The chimp tropical haven- Budongo Forest
Reserved since 1932, Budongo Forest is a medium altitude semi-deciduous moist tropical rainforest forest covering 825 sq. km on an altitude ranging from 1110 to 1590 m above sea level in Masindi district. This is the biggest Mahogany forest in the whole of East Africa popular for the age-old Mahogany trees which can grow up to 80 meters. Out of the 825km2 only about 430sq km are continuous forest with the rest being grassland. The Budongo forest reserve sits within the Albertine rift valley within the boundaries of the spectacular Murchison Falls National Park. Budongo Forest is about 211 northwest of Kampala north east of Lake Albert. The forest is drained by four streams known as Waisoke, Sonso, Kamirambwa and Siba, drain the forest and flow into Lake Albert.
Before being gazette in 1932, Budongo Forest was protected by the King of Bunyoro and only with his permission could local chiefs hunt inside the forest. Official gazetting later on found the forest well conserved with wildlife and flora flourishing and for this, many tourists till date visit the forest during their wildlife safaris in Uganda. The forest derives its name from a word in the Bunyoro dialect that refers to “fertile soil”.
Budongo Forest has a high biodiversity with 24 species of small mammals, 9 being primates including the chimpanzees, 465 species of trees and shrubs, 359 species of birds, 289 species of butterflies and 130 species of moths all creating a beautiful eco system.
About 600 chimpanzees, live in their natural habitat of Budongo forest coming second to Kibale Forest National Park that is home to about 1,400 chimpanzees. It’s the second-best chimpanzee trekking destination in the world. Not all of the chimpanzees are habituated for chimpanzee trekking. Uganda chimpanzee trekking safaris are made possible by the 115km trail throughout the forest as tourists follow the trails alongside guide. The same trails are used for birding and nature walks. You can choose to go for chimpanzee trekking either in the morning or in the evening or chimpanzee habituation.
A side from chimpanzees, other primates seen in Budongo forest include the Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys and Grey-cheeked Mangabeys.
Other activities in Budongo forest include birding especially at Royal Mile with about 360 species of birds recorded in the total area. These include the rare Puval’s Illadopses which is endemic to the region. Other species include the Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Chestnut Crowned Eremomera, Dusky long-tailed Cuckoo, Yellow-browned Camaroptera, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Slender-billed Greenbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Forest Robin, White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow and Grey Longbill, Little Green Sunbird, Western Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-manted Weaver, Crested Malimbe and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle among others.
On your Uganda wildlife safari or any other kind of safari in Uganda, as long as you take the route to Murchison Falls National Park don’t miss to visit Budongo Forest and get so close to man’s closest relatives.