Busingiro Eco Tourism Site is situated on Budongo forest, the largest Mahogany forest in East Africa. Trees grow up to 80 meters. The forest is famous for its chimpanzees (600-800), which form a number of groups. 6 groups have been habituated; hence visitors have the chance of visiting them at close quarters. The forest also hosts many other rare specie of birds, including the Lemon Bellied Crombec, and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. Busingiro can be assessed as you visit Murchison falls National Park. From here you will also be able to view the blue mountains of Congo and the Rift Valley Escarpment.
There is a locally styled open sided building provides a pleasant place for visitors to relax, enjoy sodas, snacks or locally prepared meals. Local crafts, bird guidebooks, t-shirts and videos can also be brought here.
The site runs an environmental education program for local schools. Children visit the forest to see it for themselves and find out about its importance to the area. Displays at the center help visitors interpret the forest’s secrets, and understand its complex ecosystem. Get a taste for Budongo Forest by first visiting the Entebbe Wildlife Education Center where a forest display is based around the eco tourism project at Budongo.
Busingiro also has two traditionally styled African Banda’s, that provide comfortable and private accommodation for visitors. One double and three single beds can cater for a total of five visitors. Each Banda is set in a beautiful forest glade providing a relaxing environment for resting after a forest walk.
The campsite with space for 20 plus people is pleasantly situated away from the visitor reception. A camp cooking shelter, water pump and campfire area provide all the necessary facilities for the self-catering camper.
There is an open air wash room, which provides hot or cold showers and, along with two pit latrines serve both the Banda’s and camp site.
Catering is available at the site, and the campsite cook can prepare food. Visitors are advised to buy provisions in advance at Masindi and arrange with the guides if catering services are required.
The site has a complex trail system of a grid system, which offers the best chances for chimpanzee tracking, and a loop system incorporating a range of forest features and good specimen trees.
Visitors must enter the forest with a guide and follow the code of behavior, which will ensure their safety and maximum enjoyment. Visitors should discuss their preferences and time schedules with the forest guides who will tailor a program to meet individual’s needs.
A number of special interest walks can be arranged from Busingiro.
Bird enthusiasts can pay a visit to the Royal Mile. 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.
Primate tracking is a common activity at Busingiro. Chimp tracking is most successful on the grid trail, where a 200m-grid system ensures ease of access through the forest. For chimp tracking its best to start early around 7.00 am. The guides follow the daily movements of the habituated chimpanzee groups. Three years of recording their movements indicate July, August and September offer a 90% success rate of seeing the chimps. In February , March , April, May and September this decreases to 70 %, and in October, November, December and January when food is scarcer chances drop to 50%. The fluctuating fruiting seasons of the forest trees determine the chimp’s movements. It can take 30 minutes or all day to find them. Only children 7 years and upwards are allowed chimp tracking. Groups are limited to 6 people.
The general forest walk is offered by the loop system leading from the visitor center. It 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.
The Little Kasenene Hill Trail is a 4-hour walk that 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.
Getting to Busingiro is easy from Kampala. It is located 41 km west of Masindi on the road to Butiaba. The site is 40 m on the left and well sign posted from the road. From Kampala the drive takes 3 to 4 hours.
By public transport take a taxi from the New Taxi Park in Kampala to Masindi. The journey takes 2 ½ -3 hours and costs approximately Ush. 7,000. A daily bus leaves Masindi Taxi Park at midday. Matatus also run to Butiaba or Wanseko , they take approximately 1 hour to reach the site and cost 3,000 Ush