Exploring Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Have you ever heard about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park? This less known national park is becoming a popular place to visit on the African continent. Located in South Western Uganda, Bwindi as often referred to in most guide books, is a very important conservation area protecting almost half of the world population of the endangered mountain gorillas.

The park is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is the best place for gorilla trekking in Africa. First gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 by the British colonial masters, the park was elevated to a national park in 1991 together with the Mgahinga National Park, the Ugandan part of the Virunga protecting the endangered mountain gorillas. Please remember there are as few as about 900 mountain gorillas in the world surviving in only four national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Things to See in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Explore Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda

The Volcanoes National Park is an extraordinary park situated in Rwanda. The Park is blessed and crowded with impressive tropical rain forest, volcanic beauties and trekking adventures. The rare mountain Gorillas are seen in plenty here which makes it a best place in earth to make a visit.

The Park is exactly located in North-western part of Rwanda is bordered by Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park extends up to an area of 8090 square km. The National Park was converted into a battlefield during the Rwandan Civil War, when the park headquarters was attacked in 1992. But by 1999, everything was put back to normal and when the area was deemed to be safe and under control.

Things to See

Mountain Gorillas

Volcanoes National Park or Parc National Des Volcans (PNV) is renowned for hosting the endangered mountain gorillas, great apes that are only found in Africa. This known park is part of the Virunga Mountains hosting its six volcanoes. The Virunga Region and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the only habitat to the endangered mountain gorillas.

Wildlife

Though the park is best known for the Mountain Gorilla, hosts many mammals such as Golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and Black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger) is also camps in this Park. Few Elephants are also reported to be residing in this Park. The bird species recorded here counts up to 178, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.

Virunga Volcanoes

The Park is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The high altitudinal range of the Park always influences the vegetation here. Neoboutonia forest is present within 2400 and 2500 m. Mounting 30 % of the Park area, Arundinaria alpina (bamboo) forest occurs from 2500 to 3200 m. Hagenia-Hypericum forest occurs in 2600 to 3600 m covering another 30% of the Park.

Park Management

The Volcanoes National Park is protected and managed by the Rwandan office fro tourism and National parks (ORTPN) and this conservation area has contributed to the main safaris to Rwanda.

Things to Do

The main tourist activities in the Park are gorilla trekking, Karisimbi and Bisoke volcano climbing, Golden monkey visits, Lake and Cave tours and visit to the tomb of Dian Fossey

Gorilla Trekking
Similar to chimpanzee tracking, tourists on a gorilla trekking activity are allowed to spend an hour watching these apes performing their daily activities, resting, playing, gathering food and feeding. It is your golden opportunity to shoot a picture of the amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

Camping & Lodging
Volcanoes National Park has two drive-in campgrounds which are Namakani Paio (located off of Highway 11), and Kulanaokuaiki (located off of Hilina Pali Road). Important feature of these campgrounds are that they are free and the only fee you have to remit is the park entrance fee. Camping is provided on a first-come basis.
The Namakani Paio campground has restrooms, water, fireplace and pavilion facilities where as Kulanaokaiki has only restroom, fireplace and a vault-type toilet facilities only.

Getting There

When you travel to Rwanda, access to Parc National Des Volcans is via Ruhengeri town; a one and a half hours drive from Kigali city, the country’s capital. Gorilla trackers organize and hire cars for private transportation on their gorilla tour from Ruhengeri; the last stop over town adjacent to the park boundaries and proceed to the headquarters and follow the tracking trails on foot.

Following the well-maintained network of nature trails, we will take you through the forest, encountering creepers, hanging vines, colorful giant lobelia and misty bamboo. Regularly, golden monkeys among other mammals will be seen swinging from one branch to another whereas buffaloes and Duikers will cross your path at the time when you least expect it.

Fees/Permits
The pay per private non-commercial vehicle is $10.00 and $5.00 for pedestrians or bicyclists. Non-commercial groups entering the park in a bus or vehicle with a capacity of 15 persons or more will be charged $5.00 for each person on board.

Key Road Safety Tips for Traveling to Rwanda

Twenty years ago Rwanda had one of the worst road-safety records in the world. But once the government recognized that making roads safer could help with the rehabilitation of a nation traumatized by the 1994 genocide, its efforts have won international acclaim. After the genocide which plunged Rwanda into mourning in 1994, the country knew that one method of rehabilitation was improving its road infrastructure which was damaged during the genocide leading to many road traffic deaths. While traveling to Rwanda, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in developed countries like the United States. In Rwanda, as in the United States, traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road.

Tourists are prohibited from driving outside Kigali city limits after dark (6:00 p.m.), and are not permitted to use motorcycle-taxis or mini-bus taxis. Due to safety and security concerns, the use of motorcycle-taxis or mini-bus taxis for transportation is not recommended. Regulated orange-striped (along the base of the vehicle) sedan auto taxis are safer, but be sure to agree on a fare before beginning your trip. Public transportation can be dangerous due to overloading, inadequate maintenance, and careless drivers.

The main roads in Rwanda are in relatively good condition, but during the rainy season many side roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Night time driving, particularly outside major cities, is hazardous and is discouraged. Often, roadways are not marked and lack streetlights and shoulders. Many sections have deteriorated surfaces. Due to possible language barriers and lack of roadside assistance, receiving help may be difficult. You may be stopped at police roadblocks throughout the country, where your vehicle and luggage may be searched. Service stations are available along main roads.

For those self driving in Rwanda, you should especially exercise caution at traffic circles and traffic lights, as drivers do not always respect the right-of-way. Excessive speed, careless driving, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are hazards on Rwanda’s roads. Many vehicles are not well maintained, and headlights are either extremely dim or not used. Drivers tend to speed and pass other cars with little discretion. Some streets in Kigali have sidewalks or sufficient space for pedestrian traffic, while others do not, and pedestrians are forced to walk along the roadway. Street lighting is limited and drivers often have difficulty seeing pedestrians. Additional road hazards include cyclists, pedestrians, and livestock.

Third-party insurance is required and will cover any damages from involvement in an accident resulting in injuries, if you are found not to have been at fault. The driver’s license of individuals determined to have caused an accident may be confiscated for three months. Causing a fatal accident could result in three to six months’ imprisonment. Drunk drivers are jailed for 24 hours and fined 20,000 Rwandan Francs (RWF)(approximately $35). Call 311 from any mobile phone to reach local police or any of these local police station numbers. Ambulance assistance is very limited but can be obtained in Kigali by dialing 912. Wear seat belts and drive with care and patience at all times.

Rwandan traffic laws prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving and, if apprehended, the driver will be fined 10,000 RWF (about $18). Hands-free devices may be used. As of August 2010, after-market tinted window treatments are prohibited on all vehicles; those apprehended will be required to remove them.

Experience the Astonishing Wild Beauty of Rwanda

They say beauty lies in the hands of the beholder but nature beauty is universal. In other word it appeals to all kinds of people let it be old, young, black, white, rich poor. Everyone would love to see nature in its wildness only that some people have not yet triggered and discovered their passion feelings for nature.

Many people are traveling worldwide to get a chance to see the beauty of nature. This is because nature can be an ambiance for relaxing, funs, therapy and medication. Some people may want to know how the world looked like before urbanization and modernity.

Countries have come up with ideas of extending nature near people’s proximity that is setting up zoos and botanical gardens. These zoos and botanical posses some wild flora and fauna but these are confined in cages and gardens where these creature cannot fully express their wildness and with also humans being exploring and adventurous, they always want to take an extra mile to see these exotic animals and plants in their natural environment or their originality. This has made authorities concerned to preserve, conserve and protect areas in the world that are endowed with wild beauty.

Although every continent has some areas that are nature gifted, Africa stands out most. Africa has vast of unhampered natural environment with special features and creatures. This makes it one of the most popular tourism destinations in the whole world.  Africa has vast of wildlife that cannot be easily be found elsewhere in the world in their natural setting  for example the impala, eland ,oribi, lions, giraffes, thousands of bird species and many other.

The primates in Africa are worth a reserved mention. Africa has 51 different types of primate species with the main primates having a chain of species. The main primates are gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, baboon and bonobos. These primates are normally found in western, central and eastern part of Africa. These primates are sought after because of their behavioral ways as some of them behave like humans and their DNA varies 96%-98% of that of human among them. Some of the primates that are closest relatives of man include the gorillas, chimpanzees and the bonobos.

All the primates are tracked by a millions of tourists in Africa but what ranks best are the mountain gorillas that are found in the Rwanda, Uganda and the democratic republic of Congo. The mountain gorillas are endangered species that are almost getting extinct. There are around 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world. Gorillas are the largest primates in the world as adult gorillas have an average of 140kgs in weight.

With taking a gorilla safari in Rwanda you can experience the beauty of the wild. Gorilla safaris in the Virunga region of Rwanda can give a life time experience and everlasting memories. Scores of tourists come to Rwanda to track these sensational animals. Many of them have had great reviews of tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda. These gorilla tours have made them fall in love with wildlife.

Come to Rwanda and witness the beauty of the wild in Africa. Explore the amazing national parks of Rwanda including the Volcanoes National Park home to the silver gorillas and golden monkeys, Nyungwe Forest the best place to see chimpanzees and Akagera National Park, a savanna national park where you will see lots of wild animals!