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Bundongo Forest Reserve, Uganda



Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site ¦ Busingiro Ecotourism site

Budongo Forest Reserve

Budongo Forest covers an area of 793 km² of which only 53% is forest. The remaining 47% is grassland (Forest Department 1996a). The altitudinal range is 700-1270m (Reynolds & Reynolds 1965). This forest type is classified as medium altitude semi deciduous moist forest. Budongo has a high biodiversity with 24 species of small mammals; nine being primates; 465 species of trees and shrubs; 359 species of birds; 289 species of butterflies; and 130 species of moths (Forest Department 1996a). Budongo Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1932. Commercial extraction of timber has been ongoing since 1915 (Chapman et al. 1999; Plumptre & Reynolds, 1994). Today, some 77% of this forest has been cut at least once. The report by Forest Department (1996a), states that Budongo is in a serious ‘state of degradation’ due to the high levels of illegal pit sawing, hunting and human encroachment.

Tourist Sites:

Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro are part of the Budongo Forest Reserve. The Jane Goodall Institute Uganda took over the management and infrastructure at both sites in 2006 which had been priviously operated by the National Forestry Authority. An eco tourist project was set up in 1993 and opened to the public in 1994 for chimpanzee viewing at both sites.

The terrain is flat allowing for good on-foot travelling conditions for the average tourist; the campsite is located on the edge of the chimpanzees’ home range, significantly diminishing the risk of long trekking excursion before contact is made with the group; the habitat consists of primary forest with medium understory vegetation-density allowing for good visibility of the canopy (and thus of the chimpanzees) and the presence of savanna and grassland areas neighbouring the primary forest present an interesting opportunity for viewing of different ecosystems. Finally there is an extensive (115km in total) and well-maintained trail system that further facilitates visitor accessibility.

As of June 2006, the Jane Goodall Institute took over management of these two sites on behalf of NFA. This is due through a management agreement between NFA and JGI. The objective of this agreement is for JGI to ensure appropriate development of these sites for ecotourism, while ensuring that the chimpanzee communities are not put at risk due to these activities. At the same time, all profits made from the venture will be returned back into the protection of Budongo Forest Reserve. Improved law enforcement activities, monitoring, conservation education and community collaborative projects will all be funded from the profits made from these sites.

At Kaniyo Pabidi visitors can enjoy chimpanzee tracking, birding and wonderful accommodation in a beautiful natural setting while Busingiro offers birding and a bush camp. The Royal Mile is a popular birding site, also managed by the Jane Goodall Institute-Uganda, which is accessible with a guide from Busingiro.

Entrance, activity and accommodation fees
All advance bookings for activities at either of the Budongo Forest sites should be made through Lets Go Travel in Kampala details below. A surcharge of US$5- will be levied for walk-in visitors wishing to undertake an activity should they not of made an advance booking.





Chimp Trekking






Bird Watching 3hoursKanyino Pabidi






Bird Watching full day Kaniyo Pabidi & Busingiro






Forest Walk 1 ½ hrs K/Pabidi & Busingiro






Pabidi Hill 4 hours with lunch break






Chimp Habituation 5-10 hrs at K/Pabidi






School groups at Busingiro






Children under 10 years will not be allowed to walk over 2 hours
Children over 15 years will be charge full adult price
Chimp trekking is not available for those under 18 year old.

Book with: Sharon Kemigisha. Lets Go Travel. 1st floor, Garden City Shopping Centre, Yusuf Lule Road, Kampala, Tel: +256-41-346667/8/9.
Email address: sharon@letsgosafari.com
Phone bookings will be accepted, but needs to be followed by an email.
An official voucher must be accompanied with the receipt to avoid paying a US$5- surcharge per person on arrival at site.

Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site:

An undisturbed tropical forest of Ironwood and Mahogany trees within the boundaries of MFNP.

Visitors centre and accommodation at Kaniyo Pabidi:

The Jane Goodall Institute manages this site, which consists of a visitors' centre and restaurant, luxurious yet affordable self-contained cabins hidden in the forest, and spacious dorms. The cabins can sleep three, while there are four 4-bed dorm rooms with common toilets and showers. Guest accommodation is integrated with the magnificent natural environment. The low-rise cabins stand amongst the trees, where the calls of the myriad of forest animals can be heard, including the resident chimpanzee community. The Kaniyo Pabidi ecotourist site was create in order to offer tourists a true natural experience with minimal impact on the environment. Visitors can enjoy the high biodiversity of Budongo Forest which has 24 species of mammals, nine being primates; 465 species of trees and shrubs; 359 species of birds; 289 species of butterflies; and 130 species of moths.

The facilities have been built with sustainably harvested pine wood and are outfitted with composting toilets, solar-power and rain water. Kaniyo Pabidi's remote location and environmentally friendly architecture create an authentic Ugandan rainforest experience.

In June 2008 the new Visitors Centre and accommodation facility was opened. The facility offers visitors an exceptional venue in which to come and experience the forest and undertake activities within it.

Accommodation Rates July 2007 - June 2008

Visitors centre Kaniyo Pabidi Dormitory at Kaniyo Pabidi
Visitors centre terrace and interior of dormitoryat Kaniyo Pabidi




Cabin - 1 Person



Cabin - 1 Person



Cabin - 1 Person






Double cabin at Kaniyo Pabidi Inside of double cabin at Kaniyo Pabidi
Exterior and interior of one of the double cabins at Kaniyo Pabidi


Kaniyo Pabidi is 29 kms north of Masindi in Murchison Falls National Park. Busingiro is located at the western edge of the Budongo Forest 43 kms from Masindi along the Masindi-Biiso Road. The Royal Mile is

inside Budongo Forest near the village of Nyabeya. Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro sites are best visited by private transport although access via public transport is possible from Masindi.

Activities in Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro sites:

Chimpanzee Tracking (Kaniyo Pabidi only):
This is generally a 2-4 hr walk in the forest. Two viewing times per day are allowed, in the morning, with walks normally starting around 8am and then afternoon around 2pm. Maximum of 2 groups of 4-6 people per morning and afternoon will be allowed to track chimpanzees with our experienced guides. The tracking will include one hr with the wild community of chimpanzees that we have habituated. This community is known as the southern community and consists of around 45-50 individuals. The walk will include viewing of other wildlife in the forest and also seeing the oldest mahogany trees in East Africa. Other diurnal primates that may be seen during this walk are black and white colobus, red tail monkeys, blue monkeys and olive baboons.

Chimp viewing at Kaniyo Pabidi
Chimp viewing at Kaniyo Pabidi

Bird Watching safari ½ day (KP & B):

A guided walk for up to 3 hrs either in the morning or afternoon is available for viewing the birdlife of Budongo. All the guides in Budongo are keen birders, both Joshua dn Vincent have exceptional talent. Budongo is famous for its biodiversity in birds and is home to the rare Puvel’s illadopses which is an endemic species to Budongo forest.

Bird Watching safari full day (KP & B):

A full day guided walk taking in lunch in the field is available for keen birdwatchers for viewing the birdlife of Budongo. All the guides in Budongo are keen birders and Budongo is famous for its biodiversity in birds. It is also home to the rare Puvel’s illadopses which is an endemic species to Budongo forest.

Forest Experience Walks:

For those who only want to have a quick look in the forest and really just want to break up the journey into Parra from Kampala, we suggest the forest walk experience that can be as short as 30 mins or as long as 1 ½ hours. You will see the beautiful old mahogany trees of Buongo, the oldest trees of this species in east Africa. You are likely to see some primates and other wildlife, including the spectacular number of butterflies.

Pabidi Hill (KP only):

This walk is best done mid morning, taking a pack lunch for sitting on the hill and overlooking the forest and Murchison falls national park. It is a unique opportunity to take a walk through tropical rainforests and savannah in the same walk. There are lions in the area, so an armed guide will be present on this walk.

Chimpanzee Habituation (KP only)

Habituation of chimpanzees is a slow process. This is where we follow the chimps and stay a distance of 10 metres, getting them used to the presence of humans. Normally, chimpanzees will flee when they see humans, as they are normally considered as predators to chimpanzees. It can take as long as 10-15 yrs to fully habituate a community. Currently, our staff go out in the forest at 7am in the morning and stay until just before nightfall. Two guides/habituators are dedicated to this process. We are offering a unique opportunity for no more than 2 people per day to join our team. This is an all day event and people have to be prepared to stay in the field all day, as the team does not come out until the end of the day. So in general you can expect to be out for a minimum of 5hrs and up to 10 hours. Pack lunch will be provided. Good walking boots, raingear and good backpack is recommended. This activity will not be available from July to end of September.

School Group activities at Busingiro (B only):

Busingiro is a great destination for school groups. We have renovated the education centre and work on the canteen is taking place now. Simple campsites are available, so campers need to bring all their own supplies. Our staff offer programmes for various age groups and sizes. Our staff are taught what is in the national school curriculum and are able to give field experience at the various levels.

Busingiro Ecotourism Site:

Tropical forest and grassland.

This location is noted for its excellent birding opportunities! There are two main ways to view birds here. Guided walks are available within Budongo Forest itself or along the road next to the gate. However, the best place for guided bird walks is along the Royal Mile, which is accessible with private transport only. The Royal Mile is regarded as one of Uganda's best forest birding sites and supports a wide variety of localised species such as the sought-after African dwarf, blue-breasted and chocolate-backed kingfishers. Various monkeys are also likely to be seen, along with giant forest squirrels and the bizarre chequered elephant-shrew. Our guides are very knowledgeable, particularly with regard to bird calls, and they carry binoculars and a field guide.

Activities: Forest walks and birding. For the birders it is imperative to visit the 'Royal Mile' some 14 kms from the Busingiro Eco-tourism site. Vincent is the birding specialists at Busingiro. To visit the 'Royal Mile' you must pay your Forest entry at Busingiro and pick up your guide there. Birding specials include Chocolate Backed Kingfisher and several other Kingfisher species.

Busingiro Eco Tourism Site
Vistors centre Busingiro

Camping Fees (Busingiro):

Currently, camping is only available at Busingiro. The current sites are simple, with campers needing to bring in all their own supplies. Cooking shelter and firewood available. Soda's for sale.

Bird watching

For birds a visit to the Royal Mile is a must. This spectacular wide forest avenue was first enjoyed by King Kabalega of Bunyoro earning its name ‘The Royal Mile’. It is a 15 km drive from the eco-tourism site and visitors must pay a forest entry fee before entering the forest reserve. On an early morning visit visitors cannot fail to see some spectacular forest birds such as the Chocolate Backed Kingfisher and Paradise Flycatcher. A visit to the Royal Mile can also be combined with a trip to Lake Kanyege where water birds and clouds of butterflies enjoy a sunny forest edge pond.

Birding at The Royal Mile
Birding at The Royal Mile

General Forest Walk

The loop system leading from the visitor center offers fascinating forest walks. The guides will interpret the features of the forest which include elephant pit traps, salt licks, elephant wallows and historic grinding stoners. Secrets of the forests will be revealed on these walks. Discover a tree that gets elephants drunk and be amazed at the huge indestructible Ironwood trees dominating the forest canopy.

Little Kasenene Hill Trail

A 4 hour trail takes visitors up Little Kasenene Hill to enjoy spectacular views over Lake Albert and the Blue Mountains of Congo. The trail leads through grassland and shrub. Visitors to the forest in November will witness the spectacle of local people collecting grasshoppers for frying.

Budongo Forest at Busingiro
Budongo Forest at Busingiro

Busingiro Alternative Accommodation:
Closer to the 'Royal Mile' is the Nyabyaya Forestry Collage Guest House. Tel. 0772 496700. The collage is located only 2KM from the 'Royal Mile'. You will however need to collect a guide from the Busingiro Eco-Tourism site and pay your Forest Fees there.

Nyabyaya Collage

Single room self-contained Ushs10,000-
Double room self-contained Ushs15,000-
Single room Ushs8,000-
Double room Ushs12,000-
Meals available at Ushs3,500- including a soda

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Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (Large Format) (2002)
Format: DVD
Director: David Lickley
DVD Release Date: February 4, 2003

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Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi
Terry Stevenson, John Fanshawe
Publisher: Princeton University Press; (October 2001)
ISBN: 0856610798

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