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The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a large preserve in Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been since 1994. The park borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and is part of a larger region known as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is about 82,000 acres large, or 128 square miles (330 sq. km). The park is home to an astounding diversity of creatures, and is one of the great remaining enclaves of biodiversity in east Africa. There are more than 300 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies, 30 species of amphibians, 120 species of mammals, and hundreds of species of trees and ferns represented in the park. Of these, a number are endemic, existing only within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known, however, for the primates that make their home there. A large number of chimpanzees and colobus monkeys can be found in the park, making it an excellent place to visit for those interested in primates. The park is also renowned for its population of Mountain Gorillas. Of the roughly 700 Mountain Gorillas left on Earth, more than 300 are found within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, making it one of the key refuges for this critically endangered species.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the most fascinating species of animal to many people. With their soulful eyes, obvious intelligence, and expressive nature, they tap a very fundamental sense of empathy. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of a small handful of places left on Earth where gorillas can be seen in their natural habitat. There are four habituated groups of Mountain Gorillas within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and one of these groups, the Mubare group, is fully habituated. The other three, the Nkuringo, Rushegura, and Habinyanja groups, are all partially habituated.
Plans are currently underway to habituate even more groups of Mountain Gorillas within the park. Although habituated groups are more receptive to tourists, and therefore help to generate more revenue for the park itself, there are concerns that further habituation could increase the chance of disease transferring from human visitors to the gorillas. Nonetheless, the drive for more funding to assist in protecting and expanding the park seems to be leading to an increase in tourism.
The park has few roads within it, so nearly all travel is done on foot. Passes are needed to go in to view the gorillas, as the number of visitors allowed to each group per day is limited to between six and eight. Tracking the groups can take some time, and can involve a fair bit of hiking, so only those who are up for the physical exertion should try.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also offers a number of other hikes for those not on the lookout for gorillas. Bird watching safaris may appeal to birders traveling to the area, and for others more general nature hikes offer the opportunity to explore the enormous biodiversity of the region. Cultural performances occur at night, allowing visitors to get a feel for the local Ugandan culture.