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 wild life 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 of 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 localized Albertine Rift endemics present.
Size: 321 sq km
Location: Southwest, the closest large town in Kabale.
How to get there: 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 entrance gate.
Activities: Gorilla tracking is the main attraction; permits must be 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 (April-May and September-November).
Where to stay: Up-market tented camps and lodges, community-run budget rooms and camping are available near the Buhoma entrance gate.