Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park was ranked fifth out of the 129 recognized United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage sites in Africa. This is primarily because of its enormous population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas where a minimum of 400 gorillas almost half of the World’s Mountain Gorilla population of about 880 individuals is known to be thriving in this park.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is found in the South Western Region of Uganda, in Kanungu District. The park covers an area of about 331Km² and is the prime Uganda gorilla Safari destination with 12 habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups which include Kahungye, Mubare, Rushegura, Busingye, Nkuringo, Habinyanja, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza; and Kyaguriro. The habituated social mountain gorilla groups are scattered in areas of Buhoma which is near the northern boundary of the Park; Ruhija near the Eastern Boundary of the Park; Rushaga near the Southern Boundary of the park; and Nkuringo near the South west boundary of the park.
“Bwindi”, which literally means the dark place, is characterized by a Tropical Afro montane forest. The forest has one of the richest eco systems in Africa, lying on an elevation that ranges from about 1,160 to 2,607m altitude; making it a suitable destination for nature walks, birding and other activities during safaris in Uganda. It is an exceptional forest having a wide variety of bamboo stands, which is the main habitant for Mountain Gorillas; intercepted by the highest concentration of large hardwood trees, ferns and other plant species in East Africa such as brown Mahogany, Brazzeia longipedicellata and many others.
Besides Mountain gorillas, the National Park has a high diversity of butterfly and bird species, along with a number of mammal species. The Forest is a former home to the famous Batwa tribe who are believed to have occupied the greater parts of East Africa before the coming of the Bantu groups. The Batwa pygmies are also known as the ‘keepers of the Forest” due to the fact that they have fully lived in as far as their existence is concerned. Those who undertake gorilla tracking safaris in Uganda often encounter the tribe which literally has individuals who are not taller than 3ft.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed Bwindi as a World Heritage site in 1994, just few months after it had been declared a National Park by the Ugandan Government. For one to Undertake gorilla safaris in Uganda he or she is supposed to be above 15 years and also obtain a Gorilla permit which goes for US$600 during the peak season and US$450 during the low season (April, May and November).