Budongo forest Murchison falls park
Budongo forest is a largest surviving natural forests in Uganda lieing in the Albertine rift in the Great Rift Valley in, Budongo forest is part of the great Murchison falls national park conservation area (MFCA) covering an area of 435 square kilometers. Budongo forest is found in western region of Uganda in Masindi district on the escarpment northeast of Lake Albert.
Budongo forest is dominated by moist, medium-altitude, semi-deciduous tropical rain forest with patches of savanna and woodland vegetation. The forest is made up of 465 plant species with the famous old-age Mahogany trees which grow up to 80 meters tall with a circumference of 20 meters, budongo forest is drained by four streams Waisoke, Sonso, Kamirambwa and Siba which pour into lake Albert.
Budongo forest is situated close to the Equator which influences its hot temperatures usually received in the forest with the daily maximum temperature of 31 degrees Celsius which are almost constant throughout the year. The forest receives two rain season that is in the periods of March to May and September to mid-November and two dry season which is received in months of December to February and June to august.
Attractions in budongo forest
Budongo forest is as habitant to 9 species of primates though the forest is most known for hosting a large population of chimpanzee which are recorded to be approximately 600 individuals, other primates living and spotted in the forest include the Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys and Grey-cheeked Mangabeys. Apart from primates the park also hosts 15 species of small mammals.
Budongo forest is a habitant to approximately 360 bird species which have been recorded to thrive in the forest, these colorful bird species include endemic species to the region like the rare Puvel’s illadopses. Other species recorded in the forest include 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 Fluff tail, Yellow and Grey Long bill, Little Green Sunbird, Western Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-manted Weaver, Crested Malimbe and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle and many more.
The royal mile is a 115 kilometers trail running through the thick forests of budongo forest, the royal mile is a prominent trail for bird watching where you get to spot many birds.
Activities in budongo forest
Chimpanzee tracking is one of the main activities offered in Budongo forest, the forest is a habitat to over 600 chimpanzee individuals but only a small community of chimpanzees of 80 individuals are habituated for visiting by tourist. Chimpanzee tracking in budongo forest is managed by Janel Goodall Institute for research, this amazing activity of 3 hours takes you on a hike in the forest and it is offered twice a day that is morning and afternoon sessions. Morning tracking begins at 0700 hours and afternoon begins 1500 hours, as you hike through the forest you get to spot chimpanzee playing on the tree branches, gathering and eating fruits which offers an amazing g and adventurous feeling. While with the chimpanzees you get an opportunity to takes pictures and play with them, to get involved in chimpanzee tracking you need a chimpanzee tracking permit which costs US$ 85 per person per trekking.
Unlike chimpanzee tracking, chimpanzee habituation experience offers you more time with the chimpanzees, chimpanzee habituation offers you an opportunity to get involved in feeding the chimpanzees, studying them together with the researchers. Chimpanzee habituation is not offered throughout the year like chimpanzee tracking, it’s only offered in low season when there is few tourists in the forest. Chimpanzee habituation permit costs USD220 per individual per day.
Budongo forest is one of the best bird viewing sites in Uganda, budongo forest is dominated with thick forests which makes it a perfect habitant for birds most especially forest birds. For an amazing birding watching expedition the park consists 115 kilometer trail called a royal mile where birding watching takes place, on this trail you are able to spot numerous bird species such as 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 Fluff tail, Yellow and Grey Long bill, Little Green Sunbird, Western Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-manted Weaver, Crested Malimbe and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle and many more. Also in the forest you get to enjoy melodic sounds made by the birds most especially in the morning and afternoon.
Guided nature walks
Budongo forest offers amazing guided nature walks amidst thick tree species, on a walk in the forest under the guidance of a professional tour guide. Guided walks is an activity of 2-3 hours and as you walk in the forests you get to spot many primates such as chimpanzees, olive baboons, white and black colobus monkeys, many colorful bird species such as Dusky long-tailed Cuckoo, Yellow-browned Camaroptera, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Slender-billed Greenbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Forest Robin, White-spotted Fluff tail, Yellow and Grey Long bill, Little Green Sunbird and many more. A walk in the forests is a very refreshing where you not only enjoy attractions but also cool breeze and fresh air.
How to get to budongo forest
Budongo forest is situated in south eastern region of Murchison falls national park, the forest can be reached by both road and air means of transport. By road budongo forest is 236.6 kilometers a drive of 3-4 hours via Kampala – Masindi route, from Masindi town it is a distance of 30 kilometers a drive of 1 and a half hours. The main entrance to the forest is through kichumbanyobo gate which is situated in the southern part of Murchison falls national park. By air the forest can be reached using pakuba airstrip which is situated in the northern sector of Murchison falls national park.
Best time to visit budongo forest
According to climatic status, the best time to visit the forest for a Uganda safari is during the dry months of December to February and June to august, what makes this period for a safari is that the trails are very much passable and dry. Also it’s a season when trees bare fruits which attracts a lot of birds to the forest and primates are easy to spot as they are seen picking fruits.