Maramagambo forest is a rain forest located Bushenyi district in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park. Queen Elizabeth national park is the second largest national park is Uganda that is mostly visited by visitors due to its unique wildlife species such as the tree-climbing lions, the big 4 mammals, highest number of bird species and interesting activities that one can engage in while on a safari including the boat cruise on Kazinga channel, lion research tracking, mongoose tracking among others.
The forest is one of the forests in Uganda together with Budongo Forest which is the largest forest located in Murchison falls national park, Mabira forest which is the second-largest forest, Kibale forest among others. The name Maramagambo originates from an ancient tale where a group of people got lost in the forest for a number of days as they were moving within the forest and when they found their way back to the village, they had run out of words because they were worn out and couldn’t speak for long. Maramagambo, therefore, refers to someone who is speechless and can’t speak.
Maramagambo forest is situated in Queen Elizabeth national park and it stretches from Kichwamba escarpment up to Lake Edward. The forest is characterized by canopy tree shades, tall trees, hardwood trees, buttress rooted trees and a home of different wildlife species including primate species such as Chimpanzees, Red tailed monkeys, Vervet monkeys, animals like Elephants, Bush pigs, Giant forest hogs, Pygmy antelopes, African rock pythons, Bats, different bird species like flycatcher among others.
Activities done in Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo forest is a rain forest in Queen Elizabeth national park that is rarely visited by travelers hence the forest has no crowds and once you visit, you will be able to explore all the forest privately with no congestion.
- Bird watching: Maramagambo forest is an ideal tourism attraction for bird watching where visitors on a safari will get an opportunity to view different bird species which include Rwenzori turaco, flycatchers, white-naped pigeon, African green pigeon, black-headed batis, red tailed bristle bill, ross’s turaco, dark capped yellow warbler, Verreaux’s eagle owl, pink backed pelican, martial eagle, black bee-eater, white tailed lark, papyrus gonolek, grey woodpecker, black emerald cuckoo, hairy breasted barbet, African emerald cuckoo, speckled tinker bird, purple-headed starling among others. Bird lovers who visit the Maramagambo forest in Queen Elizabeth national park will have interesting moments on their safari in Uganda.
- Nature walks: The nature walk is an interesting and exciting activity in this forest where visitors move on foot in the rain forest experiencing nature and viewing fauna and biodiversity in the forest. Maramagambo forest is the best destination for nature walks in Uganda in that it offers different trails which visitors can use while in the forest and they include: Forest trail, this is one of the trails that you will follow during the nature walk in Maramagambo forest and is considered the easiest hike which favors the lazy hikers. During this trail, you will be able to view different bird species, butterflies, primates among others. Palm trail, this is another trail in the forest that favors most of the visitors due to flat terrain, during this trail you will be able to view different primate species and tree species such as the frame tree which is believed to increase females libido. River trail, the river trail takes about one hour and passes via River Kajojo where elephants used to shower from hence the name of the River Kajojo which means young elephants. This trail blesses you with various primate and bird views while in the Maramagambo forest. Waterfall trail, this trail is an 11km walk which takes you to Kilyantama waterfall where the name means sheep eater. This trail takes about 5 hours walk through the forest and you will be able to view different plant species which are used by people in the village to make items like baskets, mats, bags among others. Valley trail, the valley trail takes about 2 hours walk over the valley in Maramagambo forest and you will be able to view different bird species, primates, tree species among others.
- Canoeing/kayaking: This is an interesting activity in the Maramagambo forest where visitors ride in a wooden boat on Lake Kyasanduka. During canoeing on Kyasanduka Crater Lake, you will be able to view different bird species, explore the forest, listen to beautiful birds singing in the trees among others which make your safari breath taking.
- Primate viewing: Maramagambo forest in Queen Elizabeth national park is a home of 7 primate species which include Vervet monkeys, L-Hoest monkeys, black and white monkeys, red tailed monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees. Maramagambo forest also harbors nocturnal primates such as Pottos and bush babies which can be viewed during the night forest walk. Maramagambo forest is a home of the highest population of chimpanzees though they are not yet habituated like the ones in Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu forest, Budongo forest and Kibale forest. Therefore the chimpanzees in the Maramagambo forest are not open for chimpanzee trekking but can be seen during nature walks in the forest.
- Visiting Bat caves: Maramagambo forest bat caves are popularly visited by most visitors in Uganda though visitors are prohibited from going near the caves due to an incident in 2008 where a female visitor contracted Marburg virus after visiting the caves. The caves are safe for visiting and there is a viewing point outside the caves where you will get an opportunity to view thousands of bats. While at the caves you will also be able to see the African rock python which feeds on the bats as food.
How to get to Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo forest is situated in Queen Elizabeth national park in western Uganda and can be accessed by both air and road transport
- Air transport: When traveling to Naramagambo forest you can book for a scheduled or chartered flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Mweya airstrip in Queen Elizabeth national park and then connect by road to Maramagambo forest which is about 18kilometres.
- Road transport: You will drive in a 4WD tour vehicle in case you booked your safari via a tour company from Kampala city via Mbarara, Bushenyi and then to Maramagambo forest which takes about 6 to 7 hours’ drive on a tarmac road. You can also use another route from Kampala via Mubende, Fort Portal, Bushenyi and then Maramagambo forest.
When to visit Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo forest can be visited any time throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February. During these months the forest receives less rainfall hence the trails are always dry and passable which favors various activities like natural walks and primate viewing compared to the wet season in the months of March to May and October to November when there is heavy rainfall in the forest which makes the hiking trails muddy and slippery hence making hiking difficult. However the wet season is the best time for bird viewing because there will be plenty of fruits and food for the birds hence attracting a lot of birds including the migratory birds, therefore, bird lovers are advised to travel during the wet season for a successful bird watching the activity.
Maramagambo forest is shouldn’t be missed during your safari in Queen Elizabeth national park because it offers exciting activities like nature walks, primate viewing, visiting the bats among others which make your safari in Uganda unforgettable.