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Africa’s Most Hidden Gem

Henry Wismayer | Outside   in 
May 19, 2015

Viewed from a hilltop, southwest Uganda spreads out in an emerald patchwork of terraced agriculture and primeval forest. To the north and south, in the Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks, about half the global population of mountain gorillas (792 at last count) call those forests home.

In the wet season, elephantine clouds roll in from the Congolese interior and the land glows with startling fecundity. In the rarer dry months, the Virungas, central Africa’s volcanic chain, make great shadows in the haze. At its heart, Lake Bunyonyi, 6,500 feet up, with its 29 hilly islands, is a jewel.

Populated with a diverse tapestry of hospitable tribal groups, it’s the sort of special place you might expect to entice hikers and wildlife watchers from around the world. But that’s just the problem: The few people who come to this paradise stay for a day or two to see the gorillas and then move on.

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