8 Nature Walks Across Bwindi Forest

You can spice your gorilla safari in Uganda with a nature walk across Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, South Western Uganda. Though Bwindi is more renowned for gorilla watching, taking a nature walk offers something more interesting on a gorilla experience in this famed park. You have a lot of choices to choose from for a nature walk in Bwindi and these include;

  • The Batwa Experience – a nature walk through the Batwa Community, guided by a local guide (a mutwa). The guide will teach you a lot about how the Batwa (former forest dwellers) lived (within trees), showing interesting caves and trees whre they lived as well as activities that they were engaged in. The hike ends with a visit to the Batwa Community where the former forest habitants will entertain you on an interaction tour where you can also participate!
  • Muyanga walk – hike through the forest to the Munyaga Waterfalls, a scenic waterfall in Bwindi impenetrable Forest.  A local guide will escort you through the forest, teaching you about the different flora nd fauna in the forest as well as their importance.
  • Lake Mutanda Nature Walk – walk from Buhoma, to Nkuringo ending at the beautiful lake Mutanda
  • The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail takes three to four hours, and crosses right through the park, connecting the two villages and offering impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend the hills towards Nkuringo. You can leave our luggage with your driver, who will meet you at the other side. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.
  • Rushura Hill Walk passes through one forest shared by two countries. On a clear day you can view Lakes Edward and George and the Rwenzori Mountains as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
  • Muzubijiro Loop is a 6km walk around a hill, where you will encounter primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virungas.
  • The Ivi River Walk is 14km and takes around seven hours. The trail passes a place known as Mukempunu – meaning “a place of pigs” – where wild pigs can often be found.
  • The Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail takes 4-6hrs. After crossing the Munyaga River, it takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. Found along this trail is the legendry “African Corner” named after a rock piece depicting a map of Africa. Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enkoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the mighty Habinyanja swamp. Birders on this trail should watch out for the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, among others.

 

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Experience

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park located deep in the southwest of Uganda is famous for gorilla trekking safaris, a UNESCO World Heritage Site occupying 133sqkm. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s most popular and one of the most visited national parks home to more than half of the remaining critically endangered mountain gorillas in the world. Apart from mountain gorillas, the park also provides refuges to elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, and various small antelope and bird species. The park lies within the Kigezi highlands that were formed through up-warping of the western rift valley called the Albertine Rift.

On a safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can track the famous mountain gorillas’ undergrowth and thick creeps of the dens Bwindi rain forest. Being in company with the most peaceful, rarest and endangered of all the apes is a fascinating experience to enjoy. The same park offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa and is a key destination for any birder doing a safari in Uganda. You can book this safari with Africa Tours Adventure to take you all through your wonderful safari trip.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park has gorilla trekking as the major tourist attraction with 4 gorilla tracking trail heads including Buhoma area, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo area. Over 14 groups of mountain gorilla families have been habituated where only 8 permits are booked in a group per day making it a total of 80 permits given out in a day. There are forest trails in the park that lead to various attractions including rivers, waterfalls, swamps and high level of wildlife, swamps and also the high level of wildlife concentration.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park usually starts early in the morning with breakfast at your lodge as you drive to UWA park headquarters. The gorilla trekking adventure will begin with a briefing by the guide on how to handle yourself once you meet the gorillas. It is impossible to say how long your trek will take as the length of the trek itself depends on the location and the movement of the gorillas on the day on which you will be trekking as they are always moving around looking for food and shelter. Trekking can take anything from between 2 – 8 hours although you are usually back at the lodge around lunchtime, leaving the lodge early in the morning around 06:00 am to make your way to the Park Headquarters for your pre-trek briefing.

If you then finish early, our guides will discuss options with you as to what else you would like to do for the rest of the day. This could be the chance to explore a local market, enjoy a gentle community walk through traditional villages, another forest nature walk if feeling brave or the chance to visit some fascinating community projects nearby, such as schools or local hospitals.  Or you can just relax at the lodge if you prefer. Our guides are very flexible and will be happy to discuss ideas with you if you want anything.

Today wake up to a sweet breakfast and prepare for yet another adventure around the park as you visit these indigenous natives of the Batwa. While at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, never miss out this activity, endeavour to participate in. Before the park was gazetted as a national park, the forest was home to the Batwa pygmies who were referred to as the original dwellers and keepers of this tropical rain forest. After Bwindi Forest was gazetted as a national park in 1993, the Batwa were relocated from the forest to the nearby villages and towns.

The Batwa are one of Uganda’s best cultures and they have lived their lives to current generations by hunting and gathering in the forest. For a long time the Batwa pygmies depended on forest resources for survival. They used to hunt forest animals using spears and allows for meat and gathering plants and fruits or food. The Batwa depended on forest resources for food, medicine, basketry, firewood, marketable items, house construction, tools, rituals, hunting and recreation.

After being expelled from the forest, their life changed since they had no land outside the forest and were not used to life outside the forest. The experience starts from Batwa craft shop and office located in Buhoma trading center few metres from the Bwindi forest gate. It is from there that your guide will lead you to the starting point and then back after the activity.

The visit to the Batwa invariably involves songs and a dance demonstration and once the music begins you can help it out but to notice that they promote a genuine pride in themselves.

You don’t need to pay park entrance fees to participate in Batwa experience. The activity takes place is adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park but not inside the park and as such you don’t have to park entrance fees. Batwa experience costs USD 80 for 1 person, USD 70 person in a group of 2 -3 people, and US$60 in group of 4 or more. If you want to film this program, it will cost you USD 400 per day per group.

Visit Lake Mutanda Near Bwindi and Mgahinga

Lake Mutanda is a small freshwater Lake in Uganda. The Lake is located in Kisoro District in south-western Uganda, approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of the town of Kisoro, where the district headquarters are located. This location is approximately 454 kilometres (282 mi), by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. The coordinates of Lake Mutanda are: 01 14 06S, 29 40 12E (Latitude:-1.2350; Longitude: 29.6700).

It is nestled in the foothills of the Virunga Mountain Range, at an altitude of 1,800 metres (5,900 ft). The three volcanoes within the range that is partly located in Uganda, namely: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga, can be viewed from Lake Mutanda.

There are several islands in the lake. The lake is drained by the Rutshuru River, which flows northward to Lake Edward. The environment on the islands within the Lake and the surrounding countryside includes lakeside forests and wetland habitats that provide a haven for the endangered mountain gorilla.

In addition to the mountain Uganda gorilla tours and golden monkey experience in the nearby Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Lakeside environment accommodates a variety of animal and plant species, unique to this area. Bird species include kingfisher birds, kites, ibis and Uganda’s national bird, the crested crane. Weaver bird nests are a common site among the reeds along the Lake shore.

In addition to the abundant and varied avian species, the Lake shore supports several species of snake, chameleon, monitor lizard and frog species. There is a varied and abundant supply of insect life as well. The mammals unique to Lake Mutanda include the African clawless otter. Hippopotamus was endemic to the area, but were last sighted at Lake Mutanda in 1994.

Lake Mutanda is a fabulous lake to explore with a canoe and visit some of the islands – go birding, you can swim here – simply enjoy the lake whether you are on top of it in a boat, or swimming in it. Fishing at Lake Mutanda with the added plus of scenery in Kisoro. You can always fish at Lake Mutanda especially if you are staying right around Kisoro area and on the lake as at Mutanda Lake Resort and if the fish do not strike, there the is scenery around you.

Hiking around Lake Mutanda-Kisoro. Hiking around and to Lake Mutanda – Kisoro one of the most fabulous hikes is a two-day hike from Buhoma to Nkuringo and then on the second day down to Lake Mutanda and a canoe trip across the lake before it is ends. There are many other hikes and nature trails found here that are simply most enjoyable and you can easily stay here for a week and not explore it all.

Bike rides can be quite challenging – we can bring along mountain bikes for you that you can use while at Lake Mutanda or bikes can be rented in Kisoro. Either way it will be a most exhilarating experience for you

Batwa People – the original people of the Forest in Uganda-Kisoro. The Batwa People are the original inhabitants of the forest – the lived in the forest and left a small environmental footprint – they still lived in the area and you can go on an interactive forest walk with them in two places near to Lake Mutanda – the Buniga Forest and on the Batwa Forest Walk in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Gorilla Safari and Cultural Encounters

Batwa Trail: It starts at the base of Mt Muhavura at 8.00 am and finishes by 3-4 pm. You’ll need walking shoes, hat, and rain gear, and a packed lunch with sufficient drinks. The Batwa Trail runs across the lower slopes of the Muhavura and Gahinga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and these parks are famously known for gorilla trekking tours and cultural performances. The forest is home to a variety of wildlife but the Batwa Trail is far from being a conventional nature walk. With the help of Batwa guides, you’ll see the forest as a larder, pharmacy, builder’s yard, tool kit and, above all a home.

Along the trail, you will fire a bow and arrow, check hives for wild honey, help repair a Batwa shelter, harvest plants for medicine and food, light a fire without a matches, listen to legends and learn about Batwa traditions. The highlight of the trail is a descent into the Garama cave, a 200m-long lava tube beneath Mt. Gahinga. The Batwa are famed for their music and dance and their historic, subterranean council chamber in Garama Cave provides the setting for an unforgettable performance. The Batwa trail is celebration of the forest culture of the “‘first people.

”It is impossible, however, to ignore the fact that Batwa life has greatly changed. The day’s events conclude with a discussion about the Batwa’s current situation; how it can be improved; and progress to date towards doing so.

On the Culture trail for example, there is an energetic old man Tom Karemire, who hosts visitors at his home which is a typical Bakiga homestead. Tourists get the chance to use ordinary facilities like pit latrines and sleep in tents, enjoy bonfire barbecue and chicken at night and feast on fresh crayfish from the Lake.

The Kabale Arts Centre sums up the Bakiga way of life in a small museum which has historical and traditional highlights of how the Bakiga resisted the colonialists, how virgins were punished and controversial cultural practices and beliefs of how a woman was clan property. Modern developments such as sliding doors and elevators are also included in the depictions in the small museum.

There are also craft shops, schools, and community walks that tourists can explore. Mbarara town which is close by has a cultural centre called Igongo Cultural Center in addition to having fine hotel rooms, has a well-researched museum with a clear depiction on Ankole history. The cultural tourism product that the people in South Western and Western Uganda are investing in is the kind of diversified product Uganda needs.

The Mpumwiire Coronation site:  It’s here that the Kyabazinga’s (king) Palace is located. It derived its name from the scenario that the sickly king of Bunyoro kingdom – Omukama Kabalega during on his return journey from Seychelles where he had gone to exile was the passing through the Busoga region and died (rested) at this place.

The Buswiikira Site:  found in Mayuge, it’s here that the legendary icons Kintu and his wife Nambi the ‘ancestors’ of the Baganda are believed to be buried. All these and many more make a cultural holiday to Uganda.

Bwindi Gorilla

94 Year Old Lady Track Bwindi Gorillas

Laura Sonnino,94, from Italy on March 14,2013 became the oldest person to have tracked mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South western Uganda . Born on 20/5/1919, Laura Sonnino successfully tracked the Nkuringo Gorilla Family where she viewed the playful apes.

Laura says she had tried to track Gorillas in Buhoma in 2002 but failed to see them because of the difficult terrain .Tracking Gorillas being her life dream, this time she had everything arranged in advance for her tracking to be a success.

She hired 12 strong porters who carried her on a stretcher to and from the Gorillas location at a fee of 300 US dollars. She did it in a record time because by 11.30 am she was already back from tracking. The last recorded oldest person to have tracked the much sought after gorillas was 82.Congratulations Laura for that feat.