Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, mountain gorilla

©Westend61/Getty Images

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Top choice in Southwestern Uganda

Home to almost half the world’s surviving mountain gorillas, the World Heritage–listed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of East Africa’s most famous national parks. Set over 331 sq km of improbably steep mountain rainforest, the park is home to an estimated 340 gorillas: undoubtedly Uganda’s biggest tourist drawcard.

As well as its famous primates, the park contains 120 other species of mammal – more than any of Uganda’s other national parks – though sightings are less common due to the dense forest. Lucky visitors might see forest elephants, 11 species of primate (including chimpanzees and L’Hoest’s monkeys), duikers, bushbucks, African golden cats and the rare giant forest hog, as well as a host of bird and insect species. For birdwatchers it’s one of the most exciting destinations in the country, with over 350 species, including 23 of the 24 endemic to the Albertine Rift and several endangered species, such as the African green broadbill. With a good guide, sighting daily totals of more than 150 species is possible. On the greener side of the aisle, Bwindi harbours eight endemic plants.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southwestern Uganda attractions

1. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

22.58 MILES

The smallest of Uganda’s national parks (34 sq km), Mgahinga punches well above its weight. Tropical rainforest cloaks three dramatic extinct volcanoes…

2. Akampeine Island

22.8 MILES

Translating as Punishment Island, this tiny island was so named because it was once the place where unmarried pregnant women were dumped to die. Their…

3. Kyahugye Island

23.24 MILES

Run by Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort, this 35-acre island is worth a visit if you want to see to wildlife such as zebra, waterbuck, ipala and kob up close. All…

4. Bwama & Njuyeera (Sharp’s) Islands

23.58 MILES

Many boat drivers will take you to these islands, where British missionary Dr Leonard Sharp founded a leper colony and settled in 1921, but the story is…

5. Kabale Arts Center

24.26 MILES

Inside Kwanzi, this simple but worthwhile cultural museum houses a replica traditional homestead, built of sticks and papyrus, showing how the local…

6. Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage

25.63 MILES

Provided you make it back from your gorilla track in a timely fashion, it should be possible to visit the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage, which…

7. Volcanoes National Park

25.8 MILES

Volcanoes National Park, which runs along the border with the DRC and Uganda, is home to the Rwandan section of the Virungas. Comprising five volcanoes,…

8. Gorilla Guardians Village

28.67 MILES

While most of the focus of Volcanoes National Park falls squarely onto the animals, this 'cultural village' puts the spotlight back onto the people…