A visit to the Southern part of Murchison falls national park is incomplete without an exploration of this 115 kilometer ancient forest. It is gifted with 465 species of towering indigenous trees that offer refuge to 24 species of small mammals, 9 species of primates, 280 butterflies and over 100 species of birds inclusive of endemics like Nahans francolin.
Except for Kibale National Park, nowhere else do you find as many wild chimpanzees as Budongo, over 600 individuals! And that’s where a chimpanzee trekking excursion comes in. It offers a high probability to spotting this primates that share a DNA that is 98.7% common to that of man.
Budongo has an extensive trail system that stretches to a length of 115 km. It is well maintained and evenly spread throughout the forest. This eases accessibility of the different corners of the reserve where forest walks, chimp tracking and birding excel.
Other primates you stand great chances of meeting here include Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, Red-tailed Monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Blue Monkeys and Olive Baboons.
Gazelle Safari Company looks forward to getting for you a professional guide who isgood at detecting animals. He will fire up your chimp trekking excursion with his wealth of knowledge about the forest’s flora and fauna. Having interacted with the chimps for over 20 years, he has developed a great rapport with them to the extent of literally becoming a part of their community. Thanks to this prior exposure, he is able to interpret for you what the different behaviors and loud vocalizations of the chimps mean.
You will explore an area of the forest that has a community of about 70 -90 habituated chimps. After trekking for an average of two hours, you will find them high in the tree tops searching for food or even hunting for black and white monkeys, a meaty source of protein.
If it’s a dry season, a time when the forest floor is dry, you might find them affectionately grooming each in an effort to make up after a fight.
Nothing beats the thrill of watching their cute babies learn how to fish termites by poking anthills in the forest using thin sticks. Everything seems to be in their favour until that minute when they stuff the insects into their mouths, only to get stings and bites. This twist of fate will leave you in a mixed bag of emotions. You will want to cry and laugh at the same time.
Birdwatching in Budongo
Roughly 360 species of birds have been recorded in Budongo’s Royal Mile that extends from Nyabyeya Forestry College to a research station. They include the rare Puval’s Illadopses which is endemic to the region. Others notable species include Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Chestnut Crowned Eremomera, Crested Malimbe Dusky long-tailed Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-browned Camaroptera, Western Black-headed Oriole, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow and Grey Longbill, Slender-billed Greenbul, Forest Robin, Lemon-bellied Crombec, White-spotted Flufftail, , Little Green Sunbird, Yellow-mantled Weaver, and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher among others.
The somber call of the chocolate backed kingfisher dominates the hike but there is no guarantee that you will see it as it is shy and elusive.
Best time to visit: All year round.