Budongo Forest

The 790km2 Budongo Forest Reserve is one of the most extensive and ecologically diverse in east Africa, with some 465 species of plants recorded most impressively the dense concentration of buttressed giant mahoganies reaching up to 60m tall. Budongo’s population of 800 chimpanzees which is the largest group in Uganda has been earmarked as a subject of scientific research for several decades. Other primate species include; the red tailed monkey, blue monkey, black and white colobus monkey, potto and various forest galago species. More than 250 species have been recorded. Budongo forest is also of great orthinological significance with some 366 bird species recorded including 60 west or central African birds known from fewer than five locations in East Africa. The yellow footed fly catcher usually associated with iron wood trees is known from nowhere else in Uganda while the Ituri batis, lemon bellied crombec, white thighed hornbill, black-eared ground thrush and chest nut-capped fly catcher are known from only one other east African forest. The Royal Mile, the stretch of road connecting Nyabyeya Forestry College, to the main research station is regarded by some as the single best bird watching site in Uganda. The main road past Busingiro also offers superb bird watching

Black and White Colobus Monkey

budongo

The Royal Mile offers impressive guided bird walk but it is 14km from Busingiro thus may not be viable for a day trip may be if you have a private vehicle or opt to stay at Nyabyeya Forestry College. The range birds thrive along this mile including the localized ones. These include; the African dwarf, blue breasted and chocolate-backed Kingfishers. Other localized species include; Nahan’s Francolin, white thighed fly catcher, Cassin’s hawk eagle, yellow billed barbet, black-capped apalis, lemon-billed crombec, forest fly catcher, Jameson’s wattle eye and yellow-footed fly catcher. The mile also contains some monkeys, giant forest squirrels, and the chequered elephant shrew. Equally in this forest patch, there is a large church built by polish refugees who were settled in the area during World War II. In fact most of the forest paths in this area are a legacy of these people.

The alternative to Royal Mile is walking along the main road past Busingiro. Though not on par with Royal Mile, the birding here is still excellent and it is still easier to locate birds than it is in the forest proper. Among the species to look for on the road and around the campsite are brown crowned eromomela, Ituri batis, Chestnut-capped flycatcher, Cassin’s and Sabine’s Spinetails, and grey and yellow long bills. The chocolate –backed Kingfisher common in the area, is the most easily located by call. A small pool by the side of the road is about 1km back towards Masindi is a reliable place to see the shinning blue King fisher and black necked weaver. Besides birds, at least three primate species can be spotted.

Fourteen years ago, Budongo was totally undeveloped for tourism and the only habituated chimpanzees in the forest were those being studied by researchers. In 1992, the Budongo Forest Ecotourism was founded with the aim of conserving Budongo and the nearby Kaniyo Pabidi Forest through the development of tourist projects that are of direct benefit to local communities. Two sites were created using foreign funding. The Busingiro Tourist Site is situated within the Budongo Forest proper and is reached by following the Bulisa route towards Murchison falls. The other site lies within Kaniyo Pabidi Forest and is where Chimpanzee trekking is carried out. Though Chimpanzee trekking used to be carried out at Busingiro, the site apparently offers only offers general forest walks.

Busingiro Tourism Site lies right alongside the Bulisa road 43km west of Masindi and is clearly signposted. The 2km turn off to Nyabyeya Forestry College is about 10km closer to Masindi and is also sign posted. The drive from Masindi takes approximately one hour in a private vehicle. Using Public transport, any minibus taxi or bus heading from Masindi to Butiaba or Wanseko can drop you at the camp.