The Budongo Forest is Uganda’s old natural biggest forest which is found in northwestern region, it is part of the famous Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The forest is under the management of National Forest Authority and partly taken care of by Budongo Conservation Field Station which works hand in hand with Makerere University to carry on conservation projects. The forest covers a distance of 435km2 toward the Great East African Rift Valley, it also has clear water streams which drain its soil towards Lake Albert. The presence of forest vegetation and its nearness to the equator influences its climate leading to formation of moderate rainfall which is received during the rainy season between March to May and September to November with an annual amount of 1200mm-2200m. The best time to do activities in this forest is during the dry season because of the dry surface which easies movement in the months December- Jan and June-August.
The forest is known for its former abundance of East African mahogany trees as well as being home to a population of 600 chimpanzees and baboons. An exceptionally large mahogany tree is still found here, and is more than 80 meters tall and some 20 meters in circumference. Budongo is not only covered with woodland, it also has some savannah vegetation and bushes.
A drive through Budongo Forest is breath taking as you see trees shading off their flowers and leaves, the cool breeze coming from the trees, birds singing making melody sounds. The baboons and monkeys waiting on the roads side as they jump and play with one another. The river streams crossing through the road.
ACTIVITIES DONE IN BUDONGO FOREST
Budongo boasts about 600 chimpanzees recorded ,they are known for living in forest, Budongo is a suitable habitat for these primates. They can be found hanging and swinging around tree branches. They also building their nests in tree, their food is found right in the forest. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is strictly for person above 15 years and managed by Great lakes Safaris, which was given a tender to manage this forest activity. A trekking permit is booked in advance approximately 2 months before the trekking date. It can be booked directly or through Engagi Safaris Ltd your estimed tour operator. The activity starts in the morning at 8am so as to catchup with the chimps before they leave their nests. It involves trekking through through the forest in search for the Chimpanzees. During the trek, you can also get a chance to see other primates like: monkeys baboons, pottos. Butterflies, birds, mangoose. On encountering the chimpanzees, you will be allowed to spend strictly 1 hour with then, observing their behaviors and taking some photos. Kindly note that camera flashlight is strictly forbidden in the forest.
Chimpanzee trekking is an exciting and wonderful experience every person should partake when on a safari in Murchison falls National park.
Budongo Forest is one of the birding spots in Murchison Falls Conservation Area, it is endowed with a variety of forest birds. About 360 bird species call this forest a home, yellow footed fly catcher and the puvel’s illandopsis being endemic species. Sabine’s Spinetail, Cassin’s Spinetail (rare), Pygmy Crakes, Kingfishers( Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted, Dwarf),Red headed bluebill, White-spotted Flufftail, Ituri Batis, forest robin, African emerald cuckoo, yellow and grey long bill, yellow browed camaroptera, African pied wagtail, black kite, olive breasted greenbul, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Forest Robin, Little Green Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird fork tailed drongo, crested guinea fowl, black eared ground thrush, crowned eagle, white spotted fluff tail, lemon bellied crombec, and many more. Migratory birds can also be seen in November to April.
This guided walk is done in the company of a professional experienced ranger guide with wide knowledge about the forest. Will be able to give you relevant information and answer questions. While on the walk, you can be able to see tree species, some birds, primates, butterflies. This walk takes about 2-3 hours for those who prefer to carry packed lunch, they can dine in the forest canopies and enjoy their meal surrounded by nature.
As earlier stated that Budongo Forest is found in Murchison Falls Conservation Area, It is approximately 250 km from Kampala to Masindi and 30kim from Masindi to the Forest using Kichumbanyobo Gate.
The main accommodation facility found in Budongo Forest is Budongo Eco Lodge which is located in the heart of the forest. It has cabins and dormitories offering Bed and break fast, half board and full board meal plan.