Mpanga Forest is a beautiful compact forest which has been protected as a scientific research site since 1953 and is criss-crossed with an extensive network of paths from which visitors can view the prolific bird life that make this forest their home. The average height and size of trees in Mpanga is very large with impressive trees throughout. A two-minute walk will place you in tall cathedral like avenue, which stretches the length of the forest.
Just out of town, Mpanga forest is easily accessed from Kampala and well worth a stop on a visit out West. Experience the silence of a noisy forest, witness-floating paths of butterflies and enjoy the peace and solitude of a beautiful forest setting just one hours drive from the capital.
The intimate and compact forest valley offers a wide range of experiences close to the visitor reception; it is an ideal spot for short visits when passing or for picnic stops or overnight camping.
The drum making industry is concentrated at Mpambire village near Mpanga, the home of the Royal Drum makers. The five main tree species suitable for this traditional craft are found in the forest and at the visitor reception you can learn about the drum trees, which since time immemorial have been used in Africa for communicating and calling people to festive occasion.
The Visitor Reception
This is a small umbrella hut at the entrance to the site, from where you can derive all information about the forest. Trail maps can be obtained from there.
Banda’s Campsite and Picnic area
The clearing at the edge of the forest makes the ideal picnic and camping site. Red tailed monkeys regularly play in the trees around the camp site and visitors can often get within 10 meters to photograph the more common hornbills who are quite used to people.
Latrine facilities are available and a camp shelter and camp fire/ barbeque area will be on site by April 1999. Water and firewood can be organized at the forest station but visitors must be self-sufficient and bring their own tent and food.
Mpigi town just 5 kilometers from the site can provide all basic provisions for campers, a range of fruits, vegetables and dry goods as well as petrol, kerosene and methylated spirits.
An alternative picnic site lies 100 meters into the forest in a beautiful shady glade simply follow the path into the forest and the site is on the left at the start of the Base Line Trail.
Two twin Banda’s are available under a large thatched veranda. Bed linen, towels, mosquito nets plus kerosene lamps are provided and a spacious tiled shower room. Kitchen facilities are available to campers and Banda’s occupants. A simple dormitory with bunk beds for budget travelers is also available. Here you need your own mosquito nets and bed linen.
For visitors not wishing to stay in the forest, hotel accommodation can be found in nearby Mpigi town. There are also several restaurants, which, serve traditional, and some western foods. Sodas, beers and simple cafe snacks are available.
How to get there
Drive 37 kilometers west along the Masaka road from Kampala, Mpanga forest eco tourism site is on the right five kilometers beyond the Mpigi turn off. The main road passes through a dip just after it enters the forest. Immediately after the dip is a murram road on the right marked by large Pepsi signpost. Follow the murram road for 500m bearing right at a fork in the road until you reach a clearing on the edge of the forest and the forestry station. Park at the edge of this clearing and make your way to the visitor reception.
By public transport from Kampala, take a taxi from the new taxi park to Mpigi (1,400 Ush) and catch a Boda Boda to Mpanga (approximately 1,000 U sh) or alternately, take a taxi from the new park to Masaka and ask to be set down at Mpanga forest entrance sign (4,000 U sh)