Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Of Uganda’s forested reserves, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known for its superb gorilla tracking, but it also provides refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope, as well as 23 bird species restricted to the Albertine Rift.
A magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley, this ancient rainforest - one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age - is home to roughly half of the world's mountain gorillas.
Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer - but we should not let it distract from Bwindi's broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m.
The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.
The forest birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localised Albertine Rift endemics present.
331 sq km
Southwest. The closes large town is Kabale.
Bwindi can be reached from QENP in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. 4x4 recommended during the rains.
What to do
Gorilla tracking is the main attraction; permits must pre-booked at the UWA office in Kampala. Other guided forest walks are available: one popular trail leads to a pretty waterfall, others focus on birding and monkey-viewing.
When to visit
Any time, though conditions are more challenging during the rainy season.
Where to stay
Two up-market tented camps, a lodge, community-run budget rooms and camping are available near the Buhoma entrance gate.