This pocket of huge primeval forest in the Virunga Mountain range is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. It has an eco-system that defines the very essence of the continent and has therefor been designated as a World Heritage Site.
The forest floor is damp and laden with leaf mould, matted vegetation and fallen vines, which serve to trip you up as you clamber up and down the slippery slopes in search of a glimpse of the elusive gorillas.
Searching up to altitudes of 6,500 feet (1,982 metres) can be exhausting but the rewards are worth it. Of course it may not be as difficult as that, but when visiting the Bwindi gorillas you should be prepared to unleash the explorer in you.
VISITING THE GORILLA’S
You will be told that if the big male silverback charges at you, you should look down and remain exactly where you are in a submissive pose. These words of wisdom are directly opposite to your natural instincts, but luckily a ranger is there to grab you should your feet disobey the instructions. The noise of the silverback pounding his chest during this mock charge, is akin to overhead thunder and more than enough to make your knees knock and heart miss a beat. As the gorillas grow more accustomed to human presence, the charges do not happen so often. Each gorilla group is only visited for one hour a day by a limited number of people who have normally purchased permits months in advance.
There are many other primates in the park including chimpanzees, black and white colobus, red colobus and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey and L’Hoest’s monkey.
Wildlife inhabiting the forest floor includes elephants, giant forest hogs and small antelopes, few of which are encountered.
Dry Season: January and February plus June to September are the driest months and are the best time for gorilla trekking. Even in the dry season you should be prepared to get wet in the occasional afternoon thunderstorm.
Rainy Season: many roads are impassable after the long rains of March to May and it becomes hot and humid with a very slippery forest floor. It also usually rains in October and November.
Temperatures: a pleasantly hot temperature of 80°F (25°C) can be expected from June to September, rising to 85°F (27°C) in January and February.
• Close encounters with mountain gorillas
• Hiking the Virunga Mountains
• Unique flora
The park covers an area of 127 miles² (330km²).
It is located in the far south-west of the country where Uganda, Rwanda and DRC (Congo) meet.
Getting to Bwindi is an adventure in itself as you have to cross much of Uganda by road to get there.
Permits are limited to 12 per day, many of which are purchased by tour operators.