Just three hundred and thirty-one square kilometres of pristine forest, and one of the oldest, rarest and most diverse ecosystems in Africa, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is real jungle.
Established in 1991, situated along the western border, and sanctuary to the endangered mountain gorilla, at least nine other species of primate, a multitude of birds, the giant forest hog, antelope, fish and hundreds of species of butterfly, it represents a sizable chunk of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest proper, and is possibly Uganda’s most valuable natural asset.
Owned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and best known for the fact that it houses a high proportion of the world’s population of mountain gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – for those keen to study, see and be among a species of mammal which, in terms of behaviour, is more like us than not – is something of a holy grail.
The gorillas themselves are granted great freedom of movement, their contact with humans is carefully monitored, and trekkers are encouraged to observe codes designed to protect the primates from contracting human diseases.
Gorilla treks are highly organised, scientifically sanctioned and strictly guided. The reward is an experience almost impossible to describe: it is rare that a wild animal, particularly one so large, and one generally surrounded by its young, allows even fleeting access to the workings of its inner world – rarer still that it seems to positively enjoy the close proximity of humans.
Serviced by three excellent camps, and by people (from the local community as well as from the rest of Uganda and abroad) intent on preserving and developing its unique habitat, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is East Africa’s most beautiful forest. Aesthetically, ethically, it deserves our attention.