Mabira Forest – “Threatened Yet So Adventurous”
Mabira forest is a dense rainforest in Uganda covering a total land area of 306 square kilometers that is located in Buikwe district. The forest is a natural forest that was gazetted as a protected area in 1932 and before it was gazette it was used to extract rubber while some parts were cleared for coffee plantations. The forest is a habitat of various wildlife species including over 312 tree species with ancient trees which are over 25 and 70 years old, 315 bird species, 219 butterfly species, 97 moth species, 23 mammal species such as baboons, grey-cheeked mangabey, blue duiker, fruit bats, bush pigs, tree hyrax, red tailed monkeys, squirrels, bushbucks, reptiles among others. Due to the fact that it’s a rainforest, the Mabira forest acts as a water catchment area that serves many streams and water bodies such as River Ssezibwa, River Nile, Lake Kyoga among others.
Attractions and activities in Mabira Forest
Guided nature walk: Mabira forest is a great destination for the guided nature walk as you experience nature. Guided walks in Mabira forest can be done any time of the day either in the morning or in the evening with a knowledgeable guide who will be sharing information about Mabira, tree plants in the forest as well as helping you to spot different wildlife species. Mabira forest is a home of about 312 tree species where some species will be spotted during nature/forest walk like Cordia millennia, Warbughia with some used as medicinal herbs by the neighboring community to treat different ailments and others used for research. During the forest walk in Mabira, you will walk through the 68kilometre well-maintained trail which is divided into various trails like the red trail which is 33km, a yellow trail which is 12km and the white trail which is 5km. the guided nature walk in the forest takes about 2 to 3 hours and will give you an opportunity to view various ancient tree species, plants, mammals, bird species and also enjoy the sounds of the birds and the forest.
Zip Lining: Mabira forest is the only destination in East Africa that offers a zip-lining activity to visitors on a safari. Ziplining in Mabira takes about 4 hours and has two sessions that is the morning session which starts at 8 am and the afternoon session which starts at 1 pm. Ziplining is an adventurous activity in Mabira which passes through River Musamya and gives you spectacular views of the forest, griffin falls, various bird species, grey checked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, squirrels among others. For the adventurous visitors, zip lining is an exceptional activity that will give you breathtaking experiences on your safari in Uganda.
Mangabey Trekking: Grey-cheeked mangabey is a rare and unique primate species that is found in Mabira and some other parts in Uganda. Mabira is the only destination in Uganda that offers mangabey trekking and is a home of three habituated grey-cheeked mangabey families that are available for trekking on a daily basis and. Grey-cheeked mangabeys are also called Lophocebus Uganda and they are endemic to Uganda which makes them the most popular attractions in Mabira. Grey-cheeked mangabey trekking in Mabira is a fascinating activity though mangabey can be viewed depending on three facts that is the time of the day you are trekking, the season and the availability of food because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. With the help of the trackers and guide, you shouldn’t be worried about not seeing the grey-cheeked mangabey during trekking and other primates like the red tailed monkeys and various bird species.
Bird watching: Mabira forest is a home of over 315 bird species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Uganda. During birding in the Mabira forest, bird lovers will get an opportunity to view various bird species without evening going deep into the forest. Bird watching in Mabira can be done in the grassland trail which is 3kilometres passing through the fruiting trees which attract bird species. There are different bird species in Mabira including yellow throated tinker bird, blue-headed crested monarch, purple throated cuckoo, black-bellied seed cracker, African pied hornbill, yellow long bill, African shrike flycatcher, blue-throated roller, grey parrot, hairy breasted barbet, Nathans francolin, Cassin’s hawk-eagle, dusky long-tailed cuckoo, African dwarf kingfisher, black and white casqued hornbill, speckled tinker bird, white spotted flufftail among others.
Butterfly identification: Mabira forest is a habitat of about 218 butterfly species and 97 moth species. During butterfly identification in Mabira you will follow different trails in the forest for example trails which lead to flowering plants because the flowers attract many butterflies. Butterfly identification activity in Mabira can be carried with the guide who will help you in identifying the beautiful and colourful butterfly species hence making your safari enjoyable.
Mountain Biking: Mabira forest offers mountain biking activity where the visitors are given an opportunity to ride within Mabira with experienced guides following different forest trails, visiting the local communities around the forest among others. Bikes for the activity can be hired from griffin falls camp or even outside Mabira forest. During mountain biking in Mabira you will have great views of the primates, tree species, plants, bird species among others which gives you memorable and unforgettable experiences on your safari in Uganda.
Best time to visit Mabira Forest
The Forest can be visited anytime throughout the year and the best time to visit is the dry season during the months of June to September and December to February. The dry season is the best time to visit Mabira forest in that there will be less rainfall in the forest which makes nature walks, zip-lining and mountain biking successful because the forest trails will be dry and passable compared to the wet/rainy season when the trails will be muddy and slippery. However, the wet season is an ideal period for bird watching and mangabey trekking in that due to heavy rainfall in the forest there will be plenty of foods like fruits for the grey-cheeked mangabey and birds which makes mangabey trekking easy because the mangabeys will be easily viewed.
Due to the fact that Mabira is a tropical rainforest rain should be expected anytime regardless of the season therefore visitors are advised to carry different safari equipment’s like the waterproof rain jacket, hiking shoes, garden gloves, long sleeved trousers, and shirts, backpack, hat and sunglasses, camera to take photos and binoculars for clear viewing of the bird species.
Accommodation in Mabira Forest
Mabira forest has some accommodation facilities where you can stay during your safari in Uganda such as Griffin Falls Camp, Mabira Rainforest lodge which offers comfortable shelters inform of self-contained twin rooms, Bandas, free internet in public places, quality meals among others. Mabira forest also has a camping ground that caters for 12 tents, campfire, picnic tables where you can enjoy your meals in a calm and peaceful environment.
How to get to Mabira
Mabira forest is located in Buikwe district after Najembe town and it takes 54 kilometers from Kampala city and 20 kilometers from Jinja. When traveling to Mabira forest, you will drive from Kampala via Kampala- Jinja highway which takes about an hour’s drive.