Despite its rather forbidding name, Bwindi is a tropical forest wonderland. Your drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge to Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge may take six hours but as you pass places like Ishasha, be on the lookout for a pride of tree-climbing lions who have made an old fig their regular ‘hangout’.
The landscape changes dramatically: Bwindi is a place of steep hillsides, dense jungle and towering trees. After a full day on the road, you will arrive at Bwindi Lodge, eco-friendly accommodation in the midst of this acclaimed World Heritage Site. There are only eight thatched suites, all with lovely views of the surrounding forest.
Bwindi has four known habituated gorilla families and, after a hearty breakfast to fuel you for your trek, you will set out in the early morning to find them. The going can be hard as the mountains are steep, the air humid and the vegetation dense. But the exertion is all worth it when you finally reach a group of gorillas eating, grooming, playing or napping. Their behaviour is so familiar that you may feel like you have known them all your life; it is an inspiring and privileged moment to see these highly endangered creatures in the wild.
Once back at the lodge, you will no doubt appreciate a massage from the in-house therapist to ease out the stresses and aches of your day’s trek. Those who still feel energetic may want to do a couple of laps in the swimming pool.
After a good night’s sleep, awake the next morning and decide on your day’s plans. You could take a guided walk through the rainforest to see hundreds of bird species, masses of butterflies depending on the season and rare plants like exotic orchids. Or be humbled by the work done by the Bwindi Community Hospital, which services at least 60 000 people. Uganda is rightly famous for its tea and a visit to the tea-processing plant is fascinating.
Bwindi has long been home to the Batwa people and although they no longer live as they once did in the forest, they have kept many of their indispensable hunter-gatherer skills that they are happy to share with visitors. Talking to the Batwa will give you a greater understanding of the forest ecosystem and how intermeshed human and animal life are.