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Home » The 10 Beautiful Uganda National Parks: National Parks in Uganda (BRIEFS) » Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Attractions, Activities, Lodges

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Attractions, Activities, Lodges

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the main destination for gorilla trekking in Uganda/gorilla safaris in Uganda.

Covering over 321km2 of land in southwestern Uganda, Bwindi holds almost 50% of the world’s 1,063 population of the endangered mountain gorillas remaining in the wild.

The remaining mountain gorilla population is found in the Virunga Mountains in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in Congo (DRC).

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also blessed with a great biodiversity of over 120 mammal species, 10 primate species, 400 species of plants, 200 butterfly species, and over 350 bird species including the sought-after 23 Albertine rift endemics thus, one of the best areas for birding in Uganda.

The remarkable Uganda safari activities/things to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are done from its 4 sectors like Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east, Rushaga in the south, and Nkuringo in the south. These include birding, guided nature walks cultural encounters, etc.

Location Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi national park is located in southwestern Uganda in the Kanungu district, about 467km /9-10 hour drive from Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

The park is situated at the edge of the Western Rift Valley at an altitude of 1,160m – 2,607m above sea level in the highest parts of the magnificent Kigezi highlands. Kabale town in the south-east of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is the nearest town about 29km.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Weather/Weather In Bwindi Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park weather is generally cold and moist. This is because the park is found in the misty hills and covered by one of Uganda’s oldest rainforests.

Bwindi forest’s mean annual temperature ranges from a minimum of 70C-150C and a maximum of 20-270C.

The region receives much rainfall ranging from 1400-1900mm annually, especially in the months of March-April and September-November

Attractions In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda has a variety of tourist attractions you can see during your Uganda safaris. Here are the incredible attractions in Uganda Bwindi impenetrable national park:

  1. Mountain Gorillas In Bwindi National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park holds about half (459) of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas – our close relatives that share about 98% of our DNA.

These gentle giant apes are the largest living primates on earth weighing up to 220kg, with their bodies covered in dark black thick fur.

They live in families of about 5-30 individuals in high elevations between 2,200-4,300m. A gorilla family is led by a dominant male called a silverback gorilla that protects the entire family.

Bwindi holds 19 families fully habituated for Uganda gorilla trekking tours and one semi-habituated family for Uganda gorilla habituation experience. In Bwindi National Park gorillas can be spotted in the four sectors, including:-

     a. Buhoma Sector

Buhoma is the oldest sector in Bwindi Uganda having about 4 habituated gorilla families. It is where the first gorilla family got habituated in Africa called the Mubare gorilla family and was open for world gorilla tourism in 1993. Gorilla family groups in the Buhoma sector include:

  • Mubare gorilla family- about 9 members
  • The Habinyanja gorilla family- about 18 members
  • Rushegura gorilla family- over 21 members including
  • Katwe gorilla family

    b. Rushaga Sector

Rushaga sector is located in the southern part of the Bwindi forest in the Kisoro district. The sector is home to 5 habituated gorilla families with one semi-habituated family called Bikingi.

It is easily accessed from Kisoro town hence, the nearest to connect from Kigali via the Chanika border.

These families include:

  • Nshongi gorilla family- 25 members
  • Mishaya gorilla group- 7 members
  • Kahungye gorilla family- 13 members
  • Busingye gorilla group- 9 members
  • Bweza gorilla group- 7 members
  • Bikingi gorilla group- semi habituated.

    c. Nkuringo Sector

Nkuringo sector is located at higher altitudes making it strenuous to hike seeing the gorillas in the southern part of Bwindi. The sector is therefore recommended for the young and the physically fit travelers.

Interestingly, the summit of the sector provides travelers with clear and close views of the Virunga volcanoes in Uganda and Rwanda.

It is also misty from morning up to sunset which makes it worth visiting for adventure travelers.

It has 3 habituated gorilla families and these include:

  • Nkuringo gorilla family- 12 members
  • Bushaho gorilla family- 8 members
  • Christmas gorilla family- 9 members

   4. Ruhija Sector

Ruhija sector is located in the Eastern part of Bwindi forest national park and easily accessed from either Kabale or Buhoma. It stands at 2,350m above sea level hence, one of the coldest areas in Bwindi national park.

For those interested in hiking, Ruhija offers the most strenuous and adventurous hiking trail to Rwamunyonyi peak also known as the hill of many birds and there is a large swamp (Mubwindi swamp) hence, a not to miss area.

The sector has 3 gorilla families and these include:

  • Oruzogo gorilla family group- has more than 23members
  • Bitukura gorilla family- composed of 14 members
  • Kyaguriro gorilla family- mainly for research

While in Ruhija expect to meet other animals such as elephants and several monkey species, which make your stay in the area interesting.

  1. Other Amazing Primates In Bwindi

Bwindi national park is home to over 10 primate species. These amazing primates can be encountered while on your nature walks in the impenetrable forest probably on gorilla trekking, birding, or on a guided forest walk. Some of the recorded primates in the Bwindi forest include:

  • Common chimpanzees
  • Olive baboons
  • L’Hoest’s monkeys
  • Black and white colobus monkeys
  • De Brazza monkeys
  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Blue Monkeys
  1. Animals In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi impenetrable national park Uganda is home to over 120 species of Uganda mammals and more than 45 are small mammals.

Some of these Uganda animals in the impenetrable forest can be encountered while on nature walks however, you will be lucky to spot one due to the thickness of Bwindi Forest. Some of the mammal species recorded in Bwindi include:

  • Forest elephants
  • The giant forest hogs
  • Small antelope species
  • The side-striped jackals
  • African golden cats
  • African civets, etc.

 a. Black & White Colobus Monkeys

These monkeys have a black color with a strip of white

color on the side of their body, limbs and around their face and also at their tail ending, these strips are called the mantle, these monkeys live in groups of 5-15 members led by a male, their weight ranges between 4-14 kg, they have a body length of up to 75 cm or 30 inches.

The black and white colobus are herbivores primates and they have a gestation period of 4-6 months,

b. Red-tailed Monkeys in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

These monkeys are known as the Schmidt guenon. This monkey species is usually red, black, or orange in color with a red coloring at its tail.

This species has a body length of between 1-2 feet excluding the tail, the males weigh between 7-10 pounds by adulthood age while adult females weigh between 6-8 pounds.

The red-tailed monkeys feed mostly on a fruit diet. These monkeys can live in groups ranging from 7-30 individuals led by a dominant male. The red-tailed monkeys are very active during the early morning and late evening hours

c. L’Hoest Monkeys in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

These monkeys have a short, dark brown coat with a chestnut color across their back and a dark underbelly.

They have a pale mustache with light grey cheeks. their body length ranges between 32-69 cm, with a long hooked like tail that has a length of 48-99 cm, adult males weigh up to 6 kg while adult females can weigh up to 3.5 kg.

The L’Hoest monkeys live in groups with many females and only one male which stays temporary with the group for mating. They have a gestation period of about 5 months and they maintain an herbivorous diet.

  1. Birds In Bwindi National Park

While on your Uganda safaris, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is among the best spots for bird watching in Uganda as it is home to over 350 species of Uganda bird including the sought after 23 Albertine endemics which include:

  1. Handsome francolin
  2. Rwenzori turaco
  3. Rwenzori nightjar
  4. Dwarf honeyguide
  5. African green broadbill
  6. Kivu ground thrush
  7. Red-throated alethe
  8. Archer’s robin-chat
  9. Collared Apalis
  10. Mountain masked Apalis
  11. Grauer’s Warbler
  12. Neumann’s warbler
  13. Red-faced woodland warbler
  14. Yellow-eyed black flycatcher
  15. Chapin’s flycatcher
  16. Rwenzori batis
  17. Stripe-breasted tit
  18. Blue-headed sunbird
  19. Regal sunbird
  20. Purple-breasted sunbird
  21. Dusky Crimsonwing
  22. Shelley’s Crimsonwing
  23. Strange weaver

   5. The Amazing Local Culture Around Bwindi

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is surrounded by 2 amazing tribes which are worth visiting on top of your Uganda gorilla safaris. They include:

  1. The Batwa People/ The Pygmies

The Pygmies are the former inhabitants of the Bwindi forest. It is believed that Pygmies entirely depended on the Bwindi impenetrable forest for their life in form of shelter, and food by fruit gathering and hunting however, after gazetting the park in 1991, these people were evicted out of the forest (1992) to conserve the mountain gorillas.

On your visit to Bwindi Uganda, you will discover their unique cultural practices and their amazing way of living which gives you an idea of the typical rural Ugandans look like.

They present great hunting skills, traditional entertainment, and a community walk among others to tourists.

Today, these people live in areas adjacent to the park and can be visited before or after your Bwindi gorilla trekking for an amazing cultural experience in Uganda on top of your Uganda safari.

  1. The Bakiga People

The Bakiga people live in areas adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and they also have unique traditions like their vibrant dancing styles, way of marriage, their lifestyle like dressing, traditional foods, traditional farming practices,  etc.

A Uganda cultural tour experience for these people can be made by having a community tour in the Buhoma sector which is done before or after your Bwindi gorilla trekking.

  1. Water Falls And Rivers In The Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is a water catchment area due to its being mountainous. There are numerous amazing waterfalls and rivers in Bwindi forest found in different locations.

The best way to explore them is by having a guided nature walk. Among the waterfalls and rivers include Kashasha River falls, Munyaga River falls, Ivy river trail, river Ndego, and Ntegyero. These rivers flow to Lake Edward, and south words to Lake Mutanda.

Other Attractions A Must Visit Around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

They include:

  1. The Magnificient Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is a perfect stopover for relaxation while on your Uganda safari tour to or from Bwindi. It is a beautiful lava-dammed lake in Uganda dotted with over 29 islands including the historical Akampene/the Punishment island where the unmarried pregnant girls could be abandoned to death by their parents.

The lake is the deepest in Uganda with over 900m in depth. Bunyonyi lake has a tranquil environment along its shores with dazzling scenery of the terraced hills around ideal for relaxation after your strenuous Uganda gorilla safaris. Canoe rides, island exploration, birding, cycling in the community, and ziplining are possible in the area.

Tourist Activities In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park/Things To Do In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

There are numerous lifetime tourism activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park a must-do for your memorable safari in Uganda and these include the following:

  1. Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the main destination for gorilla trekking in Uganda. The activity is one of the thrilling experiences a must not miss while on your Uganda safari tours as it offers a chance to see the endangered mountain gorillas – our close cousins in their natural habitat.

Uganda gorilla trekking in Bwindi is done in 4 sectors of the park that is Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.

Bwindi gorilla trekking in Uganda involves a guided hike into the dense rainforest to encounter a habituated gorilla family. It starts with a briefing at around 7 am at park headquarters.

Around 8 am, real trekking starts where you’re accompanied by guides into the forest in a search for the gentle giants.

Trekking takes between 2 – 8 hours but you’re limited to one magical hour with them as you enjoy them feeding, grooming, playing, breastfeeding, etc.

You’re free to take photos for remembrance. After, you walk back to the park headquarters for your gorilla trekking certificate.

Gorilla Trekking Rules And Regulations

  • Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla
  • Smoking, eating, and drinking are not permitted on the tour
  • The minimum age for tracking is 15 yrs
  • If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans
  • Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness
  • Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day
  • Do not use flash photography
  • Human waste should be buried 30 cm (12) deep
  • The maximum number of visitors is 8 persons per gorilla group
  • Keep your voices low at all times however, it is okay to ask the guide
  • Do not touch the Mountain Gorillas. They are wild animals
  • Do not look the mountain gorilla in the eyes. Wait for the gorillas to pass and do not attempt to run away as this could increase the risk of attack.

Gorilla Trekking Uganda Cost

  • Foreign Non-Residents: 700 US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 600 US dollars
  • East African Citizens: 250,000 UG shilling
  1. Gorilla Habituation Experience In Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is the only destination for the gorilla habituation experience in the whole world.

Gorilla habituation experience Bwindi is done in the Rushaga sector on the Bikingi gorilla family.

Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Uganda is a lifetime adventure on top of your Uganda safari offering a whole day experience visiting a semi habituated gorilla family by accompanying researchers, doctors, trackers, and rangers to the dense Bwindi impenetrable forest. The experience is limited to 4 participants only.

It starts around 6:00 am with a briefing of participants after your trek to a place where the gorillas spent their last night and participants can see their nests.

On encountering the gentle giants, you will spend 4 magical hours with them enjoying them feeding, playing, Kissing, and grooming each other. You will take incredible photographs without being rushed. After, you will trek back to your lodge.

Gorilla Habituation Experience Fees

  • Foreign Non Residents: 1,500 US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 1000 US dollars
  • East African Citizens: 750,000 UG shillings
  1. Birding In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is among the best birding spots in Uganda for Uganda birding safaris.

Bird watching in Bwindi is mainly done before or after your gorilla trekking. Bwindi impenetrable forest is home to over 350 bird species including the 23 Albertine rift endemics which are among the sought-after Uganda birds.

Bird watching in Bwindi is mainly done in the Buhoma sector and Ruhija swamp, especially in the Mubwindi swamp where the African green broadbill is spotted.

While birding, one gets a chance of spotting other wildlife species such as monkeys, numerous butterflies, forest hogs, elephants, amazing plant species, etc.

  • Birding in the impenetrable forest takes about 2-3 hours and some of the spotted birds in Bwindi include the great blue turaco, Handsome francolin, Regal Sunbird, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, etc.

Fees For Birding In Bwindi National Park

  • Foreign Non-Residents: 30 US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 25 US dollars
  • East African Citizens: 20,000 UG shillings
  1. Guided Nature Walks In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Apart from gorilla trekking in Bwindi, a guided nature walk is also a must-do activity on top of your Uganda trip in Bwindi as it gives you a chance of getting into a close encounter with nature in the misty Bwindi impenetrable forest thus, a memorable safari in Uganda.

Guided nature walks in the impenetrable forest are mainly done in the Buhoma sector because of its being with well-developed trails though they can be carried out in other sectors.

You will encounter numerous plant species, different animals like elephants, civets, forest hogs, monkeys, birds, different butterfly species, different rivers, and some having beautiful waterfalls along. The trails for a guided nature walk in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include:

  • Munyanga waterfall walk
  • Rushura hill walk
  • Muzubijiro loop which is a 6km walk around the hill
  • The Ivi-River walk which is a 14km walk taking around 7 hours
  • The Buhoma-Nkuringo trail takes about 3-4 hours walk
  • The Habinyanja trail takes about 4-6 hours walk

Fees For Guided Nature Walks In Bwindi Forest

  • Foreign Non-Residents: 30 US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 15 US dollars
  • East African Citizens: 10,000 UG shillings
  1. Cultural Encounters Around Bwindi National Park

Bwindi national park is one of the best areas to have a memorable cultural tour in Uganda on top of Uganda wildlife safari. While on your Bwindi safari, amazing cultural encounters include:

  1. Buhoma Exploration

This activity in the Buhoma sector is possible because most activities in this sector start by 9 am and end in the early afternoon therefore, in the few remaining hours, you can explore this sector. The common encounters include:

  • Visiting a blacksmith
  • Visiting a traditional healer
  • Visiting a brewery maker and,
  • Visiting ride for the women’s organization.

    2. The Batwa Forest Experience

The Batwa are also called the Pygmy people due to their abnormal short height. Initially, the pygmies lived in Bwindi impenetrable forest and they could depend on it for shelter and food for their entire life by hunting and fruit gathering.

However, after gazetting Bwindi impenetrable forest to conserve the endangered mountain gorillas, these people were evicted out of the forest in 1992 and currently stay adjacent to the park as squatters and not educated.

They are only allowed to go back only if they are on this cultural encounter as a way of conserving their cultural by government.

While on this experience, you will discover their unique cultural practices and their way of living. They will present their incredible hunting skills in the forest, amazing traditional building styles, and entertainment like amazing songs and vibrant dances to you thus, an amazing encounter on top of your Uganda safari tour in Bwindi.

Fees For Batwa Forest Experience In Bwindi

  • Foreign Non-Residents: 40 US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 40 US dollars
  • East African Citizens: 40,000 UG shillings
  1. Mountain Biking Around Bwindi Forest

Mountain biking in Bwindi is done in and around the park. The activity is offered by a women organisation group called Ride 4 the woman organization group which supports the local women struggling with HIV, domestic violence, and poverty.

Therefore, as you hire a bike from this group, you will be supporting the local community as well as the women in this organization.

This organization has expanded in that it started up sewing and weaving co-operative for women. Mountain biking in Bwindi national park starts early morning and takes a 6-7 hours ride.

It is done on a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters in Buhoma to River-Ivi which is about a 13km ride.

You can spot wildlife like bushbucks, duikers, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees, and squirrels.

Lodges in Bwindi/Accommodation In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the national parks in Uganda with developed accommodation facilities irrespective of your budget ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budget situated in every sector of the park.

  1. Luxury Accommodation Includes:

  • Buhoma Lodge in Buhoma
  • Mahogany Springs in Buhoma
  • Gorilla Forest Camp in Buhoma
  • Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge in Rushaga
  • Chameleon Hill Lodge in Rushaga
  1. Midrange Accommodation:

  • Haven Lodge Buhoma in Buhoma
  • Gorilla Mist Camp in Ruhija
  • Ichumbi Gorilla lodge in Rushaga
  • Mulehe Gorilla Safari Lodge in Rushaga
  1. Budget Accommodation Includes

  • Buhoma Community Rest Camp in Buhoma
  • Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge in Rushaga
  • Ruhija Community Rest Camp in Rushaga

Best Time To Visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be visited all year round however, the best time for all the park activities like gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation experience, and birding is during the drier season in the months of JuneAugust, and DecemberFebruary.

During these months, rainfall is minimal in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park thus, mud-free trails and favourable conditions for gorilla trekking. For birders, migratory birds in Bwindi Forest are present from NovemberApril.

Conclusions

While planning to have a safari in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a must-visit destination. The park has exceptional tourist attractions like the endangered mountain gorillas, sought-after birds, amazing cultures around, etc.

Bwindi national park offers memorable tourist activities such as the best gorilla trekking safaris in Africa, birding, cultural encounters, etc. The park has developed accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budget. It can be accessed by both air and road means.

Book With Us For A Memorable Safari In Uganda Since We Are Experts In Organising Uganda Tours For Over 10 Years.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park FAQs

  1. What Is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Famous For?

Bwindi impenetrable forest is located in south-western Uganda at the junction of the plain and mountain forests covering over 321km2 of land.

The park is famously known for its exceptional biodiversity, with more than 400 tree species, and 350 bird species including 23 Albertine endemics, 200 butterflies, and about 120 mammal species.

However, Bwindi is internationally known for holding almost 50% of the endangered mountain gorilla population on earth of over 459 individuals out of the 1,063 mountain gorillas living on the planet thus, making it the best destination for gorilla safaris in Africa.

  1. What To Pack While On Bwindi Safari?

  • Wear comfortable waterproof hiking boots
  • A camera
  • Plenty of drinking water
  • A rain jacket
  • A sunhat
  • Pack insect repellents
  • Garden gloves
  • Binoculars
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Long-sleeved shirt and trousers
  1. How To Get To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park / How Do I Access Bwindi? / Can You Fly To Bwindi?

There are two ways of reaching Bwindi:

  1. By road:
  2. From Kampala to Bwindi, one drives along Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara- Kabale road which about 467km taking about 9-10 hour drive. On this route, you can have stopovers at the Kayabwe Equator landmark and also at Igongo cultural centre in Mbarara for Lunch.
  3. The park can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park through the southern Ishasha sector. From Mweya to Buhoma sector it is about 160km which takes about 3-4hrs and you will get a chance of spotting the tree climbing lions lying up in the fig tree plus numerous animals.

All the routes converge at Butogota.

  1. By air:

A domestic flight can be used from Entebbe or Kajansi airfield to Buhoma sector either to Kihihi or Kayonza or airfield and takes about 1-2 hours.

  1. What Animals Live in the Bwindi rainforest?/ What Animals Live in Bwindi?/What Animals are in Bwindi?

Apart from the 459 mountain gorilla population, Bwindi impenetrable forest is home to over 120 animal species including:

  • Forest elephants
  • Side striped jackals
  • African civets
  • African golden cats
  • Giant forest hogs
  • Bush pigs
  • Duikers such as the black-fronted and, yellow-backed duiker
  • Over 10 primate species like olive baboons, chimpanzees, vervet monkey, etc.
  1. Where Is Bwindi National Park Located?/ In Which District Is Bwindi?

Bwindi is located in south-western Uganda in Kanungu district at the junction of the plain and mountain forests covering about 321km2 of land and known for its exceptional biodiversity, with more than 400 tree species and over 100 species of ferns.

  1. How Big Is Bwindi?

Bwindi national park is one of the forest parks of Uganda covering about 321km2 of land in Southwestern- Uganda in the Kanungu district.

  1. How Much is Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi?

The fees for gorilla trekking in Uganda are:

  • Foreign Non-Residents: 700 US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 600 US dollars
  • East African Citizens: 250,000 UG shilling
  1. How Many Gorilla Families are in Bwindi?

Bwindi Uganda is the prime destination for gorilla trekking in East Africa since its home to almost 50% of the mountain gorillas on planet earth.

The impenetrable forest is home to over 19 habituated gorilla families and one (Bikingi family in Rushaga) semi-habituation.

  1. How Many Gorillas Are in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park? / How Many Gorilla Families are in Bwindi?

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is home to over 459 mountain gorillas which is almost 50% of the 1,063 mountain gorilla population on planet earth thus, the best for gorilla safaris in East Africa.

  1. Why is Bwindi Called Impenetrable?

Bwindi national park is called impenetrable due to its being so thick, with extensive stands of bamboo interspersed amongst the larger forest hardwoods.

The bamboo and thick ground cover of ferns, vines, and other plant growth severely hinder direct access on foot thus called “Bwindi” A Runyakitara dialect which means a place of full darkness.

  1. When was Bwindi Gazetted?

Uganda Bwindi impenetrable national park was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.

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