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Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, located in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the western Rift Valley lies on the Zaire border adjacent to the Parc National des Virungas. It is one of the largest (331 sq. km) natural forests in East Africa and contains both montane and lowland forest. It supports a large number of plants and animals endemic to the region, but most notably half of the world's population of Mountain Gorillas in the impenetrable forest.

The more than 300 Mountain Forest Gorillas, divided into a dozen groups, make up the largest surviving population. The other half is split between Zaire and Rwanda, where they used to roam freely until they were separated by encroachment and farming.

The rugged terrain makes hiking in search of the gorillas streneous work. There are two habituated groups, 'Mubare' and 'Katendegyere'. Only the Mubare group is fully habituated and a maximum of 6 visitors are allowed per day. Tracking begins with a fairly strenous walk through the forest up steep and slippery slopes, to where the Forest Gorillas were found on the previous day. Then the trackers look for any signs - pressed-down grass, broken twigs, dung - that might tell them the direction the group has taken. Visitors follow through the dense undergrowth until they reach where the Gorillas spent the night. Then the search continues, at times crawling through the thickets, until the gorillas are found.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Mountain Gorillas cover long distances each day and tours can last anywhere between three to eight hours. There are very strict rules to follow when around the gorillas, to prevent behavioral disturbances and transmission of desease from human beings to gorillas. Even the common cold could be fatal to a gorilla and sick participants are not allowed to join.

Even if you don't go see the gorillas, there is plenty to do in the Impenetrable Forest. You can join guided walks and choose between a two-hour stroll to some beautiful waterfalls and various hikes, lasting up to seven-hour and leading to a number of peaks. The area around Buhoma is an excellent place for watching primates and birds and you may catch a glimpse of the noisy but evasive Chimpanzees or the beatiful Hornbills and Turacos. The Bwindi Impenetrable forest is home to 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, and 163 species of trees, making it one of the richest ecosystems in Africa.

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