla treks begin at 8 AM every day with a briefing after which groups of a maximum of eight tourists trek into the mysterious jungle that protects close to half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. Led by our expert rangers and an experienced team of advance trackers, the trek can last anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours depending on where the gorillas will be on a specific day. There is the opportunity to see several other fauna and flora species along the way climaxing in 60 incredible minutes in the company of one of our habituated mountain gorilla groups. All tourists on gorilla tracking safaris to Bwindi will need a gorilla permit. Read more about our booking guidelines and gorilla tracking rules.

Gorilla Habituation

Unlike gorilla tracking, the habituation experience follows one of the families that are in the process of being accustomed to tourist visits. Habituation is important in ensuring that the families are made relatively used to tourist visits both for their safety as well as to reduce their shyness. The habituation experience also means that a maximum of 4 tourists will spend more time with the family of gorillas (a total of 4 hours is allowed) as our team of rangers and researchers perform their daily tasks of grooming the family. All tourists visiting Bwindi for the Gorilla Habituation Experience will need a gorilla habituation permit. Read more about our booking guidelines and the do’s and don’t’s for this activity.

Forest/Nature Walk

Guided nature walks in Bwindi lead to some of the park’s still streams and stunning waterfalls and along the way, tourists can bask in the richness of the biodiversity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Butterfly species and other invertebrates, birds, primates, and vegetation can also be sighted.


With over 351 bird species, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a favorite spot for birders and boasts at least 23 Albertine rift endemics. Birding in Bwindi is not only exciting for the unique bird species present but is also rewarding in the form of diversity that can be identified on a single day’s escapade. Birding trips are led by one of our expert ranger guides along the trails through this ancient forest. Tourists may be lucky to spot some of the park’s other wildlife and this is what makes Bwindi and Uganda’s birding safaris even more interesting.

Community Visits

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is neighboured by the Bakiga and Batwa people, both a fascinating group of people with unique traditions. Cultural tours can mean anything from visiting the local ironsmith, a visit to a crafts village, a trip to the traditional leader whose expertise is in prescriptions that have healed the people of the land for centuries, a visit to the local women’s group to learn about how gorilla tourism impacts on their lives and you can also participate in one of the traditional dances or skits. Community tours can either be held the day before your gorilla trek or after can be the much-needed cherry on the cake to crown off an unforgettable encounter with the great apes of our impenetrable forest.


Willaim Wright

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