Things to do in Budongo forest
Things to do in Budongo forest: This happens to be the biggest mahogany forest in East Africa located in the northwestern part of Uganda. The forest covers a total area of 435 sq. km which comprises savannah and woodland type of vegetation. Budongo forest is located next to Murchison falls national park and these two form the Murchison falls national park conservation area.
Budongo forest is home to over 600 chimpanzee species, more 8 primates species, 24 mammal species, 290 butterflies, and 465 tree species. Budongo forest is a famous place for chimpanzee trekking and nature walks in the northwestern region of the country. It’s visited mostly by tourists who are on a safari in Murchison falls national park.
Activities to do in Budongo forest
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest: This is the major activity done in Budongo forest national park because the area is home to over 600 chimpanzees of which some are habituated for tourism purposes. Tourists especially those to Murchison falls national park which is next to the forest don’t usually miss out on spending some time with these chimpanzees as they are said to be close relatives to human beings.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest starts with a briefing in the morning and evening where trekkers are taught about the rules and regulations of the primate trekking activity. The trekkers are led by armed ranger guides through well established trails in the forest till they locate these primates in Budongo forest.
The search for the chimpanzees in forest can take 30 minutes to 4 hours and this depends on the location of the chimpanzee family as well as the nature of the trails. During the dry season, chimpanzee trekking can take a short time because the trails are dry and easily passable but in the rainy season, it takes longer if the apes are far because the trails are muddy and slippery.
When the chimpanzees are spotted, armed ranger guides give trekkers 1 hour to be around them and learn about their habits, take photos and watch them do daily activities among which include nesting, coupling, hunting, breastfeeding, and eating among others. While in the jungle, tourists will be able to meet different park animals, especially the primates such as olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, colobus monkeys, and grey-checked mangabeys among others.
Birding in Budongo forest: Budongo forest has over 360 bird species recorded in the area which makes it a perfect place to go for birding, especially while you are on a safari in Murchison falls national park. Birding activities in Budongo forest are guided and it’s the armed ranger guides who take you through the best birding trails in the forest. Birders should come along with birding books, a camera, and a pair of binoculars to spot distant birds.
Birds to look out for in Budongo forest include African darter, white-rumped seedeater, martial eagle, yellow-billed stork, bar-breasted firefinch, abdmin’s stork, African darter, white-faced whistling duck, red-throated bee-eater, osprey, Vaseline masked weaver, dark chanting goshawk, northern shoveler, hugli’s francolin, speckle-fronted weaver, spotted thick-knee, beautiful sunbird, and Senegal thick-knee.
Other bird species in the forest include silver bird, black-headed plover, white-fronted black chat, spur-winger geese, long-toed plover, black-billed barbet, black pilled wood dove, Abyssinian ground hornbill, veracious dove, long-tailed nightjar, whistling cisticola, standard-winged nightjar, blue naped moosebird, malachite kingfisher, secretary bird, denhams’s bustard, pennant winged nightjar, black crake, and common teal.
Nature walks in Budongo forest: Going for guided nature walks in forest is one activity you shouldn’t miss out on if you are visiting the forest or Murchison falls national park. The nature walks are guided by armed ranger guides who take you through different areas of the forest as you explore it on foot. During the nature walks, you will be able to encounter mammals in the forest, different bird species, primates like chimpanzees, monkeys, butterflies, and different plant species.
Where to reside in Budongo forest
There are no accommodation facilities near or inside forest national park however tourists shouldn’t worry about where they will stay because they can stay in Masindi town or Murchison falls national park. Accommodations to use while on a tour in Budongo forest include Budongo Eco lodge, Kabalega Resort, Paara Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, and New Court View Hotel among others.
Best time to visit Budongo forest
This forest can be visited at any time of the year however there are certain months that are better than the rest. The dry months are the best to visit this forest ad they happen from June to September and December to February. These months are characterized by little or no rainfall which keeps the trekking rails dry, the vegetation is short with good views of primates in Budongo and other animals and then the roads leading to the forest are passable.
Travelers can still visit this forest in the rainy season of March to May and October to November and it’s the budget travelers that are favored because the lodges are at a discount. Travelers should note that there is too much rainfall in that forest during that season and this makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall and thick with unclear views of the primates and the roads leading the forest are in poor conditions.
Getting to Budongo forest
Budongo forest is located in the northwestern part of Uganda in Masindi district and it can be accessed by road transport or air transport. By road transport, tourists can access to this forest using the Kampala-Masindi road and it takes 4-6 hours of great views of different attractions along the way as well as stopovers at places such as Ziwa rhino sanctuary and Karuma falls.
Luxury travelers can access Budongo forest by using air transport which can be from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airstrips to Airstrips in Murchison falls National park such as Chobe Airstrip or Pakuba Airstrip. Flights to Murchison falls national park are organized by airline companies such as Aerolink Uganda and Bar Aviation Uganda.