Gorilla in Bwindi

There are some fantastic Bwindi Impenetrable National Park tours to enjoy the forest. The park is one of the most wildlife-rich forests in Africa and there are many animals to see. The most iconic animals in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are the gorillas, which you can see on different tours. But there is much more to see in the region as well.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Let’s start with an introduction to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park…

The park was once continuous rainforest with the Virunga National Park, which you can see in the distance. Bwindi is mostly famous for the endangered mountain gorillas, but there are many other mammals and fascinating birds to see.

Located in south-western Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park protects part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It covers a total of 32,000 hectares and contains an impressive assortment of animals and plants.

The Bwindi Forest is one of the most diverse tropical forests on the continent. There are 350 different birds, 1,000 flowering plants, and 120 different mammals. The mammals include 340 mountain gorillas and there’s a total of 10 primate species found in the park. The other primates include chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons, and blue guenons.

As well as primates, there is an abundance of interesting birds and a few species found nowhere else on Earth. The other mammals include elephants, bushbucks, giant forest hogs, and different small cats.

The Mountain Gorillas

There are now 340 mountain gorillas living within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is half the population with the others living in the Virunga Mountains of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda border.

The Bwindi gorillas have been found to be a bit different from their Virunga cousins. The Bwindi population have been less studied, but we know they eat more fruit and are more comfortable climbing and nesting in trees.

The Bwindi gorillas are spread across a few different groups in the forest. These are accessed from four different trailheads.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Geography & Climate

The Bwindi habitat is quite rugged and mountainous. There are many rivers and narrow valleys throughout the Bwindi Forest. As for temperature, the park experiences a tropical climate. The nights can get down to around 7 or 10°C and daylight hours are usually around 21°C with a maximum temperature of 27°C.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Tours

There are some fantastic tours for the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with many of the options focussed on gorilla treks. You can also arrange birding tours and cultural experiences with the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge. Some of our favorites are below. We will mention some tours for the Bwindi Impenetrable National exclusively and then mention some combination tours to combine Bwindi with other areas in Uganda to see different primates and wildlife.

The 5 Day Gorilla Trekking Tour

Gorilla, Uganda - Nkuringo Primate Tour

The 5-day gorilla trekking tour is a fantastic experience to see two different gorilla groups living in the Bwindi Forest.

In addition to wildlife, enjoy a very picturesque part of Uganda surrounded by rolling hills, forest, and the distant Virunga Mountains. A great lodge to base yourself is called the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, which is located only a walk away from the base of the Nkuringo gorilla group trailhead.

After reaching the lodge, enjoy some delicious home-style cooked food and relax in your comfortable room. The next morning, you will begin the gorilla trek. Walk 300 metres from the lodge to the start of the trailhead and the registration area to see the gorillas. After a briefing on correct behavior around the gorillas, it will be time to set off.

It often takes 2 to 3 hours to find the gorillas as they can be anywhere in the forest but can take a while longer. Once we find them, you can stay with these magnificent mammals for a maximum of one hour. Although they’re well habituated, this is to cause minimal disturbance to the gorillas. You will then return to the lodge for some hot food and a relaxing night.

The next day, you will set off to find the second gorilla group. This time, we will head to the Rushaga section of the park. You will have a briefing again and then begin the trek. Like the previous group, once you have found the gorillas, you can stay with them for a maximum of an hour. After this, return to the lodge for a hot bowl of soup and relaxing night. You will begin your journey back to Entebbe the next morning after a delicious breakfast.

The 4 Day Gorilla Trekking Tour

Gorilla, Uganda - Nkuringo Primate Tour

The 4-day gorilla trek differs from the 5-day trek above mainly by only visiting one gorilla group from the more accessible Nkuringo trailhead.

You will fly from Entebbe to Kisoro in Uganda and begin your trek to the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge. Once here, enjoy delicious food and a relaxation lodge to prepare for your gorilla trek the next morning.

After a comfortable night sleep, you will walk to the start of the Nkuringo trailhead in the morning. This is just 300 meters from the lodge. You will begin the trek with a briefing at the registration area at the start of the walk. After a briefing on correct behavior around the gorillas, it’s time to begin your trek. The time of the trek varies as it depends where we find the gorillas in the forest. Once we find them, you can spend a maximum of one hour with the group. You will then return to the lodge for some hot food and a comfortable night sleep. The next day, you will begin your journey back to Entebbe for your journey home.

Combination Tours with the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

To see some other protected areas in Uganda, and to enjoy seeing the iconic primates of the country, we recommend the Primate Tours. Combine the gorillas in the Bwindi Forest with the chimpanzees of Kibale National Park. While here, spot some of the different monkeys that inhabit the Kibale Forest.

The Primate Tour – 10 Days

Gorilla, Uganda - Nkuringo Primate Tour

A great tour to see Uganda’s favorite protected areas for primates, enjoy the 10-day Primate Tour. On this tour, focus on the different primate species in Uganda (especially the chimpanzees and gorillas) and also see some of the Big 5 African safari animals.

As the classic primate safari in Uganda, over 10 days explore the Kibale Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

In the Kibale Forest, enjoy a habituation experience with the resident chimpanzees. You will be with our closest cousins to familiarize the group with visitors. Stay for as short a time as you like or until dusk if you would like more time with the chimps. The experience is physically demanding, so you can call time when you want.

The area of the Kibale Forest National Park is also where you find the beautiful Crater Lakes. Enjoy some very beautiful scenery while seeing some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife.

You will also visit the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth National Park where you can find Africa’s Big 5. Enjoy game drives to find some of the large mammals, including elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, leopards, and also 10 different primate species. The park is also a great place for birding and 500 different birds are found in the area.

After this, you will visit the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park to begin the gorilla part of your tour. Enjoy comfortable accommodation at the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, which is very close to the Nkuringo gorilla trek trailhead.

After some delicious food and a comfortable night sleep, you will begin your gorilla trek. First, you will visit the reception area at the Nkuringo trailhead to have a briefing on correct behavior around the gorillas. You will then begin your trek to find the gorillas themselves, which varies in time dependent on where the group is in the forest. Once found, you can enjoy a maximum of 1 hour with the gorillas to cause the group minimal disturbance. After this, return to the lodge for some hot food. You will then visit the beautiful Lake Mburo National Park to see some more of the region’s beautiful scenery the next day.

The Primate Tour – 7 Days

Chimpanzee, Uganda - Nkuringo Primate Tour

A similar experience to the classic Primate Tour above, over 7 days enjoy visiting different protected areas to find Ugandan wildlife. Particular attention will be on the country’s different primates and especially the chimpanzees and gorillas.

First, you will visit the diverse Kibale Forest National Park. This is where you will have a habituation experience with the forest’s chimpanzees. This can be a physically demanding experience, so you can choose when to head back to your accommodation. Enjoy staying with the chimpanzees until dusk or call time when you wish.

In addition to seeing the chimps, this is a very scenic part of Africa and you can enjoy incredible views of the Crater Lakes. After this, you will head to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for the gorilla trekking part of your tour.

Stay at the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge for the Bwindi Forest, which is just 300 meters from the start of the gorilla trekking trailhead. After relaxing in the lodge and enjoying some delicious food, the next day you will head to the start of the Nkuringo trailhead. You will first have a briefing on correct behavior around the gorillas and then it will be time to set off. The trek itself varies in time dependent on where the gorillas have chosen to be in the forest. Once you have found them, you can stay with the group for a maximum of one hour. This is to cause minimal disturbance to the gorillas. After an hour, return to the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge for some tasty food and a relaxing night sleep before your journey home.

The Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge

Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Uganda

The Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge is a great base for gorilla treks. However, you can also contact the lodge to ask about other itinerary options in Uganda. In addition to arranging gorilla treks, you can enjoy walking tours, birding experiences, and cultural exchanges. Some of the itinerary options from the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge are:

  • Visiting Batwa pygmies
  • Enjoying a guided village walk
  • A guided multi-day trek to/from Kisoro via Lake Mutanda
  • Walking through Bwindi Forest to the park headquarters at Buhoma
  • Tracking the Nkuringo Gorilla family (assuming you have a tracking permit)
  • Tracking the Nshongi Gorilla family at Rushaga (assuming you have a permit)
  • Simply enjoy the amazing views of the gallery forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Virunga volcanoes
Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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