Budongo Forest is located in Masindi just about 3 hours away from Kampala and very close to boundaries of Murchison falls national park covering a distance of about 825kms along the escarpments of Lake Albert. The Budongo forest is for the fact that it has the highest concentration of Mahogany trees compared to any other forest in the entire East African region and this is in additional to its incredible biodiversity. The forest is blessed with a number of different vegetation covers for instance, the most of this 825 km big forest is mainly covered by forest woodland, there are parts that are covered by the savanna grassland and other areas are swampy.
Significance of Budongo forest reserve.
It’s an amazing primate sanctuary.
This forest-Budongo is a good habitat to quite a big number of chimpanzees including the habituated ones which means this forest is one of the places one can visit for chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habituation although the habituation exercise is normally happens during the low season only. Primate watching is the main tourists’ activity done in this forest and it starts with a briefing done at Kaniyo Pabidi at the park head quarters and the trek is always a guided one with an armed ranger available to help you locate the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking is done either in the morning or in the evening so whichever time you go tracking largely depends on your program. While tracking, you can expect to see more than the chimpanzees as this forest is a home to more than 9 different primate species and these include various species of monkeys, there are 24 or more species of mammals including the forest pigs, the duikers and many more.
You however need to obtain the chimpanzee permits before because you are not sold at entrance and this also an assurance that you will be able track on that day of your choice otherwise you might be disappointed if the day you wish to track is already full. A limited number of people are allowed track per day per session.
It’s a great birding site
Budongo forest is a home to more than 360 different bird species which makes it a great birding site worth being visited by any bird watchers and will surely be very amazed by what they will see. Budongo forest is a home to a number of birds like the Black kite, the Mountain greenbul, the crowned eagle, African pied wagtail, the Paradise flycatcher, the crested guinea fowl, Cassin’s hawk eagle, the yellow crested woodpecker among others. You will definitely have the best time and alongside the birds, you will get to see over 465 different tree species.
Birding is an entire day activity therefore it starts in the morning and it is usually more rewarding between February to April and again from June to September because around that time of the year, most of the trees are bearing fruits which attract birds as they act as food for the birds but also, it is because around that time, many of the birds are breeding. Then around November to April, there are so many migratory birds visiting this forest thereby increasing their numbers and making birding easier.
In relation to weather, birding is best from December to February because around that time is there is very little rain unlike during the months of April to May and September to October when the rain becomes heavier making the trails slippery and thereby making hiking as you search for the birds a bit more difficult.
It’s a butterfly and months’ sanctuary
Budongo forest is also a home to a big number of moths-over 130 species and then more than 290 different butterfly species.
Budongo supports other tourists’ sites
There are other tourists sites for example the Kaniyo Pabidi Eco-tourism site, there is also Busingiro Eco-tourism site located right at the boarder of Murchison Falls Park. While chimpanzees and other primates prefer to stay in the forest, there are the savannah animals that prefer to stay in the savannah areas and these wild animals include the Uganda kobs especially, the Lions, Leopards may also be seen, Buffaloes, among others.
Where to be spend the night while in Budongo
There are several accommodation facilities both in Masindi and inside in Murchison falls park with Budongo Eco lodge being the closest to the starting point, there are other hotels like Sambiya river lodge, among others and these may be the best choice especially if you will be visiting Murchison as well. Often, Chimpanzee trekking or bird watching in Budongo is part of a wildlife safari to Murchison falls national park.