Bwindi is a great place to visit for a nature tour and an unforgettable vacation. We have selected two of the best Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Lodges: the Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge & Nkuringo Gorilla Camp. These comfortable lodges are suited for individual adventurers, couples, or families with children over 15 years (young children unfortunately cannot obtain a gorilla permit). I will mention these lodges a little later, but first some info on Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and its wildlife.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The name of the park comes from the stands of wild bamboo within the forest, which the locals found difficult to penetrate. They then named the forest ‘Bwindi’ which in the local language means impenetrable. Because of this combined with the mountainous landscape, Bwindi is one of the few remaining areas of primary forest in the region.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is located in south western Uganda and accessible from Kisoro (south of Bwindi) and Kihihi (north of Bwindi). The forest contains a very high diversity of wildlife and a little over 300 mountain gorillas, which is half the world’s population. The rest of these magnificent animals live in the Virunga Mountains and the two groups shared continuous rainforest until deforestation split the population around 500 years ago. These regions are regarded as one of the world’s best locations for animals and plants and the most diverse forests in Africa.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Wildlife
The gorillas are a must see attraction of the forest, but there is much more to see here. Covering around 30, 000 hectares of tropical forest, the park is home to the richest diversity of mammals in Uganda, including gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, L’Hoest’s monkeys, duiker, green monkeys, Schmidt’s red-tailed monkeys, red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, bushbucks, African golden cats and a large amount of different birds. The birds you can find include Grauer’s swamp warbler, Shelley’s crimson-wings, African green broadbills, Turner’s eremomelas, Chapin’s flycatchers, and fantastic butterflies like the large African giant swallowtails and cream-banded swallowtails. Because this is a dense forest as the name implies, sightings of other animals aside from the habituated gorilla groups can be more difficult. But as there are many species found nowhere else on Earth, searching for them can be very rewarding.
When to go to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
We recommend traveling in the drier months when there is less rain to muddy the trails, which is from June to August (most tourists) and December to February (less tourists), however, birding may be better during the wetter months. Uganda has a usually wet climate with the drier season from June to August. Temperature can be hot in the days and cold in mornings and evenings, reaching around 30°C of a day and getting down to around 7°C at night. The wetter months are from March to April and September to November.
The high season for tourists is from June to September, which is also the most difficult time to get gorilla permits. If you want to visit during this time, we advise booking the permit far in advance. However, regardless of month, we recommend booking your permit from 4 to 6 months before your visit as they are quickly sold out. For questions on permits and arranging gorilla treks, you can contact the lodges using the contact bubbles below. At the time of writing, a gorilla permit costs around $600, which pays for conservation costs, veterinary costs, and park security etc. to protect these incredible animals.
Months with the lowest tourist activity are March, April, May, October & November. During these times, gorilla trekking can be harder as there is more rain, trails are muddy and slippery, and there is more moisture in the air so gorillas are harder to see, but this time can see considerable offers on gorilla permits and lodges have lower nightly rates. It is very rare to not see the gorillas no matter when you visit. The factors that determine when we advise going are the rain, muddiness of the trails and visibility. But combined with better birding, fewer tourists, and lower rates, if you are prepared for very slippery trails, lower visibility, and wetter weather, then these lower months may be perfect.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Tours & Lodges
The two areas to see the gorillas in Bwindi are Buhoma in the north and Nkuringo in the south, which offer similar experiences. We have selected two of the top lodges for tours of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with one in each location giving a slightly different experience of this amazing location. Each of the habituated troops has between 5 to 20 gorillas with individuals constantly moving between groups.
Starting in the north section of Bwindi Impenetrable forest, one of the best accommodation options is the Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge for enjoying the forest in comfort. At Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge you can choose from superior or presidential suites and then choose to dine inside near the glowing fire or outside listening to the sounds of nature. Enjoy breakfast on the terrace, a drink at the bar from a selection of wines and spirits, and relaxing in the living area near the fireplace, the library, or playing board games.
Mahogany Springs Lodge provides a great place for gorilla trekking and birdwatching in Bwindi National Impenetrable Forest. The lodge also provides other experiences to compliment the gorilla safaris, such as visiting the Batwa tribe, and helping reforestation by planting a tree. The birds at this particular lodge are especially interesting because of its location near a river and many species visit the lodge that are found nowhere else on Earth.
For an experience at the southern border of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, visit the Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, which offers a great place to see wildlife and enjoy local culture. Providing fantastic bird watching and gorilla treks, the lodge gives a great experience of Bwindi. Because of its location, you will also enjoy views of the Virunga Volcanoes and Albertine Rift Valley. Tours from Nkuringo Lodge include gorilla trekking, visiting the Batwa pygmies, village walks, forest walks, and you have the option of a guided multi-day trek to or from Kisoro and the lodge via Lake Mutanda.