Bwindi Impenetrable is a National Park located in South-western Uganda bordered by Congo DR to the West. Bwindi has a tropical climate with an annual mean temperature ranging from a minimum of 7–15°C to a maximum of 20–27°C. Covering an area of 321 square km the park’s altitude ranges between 1,160m - 2,607m above sea level.
The bigger part of the park’s 321 square kilometers are covered by one of Africa’s oldest and most naturally diversifies forests, whose floral population includes at least 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns, a vegetation composition that is outside – the - normal, for regions at this altitude. This composition of tree species includes some of the world’s endangered species like the Lavoa swynnertonii which cannot be found elsewhere but in Southwestern Uganda.
The Impenetrable Forest from which the park gets her name dates back to over 25,000 years, and is remarkably esteemed for the ability of its botany to blossom even as other forests lost the battle for survival throughout the 6000 years of the Ice Age. This rainforest has continued to wow visitors and scientific researchers by the rate at which it is able borne an increasing number of flora and fauna life.
Although Bwindi sits on a complicated set of geology, she allows a number of rivers and streams to quench the land of its thirst, including many rivers which originate from the park and flow northwards. Some of the streams and rivers include Ishasha, Munyaga, , the Ntengyere rivers, and Ihihizo, which flow into Lake Edward. The surplus of streams empty their waters in the Lake Mutanda and Bunyonyi depressions.
The park is also one of Uganda’s most diverse congregations of mammalian species amounting to an incredible 120 species, a number that competes favorably with even the country’s top tourist destinations by arrival. This diversity does not guarantee that tourists will be able to lay eye all the mammalian species in one singe visit, so a short prayer before embarking on a hike through the forest might position you fortunately to view the sporadically seen African golden cat, forest elephants, 11 primate species including our closest brother the chimps, and the giant forest hogs.
For birders, the park’s area is an ideal playing ground. Twisting and turning your binoculars to the left, and then to the right should enable you to see as many of the 360 species of birds available in the different ecosystems in this UNESCO World Heritage Site with only one of the Albertine Rift 24 endemic lacking. Other birds to look out for include the Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds, and endangered species, such as the African green broadbill..
The park also serves its guest to an accounted 220 species of butterfly of which 42 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley region. Tourists on a Gorilla Trekking Safaris and Tour may hike past or see with the aid of a guide a number of amphibians including the park’s camouflaged chameleons and a few of the identified 27 frogs species therein.
Saving the best for the last is not a new deed, but is most of the time deliberately done to plainly “Save the Best for Last.” It no longer calls for a further inquiry when one proudly talks about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park being a home to almost half the world’s population of Mountain Gorillas, a fine number of 400 of the total 880 Mountain Gorillas. The remaining number is distributed among the three National Parks of Virunga, Volcanoes and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Congo DR, Rwanda and Uganda respectively, which form the continuous queue of 8 volcanoes, particularly referred to as Virunga Conservation Area. This is perhaps the chief reason why tourists ought not to look elsewhere but to Uganda for a prime Gorilla Trekking Safari.
Unfortunately, even with their might and greatness in size and weight, most of the world’s population of Mountain Gorillas has been wiped off of the face of the earth leaving a few endangered. It is due to motives of protecting such a matchless species that Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 and later declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) in 1994. Before attaining these titles, in the previous century Bwindi has held titles like the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest in 1942; an Animal Sanctuary and Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve in 1964, in the course of which it was expanding in size to its current size.
As is a common African practice, the name Bwindi did not just fall from heaven but has a history that dates a number of years back. History has it that as migrants to the north from Rwanda, Burundi, and Zaire (the then Congo DR) trekked in search for land to cultivate and settle in, they crossed sections of the jungle on foot. A tale has it that along the journey, one family came across a wide-stretching swamp which they were unable to traverse. Observing their helplessness, the spirits of the swamp offered assistance but at an expense. The spirits sought the sacrifice of their daughter Nnyinamukari. This was not going to be an easy bargain for the family so they chose to spend a few days as they pondered on what the spirits had asked for. After 2 (two) days, a decision was reached to sacrifice Nnyinamukari and the spirits accorded the remaining members of the family a successful gateway through the swamp. This unfortunate news circulated through the land creating a uncomfortable fear for the forest a reason why it was described as “The Dark Place of Nyinamukari” which in the local semantics is “Umubwindi bwa Nnyianmukari”. While on a Gorilla Safari in Uganda, tourists can see the still-existing Umubwindi swamp, and can also get a more detailed account of this fascinatingly sad story.
Though a sad story, fortunately today, after many years, we have the resource-rich Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that tells an endearing story.