Budongo Forest Chimpanzee tracking – Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison falls National park – Chimpanzee permit at $120 pp
Budongo Forest chimpanzee tracking – is situated approximately 3 hours’ drive northwest of the capital city Kampala on the way to the prominent Murchison Falls National Park. This is the biggest Mahogany forest found in the whole of East Africa as well as habitat to the largest number of chimpanzees throughout Uganda. The major tourist sites within this forest are: the Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site, Busingiro Ecotourism site and Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site which are located at boundaries to Murchison Falls National Park and dominated by Mahogany and Iron-wood trees.
The 115 kilometer expanse is a remote chunk of the Budongo forest. Its isolation once in a while offers a safe haven for the Lions, Leopards as well as Buffaloes. Early in the morning is the ideal time to set out touring because then you will have an opportunity to find a number of the forest inhabitants licking salt by the forest glades? River Waiga offers refreshment to the various wildlife species within this forest.
Chimpanzee tracking in Murchison Falls National Park:
The main activity that draws tourists to the forest is Budongo forest – is one of the best places to track chimpanzees in Uganda. Most of the tracking takes place at Kaniyo Pabidi which is located south of the Murchison Falls National Park.
Budongo forest chimpanzee tracking usually starts with briefing from the information Centre at the Budongo Eco Lodge. The forest has well established trails to allow visitors spot the chimps as well as other smaller primates and birds. Chimpanzee trekking is done in two shifts –morning and afternoon. The Chimp communities roam very close to the Budongo Eco lodge on most days of the year. However, during certain periods of the year, they wander way in search of fruits and water. During these periods of food scarcity, finding them is not always guaranteed. The success rate of seeing chimps is still very high, only bettered by Kibale forest national park. For the best possible chance of spotting the chimps, visit during the months between October and January. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo lasts for an average of 3 hours. After locating the chimp community, visitors are only allowed one hour with them.
In order to participate in the chimpanzee trekking exercise, one needs to be in good health and free from diseases like flue or Tuberculosis. Chimps easily contract human diseases. One also needs to be at least 15 years of age to track chimpanzees. The cost of chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is $80. Chimpanzee tracking can be combine with game drives in the park.
Chimpanzee habituation experience:
Chimpanzee habituation is the process of enabling chimps to get used to human presence around them. The process takes about two years. In Budongo forest, visitors are also offered an opportunity to take part in the chimpanzee habituation process especially during periods when here are fewer visitors to the forest. The chimpanzee habituation involves following a community of chimps and learning about their behavior under the guidance of senior researchers and trackers. It differs from normal chimpanzee trekking because it goes on throughout the day. Visitor are allowed a lot more time with the chimps. For the best chimpanzee habituation experience, one need good hiking boots, hand gloves, long sleeved shits/pants, sun glasses and a hat. The chimpanzee habituation experience in Budongo forest cost $160. This amount is less than that charged in Kibale National Park.
Budongo forest is one of the best places for bird watching in Uganda. With the help of experienced Guides, birders can choose to go for a full or half day of bird watching. The Royal Mile found within the Busingiro area is arguably the best place to go if you want to see most of the species in a day. The Royal mile extends from the main research station up to a forestry college nearby. The rare species to look out for are the Pitta, Yellow-footed Flycatcher,
In the company of armed rangers, tourists can go for nature walks deep in the forest. Visiting the beautiful Kaniyo pabidi eco-tourism Centre is highly recommended. The Centre has tall Mahagony trees that are over 70 years old. During the nature walks, you will encounter a variety of wild creatures that come to lick salt from fallen trees. After seeing enough of the forest, you can also venture out to the savannah plains and woodlands that connect to the plains of Murchion Falls National Park. Here you might see some of the larger mammals like buffaloes, elephants, lions and even leopards. In fact, these large mammals visit the forest itself frequently. You will always be in the company of armed rangers for your protection. Do not forget to carry drinking water or packed lunch.
Best time to visit Murchison falls National Park
Budongo forest reserve is part of the Murchison Falls National Park and offers opportunities to do activities like visiting the top of the falls, going for game drives, boat cruises and a cultural visit to the Boomu Women’s Group to see how life goes by in a rural African village. By the end of your tour of Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo forest and the nearby Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, you would have spotted all the big 5 mammals. Read more about water fall boat safari in Murchison falls
How to get to Budongo forest?
Budongo forest is found in North-western Uganda. It takes 3 hours to reach the reserve from Kampala. From Kampala, one needs to first drive to Masindi town before heading to the forest reserve. Entrance to Budongo Forest reserve costs $40 per person.
Accommodation around budongo forest?
Visitors to Budongo forest reserve have plenty of options for accommodation. The final choice of accommodation depends on one’s budget. The lodges and hotels can be got within the forest reserve, in Masindi town or further at the Murchison Falls National Park. For those who love outdoor camping, it can be arranged within the reserve. The Research Centre in Budongo forest also offers simple rooms at affordable rates:
Budongo Eco Lodge:
Budongo Eco Lodge is a budget lodge built within the Budongo forest reserve. The lodge is 30 km away from the town of Masindi and offers a perfect atmosphere for relaxation and in a tranquil environment. Budongo Eco lodge offers comfortable special cabins with balconies and also dormitory rooms. The dorm rooms are spacious and designed to be used by large groups of tourists. The lodge has a restaurant where residents can order for both local and international foods. While at the lodge you can participate in activities like chimpanzee trekking, bird watching, chimpanzee habituation experience and nature walks. Those who are interested in local souvenir can go to the Visitor Centre and purchase locally made art pieces and gifts.