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By Linda Givetash

Friends of an American tourist who was kidnapped in Uganda described her as an avid traveler and told how she dreamed of taking a safari tour.

The woman was abducted along with her driver on Tuesday in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The assailants have demanded $500,000 for their return, police said.

Several friends confirmed to KNBC that she was Kimberly Sue Endicott, an beautician and businesswoman who lives in California.

"She’s a very spontaneous and independent woman, she loves to travel and it was on her bucket list … to go to Uganda, to see the gorillas, to go trekking," her friend Maxie Haase told NBC Los Angeles.

Endicott has been preparing for months to be fit enough to trek in the wilderness, Haase said. She was supposed to making a 10-day tour through the park and planned to stay in Uganda for an additional day or two to recover.

Queen Elizabeth National Park located in southwest Uganda on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo is a popular safari destination for its lions, elephants, hippos and proximity to gorilla habitats.

Another friend, Michelle Ansdell, said Endicott is caring and compassionate person who made time for those in need. She helped by collecting money and resources for homeless people in her community.

"I really admire her," Ansdell said, adding she's asking everyone to pray for her safe return.

The single mother has an adult daughter and one grandchild, friends say.

Ugandan officials initially said Endicott was aged 35, but friends say she is in her 50s.

Ugandan authorities say a rescue party of police, military and rangers have been combing through the vast park, which is larger than Rhode Island, in attempt to locate Endicott, her guide and the assailants.

Associated Press contributed.