Budongo forest found in North-western Uganda in the south of Murchison falls National Park is a unique maiden tropical forest in a moderately high and low altitude with four mahogany tree species and several trees that annually shed off their leaves. The forest sits on a total area of 825kmsq with 792kmsq forested and the rest grassland vegetation. The forest is a habitat to nine primate species, several small mammals, about 300 bird species, butterflies and Moths. The forest is famously known for its huge mahogany tree species and the endangered chimpanzees.
The mahogany tree species that include one khaya species and three Entandrophragma species are used for timber across the East African region and a number of timber traders flock the forest seasonally for timber ferrying.
The forest is a tourist hub with several tourist activities that include some of the activities listed below.
Budongo Forest being a habitat to chimpanzees and other primates is a great destination for chimpanzee trekking and trekking is done all year in the forest. Chimpanzee trekking activities are guided treks that take you deep into the forest to find the endangered chimpanzees and other primates that include the red tailed monkeys, colobus monkeys among others.
Chimpanzee trekking times in the forest are 7 am in the morning and 2 pm in the afternoon; either experience will take about a total of 2 to 4 hours with one hour spent with the chimpanzees and the rest of the time spent walking in the habitat.
Finding these chimpanzees is a very rewarding experience, you get to see them eat, play and enjoy their habitat. You should beware though that sometimes you may walk long hours before you find the chimpanzees because they can tend to move further deep into the forest.
The chimpanzee trekking fees in Budongo forest are 95USD and chimpanzee trekking is only done by persons 15 and above.
Forest walks (Day and Night)
Forest walks are a chance for you to experience the beauty of this tropical forest as you take a walk through the forest trails. On your forest walks, you get to appreciate the different mahogany tree species, grassland vegetation, the numerous butterflies and birds all in the forest. The walk in the forest is both refreshing and easy to take because the forest terrains are flat and suitable for walking. The forest walks take 2 hours and 4 hours depending on one’s preference; each walk costs 15USD and 20USD respectively.
Over 300 bird species live in Budongo forest making this forest a bird haven for all bird lovers. On your birding spree, your birding guide will lead you on the different birding trails in the forest where you will see numerous birds nesting and making joyful noises. Birding experiences in the forest take most of the day, so you can have a half-day birding experience or a full day birding experience. Birding is also done at the Royal Mile that lies at the edge of the Albertine rift in Budongo forest and its one of the most magnificent places to see birds like the Paradise Flycatcher and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. Bird watching experiences are 20USD for a half-day and 35USD for a full day.
Game drive, boat cruise, top of the falls in Murchison Falls National Park
Budongo forest being in Murchison Falls National Park gives you an added advantage to take part in activities in the park that include game drives, boat cruises and top of the falls experience among other things. The game drives give you an opportunity to see numerous animals like elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, lions.
The boat cruise takes you downstream the longest river in the world the River Nile where you see several water birds and water animals; you end the cruise by climbing up to the top of the falls. Travellers normally have a combined visit to the park and the forest and they get to experience both the forest and park safari activities. Park fees apply for all park activities.
Other activities done in Budongo forest are study tours for environmentalists, wildlife researchers, students among others, also camping is done on the rifts of the forest.