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Community Empowerment & Gorilla Conservation, Uganda

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Immerse yourself in a welcoming rural community in the green mountains of south-west Uganda, right on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – a lush rainforest that is home to half the world’s population of rare mountain gorillas. Whatever your experience and whatever skills, ideas and knowledge you can bring, you’ll be able to share them through a bespoke volunteer programme with our sister organisation, Big Beyond. You will be part of a small, motivated team helping to create sustainable change for conservation and development in Africa. You will be supporting a range of projects including teaching, conservation, business and finance, community tourism, health, events, marketing and farming.

Volunteering in Uganda
  • Live in an amazing location where you will meet friendly local people and make genuine connections with them through your work.
  • Make a sustainable impact in rural Africa through a carefully crafted, unique volunteer program that will make full use of your individual abilities and interests. Big Beyond will tailor your volunteer experience uniquely for you.
  • Work at a grassroots level towards the long-term ambitions of local people and the conservation of endangered wildlife.
  • Work towards clear objectives during your project, while also being offered a great level of freedom.
  • Benefit from a lot of guidance while enjoying activities that are less structured than in many volunteer programs.
  • Work in a remote location with a small group of other volunteers from all walks of life – retirees, students, professionals on holiday – with whom you share a passion to make a difference.
  • Gain a genuine insight into the challenges faced both in conservation and community development in this “forgotten corner” of Africa.
  • Be freshly inspired by the opportunities this amazing continent holds.
Quick Facts Quick Facts
Minimum Stay 2 Weeks
Impacts Community & Conservation Building & Development Child and Orphan Care Teaching & Education Conservation & Community
Destination Destination
Uganda
Priced From Priced From
£ 995|
Back to Top

Dates & rates

Priced From
£ 995|

Detailed Project Pricing
2 Weeks GBP 995
3 Weeks GBP 1190
4 Weeks GBP 1350
6 Weeks GBP 1830
8 Weeks GBP 2270
12 Weeks GBP 3050
16 Weeks GBP 3770
24 Weeks GBP 4950

Project Start Dates

Start dates for 2016 are as follows: August 14th & 28th, September 11th & 25th, October 9th & 23rd, November 6th & 20th, December 4th & 18th.

NOTE: We can be a little flexible about people joining out of usual intake dates, but there’s an additional fee to cover your private transfer from the airport to our site. Please enquire with more info about your availability and we’ll let you know the best options.

Our Prices Include:

  • All airport collection and returns. An African Impact team member will be waiting to meet you
  • All accommodation and food, including 3 meals a day
  • 24 hour support on every project and at the volunteer accommodation by onsite staff
  • Tea, coffee and filtered water

Our Prices Exclude:

  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Flights to your chosen destination
  • Weekend trips and other non-project activities
  • Alcohol. Please note this is not allowed during day time activities
  • Laundry

How your Volunteer Fee is Used:

Volunteer tourism, or ‘voluntourism’ as it is popularly known, is loosely defined as a holiday in which you give back to the land you are visiting; contributing to either community development or conservation. But it’s so much more than that. Voluntourism encompasses a new trend of responsible tourism, where travelers are making informed and responsible choices and planning trips which don’t negatively affect the country or communities they are visiting. When volunteering, it is critical that travelers choose a volunteer organisation or charity with a proven ethos and philosophy around sustainable and responsible tourism practices. This applies both to their work with local communities, wildlife and our volunteers themselves.

African Impact is proud to have a 10 year track record of facilitating responsible volunteer programs in Africa, providing 24 hour support and guidance for volunteers and offering on-going support to communities in need. Understandably, these operations cost money to run and this is where the volunteer fee comes in.

Back to Top

Work & Impacts

Health prevening sickness

HEALTH… PREVENING SICKNESS

Teach the basics of preventing sickness and directly improve the health and livelihoods of families in rural Africa. Design and deliver engaging health education sessions deep in the villages; install and monitor practical hand-washing stations in local households, which can reduce some diseases by a whopping 50%; improve hygiene in schools; contribute to solutions to safer water; run topical community events; and, through listening to people, help build our understanding of what works for this community.   

Enterprise

Enterprise

Challenge yourself and apply your business, finance or marketing knowledge to an entirely different environment. Be part of driving entrepreneurialism in rural Africa by concentrating on small-scale enterprise: lots of small-scale sustainable initiatives can lead to big changes. You could run an education workshop on business planning; facilitate a brainstorm to add value to tomatoes; develop a feasibility study for a microfinance concept; sit on a consulting panel for a honey cooperative; and so much more. You will be helping local people stand on their own two feet and will build their pride by helping them to achieving their own ambitions.    

Community tourism

Community Tourism

The Bwindi Tourism Club is under development and we need volunteers to help across a range of initiatives, including developing trails, designing innovative tourist experiences, training and supporting guides, marketing and events, supporting financial management, natural and cultural heritage research, craft design and development, training dance performance groups and strengthening links between local farmers and lodges. Help the local community, benefit from Uganda’s emerging tourism industry!

Education

Education

Education is the core of what we do, and volunteers willing to teach with enthusiasm are very welcome! There are plenty of opportunities to educate both children and adults. If you’re a trained teacher, you can work closely with local teachers to improve methods in managing big classes, engaging kids effectively and supporting in lessons. For others, there are lots of opportunities to help creatively offer education opportunities to the villages that are otherwise neglected.    

Wildlife conservation

Wildlife Conservation

There’s a mixture of practical and educational activities we need to achieve in our conservation projects. You can usually do both. This ranges from sustainably collecting and nurturing indigenous tree seedlings from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for community tree-planting initiatives; educating adults about the significance of nature and raising their support towards mountain gorilla conservation; running wildlife clubs in schools and helping kids to understand why the forest is protected; and listening to the indigenous Batwa tribe elders for their insights into how people and nature can live side by side.       

   

Events

Events

We love events! Big or small, events are one of the best ways to engage the community, communicate positive and useful messages, and to entertain. So if you’re an organizer at heart and love being on a team, this is for you. There’s the Mountain Gorilla Trail Run event in June/July, tree-planting events, health promotions, cultural performance shows and lots more! We’re always looking for new ideas.  

Cultural natural heritage

Cultural & Natural Heritage

It’s vital that the rich cultures of the indigenous forest people, the Batwa and Bakiga, are preserved. We hope to strengthen cultural values that can be lost in a changing world and instil pride by celebrating the mix of different cultures in the area. You may be working with the Batwa to research and understand their invaluable knowledge relating to Bwindi and its conservation; working with cultural performance groups and local artisans; or perhaps documenting a collection of stories, beliefs and sacred sites. This is a brilliant way to really immerse yourself in an entirely different world to your own.       

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Fun & Travel

Things to do in your spare time

So much on your doorstep and beyond...

What a place to live! It’s hard to beat for adventure junkies or those looking for peace and quiet. Our team in Uganda enthusiasticaly help each of our volunteers to embrace all the opportunities on their doorstep and beyond.

Walk out your door and you have a playground of challenging mountainous hikes, gentle strolls, trail runs and sweeping views to indulge in. The little town a short walk away offers many places to relax and have a chat or a game of pool with the locals. Learning a new skill such as wood carving or basket weaving can easily be arranged as well.  

We have listed some of the extra activities below, but these are not included in the program fee. We will, however, help make arrangements for you in advance of your trip so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the excitement of what’s to come. If you’d prefer to decide once you’re out there, that’s no problem either. Just speak to our knowledgeable team in Uganda and they’ll organise everything for you.

  

Gorilla tracking in bwindi

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi

Living on the forested slopes of Bwindi Impenetratable National Park are half the world’s mountain gorilla population. Bwindi is a World Heritage Site and gorillas are facing continued threats from deforestation and the encroachment of growing local populations. It is a true privilege to see them in their natural habitat. Having the opportunity to spend time with gorillas in the wild is a spectacular and unique experience you’ll never forget! It’s found on many bucket lists.

You need a permit to track gorillas in Bwindi and only 12 permits (it costs US$600) are issued per day per gorilla family to limit human-to-animal contact. In peak seasons (June-Aug and Dec-Feb) it’s best to arrange these in advance. We can help organize your permit through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Utilizing a tour operator is unnecessary as the Park is literally on your doorstep!  

Breathtaking lake bunyonyi

Breathtaking Lake Bunyonyi

Possibly one of the most beautiful spots in Uganda and just down the road, this “place of many little birds” offers a beautiful weekend getaway. Lake Bunyonyi is one of the safest lakes in Africa for swimming and it boasts a number of islands to explore by dugout canoe, motorboat and on foot. If you’re a confident paddler, you can rent a canoe seating four to six people and enjoy the day island-hopping. Or, if you’d like to hear stories and have some help, explore in a boat with a local guide. There are a range of accommodation options we can help out with. 

Climb the virunga volcanoes

Climb the Virunga Volcanoes

Three of the Virunga Volcanoes are located in Uganda: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabinyo and Mounta Gahinga. The departure point for the climb is found in the Mgahinga National Park near to Kisoro, a little town about an hour’s drive away from the project.

Mgahinga is Uganda’s smallest, but a very striking national park, where the volcanoes’ slopes boast diverse landscapes. It forms part of the Virunga Conservation Area and offers a protected forested habitat for mountain gorillas, endangered golden monkeys and more.

You’ll need to allow one full day to climb each volcano and we can organise your volcano-climbing permit, which includes park entry and an expert guide. 

Lake mutanda

Lake Mutanda

The perfect place for you to relax and refresh, Lake Mutanda is a rustic lake found between the Big Beyond project and the Virunga volcanoes, about 16 miles from your house. You can visit for the day, enjoy excellent pizza in a tourist lodge and either walk or take a motorbike taxi or car back.

Missing

African Savannah: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Your big adventure in Uganda wouldn’t be complete without a safari excursion in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It’s a wonderful addition to your experience and the chance to spot abundant wildlife including the famous tree-climbing lions, buffalo, antelope, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, leopards and so much more. You can go on game drives and take a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. It’s a great option for a long weekend during your stay or to end the trip.    

African Savannah: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Your big adventure in Uganda wouldn’t be complete without a safari excursion in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It’s a wonderful addition to your experience and the chance to spot abundant wildlife including the famous tree-climbing lions, buffalo, antelope, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, leopards and so much more. You can go on game drives and take a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. It’s a great option for a long weekend during your stay or to end the trip.    

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About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

About bwindi impenetrable national park

About the Destination

This inspiring project is based in Uganda, East Africa. Uganda is beautiful, diverse, friendly, safe and oozes a unique charm. It is not modern and advanced, especially in the rural areas, and it faces many developmental challenges. The delightful people and amazing scenery more than make up for this, and Uganda is fast becoming a highlight for intrepid travelers.  

Our project is located on the border of the magnificent Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to  the rare mountain gorilla. Bwindi Forest is in the Kigezi Highlands of south-west Uganda and is characterized by big green hills and valleys.

The forest gets its name from the dense cover of herbs, vines and shrubs inhabiting the valley floor. Bwindi has one of the richest fauna communities in East Africa, including over 214 species of forest bird, seven species of diurnal primate, 120 species of mammals and 202 species of butterfly.

Overall, Bwindi contains nine globally threatened species: mountain gorilla, common chimpanzee, l'Hoest's monkey, an endangered species of the African elephant, African green broadbill, Grauer's rush warbler, Chaplin's flycatcher, African giant swallowtail and cream-banded swallowtail. Sadly, buffalo were poached to extinction in the late 1960s, as were leopard more recently.

Bwindi lies in one of the country's most densely populated rural areas, with approximately 10 000 families belonging to the Bachiga, Bafumbira and Barwanda peoples cultivating the land immediately surrounding the park. The park has become an island forest within a sea of rural farmers.

The local community needs to build pride in the protection of Bwindi by benefitting from its conservation through income generation, quality education and improved agricultural practices. We are working with local people, park management and international volunteers to give Bwindi and its communities a prosperous future.

Where will I live?

Where will i live

Our volunteer house is located in a village right on the edge of southern Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It’s rural and remote and certainly offers you an authentic community experience. You’ll be living in a small, quiet village called Nombe, which has incredible views of the forest and is near the bustling “town” of Rubuguri. The distance between your house and the town is just over five miles, and a 50 minute stroll for most, or a slightly shorter walk through the stunning valley short-cut. The nearest bigger towns are Kisoro and Kabale, around an hour or two away by motorbike or car, depending on weather and road conditions.

Our cosy rural retreat has bed-space for 12 people at any one time. Depending how many volunteers are around, you may have your own room, although it’s more likely that you’ll be sharing. One room has bunk beds, others singles, and there’s double beds for any resident couples too. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided but you’ll need to bring your own towel.

It’s not the 5* Hilton, but we’ve developed a few modern comforts so you don’t have to strip your lives entirely bare!

Although there’s no mains water at the house, you’ll still be able to have a hot shower. We harvest all our water from the rain. The water is heated on the fire, so we try to be a bit sparing. We have drop toilets, but they have Western-style seats, so they’re relatively luxurious for this part of the world! There is always bottled water available for drinking and brushing teeth.

We’ll provide you with three nutritious meals a day while you’re staying at the Big Beyond house. Some meals are traditionally Ugandan, for example, beans, sweet potatoes, rice or chapattis, but we also serve some international dishes including pasta, cheese sarnies, pizza and veg curries.

It’s mainly a veggie diet but roasted skewers of goat and pork are available in the village on busier days such as Fridays and Sundays.

Breakfast includes local fruit, fresh bread, eggs or pancakes, and tea/coffee (locally picked and roasted). We provide packed lunches, which you can either take with you if you’re out in the field or grab when you want in the house.

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Feedback from our volunteers

Joroen, Belgium

“It's been the best decision I've made up until this moment in time. Spending almost 6 months in Africa, of which 5 with Big Beyond, was the best thing I could do with my life at this (for me) crucial stage. I completed my internship in Uganda working on the Bwindi Tourism Club and worked in tourism in a way that no one in my course could ever imagine. Nor could their internship hold a candle to what I did, certainly I didn't improve my online reservation skills or learned any high tech fancies, but I went back to basics and discovered what is truly important.” 

Andreas, Sweden

“In my projects I have been working with indigenous plants and trees traditionally utilized by the community around here for crafts making, food or medicine. This involves cultural experiences with the forest tribes as well as slashing your way throughout the rainforest in search for a specific type of plant of which you have only got a vague description from one of the local witchdoctors. If you are up for a challenge beyond expectations, with interesting people and stunning views then you should do what I did – send an email and start packing!”

Mel, USA

“Whenever, I try to explain my experience to someone back home, I have found that there are no words to truly convey how I felt about my experience. It's hard to capture the essence of how this place, this organization impacted me. I knew I was going to have a great experience, however, never in a million years would I have imagined what an incredible opportunity this turned out to be.” 

Gemma, UK

“Big Beyond gives you the opportunity to use your skills and genuinely benefit local people. You build amazing relationships with local people and get to live in a beautiful area a few miles away from the gorillas!” 

Ana, Spain

“I have enjoyed an amazing time! Big Beyond people are incredible and you really feel a part of a big project that makes a difference. It is a personal challenge too! I would recommend everybody”

Danielle, Scotland

“Working with Big Beyond has been the most amazing thing I have ever done, the community really made it for me, never have I ever felt more at home or happy in a place. Everyone is always so happy and keen to learn what you want to teach them. It has helped me grow as a person, gain so much confidence in a working environment and on a personal level. The dirt roads and little village feels like home to me now and I can't wait to come back. 

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Brochures

Uganda Skills-based Volunteering Project Brochure

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Community Empowerment & Gorilla Conservation, Uganda

how would you like us to contact you?
via phone
Full Name*
Email*
Phone Number
*Required
start a live chat instead

Immerse yourself in a welcoming rural community in the green mountains of south-west Uganda, right on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – a lush rainforest that is home to half the world’s population of rare mountain gorillas. Whatever your experience and whatever skills, ideas and knowledge you can bring, you’ll be able to share them through a bespoke volunteer programme with our sister organisation, Big Beyond. You will be part of a small, motivated team helping to create sustainable change for conservation and development in Africa. You will be supporting a range of projects including teaching, conservation, business and finance, community tourism, health, events, marketing and farming.

Volunteering in Uganda
  • Live in an amazing location where you will meet friendly local people and make genuine connections with them through your work.
  • Make a sustainable impact in rural Africa through a carefully crafted, unique volunteer program that will make full use of your individual abilities and interests. Big Beyond will tailor your volunteer experience uniquely for you.
  • Work at a grassroots level towards the long-term ambitions of local people and the conservation of endangered wildlife.
  • Work towards clear objectives during your project, while also being offered a great level of freedom.
  • Benefit from a lot of guidance while enjoying activities that are less structured than in many volunteer programs.
  • Work in a remote location with a small group of other volunteers from all walks of life – retirees, students, professionals on holiday – with whom you share a passion to make a difference.
  • Gain a genuine insight into the challenges faced both in conservation and community development in this “forgotten corner” of Africa.
  • Be freshly inspired by the opportunities this amazing continent holds.
Quick Facts Quick Facts
Minimum Stay 2 Weeks
Impacts Community & Conservation Building & Development Child and Orphan Care Teaching & Education Conservation & Community
Destination Destination
Uganda
Priced From Priced From
£ 995|
Back to Top

Dates & rates

Priced From
£ 995|

Detailed Project Pricing
2 Weeks GBP 995
3 Weeks GBP 1190
4 Weeks GBP 1350
6 Weeks GBP 1830
8 Weeks GBP 2270
12 Weeks GBP 3050
16 Weeks GBP 3770
24 Weeks GBP 4950

Project Start Dates

Start dates for 2016 are as follows: August 14th & 28th, September 11th & 25th, October 9th & 23rd, November 6th & 20th, December 4th & 18th.

NOTE: We can be a little flexible about people joining out of usual intake dates, but there’s an additional fee to cover your private transfer from the airport to our site. Please enquire with more info about your availability and we’ll let you know the best options.

Our Prices Include:

  • All airport collection and returns. An African Impact team member will be waiting to meet you
  • All accommodation and food, including 3 meals a day
  • 24 hour support on every project and at the volunteer accommodation by onsite staff
  • Tea, coffee and filtered water

Our Prices Exclude:

  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Flights to your chosen destination
  • Weekend trips and other non-project activities
  • Alcohol. Please note this is not allowed during day time activities
  • Laundry

How your Volunteer Fee is Used:

Volunteer tourism, or ‘voluntourism’ as it is popularly known, is loosely defined as a holiday in which you give back to the land you are visiting; contributing to either community development or conservation. But it’s so much more than that. Voluntourism encompasses a new trend of responsible tourism, where travelers are making informed and responsible choices and planning trips which don’t negatively affect the country or communities they are visiting. When volunteering, it is critical that travelers choose a volunteer organisation or charity with a proven ethos and philosophy around sustainable and responsible tourism practices. This applies both to their work with local communities, wildlife and our volunteers themselves.

African Impact is proud to have a 10 year track record of facilitating responsible volunteer programs in Africa, providing 24 hour support and guidance for volunteers and offering on-going support to communities in need. Understandably, these operations cost money to run and this is where the volunteer fee comes in.

Back to Top

Work & Impacts

Health prevening sickness

HEALTH… PREVENING SICKNESS

Teach the basics of preventing sickness and directly improve the health and livelihoods of families in rural Africa. Design and deliver engaging health education sessions deep in the villages; install and monitor practical hand-washing stations in local households, which can reduce some diseases by a whopping 50%; improve hygiene in schools; contribute to solutions to safer water; run topical community events; and, through listening to people, help build our understanding of what works for this community.   

Enterprise

Enterprise

Challenge yourself and apply your business, finance or marketing knowledge to an entirely different environment. Be part of driving entrepreneurialism in rural Africa by concentrating on small-scale enterprise: lots of small-scale sustainable initiatives can lead to big changes. You could run an education workshop on business planning; facilitate a brainstorm to add value to tomatoes; develop a feasibility study for a microfinance concept; sit on a consulting panel for a honey cooperative; and so much more. You will be helping local people stand on their own two feet and will build their pride by helping them to achieving their own ambitions.    

Community tourism

Community Tourism

The Bwindi Tourism Club is under development and we need volunteers to help across a range of initiatives, including developing trails, designing innovative tourist experiences, training and supporting guides, marketing and events, supporting financial management, natural and cultural heritage research, craft design and development, training dance performance groups and strengthening links between local farmers and lodges. Help the local community, benefit from Uganda’s emerging tourism industry!

Education

Education

Education is the core of what we do, and volunteers willing to teach with enthusiasm are very welcome! There are plenty of opportunities to educate both children and adults. If you’re a trained teacher, you can work closely with local teachers to improve methods in managing big classes, engaging kids effectively and supporting in lessons. For others, there are lots of opportunities to help creatively offer education opportunities to the villages that are otherwise neglected.    

Wildlife conservation

Wildlife Conservation

There’s a mixture of practical and educational activities we need to achieve in our conservation projects. You can usually do both. This ranges from sustainably collecting and nurturing indigenous tree seedlings from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for community tree-planting initiatives; educating adults about the significance of nature and raising their support towards mountain gorilla conservation; running wildlife clubs in schools and helping kids to understand why the forest is protected; and listening to the indigenous Batwa tribe elders for their insights into how people and nature can live side by side.       

   

Events

Events

We love events! Big or small, events are one of the best ways to engage the community, communicate positive and useful messages, and to entertain. So if you’re an organizer at heart and love being on a team, this is for you. There’s the Mountain Gorilla Trail Run event in June/July, tree-planting events, health promotions, cultural performance shows and lots more! We’re always looking for new ideas.  

Cultural natural heritage

Cultural & Natural Heritage

It’s vital that the rich cultures of the indigenous forest people, the Batwa and Bakiga, are preserved. We hope to strengthen cultural values that can be lost in a changing world and instil pride by celebrating the mix of different cultures in the area. You may be working with the Batwa to research and understand their invaluable knowledge relating to Bwindi and its conservation; working with cultural performance groups and local artisans; or perhaps documenting a collection of stories, beliefs and sacred sites. This is a brilliant way to really immerse yourself in an entirely different world to your own.       

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Fun & Travel

Things to do in your spare time

So much on your doorstep and beyond...

What a place to live! It’s hard to beat for adventure junkies or those looking for peace and quiet. Our team in Uganda enthusiasticaly help each of our volunteers to embrace all the opportunities on their doorstep and beyond.

Walk out your door and you have a playground of challenging mountainous hikes, gentle strolls, trail runs and sweeping views to indulge in. The little town a short walk away offers many places to relax and have a chat or a game of pool with the locals. Learning a new skill such as wood carving or basket weaving can easily be arranged as well.  

We have listed some of the extra activities below, but these are not included in the program fee. We will, however, help make arrangements for you in advance of your trip so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the excitement of what’s to come. If you’d prefer to decide once you’re out there, that’s no problem either. Just speak to our knowledgeable team in Uganda and they’ll organise everything for you.

  

Gorilla tracking in bwindi

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi

Living on the forested slopes of Bwindi Impenetratable National Park are half the world’s mountain gorilla population. Bwindi is a World Heritage Site and gorillas are facing continued threats from deforestation and the encroachment of growing local populations. It is a true privilege to see them in their natural habitat. Having the opportunity to spend time with gorillas in the wild is a spectacular and unique experience you’ll never forget! It’s found on many bucket lists.

You need a permit to track gorillas in Bwindi and only 12 permits (it costs US$600) are issued per day per gorilla family to limit human-to-animal contact. In peak seasons (June-Aug and Dec-Feb) it’s best to arrange these in advance. We can help organize your permit through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Utilizing a tour operator is unnecessary as the Park is literally on your doorstep!  

Breathtaking lake bunyonyi

Breathtaking Lake Bunyonyi

Possibly one of the most beautiful spots in Uganda and just down the road, this “place of many little birds” offers a beautiful weekend getaway. Lake Bunyonyi is one of the safest lakes in Africa for swimming and it boasts a number of islands to explore by dugout canoe, motorboat and on foot. If you’re a confident paddler, you can rent a canoe seating four to six people and enjoy the day island-hopping. Or, if you’d like to hear stories and have some help, explore in a boat with a local guide. There are a range of accommodation options we can help out with. 

Climb the virunga volcanoes

Climb the Virunga Volcanoes

Three of the Virunga Volcanoes are located in Uganda: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabinyo and Mounta Gahinga. The departure point for the climb is found in the Mgahinga National Park near to Kisoro, a little town about an hour’s drive away from the project.

Mgahinga is Uganda’s smallest, but a very striking national park, where the volcanoes’ slopes boast diverse landscapes. It forms part of the Virunga Conservation Area and offers a protected forested habitat for mountain gorillas, endangered golden monkeys and more.

You’ll need to allow one full day to climb each volcano and we can organise your volcano-climbing permit, which includes park entry and an expert guide. 

Lake mutanda

Lake Mutanda

The perfect place for you to relax and refresh, Lake Mutanda is a rustic lake found between the Big Beyond project and the Virunga volcanoes, about 16 miles from your house. You can visit for the day, enjoy excellent pizza in a tourist lodge and either walk or take a motorbike taxi or car back.

Missing

African Savannah: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Your big adventure in Uganda wouldn’t be complete without a safari excursion in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It’s a wonderful addition to your experience and the chance to spot abundant wildlife including the famous tree-climbing lions, buffalo, antelope, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, leopards and so much more. You can go on game drives and take a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. It’s a great option for a long weekend during your stay or to end the trip.    

African Savannah: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Your big adventure in Uganda wouldn’t be complete without a safari excursion in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It’s a wonderful addition to your experience and the chance to spot abundant wildlife including the famous tree-climbing lions, buffalo, antelope, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, leopards and so much more. You can go on game drives and take a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel. It’s a great option for a long weekend during your stay or to end the trip.    

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About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

About bwindi impenetrable national park

About the Destination

This inspiring project is based in Uganda, East Africa. Uganda is beautiful, diverse, friendly, safe and oozes a unique charm. It is not modern and advanced, especially in the rural areas, and it faces many developmental challenges. The delightful people and amazing scenery more than make up for this, and Uganda is fast becoming a highlight for intrepid travelers.  

Our project is located on the border of the magnificent Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to  the rare mountain gorilla. Bwindi Forest is in the Kigezi Highlands of south-west Uganda and is characterized by big green hills and valleys.

The forest gets its name from the dense cover of herbs, vines and shrubs inhabiting the valley floor. Bwindi has one of the richest fauna communities in East Africa, including over 214 species of forest bird, seven species of diurnal primate, 120 species of mammals and 202 species of butterfly.

Overall, Bwindi contains nine globally threatened species: mountain gorilla, common chimpanzee, l'Hoest's monkey, an endangered species of the African elephant, African green broadbill, Grauer's rush warbler, Chaplin's flycatcher, African giant swallowtail and cream-banded swallowtail. Sadly, buffalo were poached to extinction in the late 1960s, as were leopard more recently.

Bwindi lies in one of the country's most densely populated rural areas, with approximately 10 000 families belonging to the Bachiga, Bafumbira and Barwanda peoples cultivating the land immediately surrounding the park. The park has become an island forest within a sea of rural farmers.

The local community needs to build pride in the protection of Bwindi by benefitting from its conservation through income generation, quality education and improved agricultural practices. We are working with local people, park management and international volunteers to give Bwindi and its communities a prosperous future.

Where will I live?

Where will i live

Our volunteer house is located in a village right on the edge of southern Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It’s rural and remote and certainly offers you an authentic community experience. You’ll be living in a small, quiet village called Nombe, which has incredible views of the forest and is near the bustling “town” of Rubuguri. The distance between your house and the town is just over five miles, and a 50 minute stroll for most, or a slightly shorter walk through the stunning valley short-cut. The nearest bigger towns are Kisoro and Kabale, around an hour or two away by motorbike or car, depending on weather and road conditions.

Our cosy rural retreat has bed-space for 12 people at any one time. Depending how many volunteers are around, you may have your own room, although it’s more likely that you’ll be sharing. One room has bunk beds, others singles, and there’s double beds for any resident couples too. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided but you’ll need to bring your own towel.

It’s not the 5* Hilton, but we’ve developed a few modern comforts so you don’t have to strip your lives entirely bare!

Although there’s no mains water at the house, you’ll still be able to have a hot shower. We harvest all our water from the rain. The water is heated on the fire, so we try to be a bit sparing. We have drop toilets, but they have Western-style seats, so they’re relatively luxurious for this part of the world! There is always bottled water available for drinking and brushing teeth.

We’ll provide you with three nutritious meals a day while you’re staying at the Big Beyond house. Some meals are traditionally Ugandan, for example, beans, sweet potatoes, rice or chapattis, but we also serve some international dishes including pasta, cheese sarnies, pizza and veg curries.

It’s mainly a veggie diet but roasted skewers of goat and pork are available in the village on busier days such as Fridays and Sundays.

Breakfast includes local fruit, fresh bread, eggs or pancakes, and tea/coffee (locally picked and roasted). We provide packed lunches, which you can either take with you if you’re out in the field or grab when you want in the house.

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Feedback from our volunteers

Joroen, Belgium

“It's been the best decision I've made up until this moment in time. Spending almost 6 months in Africa, of which 5 with Big Beyond, was the best thing I could do with my life at this (for me) crucial stage. I completed my internship in Uganda working on the Bwindi Tourism Club and worked in tourism in a way that no one in my course could ever imagine. Nor could their internship hold a candle to what I did, certainly I didn't improve my online reservation skills or learned any high tech fancies, but I went back to basics and discovered what is truly important.” 

Andreas, Sweden

“In my projects I have been working with indigenous plants and trees traditionally utilized by the community around here for crafts making, food or medicine. This involves cultural experiences with the forest tribes as well as slashing your way throughout the rainforest in search for a specific type of plant of which you have only got a vague description from one of the local witchdoctors. If you are up for a challenge beyond expectations, with interesting people and stunning views then you should do what I did – send an email and start packing!”

Mel, USA

“Whenever, I try to explain my experience to someone back home, I have found that there are no words to truly convey how I felt about my experience. It's hard to capture the essence of how this place, this organization impacted me. I knew I was going to have a great experience, however, never in a million years would I have imagined what an incredible opportunity this turned out to be.” 

Gemma, UK

“Big Beyond gives you the opportunity to use your skills and genuinely benefit local people. You build amazing relationships with local people and get to live in a beautiful area a few miles away from the gorillas!” 

Ana, Spain

“I have enjoyed an amazing time! Big Beyond people are incredible and you really feel a part of a big project that makes a difference. It is a personal challenge too! I would recommend everybody”

Danielle, Scotland

“Working with Big Beyond has been the most amazing thing I have ever done, the community really made it for me, never have I ever felt more at home or happy in a place. Everyone is always so happy and keen to learn what you want to teach them. It has helped me grow as a person, gain so much confidence in a working environment and on a personal level. The dirt roads and little village feels like home to me now and I can't wait to come back. 

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Brochures

Uganda Skills-based Volunteering Project Brochure

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