Reflection on walking through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south western Uganda on the edge of the rift valley. It is one of the nation’s oldest and biologically most diverse rain forest containing more than 400 species of plants. This biologically diverse region is ahabitat to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. Most famously  Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to an estimated 400 Mountain Gorillas, roughly half of the world’s population with several Groups/families habituated and open for tracking.

There are various attractions and ways to explore and discover Bwindi Forest although the top most attraction here is the Mt Gorillas. Knowing i could not afford gorilla permits to meet the gentle giants, i still had unquenchable lust for exploring and discovering this beautiful forest through walking safari. I must admit that the idea of walking safari through the forest was not very appealing because i did not have any idea what to expect but then again that is the whole reason i wanted to adventure.

Bwindi offers many trails which one can complete within a few hours or you can even take the more challenging trail of up to 7hrs. Me and my fellow hikers took on the Kashasha river trail from Buhoma to Nkuringo,6-7 hrs. We were informed by our guide this particular trail is more challenging than the others and we luckily completed the hike in 9hrs instead of the 6-7 because we went at our own pace enjoying everything along the way. The most memorable experience for me while on the trail include.

Getting up close with nature and natural wonders of Bwindi Forest, which is aunique biodiversity.  The forest is really dense and incredibly green ,the air is pure , temperatures cool , the sounds of nature, the variety of tree species, butterflies everything seem to be in perfect balance and harmony among all the inhabitants of this forest. Watch out though for the awful safari ants.

The birds are prolific along this trail. If you are an avid birder this trail will offer you a paradise. Among other birds species spotted here were Black Billed Turaco, the Great Blue Turaco, white eyed slaty flycatcher, Dusky Long Tailed cuckoo and they were all on my wish list for the day. Primates  spotted here were the red tailed monkeys, colobus monkeys and bush pigs , Flying Squirel and some forest Hogs.

Next stop is River Kashaha  after 3-4hrs of walking. A great point for photography and short break . The forest atmosphere around River kashasha is very calming. The sounds of the river flowing  is very comforting as it splashes  and hops over the rocks curving its way through the forest giving an unexplainable feeling of being one with nature.  The cool waters very relaxing and refreshing to the taste and body. Our  guide Adolf explained to us that the water from Kashasha river was some of the purest spring waters around the Bwindi Forest.

Experiencing rainfall while walking in the forest was not so great  The mud  slides, small paddles  and rain water all over you for over two hrs even with rain jacket  on was not so pleasant .You need light but sturdy walking shoes and a rain jacket and light sweater and bug spray.

Walking for more than seven hours made my legs feel so heavy and everything else i was carrying in my back pack was a burden, eventually even the shoes and the clothes i had on was too heavy on me but thank goodness we have experienced and patient guides plus a few porters who helped along the way especially with the back packs and maintained a slow pace for all.  The walking sticks were great for both support and waddling through the rain, mud and paddles.

The final ascent was the most challenging as it was mainly uphill and arriving to Nkuringo safari Lodge was like a dream after 9hrs walk and almost giving up the hope of ever arriving at final destination while still walking. The view here is spectacular!  The room’s real African luxury. The soup and homemade bread here is worth mentioning. Very nice!

I was very lucky to have done this walk from Buhoma to Nkuringo and for having stayed at the award winning prestigious Nkuringo Safari Lodge.  This has been one of my best experiences discovering Uganda’s unique attractions as a munauganda. This was a personal experience with a team of staff members of Nkuringo walking Safaris. Thank you Nkuringo Walking Safari Team, it was great meeting and walking with you all.

 

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