Budongo Forest Reserve
Travel to Budongo Forest Reserve – Chimpanzees!
Not necessarily an obvious destination for first-time visitors to Uganda, the 793 sq. km Budongo Forest Reserve lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south ofMurchison Falls National Park. The reserve protects the largest natural forest in East Africa. Home to Uganda’s largest population of Chimpanzees, it also boasts an impressive birdlist of over 350 species.
Early pre-1920’s economic activity in Budongo was mainly concerned with the tapping of wild rubber until commercial logging commenced in 1930. In 1932 Budongo was gazetted as a forest reserve. With one of the longest recorded logging histories in the world it is regarded as an excellent location for studying forest regeneration in the wake of selective logging and its impact on wildlife. Tourism in now becoming an important conservation tool in the ongoing protection of the forest and its wildlife. Typical habitat includes medium altitude moist-deciduous forest, grassland, Acacia savanna and agricultural lands.
Budongo is an excellent place to see a range of primates, including Chimpanzee, in the wild. Guided chimp-tracking walks can be organised from two tourist sites, either Busingiro or Kaniyo Pabidi, with an 80% success rate. Guereza Colobus and Red-tailed Monkey are common and easily seen whilst a night walk may reward you with Potto, Tree Pangolin or the spectacular Hammer Bat. Also keep an eye open for African giant squirrels. Butterflies are plentiful with over 250 species recorded.
The reserve also offers the chance to see some spectacular forest birds including the Paradise Flycatcher. Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted and African Dwarf Kingfishers are remarkably common. The best location for bird watching is on ‘The Royal Mile’ a wide forested track once visited by King Kabalega of Bunyoro.
Chimp-tracking walks and bird watching provide the main activities at Budongo. Tourist sites have been developed at Busingiro and Kaniyo Pabidi by the Budongo Forest Eco-tourism Project, with direct benefit to local communities. Hiring the services of a guide is obligatory.
Both tourist centres at Busingiro and Kaniyo Pabidi have attractive campsites with hot water showers and small information centres with drinks for sale.
Busingiro is located in Masindi district and lies south of the road to Butiaba, 43 km from Masindi. Kaniyo Pabidi lies 24 km north of Masindi en route to Murchison Falls. Private transport will provide greatest flexibility for touring this area.
- Join an exciting guided walk in search of habituated chimpanzees – the forest is home to some 600-700 chimps
- Spot birds along ‘The Royal Mile’ – considered by some to be Uganda’s premier forest birding locality
- Combine a visit to Budongo Forest with a few days in Murchison Falls – one of Uganda’s premier National Parks