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- On April 9, 2019
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CNN Travel has named Uganda’s mountain gorilla home of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as one of the best hiking trails in the world. Bwindi was placed in number 15 out of the 23 ranked hiking trails.
“Wildlife walks don’t come more fascinating than a trip to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where you can get up close and personal with the area’s mountain gorilla population”, read part of the document from CNN Travel about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Why Bwindi ranks high?
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in Southwest Uganda and it is home to more than half of the global population of mountain gorillas. Currently, the estimates show that there are about 1000 mountain gorillas in the world and about 600 of them are found in Bwindi. The remaining population of mountain gorillas are found in the 3 national parks within the Virunga Mountains, that is, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
The park is commonly known for breathtaking gorilla safaris and gorilla tours that are arranged for travelers to trek mountain gorillas throughout the year. The rugged and steep terrain of Bwindi coupled with its dense vegetation makes the park one of the most adventurous in the region for hikers.
What to see & do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking is the main safari activity in Bwindi. 99 percent of Bwindi visitors come for gorilla trekking though there are other complimentary tour activities like birding in the park. with more than 15 habituated gorilla families available for visitors to track in Bwindi, there are almost 100 percent chances for visitors to meet and interact with their allocated gorilla family/group.
How to go get to Bwindi for a gorilla safari?
Safaris to Bwindi to trek mountain gorillas are usually organized through reliable local tour agents like Gorilla Trek Africa and Africa Adventure Safaris. They will help you to book your gorilla permit which is always done in advance due to limited availability of the permit on the market. Once your permit has been booked, the agent will also help you to book your accommodation and arrange your transport to ensure that you have a successful trip that will last in your memory for a lifetime. They will also brief you on what to pack for your gorilla safari.
How gorillas safaris are organized in Bwindi
Trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national park is subject to securing a gorilla permit. A gorilla permit to track gorillas in Bwindi is currently sold at $600 per person. Once the permit has been secured, trekkers gather at park headquarters for briefing early morning on the day of trekking. Trekkers are briefed about the dos and don’ts of gorilla tracking and then grouped into groups of 8 trekkers per group. Each group is allocated to track a single gorilla family for a maximum of an hour.
The trek to reach the gorillas in Bwindi can last for 2-6 hours depending on how close or far you find your allocated gorilla group. Trekkers are also assigned a guide who helps them to find the gorillas and also keep reminding them about the dos and the don’ts in the process of trekking.
Once the gorillas are reached, the experience with them is unexplainable, some trekkers even become emotional and shade tears of joy and sympathy as they fall in love with these awesome and great apes. You are allowed to take photos of gorillas as they play, eat and move around though flash cameras are discouraged as well as noise and careless movements. At the lapse of the allowed hour in the presence of gorillas, the guide will tap you that it’s time to go back but experience gathered from being close to the gorillas is a lifetime one.
When to go to Bwindi?
There are both a peak season and a low season in gorilla tracking. The peak season happens between June and September and December to January and that is the best time to trek the mountain gorillas in the jungles of Bwindi. This is a dry season and the hikes are less difficulty compared to the rainy season though it can always anytime in Bwindi.
What else to see in Bwindi?
Although Bwindi may be more known for gorilla safaris, there are several other wildlife species in the park that visitors can see including large mammals like elephants, primates like monkeys and baboons. There are over 23 bird species in Bwindi including Albertine Rift endemics. There are also guided forest walks through the dense rainforest of Bwindi that introduce you to other natural treasures of this magnificent wild.