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Travel Guide: Visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

By Ellington Safaris

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south-western Uganda. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is situated along the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift.

Species diversity is a feature of the park. It provides habitat for 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, and many endangered species. Floristically, the park is among the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species, including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low elevation) sector has many species of Guineo-Congolian flora, including two endangered species, the brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular, the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.

The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and many birds such as hornbills and turacos. It is most notable for the 340 Bwindi gorillas, half of the world’s population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Four habituated mountain gorilla groups are open to tourism: Mubare; Habinyanja; Rushegura near Buhoma; and the Nkuringo group at Nkuringo.

Accommodation

So stunning are the attractions in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that most of the Lodges and hotels in the South western region are named after them. Over 50 standard lodges and Hotels can be found within a radius of 1 Km to the Park, and Bwindi has by far the best safari accommodation that Uganda can afford. Basing on the reviews and recommendations of our precious clients who have had the privilege of sleeping and dinning in these fabulous sites, Ellington Safaris has come up with a list of the top accommodation facilities in the Region, prioritizing those which are located closest to the Park. Observe the names keenly and see for yourself how much pride Ugandans have in the distinctive attractions of this dense gem of a jungle.

1. Mahogany Springs Lodge – “Two safaris in one”

Named after the endangered Brown Mahogany tree species found in the park, Mahogany springs lodge is located beside the calm waters of river Munyanga, a stream that follows through the valleys of the Bwindi Forest. Sleeping at Mahogany springs feels like having another independent Safari trip because the lodge offers a wide range of exciting activities for its visitors such as Bird Watching, a Nature walk to the small falls downstream, a free tour in their vegetable and fruit garden, cultural activities – an opportunity to interact with the Batwa, a tribe of pigmies in the area. The Lodge also keeps a neat tree planting gallery for all its visitors!

Accommodation at the Mahogany springs lodge is divided into two sets:the superior suites and the Presidential suites, also known as the Family suites. The superior suites are large with excellently decorated interiors. Each suite has its own distinctively designed terrace. The visitor may sleep in a double room, twin room, or triple room. The Presidential suites are designed to offer utter privacy to the guests. Each room in the presidential suite is built with its own terrace overlooking the beautiful banks of the river. Rooms rage from twin, double, triple, or quadruple.

2. Silverback Lodge –“One night here, and you are the King of the canopies”

If you are looking for a high enough spot where you can catch the best view of the thick canopies of the Impenetrable forest, then the Silver Back Lodge is the right place for You. The lodge is named after the Silver Back, the largest of the four species of Gorilla in Bwindi, and is located a stone’s throw away from the park.

For some reason, the sun is brighter here than other parts of the dense forest, giving the ideal warmth for relaxation, and making the trees look even more lovely. The lodge is a product of pure, unmatchable art and exceptional architecture.The curtains, the indoor flowers, the beautiful flower gardens, are gorgeous here like in no other place.  There is an out-door fire place where guests meet up for night cultural performances by the Bahima, Batwa, Banyoro people.

Here you can sleep in spacious single room with one twin bed, a twin room with two separate twin beds, or a double room with one queen bed. Your laundry will be done for you, your clothes will be ironed, and you will also have free parking for your car, including free WI-FI. Spa and Massage services are available, and full bar and restaurant services are offered by friendly and charming people.

3. Trackers Safari lodge – “The typical taste of a Bwindi breakfast”

The Best breakfast in Bwindi is prepared here. Located on the grassy slopes of a spectacular Buhoma hill, only half a mile from the entrance to the park, Trackers Safari lodge stands out as the lodge with the best culinary services in Bwindi. The lodge is almost self-sufficient, with an outdoor pool, a spa tub, and an excellent natural environment created by a mixture of palm trees, eucalyptus and a verdant banana forest.

Known to be a popular honey moon site, it’s unforgettable climbing their sparkly mahogany staircase into the thatched cottages. The lodge has spacious dinning space where you will be served with your favorite breakfast, be it Irish, English, vegetarian or continental. They also have various indoor sport activities, and excellent heating.

They have double rooms, each with a balcony, and triple rooms (twin bed and one full bed). Two rooms are available for a family; both rooms having one twin bed and one queen bed. Smoking is allowed, but restricted to one gazzetted area. Other services offered by Trackers Safari Lodge at an additional cost to the customer include; dry cleaning, laundry, ironing, and shoe shining. Spa and Sauna available.

4. Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge – “A long trek deserves a good a good rest”

About four hundred meters from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in the neighborhood of the gorgeous Virunga terraces, lies a perfect place for rest and relaxation. Fenced with a natural circle of unique tropical tree species, and overlooking the rugged Virunga peaks, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla lodge is designed to be captivating and memorable.  The premise has a spacious balcony that extends into the leaves of the valley, creating a sense of belonging with the jungle. There is an out-door space for night fire-camping, and a playground for scenery viewing and light sporting activities.

Accommodation at Nkuringo is considerably more affordable. Their rooms are designed with a mix of traditional and modern themes. They have twin rooms with comfortable queen beds, double rooms and triple rooms of the same design.

5. Buhoma Gorilla Resort – “Pure luxury, excellent service”

The Gorilla Resort deserves its Name. It bears the Mark of the most outstanding tourist attraction in Uganda and is, itself, a destination of no unmatchable status. This high-end safari Camp is one of the accommodation facilities located closest to the park (About 600 meters away). It also doubles as the most luxurious.  At an average price of $375 per person per night, guests will be treated to a wide range of exciting activities such as hiking, gorilla trekking, and cultural activities. The Buhoma Chefs are masters in their game. They prepare mouthwatering international and local dishes. Guests choose where they sleep, either in the tents or in the King-size beds of the comfy first-class rooms. Guests have access to Free WI-FI throughout the day, including added shuttle services and car rental.

6. Gorilla Safari Lodge – “A night in the home of the Gorillas”

The lodge’s management loves to describe it as ‘an up-market accommodation facility’, though we feel it is more than just that, it is a tourist attraction of its own. With a total of 8 stand-alone cottages, each with two-in-one family units, the lodge is the most ideal place for families travelling together. Not only is the Gorilla Safari Lodge the largest accommodation facility in the Bwindi area, it is also the lodge with the very best location. The lodge is premised on hill at the boundaries of the Park, the perfect place to stay if you want to trek the Nshongi mega group of gorillas.

Yet the lodge is even more stunning on the inside. Our clients have always fallen in love with its skillfully carved animal monuments, the comfortable duvet covers, the large queen size beds, beautiful indoor flowers, and the terraces. There is nothing more absorbing than sitting on this perfectly raised terrace in the morning to watch the dense Bwindi mist claim the thick green canopies in the valleys below.  On average, accommodation at the lodge costs about US $175 per night per person.

7. Bwindi Jungle Lodge – “Sleep at the lake, and wake up to the forest”

Constructed with pure volcanic stone and timber, Bwindi Jungle lodge is located on the shores of Lake Mulehe, a good distance away from the park. (About 20 Km from the Rushaga gate). Despite this distance, a distinctive ‘Bwindi touch’ is still very palpable within the park.

The lodge stands out for having an organized package of exciting activities for its guests. Obviously, Canoeing features first on the list. Birding and nature walks are done together with the canoe boat ride.

There are more single rooms in the Jungle lodge than in any other Lodge around Bwindi. Each of the rooms in their 4 cottages has an elevated porch where you can view lake Mulehe right from the comfort of your queen bed. There is ample parking space, and Wi-Fi is free and available in labelled areas.

8. Engagi Lodge – “A near handshake with the Gorillas”

The perfect picture of Engagi lodge will always include a few gorillas perching playfully on its polished brown wood fences. The super cozy Lodge is located in Buhoma, only 400 meters away from the Park. The lodge is a community of eight cottages, each housing two twin rooms and an outside sitting zone. The ample chillaxing space on the lodges’ terraces makes it the most ideal destination for a lover of out-door spaces. The visitors’ favorite place is the lodge is theround courtyard whose short walls are carved with colorful rocks and raised on fine stone. Here you can sit and enjoy the beauty of the majestic hills before you, or pull out your zoom lens to watch the birds in the nearby trees. The lodge offers free Wi-Fi.

9. Hotel Mucha – “Spectacular views from every angle”

Named after river Mucha, on whose wealthy banks the facility is premised, Hotel Mucha is a European-managed and quality-keen hotel located on Bwindi-road, Kisoro, a few miles from lake Mutanda.

The hotel has ten double rooms that can be paid for in any currency.When choosing a room at Mucha, the staff will always ask the guest which view he/she prefers; “the bird-colonized banks of the Mucha river, or the distant but imposing Virunga Volcanoes? Yet whichever side of the Hotel you decide to sleep, we wager that the experience will be entrancing in all respects.

Life at Mucha is colored with the following activities: local market visits, village walkswith stop overs for birdwatching, hiking in the tea and coffee plantation of the Kisoro hills, and a ‘coffee safari’. Special vegetarian lunch is prepared for guests who eat meat.

Transport to the park

By Road

Bwindi is located at the extreme southwestern part of Uganda bordering Congo and Rwanda. It is such an enormous distance from Kampala to Bwindi – but you will most likely get taken up complimenting wonderful scenery such as the Equator on the way to the Park – making the trip a less exhausting one.

The first part of the journey is an 8-hour drive from Kampala to Kabale, a distance of 427 Km. You will likely sleep over here and travel the next day. There are lots of luxurious places to sleep and catch a good meal in the town.

The following day’s journey is a lot shorter and less daunting, and more fun. This includes a drive to Butogota first, then Buhoma. Buhoma is the starting point of the tracking journey. It is also the prestigious home of most of the luxurious lodges named above.

By Air

Alternatively, a traveler can catch a chartered flight from Entebbe Airport to Kisoro Airstrip or Kihihi. But they will still have to connect by road from Kisoro to Buhoma, a distance of about 20 Kilometers.

Recommended Safari & Tour Packages.

1. 3 days gorilla tour Uganda

2. 3 days fly in gorilla tour Bwindi

3. 7 days primates and wildlife safari

 

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