Hanging Around | Bwindi Impenetrable National Par

Hanging Around | Bwindi Impenetrable National Par

While volunteering in southwest Uganda in March 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with two fellow volunteers. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park derives its name from the phrase “Mubwindi bra Nyinamukari”, meaning “Dark Place of Nyinamukari” when legend tells of a family attempting to cross the Mubwindi swamp and having to sacrifice their beautiful daughter to pass.

Due to the rainy season and thinning crowds, we not only had discounted rates for mountain gorilla tracking, but we also had a private tour of 3 for tracking the Nkuringo gorilla group through the dense forest of Bwindi. The estimated number of the critically endangered mountain gorillas is about 800 divided into 12 groups in Uganda and 8 in Rwanda. The Nkuringo group is particularly special in that it is currently the only group in the area and the group has been habituated to human contact for about 14 years.

Our guide, Amos, led our fearless group down the rocky slopes to the Kashasha River, and we traversed the buffer zone filled with tea trees, which served to contain the gorillas in the forest and provide a source of income for the local community. We then entered the forest and slowly made our way through the thick Ugandan jungle filled with nettles and roots. The Nkuringo group we tracked contained 11 members at the time of our visit with the cute baby Kamara, son of Rafiki, the dominant silverback of the group. Kamara had just turned 1 year old, and we watched in amazement as he played and climbed branches with pure joy. As soon as our magical hour with the group ended, the rainy season deluge began. We spent the next 1.5 hours hiking in the pouring rain and trying to navigate the dense jungle with limited visibility. Despite the miserable hike back to the car, the experience was completely worth it.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda