Mpanga Forest Reserve.
Mpanga Forest Reserve- The Mpanga forest reserve is situated in Mpigi town about 37 kilometers from Kampala the capital city of Uganda, the forest reserve was mainly protected as a science research site in the year 1953, it first served as a scientific research site. The reserve is endowed with different bird species making it one of the best places for bird enthusiasts to view birdlife in the country.
Mpanga forest reserve is mall but rewarding it covers an area of 45 kilometers squared boasting with over 500 shrub and tree species, over 200 species of birds, butter flies and various wildlife. Some of the trees in the forests reserve are said to be over 100 years old and the sizes are quite impressive. There are also 3 monkey species that are protected within this small forest and they include the vervet, red tailed and black and white colobus monkeys. You can as well spot some banded mongoose, squirrels, pottos, pangolins and bush babies. For those who may spend a night around Mpanga forest, they can be in position to sight at notable nocturnal pottos and bush babies. The main tree species in this forest is the hard and weather resistant celtis. The forest is surrounded by a community of traditional drum makers. It first served as a scientific research site.
One of the best forest activities at the Mpanga forest are the nature guides walks that can be done at day or night time, there are different walking trails that can be taken up to explore the Mpanga forest some of the trails can be seen as below;
The butterfly loop or trail
The butterfly trail stretches for about 1 kilometer distance covering the forest with lots of animals and vegetation types to be seen animals common on this trail are bush babies and leopards can also be seen here occasionally. This trail takes about 30 minutes to walk through.
The baseline trail
This trail provides visitors with clear views of the forest canopy and the surrounding villages, it’s gifted with various bird species and numerous butterflies, and this trail ends at the papyrus swamp at the base of the forest. This trail can also be used for mountain biking for those not interested in walking.
The hornbill trail
This is considered to be the best of the forest trails, it gives visitors opportunities to see bird life, spectacular rolling hills, forest streams, buttresses, fungi, root structures, monkeys, butterflies, snakes and many more. It covers a distance of about 5 kilometers, hiking this trail normally takes about 3 hours.
Mpanga Forest Reserve is one of Uganda birders paradise sites that you can easily reach even when you are within the city. There are various birds to excite the mind with as you get into the walking trail. The trail is well established and stretches from the forest up to a water stream which is an area for shoebill and visitors can as well get a glimpse of water species. It takes you nearly 3 hours to do your birding experience where you will have opportunity to watch some of the 50 bird species that are popularly known to live in this remarkable forest. The birds to have a glimpse awhile in your nature walks in the forest include the long tailed cormorant, cattle egret, black headed heron, purple heron, hadada ibis, Egyptian goose, black kite, lizard buzzard, great blue Turaco, yellow bill and African palm swift.
A walk through Mpanga Forest Reserve offers visitors opportunity to explore the remarkable hidden treasures of the forest while enjoying the natural setting of the forest, enjoy the cool weather conditions under the forest canopy. This will give you the opportunity sight at countless trees, monkeys, butterflies and many colorful birds. There are also nocturnal species for you to sight especially for those visitors who spend their night around the forest reserve. The forest walk is mainly conducted by the Mpanga Ecotourism centre which was launched in 1999.
This is sub divided into 3; Baseline trail, the butter trail and hornbill trail. This mainly offers incredible experiences on monkeys, common forest birds and several plant species to be explored.
This is basically for tourists to view the bush babies that eat at night.
This leads you to Kiganda shrines just one kilometer from the ecotourism centre and the Nakibinge.
Tourists also have opportunity to view at the forest and surrounding valleys that are remarkably stunning.
Visit the local market and do some shopping at Mpambire trading area where you will get drums, baskets, mats, local tools and many other handcraft materials.
Mpanga forest reserve is the best place for stop overs while travelling to the national parks in western Uganda for your Uganda vacations.
The Mpanga forest reserve provides camping grounds for tourists with latrines, the camp fires are always set up at the site every evening as visitors sit around and enjoy story telling. Tourists who will love to camp must came with their own camping equipment’s such as tents, food and utensils and many more things that might be needed. There are also picnic sites where tourists can enjoy their meals. Tourists can also get accommodation from Mpigi town which is about 5 kilometers from the forest reserve.
Mpanga forest reserve can be accessed from Kampala-Masaka road within an hour’s drive from the capital city.