Maramagambo Forest in Uganda – Exploring Nature & Bat Cave, how to get there, Things to do and where to stay
Situated within Bushenyi district is the verdant and dense Maramagambo forest, adjoined to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The National Forestry Authority and Uganda Wildlife Authority jointly manage this beautiful Forest Reserve extending from the Kichwamba Escarpment down to Lake Edward.
This Forest Reserve derived its name from a traditional tale involving a group of young men who wouldn’t find their way back home from the forest, after they had gone hunting. It is said that the young men spent several days in the forest and trying to find their way and when they did, the young men wouldn’t say a single word because of fatigue hence “maramagambo”. This word means “end of words” in the local dialect.
Maramagambo Forest is also associated with its infamous Bat Cave where a visitor from Netherlands was reportedly exposed to the dangerous Marburg virus said to be transmitted by bats within the Volcanic tube Cave. The forest is notable for bordering two outstanding Crater Lakes-Nyamasingiri and Kyasanduka in addition to being an amazing destination for hiking and guided nature walks lasting between 30 minutes and 6 hours.
Animals and birds in Maramagambo
Majority of the hiking trails through this verdant forest reward visitors with extraordinary experiences compared to that derived when exploring the open savannah plains. There are about 9 species of primates in this protected forest and they include chimpanzees, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and L’Hoests monkeys in addition to the nocturnal species like Bushbabies and Pottos. Apart from primates, other animals in this forest include bats, bush pigs, elephants, Bates’s pygmy antelopes and many others
A number of bird species call the verdant forest of Maramagambo and they include Papyrus gonolek, white-tailed larks, white-winged warblers, flamingos, African broadbills, black bee-eaters, Pink-backed pelicans, white-napped pigeons and Rwenzori Turaco among others.
Things to do in Maramagambo Forest in Uganda
Maramagambo forest is one of the fantastic chimpanzee trekking spots in Uganda and involves trekking for 1-4 hours in the company of armed Ranger Guides to meet the Great Apes in their natural habitat. Once spotted, a maximum of one hour is provided for observation and photography.
A number of beautiful feathered beauties can be spotted during birding tours in Maramagambo Forest. Expect to see black bee-eaters, greater flamingos, Dark-capped yellow warbler, Fawn-breasted waxbill, Papyrus gonolek, Ross Turaco, pink-backed pelicans, Papyrus gonolek, white-winged warblers and many others.
Guided forest walks
Maramagambo forest boasts of a network of interesting hiking trails with opportunities of encountering unique animals, birds, trees and many others. Try out the;
River Trail along the banks of River Kajojo and involves two hours of encountering unique attractions especially the Viagra tree.
Waterfall trail extends for 11 kilometers and lasts 4-5 hours through the forest to the hilly sides of the forest. The climax of the trail is Kilyantama waterfalls (“sheep-eater” waterfalls) with also chances of finding the backcloth figs (used for making curtains, bags and table mats).
Valley Trail goes along the ridge and involves encountering the Viagra tree and various bird species. This extends for about 3.5 kilometers and lasts about 2 hours over the stunning valley.
Palm Trail involves 5 kilometers walk for 2 hours through flat terrains and is the perfect one for first-time visitors. Expect to see Raphia palms, frame trees and dragon tree among others.
Best time to visit the forest
The best time to explore Maramagambo forest in Uganda is dry season when forest trails are drier and favorable for chimpanzee treks, birding tours and guided forest walks although it is open all year round.
How to get there
The forest of Maramagambo can be accessed in two means-air and road. The latter is the main way to get there with road trips starting from Kampala to Bushenyi through Mbarara and takes 5-6 hours. For air, scheduled or chartered flights can be arranged from Entebbe International Airport to Mweya Airstrip (in Queen Elizabeth National Park) and then continue to the forest by road.