Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a large primeval forest located in southwestern Uganda, in the Kanungu District on the edge of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, at altitudes spanning from 1,160 to 2,607 meters.
The name ‘Bwindi’ is derived from a word from the Runyakitara language, and itself actually means ‘impenetrable’. It earns this name from the extensive stands of bamboo interspersed amongst the larger forest hardwoods, and which, along with thick ground cover of ferns, vines and other plant growth, severely hinder direct access on foot. Also known as the ‘Place of Darkness’, the forest lies on the edge of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley, only a few kilometers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo border and about 25 kilometers north of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Floristically Bwindi is amongst the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low altitude) sector is rich in species of the Guineo-Congolian flora. These include two species internationally recognized as endangered, the brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.
The forest is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth, where half the world’s population of the highly endangered Mountain Gorillas live in its jungles. The forest has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site for its biological significance.