History of Bwindi
History of Bwindi: Bwindi is located in the southwestern part of Uganda sharing three districts Kabale, Kisoro, and Kanungu. Bwindi is one of the famous places in the world known for hosting endangered mountain gorillas. The national park has more than 700 mountain gorillas living in 4 gorilla trekking regions which are Nkuringo, Ruhija, Rushaga and Buhoma.
History of Bwindi
The history of Bwindi can be tracked as far as 1932 when the area was gazetted as a forest reserve. The area was a crown forest reserve with two sections which are Kasatora crown forest reserve in the south and Kayonza crown forest reserve in the north. These two sectors were later combined to make a large single forest reserve in 1942 and these made a total of 207 sq. km.
In 1964 the area was made an animal sanctuary with an aim of protecting Bwindi mountain gorillas that were getting to extinction. Later two more forest reserves were added to make an impenetrable forest reserve hence increasing the area to 331 sq. km.
In 1991, the government took over control of the area and gazetted it as a national park to protect Bwindi mountain gorillas that were endangered as well as the tropical rainforest. Before 1991, the forest was home to the Batwa pygmies but these were evicted and no longer permitted to enter the park. In 1993, a gorilla family was habituated and open for trekking making it a popular tourism destination with more than half of the mountain gorilla population. In 1994, Bwindi became a UNESCO world heritage site due to its ecological importance.
Bwindi National park today
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park today covers a total area of 331 sq. km. The national park has over 700 mountain gorillas which are more than half of the mountain gorilla population remaining in the world. The national park is divided into 4 sectors which are Nkuringo and Rushaga in the south, Buhoma in the north, and Ruhija in the east.
Bwindi protects over 120 mammals, 10 primate species, 350 bird species, 51 reptile species, 27 amphibian species, 310 butterflies, 14 snake species, 14 lizard species, and 200 tree species. These attractions can be seen in the park during nature walks, gorilla trekking, and birding. The park is open for all these activities at any time of the year however the dry season is said to be the best time because it is characterized by little or no rainfall.
Bwindi is of today one of the most famous national parks in the world and gorilla trekking is the major activity in this park. Most travelers visit Bwindi to spend some time with the endangered mountain gorillas that are said to be close relatives to human beings. Tourists who trek mountain gorillas go so deep into the jungle where these apes do live and when they locate them, they are able to spend 1 hour or 4 hours with them while making them get used to the human presence around them.
Birding is another main activity done in Bwindi because the park is home to over 350 bird species. Birding can be done in all the park sectors but the best region is said to be Buhoma with so many biding trials and best birding spots. Some of the birds seen in Bwindi include black bee-eater, black billed turaco, regal sunbird, kivu ground thrush, bar-tailed tragon, African fish eagle, bat hawk, hottentot teal, brown snake eagle, tambourine dove, red-headed love bird, horus swift, yellow bill, crowned hornbill, and olive woodpecker among others.
Batwa pygmies are other attractions in Bwindi but they love around the park boundaries since they were evicted to protect animals and gazette the forest. Most of the tourists that visit Bwindi and love African culture always spare some time to visit the Batwa communities. A visit to their community helps you know how they live their day to day life and how they used to survive in the jungle. They do entertain you through dancers and drama.
Can I access Bwindi National park in one day?
Yes, tourists that want to visit Bwindi can access Bwindi national park from Kampala or Kigali in just a single day. Bwindi can be accessed from Kigali Rwanda in 4-5 hours by crossing to Uganda using Katuna border in Kabale or Cyanika border in Kisoro to any of the sectors of the park. The national park can be accessed from Kampala by road transport for 9-10 hours through Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro, or Kanungu to any of the sectors of Bwindi.
Travelers can access Bwindi national park within a short time by using air transport and this can be from Kampala or Entebbe. Bar Aviation Uganda and Aerolink Uganda organize flights to Bwindi from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kihihi airstrip for those visiting Buhoma sector and Kisoro airstrip for those visiting Rushaga, Nkuringo, and Ruhija.