Budongo Forest Reserve
Budongo Forest Reserve is one of the best forest reserve in Uganda filled with Mahogany tree species that harbors and protects the endangered Chimpanzees in their natural habitats plus other primates, mammals, birds, butterflies, moth and many more. Budongo Forest Reserve is an extension of Murchison falls national park is amongst the top destinations to visit for Chimpanzee trekking safaris especially by tourists who intend to enjoy wildlife safari in Murchison falls national park making easy to combine both wildlife safari (Game drive and boat cruise) with Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest Reserve. Budongo stands at the extreme southern corner of Murchison falls national park thus its nearest town just like Murchison falls national park is Masindi town.
Back to History
In the year 1962, the first researcher named Reynolds visited Budongo forest ready to study and make accurate research about these gentle giants, the Chimpanzees though his research wasn’t a success due to the civil war that broke out within 1970s and 1980s that led to the smuggling of Chimpanzees from Budongo forest Reserve.
Later on in 1990s, Reynolds embarked on his research mission about Chimpanzees in Budongo and this time round he managed to establish a Project which he named Budongo Conservation Field Station that was funded by Jane Goodall Institute. At this time, Reynold managed to obtain funds that helped him in running his research by creating the trails and also hiring some people to assist him on his mission to trace the remaining Chimpanzees that escaped smugglers during the 1970s and 1980s war.
Reynold managed to find about 50 chimpanzees by the year 1995 though they were wild and still scared of human beings thus the process to habituate them commenced but due to the trauma that these Chimpanzees faced, the process to make them used to humans wasn’t easy at all as they needed patience to trust humans.
Budongo thrills with the best flora of both savanna grassland, Riverine, as well as the woodland elevated at 1,100M high above the sea level which provides the best environment for different primate species most especially the Chimpanzees which are the major reasons for the conservation of this forest. The chances of spotting Chimpanzees in Budongo forest are about 80% implying that most tourist are able to have a glance at these primates within the forest during trekking.
Wildlife in Budongo Forest Reserve
Budongo Forest Reserve thrills with several wildlife species but the most common species are the Chimpanzees. Budongo Forest Reserve is a habitat to over 700 chimpanzees which is the biggest population of Chimpanzees in Uganda the pearl of Africa though most of these Chimpanzees are not yet habituated like those of Kibale forest national park. Being the major attractions in the forest, trust me Chimpanzee trekking is yet the major tourist activity conducted within Budongo forest. The best part of Budongo Forest Reserve where Chimpanzee trekking is conducted is within Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro.
Apart from Chimpanzees, Budongo forest Reserve harbors other wildlife species including other primates like olive baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Black and white monkeys, blue monkeys, several mammals including Buffaloes and Elephants that are seen grazing within the savanna of the forest, Leopards and lions that hunt other small animals in the forest like antelopes, duikers and the waterbucks among others.
Budongo Forest Reserve is as well a home to over 360 species of birds making it yet a best place to go for bird watching safari in Uganda. Some of the bird species to watch out for in Budongo include; Illadopsis Puveli, Fly catchers, Bee-Eaters, African pied wagtail, Olive-breasted Greenbul, Black kite, Ruwenzori Batis, Pitta, Crested Guinea fowl, Secretary Bird, Malachite, Cuckoo Shrikes, Giant, Pied, Chestnut-bellied, African Pygmy Kingfishers, Lesser Striped Swallow, Rufous-chested Swallow, Nubian Woodpecker, Lesser Honeyguide, Vultures, Pink-backed Pelicans, Spur-winged Gooses, Goliath Heron, Common Squacco Heron, Cormorants, African Jacana, Nahan’s Francolin, Yellow-billed Barbet, African Mustached Warbler and many more. A keen birder is on a sure deal to watch spot as many bird species as possible in Budongo Forest Reserve.
The best time for wildlife viewing in the forest reserve is during morning hours where tourists are able to watch different primates as they roam the forest for food, spot animals grazing, hunters returning from their hiding places and taking cover and abundant of birdlife.
Accommodations/ Where to stay at Budongo Forest
Obviously, you cannot expect standard accommodation in the forest. However, those who wish to spend a night at Budongo forest Reserve can opt to either sleep in Bandas, Campsites or the Cottages. The Bandas are found in Busingiro while the cottages and campsites are in Kaniyo Pabidi.
However, it is also possible to get accommodations at Boomu Women’s group as well as Sleeping in Murchison falls national park and heading to the forest for the activities since Budongo Reserve is like an extension of Murchison falls national park. Other tourists can also decide to spend their nights in Masindi town.
When is the best time to visit Budongo Reserve?
Due to the nature of the forest, I would personally recommend the dry season as the best time to visit Budongo forest reserve. This is within the months of January, February, June, July, August, September and December.