Budongo Forest Safari Guide
Budongo Forest contains two ecotourism sites: Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro. Kaniyo Pabidi (en route to Murchison Falls and part of the greater Murchison Falls Conservation Area) offers excellent chimpanzee trekking. Busingiro is home to the Royal Mile, one of the top bird-watching tracks in the country.
Pros & Cons
Chimpanzee trekking and full day habituation experience
Accommodation available at Kaniyo Pabidi or nearby Murchison Falls NP
Lower fees for chimp trekking than in popular Kibale NP
Busingiro has no accommodation or activities available
Wildlife & Animals
Budongo’s main attraction is tracking a troop of habituated chimpanzees at Kaniyo Pabidi. Your guide will take you along the forest trails to find them. Once found, you can observe them for one hour. They may be feeding in the canopy, or resting and grooming on the ground. If they’re on the move, following them can be quite an adventure.
Aside from chimpanzees, other primates that can be seen along the forest trails include black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, and olive baboon. Nocturnal primates include potto and various forest galago species. The rarely seen tree pangolin is also resident. Keep an eye out for the checkered elephant shrew on the forest floor and the forest giant squirrel up in the trees.
Budongo forest is of great interest to birders. It has a checklist of over 360 birds of which 60 are considered west or central African birds. The forest is the second most important in Uganda (after Semuliki National Park) for species of the Guinea-Congo forest region. Two species of birds found in Budongo forest are found nowhere else in East Africa: Yellow-footed flycatcher and Puvel's illadopsis. The best location for bird watching is on 'The Royal Mile' at Busingiro, but Kaniyo Pabidi also offers excellent forest birding and is easier to explore. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
Best Time to Visit
Watching wildlife and tracking chimpanzees in Budongo Forest is good all year long. It is best from December to March and also in June and July when rainfall is less.
December to February – Dry Season
Chimpanzee are easier to track, and the trails are drier
Lots of sun and very little rain
Less chance of catching malaria, as there are fewer mosquitoes
January and February can be extremely hot
March to November – Wet Season
The scenery is green and lush
April and May are low season, so it's usually less crowded, and rates might be lower
Migratory birds are present
Budongo Forest lies in a dry part of the country, so the rains don't tend to interfere with your trip
Some roads may become hard to travel, and forest trails become slippery
Weather & Climate
Budongo Forest has a hot, tropical climate. Temperatures range from 32°C/90°F during the day to a much cooler 17°C/63°F at night. The area experiences a Wet season from April to October. There is little rainfall during the Dry season (December to February). Most often, rain comes as heavy storms during the Wet season.
Dry Season – December to February
December, January & February – Skies are clear and full of sunshine, and the highest temperatures (32°C/90°F during the day, cooling down at night to 17°C/63°F) of the year are experienced at this time. It is a 'dry heat', making temperatures less overbearing.
Wet Season – March to November
March, April & May – Rainfall increases from March onwards, reaching a peak in April. Temperatures range from about 30°C/86°F during the day to 18°C/64°F at night. Forest trails might be slippery and hard to navigate.
June & July – There is a bit of a drier spell in the Wet season, and rains decrease. Daytime temperatures are around 29°C/84°F.
August, September, October & November – The rain returns during this time. It doesn't rain every day, but when it does, it tends to be torrential storms. Rainfall reaches its peak in October and slows by November. Forest trails might become slippery and difficult to use.
Kaniyo Pabidi, the center for chimp tracking in Budongo Forest, is usually visited en route to or from Murchison Falls National Park.
Budongo is located about 300km/186mi north of Kampala. The drive takes at least four hours. Coming from the southwest, the 280km/170mi drive from Fort Portal take at least six hours. It is also possible to fly to Pakuba Airfield in Murchison Falls NP by scheduled or chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport (EBB) or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala.
Entebbe International Airport (EBB) will be your entrance into Uganda. Its location is about 46km/29mi from Kampala. It is customary that your local tour operator will pick you up from the airport or hotel.