18. 07. 2021
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↑ 407 m
↓ 407 m
max. 2101 m n.m.
min. 1898 m n.m.
The expedition starts at the entrance to Bwindi National Park, where you can leave your car. The car road to the entrance is mountainous, winding and unpaved. Allow extra time for arrival. Permits can be purchased at the Rushaga UWA Ranger Station.
If you are going without a personal guide or travel agent, you must book your gorilla permit in advance on the Internet - you can find all the info on the official website here.
You can also pay on the spot by credit card (700 USD). After paying and making your appointment, meet at 7:45am at the meeting point just outside the main entrance to the park. The rangers will divide you into groups. 8 tourists per gorilla family, Rushaga has 8 families and Bwindi has a total of 22 gorilla families.
If you need to, you can also choose your porters (about $20) from among the natives here. It is compulsory to get a wooden stick to prop you up along the way. As with chimpanzee tracking in Kibale, you go with an armed escort and search for the family in the jungle as you find them (if), with plenty of time to observe life in the wild.
The path leads through the jungle, in places impenetrable (the guards make a path with a machete). Along the way you will make steeper climbs in the mud, after the rain it is slippery, here and there you don't know where you are stepping.
You will be given a stick for the journey. Personally, I wouldn't take a small child. As on Everest, you can pay porters, they help with the luggage and getting over the terrain (basically you can get carried out). According to our watches we walked 5.85 km and climbed 600 m at an altitude of about 2,000 m.
You couldn't buy anything in the park, there is water at the entrance to the toilet and a stream along the way - neither of which I recommend for drinking - only for washing. Be sure to take bottled water with you, it will come in handy along the way.
On the way to the park there are several options for accommodation. At the time of covid, the campsites are almost empty and there was no need to make arrangements in advance. As one staff member told us, "For 6 years we were completely full, but last year we had a max of 10% attendance - 2021.
You're in the jungle and in the mountains. Aside from the danger from animals, I recommend long sleeves, long pants and sturdy trekking boots.
A waterproof jacket, water and repellent in your pack. Along the way there was the threat of falling downhill, the dirt and freshly cut vegetation slippery. Gorillas are not allowed to eat or drink and sticks are put aside.
The trip can be done without food, and you are not allowed to eat in front of the gorillas for safety reasons :)
During this unique experience, one is reminded of the story of Dian Fossey, the film Gorillas in the Mist. Today, gorillas are protected in Uganda and Rwanda and a portion of the admission fee goes to support them. The ranger told us the story of how one of the natives went to the park to hunt antelope, a gorilla attacked him and he killed it and got life in prison for it. Otherwise, I think 200 rangers have died protecting parks in Uganda.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) is located in southwestern Uganda. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is located along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) next to Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift.
It consists of 321 square kilometres (124 square miles) of montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot. BINP is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.
In March 1999, 100-150 former Rwandan interahamwe guerrillas infiltrated across the border from the DRC and kidnapped 14 foreign tourists and their Ugandan guide from the park headquarters, eventually releasing six and murdering the remaining eight with machetes and clubs.
Several of the victims were allegedly tortured and at least one of the female victims was raped. The Ugandan guide was doused with petrol and set on fire. The Interahamwe attack was allegedly intended to "destabilize Uganda" and scare tourism out of the park, depriving the Ugandan government of revenue.
The park was forced to close for several months and the popularity of gorilla tours suffered greatly for several years. With greater stability, visitation to the area has recovered. Armed guards now also accompany each group of tourists.
Rushaga is inland, so I wouldn't be completely afraid of armed Congolese, unlike our visit to Ishasa (Queen Elizabeth NP) where we watched herds of hippos right on the open border and a small force of Ugandan army guarded the river around us.