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Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is one of the few surviving natural rainforests in Uganda. It is located northwest of Kampala on the escarpment northeast of Lake Albert.

Covering an area of about 435 square kilometers, Budongo Forest is contiguous with the Kaniyo Pabidi Forest.

The outstanding natural beauty lies south of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA). Budongo Forest Reserve is under the protection of the National Forestry Authority (NFA).

However, it works with Budongo Conservation Field Station a non-government organization. This organization studies and researches the forests’ wildlife especially Chimpanzees.

Budongo Forest Reserve is the biggest Mahogany forest found in the whole of East Africa and these trees are over 80m tall. The forest is astonishingly bio-diverse with ironwood trees that are 30 years and beyond of age.

The forest is a top destination for visitors on Uganda Chimpanzee tours as it hosts one of Uganda’s largest populations of chimpanzees.  This forest is home to about 800 individuals and this leads to successful Budongo forest chimp trekking.

Other Primates Resident In The Budongo Forest Include;

  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Blue monkeys
  • Black-and-white colobus monkeys
  • Pottos
  • Galagos

Budongo Forest Uganda also holds 24 mammal species, over 360 bird species, 289 species of butterflies, and 465 plant types.

The forest is occasionally visited by Elephants and other large mammals associated with the adjacent Murchison Falls National Park.  Tree Pangolins, Elephant-shrew, and gigantic hammerhead Bats are also residents.

Budongo Forest Reserve is also one of the key destinations for visitors on ornithological safaris tours in Uganda. Indeed, its avian wealth is widely regarded to be Uganda’s single most rewarding birding spot.

The Busingiro Royal Mile, a 2.5-kilometer stretch is the best birding trail in the forest.

The sought-after bird species here include;

  • Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle
  • Nahan’s Francolin
  • White-Thighed Hornbill
  • Yellow-billed Barbet
  • Forest Flycatcher
  • Yellow-footed Flycatcher
  • Jameson’s Wattle-eye

History Of Budongo Forest

The history of Budongo Forest is little known and what is achieved is about Vernon Reynolds who was a Chimpanzee researcher.

Vernon Reynolds first arrived in the forest in 1962.  He studied Chimpanzees and formed Budongo Forest Project which is now Budongo Conservation Field Station.

In 1965, he wrote a book about Budongo Forest and its Chimpanzees. He was on the right track until civil wars broke up in the 1970s and 1980s. These wars led to the killing of chimpanzee mothers and collectors smuggled Chimpanzee infants for wealth.

Reynolds went back to his home country returning to Uganda in 1990 to proceed with his research in Budongo Forest. He had to hire field assistants to look for the remaining Chimps and by 1995 around 50 individuals were discovered.

The number of Chimpanzees remained constant until 2000 when it started rising. Habituation was quite difficult since the Chimpanzees were terrified by human actions during the civil wars.

Budongo Sawmills Ltd buildings were renovated and then occupied by field assistants and the research team. Later in 2005, the project received funding from RZSS at Edinburgh Zoo.

The other researchers that worked with Vernon Reynolds were Jane Goodall and Adriaan Kortlandt. The Jane Goodall institute continued to work on the Chimpanzees until 2009 when it handed over the work to Budongo Eco Lodge.

Scenery And Setting Of Budongo Forest 

Budongo forest Uganda is a natural beauty with mother nature calling and whispering in the wild. The forest is mostly made of moist, medium-altitude, semi-deciduous forest, with patches of savanna and woodland.

It has a wonderful landscape rolling gently to the East African Rift Valley. As it is where the extension of the rift valley ends. Budongo forest has 4 water streams that flow to Lake Albert and these are Waisoke, Sonso, Kamirambwa, and Siba.

Annually, the rainfall received in the Budongo forest is between 1200 and 2200 mm. Many natives around the forest have pressured on the forest margins and are growing crops. And many have exploited the natural beauty for building materials and practicing poaching.

This has led to the defacement of Chimpanzees and other animals.

Tourist Attractions In Budongo Forest | What To See In Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is a tourist destination for those on Uganda safaris. This forest has many tourist attractions one can see during his/her visit. The main attraction is the forest is its diverse wildlife that inhabits most areas of the forest edges.

The wildlife in the forest includes 24 mammal species with 9 primates, 360 Uganda species, 290 butterflies, and 465 plant species.

  1. Uganda Primates In Budongo Forest

Many Uganda primate species are encountered in the Budongo forest, especially for those on Uganda primate tours. The forest has 9 primate species including the human cousin the Chimpanzee.

These apes are estimated to be around 600-700 individuals in 4 communities however the Kaniyo Pabidi group is easily accessed.

Budongo Forest has nocturnal primates like the Pottos and Galago species that you cannot miss on your Murchison falls safari.

Below is a list of the 9 primates found in Budongo Forest.

  1. Chimpanzees
  2. Red-tailed Monkey
  3. Blue Monkey
  4. Black-and-white Colobus Monkey
  5. Olive Baboons
  6. Vervet Monkey
  7. Pottos
  8. Galagos
  9. L’Hoest’s Monkey

Other Wild Animals In Budongo Forest

Animals in Budongo Forest are rarely sighted though roam in the spectacular landscape of the forest.

Most of these animals are not residents as they cross from the nearby Murchison Falls National Park. The most common animal in the forest is the antelope species.

On your Murchison falls safaris in Uganda in the forest, look out for the Elephant Shrew on the forest floor and the Forest Giant Squirrel.

Forest Buffaloes are occasionally spotted with the Lions and Leopards being rare visitors in the forest. You can spot Pangolins if lucky running from one tree branch to another.

  • Birds in Budongo Forest 

Birds in Budongo Forest are unique and phenomenal and are of great concern to birders who are on Uganda birding tours.

Budongo forest has a Uganda bird checklist of over 360 birds. 60 of the bird species in the forest are taken to be West or Central African birds.

It is the second most important place in Uganda with Guinea-Congo forest region bird species after Semuliki National park.

Budongo forest Uganda has two bird species that are not spotted anywhere else in East Africa and these are the Yellow-footed Flycatcher and Puvel’s Illadopsis

Below Are Some Of The Notable Uganda Bird Species In Budongo Forest.

·        African Dwarf Kingfisher

·        Black-Eared Ground Thrush

·        Blue-Breasted Kingfisher

·        Brown Twinspot

·        Cassin’s Hawk Eagle

·        Cassin’s Spinetail

·        Chestnut-Capped Flycatcher

·        Chocolate-Backed Kingfisher

·        Crested Guineafowl

·        Crowned Eagle

·        Yellow-Footed Flycatcher

·        Grey-Headed Sunbird

·        Ituri Batis

·        Lemon-Bellied Crombec

·        Little Green Sunbird

·        Olive-Breasted Greenbul

·        Plain Greenbul

·        Puvel’s Illadopsis

·        Sabine’s Spinetail

·        White-spotted Flufftail

·        White-Thighed Hornbill

·        Yellow-Crested Woodpecker

Top Safari Activities In Budongo Forest | Things To Do In Budongo Forest | Budongo Forest Activities

Budongo Forest Reserve Uganda as a top destination has excellent activities for those on safaris in Uganda.

One can always engage in a full day of Uganda safari activities in the forest to get lifetime experiences. Some of the things to do include Chimpanzee trekking, bird watching and nature walks.

Most of these activities are not a must-miss as the Budongo Forest gives them to the fullest compared to other places.

  1. Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest is one of the finest activities that will give you up-close views of the Chimpanzees. This activity is most favored by those on Uganda Chimpanzee tours.

It is the only chance to see the apes in their natural habitat. Budongo forest chimp trekking is carried out at Kaniyo Pabidi as there is 1 habituated Chimpanzee community.

Visitors do this amazing activity twice a day. This is in the morning and afternoon with each session setting off with 8 tourists. Chimpanzee trekking is usually between 2-5 hours and starts with a 30-minute briefing.

You then follow the forest trails with the guidance of a range to meet the Chimpanzees. And, after you sight the Chimpanzees, you are permitted to be with them for 1 full hour. The chances of spotting the Chimps here is at 80%.

Visitors see the apes feeding in the tree canopy and grooming each other. And if they are moving and you decide to follow them is a lifetime experience.

The Chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo forest is $120 per person.

  1. Birdwatching In Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is one of the best bird watching areas in Uganda with over 360 bird species. The forest has Guinea-Congo forest region bird species which are not rare in most birding spots of Uganda.

The best spot for birdwatching in the forest is on the “Royal Mile” at Busingiro. However, Kaniyo Pabidi has well-developed trails to follow during birding.

Birders can do bird watching in Budongo forest in the morning and evening as this is when the birds are most active.

Visitors can always spot birds like the Olive-Breasted Greenbul, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, Puvel’s Illadopsis, and the Ituri Batis.

Birdwatching in the forest is good all year though the best time is in the dry months. Migratory birds are available and present in the forest from November to April.

Cost -Fees For Birdwatching In Budongo Forest

Visitor categoryFees(per person)
Foreign non-residentUS$ 30
Foreign residentUS$ 25
East African citizenUGX 20,000
  1. Nature Walks In Budongo Forest

Nature walks in Budongo Forest are off the beaten track as they create unforgettable memories. The forest has a well-developed trail system that sums to a total of 115km giving you the real beauty of nature.

The walking trails are flat and are suitable for every traveler. They start from the Kaniyo Pabidi eco-tourism site and are return trips. Nature walks start at 8 am and 2 pm and usually last for 2 hours.

While on nature walks in Budongo forest, look out for Uganda birds and primates in the forest. Primates you can see include Chimpanzees, Blue Monkeys, and Olive Baboons.

Birds include the White-Thighed Hornbill, Crowned Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, Sabine’s Spinetail, and Grey-Headed Sunbird.

Climate And Weather Of Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is located near the equator line meaning that the forest is hot and has a tropical climate. The forests’ temperature of the day ranges from 32°C/90°F and becomes cooler at the night with a temperature of 17°C/63°F.

The tropical rainforest has two seasons the wet season and the dry season. The wet season is usually from April to October as during this time there are heavy rains at times with storms.

In the dry season expect little or no rainfall this is from December to February.

Dry Season In Budongo Forest

The dry season/dry months in Budongo forest is when a tourist in the forest is at its highest peak. All the trails in the forest during this time are dry.

Dry months are December, January, February, June, and July. In these months, the skies are clear and it is relatively hot with high temperatures during the day at an average of 31°C/88°F.

However, temperatures turn down during the night and are at an average of 17°C/63°F. Otherwise, Budongo forest humidity is relatively low.

Wet Season In Budongo Forest

The wet season in Budongo Forest is full rainfall almost throughout the entire season. The wet months are March, April, May, August, September, October, and November.

Although they are wet months, it may not rain every day though rainfall increases and some storms may be expected. The forest trails for safari activities tend to become hard to access as they are slippery.

Temperatures in this season during the day time are about 30°C/86°F and 18°C/64°F during night hours.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Budongo Forest?

Tourists/visitors on safaris to Uganda can visit Budongo Forest at any time of the year. However, the best time to enjoy safari activities in the forest is in the dry season/ dry months.

During this time, the murram trails are dry and are easy to access since they are not slippery. Chimpanzee trekking and birdwatching are at their peak as there are no heavy rains to inconvenience you.

The best months are from December to March and from June to August. However, due to climatic changes, Ugandan weather is unpredictable as it can rain at any time of the day.

Also, migratory birds are present in the Budongo forest from November to April.

How To Get To Budongo Forest?

Budongo Forest is usually visited as en-route by those on Uganda safaris to Murchison Falls National Park. Budongo Forest is at 1.7941° N, 31.5827° E coordinates.

It is located about 300km northwest of Kampala which is at least 4 hour’s drive.

From Fort Portal in the southwest, Budongo Forest is 280km away which is about 3 hour drive.

Also if you are in Murchison falls park, it is in the southeast. From Masindi, the distance is 30km which is roughly a 1-hour drive. When driving from Kichumbanyobo gate in the south of Murchison park, the forest headquarters are 8km away.

There is a signpost along the marram road to Paraa indicating Budongo Eco-lodge and this is where the headquarters are.

One can as well fly to Pakuba airfield in Murchison Falls National Park using scheduled or chartered flights and then transferred to Budongo.

The flights are less than 1 hour and depart from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip. Flight operators include Aero link Uganda, Bar aviation, Eagle air, and many others operators.

FAQs About Budongo Forest

  1. Where Is Budongo Forest Found? | Where Is Budongo Forest Located In Uganda? | In Which District Of Uganda Is Budongo Forest Located?

Budongo Forest is located at coordinates 01°43′27″N 31°32′45″E northwest of Kampala city the capital of Uganda in Masindi district. From Kampala, the distance is about 300km which is roughly 3 hour drive.

From Masindi, it is about 30km with a driving time of 1 hour and from Fort Portal is about 280km which is a 3-hour drive.

  1. Is Budongo The Largest Natural Forest In Uganda?

Budongo Forest is one of the largest natural forests in Uganda covering an area of 335km. It has the biggest and oldest Mahogany trees in the whole of East Africa.

This forest inhabits primates and it is the second place with the largest number of Chimpanzees in Uganda after Kibale National Park. Its birdlife is unspoken for as it has over 360 Uganda bird species and over 465 plant species.

  1. Is Budongo Forest A Natural Forest?

Yes, the Budongo forest is a natural forest. The tropical rainforest has existed for many centuries in Uganda and it is one of the best places for Chimpanzee tours in Uganda.

Budongo Forest also provides room for other safari activities like nature walks and bird watching.

  1. Why Visit Budongo Forest?

Budongo Forest is a tropical natural forest rich in wildlife. It is the second-best place in Uganda to see Chimpanzees after Kibale National Park. It also has 9 primates including nocturnal creatures like the Pottos and Galagos.

The natural forest has over 360 Uganda birds 60 of which are West or Central African birds making it a birding paradise.

For nature lovers, the Budongo forest reserve has 290 Butterflies, 130 Moths, 465 Trees, and 24 mammals.

Chimpanzee trekking is the main safari activity travelers on Uganda tours can do while in the forest. Budongo Forest also has a well-developed trail system that supports nature walks.

  1. What To Wear When Visiting Budongo Forest?

On your safari tours in Uganda in Budongo Forest, there is specific clothing you can wear. Most clothes are ok though they are for other occasions.

This is what you can wear when visiting Budongo forest Uganda.

  1. Light long-sleeved shirts and trousers

These will protect you from dangerous biting insects and can as well keep you warm when it is cold. Avoiding putting on bright colors as they stress animals so brown and khaki are recommended.

  1. Comfortable shoes

Always wear comfortable shoes that are light and will protect your feet from getting damaged by piercing items. They will as well keep your feet dry and stable on slippery trails.

  1. Sunglasses

Sunglasses will reduce the glaze from the sun giving you clear sight and protecting your eyes. Polarized sunglasses are highly recommended.

  1. Hat or Cap

This will cover your head entirely protecting you from the direct strong sunlight rays.

  1. What To Pack When Visiting Budongo Forest?

We are aware that Budongo forest is a wonderful tourist destination and it will require you to pack a few items.

Avoid the stress of looking for what to come with. Here are some of the top essential items that you need to come with.

  • A good camera with extra batteries

A camera is used in capturing unforgettable memories, especially during Chimpanzee trekking and bird watching. Cameras with a focal length between 400mm and 600mm are highly recommended.

  • Binoculars

A pair of binoculars will help with clear views of wildlife that may seem to be far away. It will magnify bringing you closer views. Binoculars with magnification between 7x and 10x are highly recommended.

  • Insect Repellent

It will chase away all the dangerous infectious insects like mosquitoes since there are very many of them in Budongo Forest.

  • Sunscreen

Sunscreen is used for protecting your skin from getting damaged by the strong sunlight in the forest.

  • Backpack

You will use the backpack for carrying other small essential items like sunscreen, a notebook, pens, repellents, and travel documents.

  • Poncho or rain jacket

In case of any weather changes and it starts raining when you are in the forest, a poncho will protect you from getting wet.

Indeed, Budongo Forest, is an ideal touristy place especially for those on Murchison falls safaris. It’s a birders’ paradise as it has unique bird species including West and Central African birds and Guinea-congo biome species.

It is also the second-best place in Uganda to see Chimpanzees and Kibale National Park. It is one of the few areas with well-developed trails for nature walks.

A visit to Budongo Forest is truly remarkable and wait for no one to tell you about the forest wonders. Let us guide you through that lifetime travel experience in the forest.

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