The Munyaga Trail
At the mention of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, the first thing everyone would think of is a gorilla safari and views of the gentle and endangered mountain gorillas which hail in this impenetrable antique or else the beautiful birdlife since the site is the number one birding site in Africa. However there is more to the 333squarekmsof medium altitude undisturbed forest tracts than the mountain gorilla and birds. There is a more spectacular and magical spell that lies beneath the thick tropical afro montane rain forest canopies that sweep across thestep ridges of the Albertine rift valley. Surrounded by bouquets of lavish greenferns and orchids are the munyaga waterfalls which form the spectacular highlight and peak in the flow of river munyaga. This treasure that has remained buried under the gigantic Bwindi forest National Park in Uganda lends the forest a therapeutic appeal.
The trail to the Munyanga forest is an approximately 3 hour’s walk to and from given the energy level of the hikers and begins at the park headquarters of Bwindi located in the Buhoma area with a briefing. The trek can be done after a gorilla safari in Bwindi Forest though most prefer to take it early in the morning. The trail is characterised with great sceneries and sightings! As you make the journey through the pristine tropical montane forest watch out for the numerous bird species, that entertain you with magical songs from some of the 375 species that could be found here like the Kivu Ground Thrush, Short Tailed Warbler, Blue Headed Sunbird,Red Faced Woodland Warbler, the Yellow Eyed, Yellow Footed and Chapin’s Flycatcher among which are some of the Albertine rift endemics not easily missed on this hike.
The trail ascends through the ever green and montane marshes that inter twine across the forest floor all the way up making it hard to penetrate, but armed with a walking stick the impenetrable forest will be more than possible to conquer. At some points there are provisions of walking boards that will link you closer to your destination. The walk is leisurely and very enjoyable as you may stumble upon a number of forest treasures that lay silent in the shadows of the magical forest and the mountain gorillas, like the black and white colobus monkey, L’hoest’s Monkey dwarf forest antelopes – duikers, the rare and elusive but aggressive forest elephant, chimpanzees are infrequently heard than seen, buffaloes and a wide variety of butterflies some of which are endemic to the Albertine rift, but among the common ones seen when the sun starts rising are Swallow Tails, Comodores, Diadems, Sailors, Preusis among others. That’s not all; the ice aged antic has a variety of plants and insects that could be attributed to its age. And oh did I forget to mention that it is one of the highest biologically diverse eco systems in Uganda!
With a little patience and perseverance, soon you will reach the magical falls that will cast their spell on you before you even reach them, from the sound of the river water crushing against the big rocksto the sight of stunning beauty at its best description. The waterfalls will draw you into their soothing serenity, making you want to be one with them. The blooming colorful and countless species of butterflies against the green vegetation and crystal clear water background project the perfected work of nature’s creation and will definitely delight and swallow you up into emotions of nature. There are three small waterfalls that form the Munyaga. As you sip in nature’s goodness at the sight of Bwindi’s splendor open your eyes as the forest may unveil for just more than you thought it can give, since nature doesn’t given that survival is a full time job, expect a lot out there on this hike.