The Bwindi Impenetrable forest is a massive primeval forest positioned in south-western Uganda in the Kanungu District. It is on the brink of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, at elevations ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 metres (3,806 to 8,553 ft).
“Bwindi” is derived from the Runyakitara language meaning “impenetrable”. This name comes from the big stands of bamboo interspersed amongst the bigger forest hardwoods. The bamboo and thick floor cover of ferns, vines, and other plant increase seriously restrict direct access on foot. additionally known as the “Place of Darkness”, the forest area is on the brink of the western arm of the fantastic Rift Valley, only a few kilometers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border and about 25 kilometres north of the Virunga Mountains.
The forest is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth, where half the world’s population of the highly endangered mountain gorillas live in its jungles. The forest has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage Site for its biological significance.
The forest has been described as “Riven by disputes and crosshatched by historical, political, and biological borders” by researcher Craig Stanford, co-director of the park’s Jane Goodall Research Center.
In 1991, the Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve, along with the Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and the Rwenzori Mountains Reserve, was designated as a national park and renamed the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It covered an area of 330.8 square kilometres (127.7 sq mi). The national park was declared in part to protect a range of species within it, most notably the mountain gorilla. The reclassification of the park had a large impact on the Batwa pygmy people, who were evicted from the forest and no longer permitted to enter the park or access its resources. Gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993, and the park became a popular tourist destination.
Having 326 Gorillas, gorilla searching trips form the major tourist activity/attraction in Bwindi. On a daily basis more than 10 gorilla groups are usually available for tourists to trek. The Mubare group comprising of 16 gorillas with1 Silver back, this group was officially opened for tourism in 1993.The other group being the Habinyanja group which comprises of 23 gorillas with 2 silver backs and was readily opened in July 1998. The last and third group of gorillas -Rushegura comprising of 17 gorillas with 2 silver back all in the Buhoma sector.
All gorilla tracking safari permits are sold by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at the Headquarters in Kampala with only 8 gorilla permits per day being sold for each of the 2 Gorilla groups. Advance booking- at least 3 months in advance is recommended to prevent missing out.