Luxury safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are full of jungle magic.

Luxury safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is best-known for gorilla trekking, and being able to encounter the habituated mountain gorilla that live there. But it’s far from being a one-dimensional experience; located in the highest part of the Kigezi Highlands, on the western edge of the Great African Rift Valley, its topography is one of the factors that makes this ancient, incredibly rich forest so diverse.

Despite the name, no hacking through vegetation is required to go on a gorilla safari or explore Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. You will, however, pass through dense groves of bamboo, and be constantly delighted by the presence of many different primate species and butterflies.

Don’t forget to look up – studies have shown that mountain gorilla here are more arboreal than their cousins in Rwanda. Climbing, dining or reclining, there’s no doubt that gorilla are the star attraction here, but I also always enjoy simply walking in the forest, and general game viewing.

The birding is phenomenal and gives the gorilla some serious competition when it comes to lens time. On the fringes of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can go on community tours and experience the sustainable forest lifestyles of the Batwa people. Once known as pygmies, their forest knowledge and cultural heritage is helping them stand tall despite their small stature.

My favourite spot is the summit of Rwamunyonyi Hill. It’s quite a climb to reach it, but the views of mist-wreathed emergent trees and the mysterious Lake Bunyonyi more than justifying the huffing and puffing!

When to Go

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has a distinctly tropical climate, and, like all major forests, it plays an important role in the regional ecosystem. The two annual dry seasons are most people’s preferred times to visit, as the reduced rainfall means that forest trails are dry and easier to negotiate. December is the single most popular month; it’s also the start of the period when migrating birds flock to Bwindi. Expect cool mornings and evenings, especially in June and July, but you’ll also enjoy seeing concentrations of game at remaining water sources.

Bwindi experiences two wet seasons: short rains (intermittent brief showers) and later in the year, long rains (prolonged drizzle, storms and evenings meant to be spent by a fireplace). Bwindi’s annual rainfall reaches an impressive 2,390mm – more than equivalent to the height of a silverback! It tends to fall, however, in short spurts, and the wet seasons are brightened by many sunny days. Gorilla avoid the cold, descending from the higher mountains now, making them easier to find. So too are bargains, with lodge rates and gorilla permits both reduced.

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