Hiking in Bwindi forest has become a popular with visitors to Uganda and to Bwindi impenetrable forest. This ancient rain forest is a perfect place for the hikers, birders and nature lovers. You can extend your time beyond gorilla trekking penetrating Bwindi Impenetrable forest on one of its many trails, or take one of the two trails that take you from one end of the park to the other. One of the best way to discover Uganda, Bwindi forest is by hitting the hiking trails and nature walks that are there.
Some of these have been used by local people for hundreds of years, others for many like the people of the forest- The Batwa pygmy people who left a low ecological footprint behind them. Bwindi forest is mainly known for mountain gorillas but there is more here and the visitors are discovering the hikes and nature walks, rails that cross this ancient forest that is also known as the number one birding site in all of Africa. The trails in bwindi for hiking and nature walks are easy to moderate while others are difficult and more of a challenge.
Apart from the mountain gorilla, Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to 120 species of mammals including; primates like the gorillas , chimpanzees, black and while colobus, Vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, baboons, nocturnal, L hoest monkeys, antelopes, like the bush pigs, duikers, Giant forest Hogs, and the small cats. There are over 348 species of birds including African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimson wing. Other birds include the Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee eaters, Green Tinker bird, Mountain and Yellow –streaked Green buls, Mountain Masked and Chestnut –throated Apalises, Red faced Woodland Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Ruwenzori Batis and White tailed fly-catcher among others. , 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos – many of which you will see on your Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Hike.
The hike through Bwindi impenetrable forest can be one day or the longer hike from the north of Bwindi to the south called Nkuringo. There one have an overnight and proceed the next day down to the scenic lake Mutunda where you paddle across in a wooden dugout and continue to the town to Kisoro. The hike from north to South to Bwindi forest or reserved is a most rewarding one or two days for those that take the challenge.
The difficulty level of the trail is medium and is from 5 to 8 hours in duration. There are two variations both described below, the Ivy river trail being one and Kashasha river trail being the other. Hiking through Bwindi is one day hike or two day hike and dugout canoe trip across Lake Mutanda adds to the adventure, one can track gorilla at both ends of the park in Buhoma and Nkuringo.
The Munyanga River Trail;
This guided trail will take you along the scenic Bizenga Creek that joins the Munyanga River, you will start out at Buhoma and end up there. This is an excellent trail that birders will find most rewarding with great birding guide at your side you will not miss too many of these unique and the endemic species of birds in Bwindi forest. It takes ½ hours in length and it’s easy and is located in Buhoma Area. It’s an easy hike and brings much with it in terms of what you see with in the forest.
The water fall trail’
Get to explore the mysteries of Bwindi, its plants, trees, see its butterflies, birds to the area on this trail. This trail is so amazing due to what you meet on your way. It’s a guided trail and one of the most popular ones, birds, butterflies, monkeys, the scenic beauty of the forest, the guide will point out the things to you that you might not or miss and this will plan an enriching part of your time at Bwindi forest in the Buhoma region of the park. The trail was supposed to be a road that leads to the town of Kisoro when gorillas and conservation were not in the minds of the politicians. Its difficulty level is moderate and it’s located in Buhoma. You will as well meet many local residents and it’s a famous hike that visitors enjoy.
The Muzabajiro Loop Trail:
This is a trail with a view as you ascend through the forest to the Rukubira Hill and are rewarded with great views of the Virunga volcano chain in Bwindi impenetrable national forest and the western Rift valley below. It’s also another rewarding hike in the Buhoma area of Bwindi impenetrable forest. Note that some of the trails in Buhoma Area can be done on a mountain Bike that you can rent from Ride for a women self-help group. The best time of the year to view is during the rainy season since the area below is cleared of the smoke from villages that might unclear the view.
The Rushura Hill Trail:
This is the highest mountain in Buhoma Area of Bwindi. It’s starting point is just near the Buhoma park office and goes through the terraced fields and forests along the trail that are scenic view points and once you are on top, you have great views across the western rift valley, the virunga volcanoes and Bwindi forest. This is the most scenic hike and it takes you to the top of a mountain from where you will have fabulous views of the nearby areas. It takes 3 to 4 hours in length and the difficulty level is strenuous located in Buhoma.
Ivy River Trail;
The trail follows an old road through the forest and takes a full day hike with an elevation gain and the most fabulous experience, we have had many clients that have taken this trail after having tracked gorillas at Buhoma and then after reaching Nkuringo. The trail is so scenic and you get to enjoy the view points along the way, monkeys, bush pigs, birds, butterflies, and the local people coming from the market. This trail can also be taken from Nkuringo to Buhoma. The best is to start from Buhoma and hike to Nkuringo stay for an overnight, track the gorillas the next day and the following day proceed to Lake Mutanda and the town of Kisoro. It takes 6 ½ to 7 ½ hours in length and its difficulty levels are moderate and starting the hike is either in Buhoma or Nkuringo.
The Kashasha River trail;
The trail is 4 to 5 hours in length and once you see the ancient rainforest up close, the trail involves steeper inclines most especially if you take the Buhoma to Nkuringo route. Its 600m up at the end of the trail and the guides will point out the wildlife as well as the birds, flowers, plants, trees and the ferns. The trail has got stunning views and to go from Buhoma to Nkuringo takes 7 hours and it’s much shorter taking the Kashasha river trail. Its 5 to 5 hours in length and its difficulty level is moderate. It’s more scenic starting from Buhoma and ending in Nkuringo.
The hikes in this part of Bwindi are at 2607 meters. The plants and vegetation areas will continuously change including the bamboo forest until you arrive the afro montane vegetation. Grass and forest birds along the way up to the highest point in the park- the Rwamunyonyi hill at 2607metres. The view here is so beautiful since it includes viewing Lake Bunyonyi, Mafuga forest reserve, Bwindi forest, and the Virunga volcanoes. When doing the hike, it’s better to start from Ruhija. Its difficulty level is strenuous.
The Mubwindi swamp Trail;
The Mubwindi swamp trail moves along a path with in the forest descending through the rain forest with the scenic view points along the way of green valleys and the Virunga volcano chain. You will see forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, bush bucks, monkeys and bush pigs since they all live in that part of Bwindi rain forest. The hike needs special authorization from the Uganda Wildlife Authority staff in Bwindi impenetrable forest. This trail is a must do for the birders and a knowledgeable guide will be by your side. Before gorilla tracking is done in Ruhija area of the park, it takes 4 to 5 hours and its difficulty level is moderate.
Hiking and Nature walks in Bwindi forest take some preparation, wearing the right clothes, boots as well as shoes. Preparation will make it more rewarding for you. We can help you with any questions and would love to help in creating an itinerary that not only includes gorilla tracking, but also other activities. Hiking in Uganda is different from what you know and the hikes are in the forest, the altitude is higher and in most cases, it’s not hot due to the elevation of the park.