Road trip to Bwindi from Kampala
Road trip to Bwindi from Kampala: Bwindi is located in the southwestern part of the country along the borders of Uganda with DR Congo. The national park is home to the highest population of mountain gorillas left in the whole world. Bwindi attracts a lot of travelers that want to encounter mountain gorillas said to be closest relatives to human beings for they share 98% human DNA with human beings.
Mountain gorillas in Bwindi are found in four sectors which are Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga all accessed by road transport. Road transport to Bwindi is for those that love traveling long distances and those that cannot afford air transport. Bwindi can be accessed using road transport from Kampala and the journey takes 9-10 hours.
The journey from Kampala to Bwindi takes you through Masaka, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kabale and sometimes Kisoro. When it comes to road trips, Kampala to Bwindi has several amazing tourist sites for travelers to explore. Some of the amazing sites to visit on your road trip to Bwindi from Kampala include Mpambire where you see the drum males, the equator crossing at Kayabwe, Lake Mburo national park, Igongo cultural centre, and Lake Bunyonyi among others.
When planning to have a road trip to Bwindi from Kampala, first look at using a local tour operator or hiring a good driver that knows the best routes to the park. We highly advise travelers to do self-drive to Bwindi from Kampala most especially if it’s the first time to the park. Uganda drivers know the best routes to use and the different tourist sites you can visit on your way to the park. Below are some of the amazing tourist sites you can visit on your road trip to Bwindi from Kampala.
Royal drum makers at Mpambire
Mpambire is located along Kampala masa road and is one of the places where you are guaranteed to get a drum for yourself or your loved ones. Mpambire is one of the areas your safari drive should stop at for you to see the people make the Buganda royal drums. Drum making is the main activity done in this small town and the drums are sold to travelers and cultural people to get money to improve their families and lives.
Uganda is one of the countries that is crossed by the equator and this is seen at Kayabwe along Kampala Masaka Road. Kayabwe is one of the places safari guides stop at to give tourists an opportunity to know information about the equator. At the equator, a traveler does get an opportunity to stand one leg in the southern hemisphere and the other in the northern hemisphere at the same time. At the equator crossing at Kayebwe, there are different gift shops that sell different souvenirs that you can buy for yourself or a friend.
Lake Mburo national park
Lake Mburo is Uganda’s smallest national park located in Kiruhura district. The national park is located on the Masaka Mbarara route and is one of the places travelers go through while spotting some of the park animals. While visiting Bwindi from Kampala, it’s advised that you pass through Lake Mburo national park and see animals such as zebras, waterbucks, Uganda kobs, buffaloes, topi, leopards, jackals, hyenas, warthogs, birds, and different vegetation covers.
Igongo cultural centre
Igongo cultural centre is located a few miles north of Mbarara in biharwe twon along Masaka Mbarara road. The place is one of those you need to visit and spend a few hours or minutes exploring the region. They have everything about the culture and history of the Ankore people. While on a road trip to Bwindi from Kampala, you can visit the area to taste the local food, relax, visit the museum, and get entertained by the traditional dancers.
Lake Bunyonyi can be your source of relaxation after traveling for a long time from Kampala heading to Bwindi. The lake located no so far from Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is the best place to go and relax before gorilla trekking activities the next day in Bwindi gorilla park. There are activities you could be part of while at Lake Bunyonyi that include canoeing where you get to explore some of the 29 islands on the lake, birding, zip-lining, and swimming among others.
What type of vehicle should be used for a road trip to Bwindi from Kampala?
We recommend using a 4×4 safari vehicle that has good clearance. Roads from Kampala to Kisoro and Kabale are made of tarmac but there are areas that have holes and require good vehicles when traveling. From Kisoro and Kabale to the park, the roads are made of murram roads that require good safari vehicles to navigate.
Best time to drive to Bwindi
Traveling using road transport to Bwindi can visit the park at any time of the year however there are months that are better than the rest. The dry season is the best time to drive to Bwindi and this happens from June to September and December to February. During these months, there is little or no rainfall and there for you can even drive from Kampala and reach Bwindi without seeing any rainfall. The trekking trails are dry, the vegetation is short and thin with good views of the mountain gorillas, and roads to the park are in good condition.
Travelers can still drive to Bwindi from Kampala in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy the huge discounts on accommodation facilities in the park. However, travelers should note that driving to the park in the rainy season can even be longer because there are areas where you will find too much rainfall and you can’t move until it stops. The trekking trails in the park are muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall and thick giving clear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Where to stay on a road trip to Bwindi from Kampala
Depending on the sector of the park where you are going to trek mountain gorillas from, you can stay in any of the accommodation facilities around the region depending on your travel budget. The sectors have accommodation facilities that range from budget to mid-range to luxury options.
Accommodation in Rushaga sector: Rushaga Gorilla Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, Nsongi Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Resort, and Wagtail Eco Safari Lodge.
Accommodation in Buhoma sector: Buhoma Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Forest Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Ride 4 Women Guest House, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Rest Camp, Haven Lodge, and Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge.
Accommodation in Nkuringo sector: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers Lodge, Mutanda Eco Community Centre, Nshongi Camp, Crested Crane Bwindi Hotel, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, and Virunga Campsite
Accommodation in Ruhija sector: Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Ruhija Community Rest Camp, Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Broadbill Forest Camp, Agandi Lodge, Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Cuckoo Land Tented Lodge, Ecomarvels Gorilla Lodge, and Trekkers Tavern.
What to do on a road trip to Bwindi from Entebbe
Gorilla trekking is the most done activity done in Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga, and Ruhija sectors of Bwindi. The activity is done on 179 mountain gorilla families by those that have valid gorilla trekking permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority. The permits shall be checked by the park wardens before heading to the jungle. The treks are led by armed ranger guides who take you through the easiest trails with opportunities of meeting different park mammals, primates, and birds. When the mountain gorillas are located, one hour is given to be around these apes, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about gorilla habits.
Travelers can reach Bwindi gorilla park and be part of the birding activities most especially in Buhoma and Rushaga regions. Birding in Bwindi gives you an opportunity to encounter birds such as shikra, bat hawk, black kite, hadada ibis, marabou stork, cattle egret, black-headed heron, pink backed pelican, palm nut vulture, African hobby, augur buzzard, handsome francolin, African jacana, long-crested eagle, common sandpiper, black crake, olive pigeon, red-eyed dove, African grey parrot and grey crowned crane among others.
Nature walks are done in Bwindi to explore the national park on foot. The nature walks are guides and have specific trails to use with a help of armed ranger guides. Nature walks activities in Bwindi can be done around the lodges or the national park itself. The nature walks activities give you an opportunity to meet different park animals such as bush pigs, duikers, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, elephants, monkeys, baboons, birds, and different places among others.
On a road trip to Bwindi from Kampala, you can reach your lodge and spare some time to go visit the Batwa people. These used to live in the forest until 1991 when the government decided to evict them so that they protect the mountain gorillas that were getting to extinction. The Batwa live outside the park and local people are the ones who lead you to their communities. They first take you through the forest explain to you how they used to survive here and then later take you to the communities of these pygmies to interact with the community members, visit traditional healers, visit gift shops, and get entertained by the traditional dancers.