Among Uganda’s abundant ecosystems is the Mpanga forest reserve located along the Kampala – Masaka high way just after the Mpigi district. It has existed way back in 1953 as a scientific research center. It’s a great birding site rewarding visitors with wonderful bird views. The Mpanga forest reserve is usually visited by tourists on their way to the west during a stopover. At this reserve, they are treated to the wonderful sights and sounds of the forest, enjoying the beautiful views of the various bird and butter fly species of the forest. Mpanga forest reserve can be easily accessed by both public and private means at any time of the day. It can be visited at a fee of 5000 Ugandan shillings per tourist. Just like any other ecosystem, Mpanga forest too has a lot to offer its visitors among which include;
This drum making exercise is witnessed from the Royal Drum making village – Mpambire, a small village away from the forest. These drums are of very crucial importance in the African societies since they are used as means of communication especially in the rural African communities. Drums have always been used by locals to communicate both the good and bad news and for every occasion, a different sound track is produced or used. At times they are used in entertainment especially when playing traditional dances and music which are quite very entertaining. Mpambire is a wide drumming site with a variety of different types of drums. These drums are made from about five different tree species which are all habituated by the Mpanga forest reserve.
There are Several Facilities that can be used by visitors at the Reserve and these are:
Camp site and Picnic area
At the edge of the forest reserve, lies a wide clearing for camping and picnic activities. The forest does provide camping opportunities for campers but they must come with self-supplies like the tents, food, shelter among others. At the camping and picnic site, tourists get a chance of seeing the Red tailed monkeys playing from the site compound and even stealing fruits from the campers’ tables which is such a wonderful encounter. In case of any easing issues, the camp site provides great latrines, camp shelters and fire that were established in the 2006 development project at the forest. Though water and firewood are always provided at the forest premises.
The Forest Trails
Mpanga forest also offers great day and night forest nature walks through its properly outlined forest trails. These trails can last from 30 minutes to 24 hours depending on personal interest. The night forest nature walks allow visitors to see wildlife species that reside in the forest and only around in the nights and on movement during the day. Many of Mpanga forest rails connect to the surrounding local villages and farming grounds giving tourists a clear insight of the way of life of the natives living around the area. On this visit, a local guide can be used for more information about the forest and even access to the remote forest ends.
The Base Line Trail
This is one of Mpanga’s clear forest trails. It offers great sights of the forest canopy and several bird and butterfly species as they fly around the clear blue sky of the forest in the sunny days. This trail is also well recommended for motorcycle biking and usually brings visitors to close views of the local villages living around the Mpanga forest reserve area. This trail cuts through the Mpanga forest to the western side of the forest and when using it, one shouldn’t worry about where to step since it’s a well-marked route.
The Butterfly Loop
The butterfly loop trail is considered the shortest trail through the Mpanga forest reserve but offers visitors great views of the various vegetation types with in the forest, the clear wildlife views of bush babies and leopards among others. This loop stretches for about 1kilometer distance through the forest.
The Hornbill Trail
This trail covers a distance of 5 kilometers and links to the Base Line trail of Mpanga forest. It can be hiked for about 3 hours offering visitors wonderful sights of the forest streams, gentle hills, root structures and buttresses, fungi, butterflies, snakes, monkeys and some bird species.