Budongo Forest


Budongo forest is a moist and a semi-deciduous rain forest located southwest of Kampala adjacent to Murchison falls National Park on an escarpment northeast of Lake Albert. Budongo forest covers an undulating area cover of 435square kilometers dominated by woodlands made up of large mahogany trees as well as some savannah perched areas. The annual rainfall received in Budongo forests is between 1200mm and 2200mm during the rainy season in the months of March to May and September to November. This forest is well known for its abundance of mahogany trees that harbor various primate species more so the chimpanzees. Budongo forest is a water catchment of Lake Albert with four streams that drain the forest and flow into Lake Albert namely Waisoke, Kamirambwa, Sonso and Siba. This naturally grown forest is made up six forest blocks namely Waibiri, Siba, Kaniyo-pabidi, Busaju, Nyakafunjo and Biiso. Budongo forest is currently under the management of the National Forest Association and the Budongo Conservation Field Station which works in partnership with Makerere University that develops and implements conservation projects with in the Budongo conservation reserve.

In the past years, Budongo forest was under the management of Bunyoro kingdom where the Omukama had sovereign powers on who would trespass the forests. The king only allowed his men regarded as the chiefs to go hunting in the Budongo forest in his appreciation for their work done which to a large extent regulated poachers from encroaching on the forest and thus preserving flora and fauna in the forests. In 1962 Vernon Reynolds embarked on the study of the Chimpanzees in Budongo forest where he founded the conservation field station after which Jane Goodall and Adrian Kortlandt joined him. A civil war later raged Uganda in 1970s and 1980s where mother chimpanzees were shot dead and infant chimpanzees smuggled to Asian, European and American countries through Entebbe international airport. Reynolds later returned in 1990 to determine whether a viable population of chimpanzees still existed in the forest and around fifty individuals were discovered by 1995. He later came to realize about the rise in chimpanzee numbers that was as a result of arrival of large numbers of chimpanzees from other areas. Buildings that were previously destroyed during the war were later on renovated in 2005 by a research team and funds provided by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and other sources. The Budongo Forest project was later renamed to the present Budongo Conservation Field Station a nongovernment organization working hand in hand with the National Forest Association to protect and preserve the current Budongo conservation reserve.

Attraction in Budongo forest


Budongo forest is a living haven to over nine primate species with our close cousins inclusive. There are over 600 to 700 chimpanzee individuals that have been recorded and can easily be spotted on one’s visit to Budongo forest. These apes can be seen on a one’s chimpanzee trek or chimpanzee habituation. Other primates that can be encountered in this natural forest include L’Hoest’s monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and nocturnal primates like pottos and galagos.

Bird species

Budongo forest is home to over 360 bird species with 60 species being central African bird types while two of its bird species cannot be seen anywhere in east Africa. Birds in Budongo forest include yellow-footed flycatcher, Ituri Batis, little green sunbird, Puvel’s illadoppsis, brown Twinspot, Cassin’s Spinetail, plain Greenbul, Puvel’s Illadopsis, crowned eagle, White-spotted Fluftail, crested Guineafowl, white-thighed Hornbill, yellow-crested Woodpecker, Ilive-breasted Greenbul to mention but a few.

Other animals

Budongo forest harbors several other animals while others cross from Murchison falls National Park. Animals like forest buffaloes, forest giant squirrels, lions, leopards, pangolins and many more can rarely be seen on one’s visit to Budongo forest.

Activities in Budongo forest

Chimpanzee trekking

Chimpanzee trekking is one of the major activities carried out in Budongo forest where you get the opportunity to have and up close encounter with these apes in their natural habitat. Chimpanzee trekking is carried out in Kaniyo-Pabidi where this habituated chimpanzee family thrives. Chimpanzee trekking starts with a briefing after which trails are followed to embark on their search with the guidance of a ranger guide. An hour is allowed while you watch them feed in the tree canopies which is a life time experience as you follow them up groom themselves.

Bird watching

Budongo forest is one of Uganda’s best birding destinations that harbors to about 360 bird species which can be spotted during one’s birding safari. Bird watching is done as a birder guide leads you through Kaniyo-Pabidi trails while you follow after them as you enjoy their hissing sound. Birding is either done during morning hours or evening when the birds are active.

Nature walk

You have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature while you follow an off beaten track on foot from Kaniyo-Pabidi eco-tourism site while you spot various plant species, primates, butterflies and bird species. Nature walks in Budongo forest are usually carried out in the early morning lasting for 2 hours. A ranger guide initiates this activity while he takes you through the forests as he fully explains all the details attached to the forest.


Chimpanzee habituation

Chimpanzee habituation is where the wild chimpanzees are trained to get used to human presence as they are readily made available for trekking. This activity is only available for tourists to engage in at Budongo forest and Kibale National Park. During the process, tourists are allowed to follow after these great apes very early in the morning before they leave their nests until late in the evening when they get back to their nests to spend a night. Therefore chimpanzee habituation in Budongo forest is usually carried out during the wet season in the months of March to May, October and November also regarded as the low season.

Best time to visit Budongo forest

Budongo forest is open to tourism all year round though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season trails are dry and passable compared to the wet season. Food supply for chimpanzees is low during the dry season which forces them to spend much of their time on the floor as they search for food.

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