Bugungu Wildlife Reserve
Bugungu wildlife reserve is a small protected eco-system situated in the north-western part of the country between Bulisa and Masindi districts, covering an area of 501 square kilometers above sea level. It is part of the great Murchison falls conservation area which also includes the Karuma wildlife reserve and the mighty Murchison Falls National Park; which is Uganda’s largest and most visited national park. Bugungu wildlife reserve was gazetted as a wildlife reserve in the year 1968 purposely to protect and conserve the ecological system within the area. It lies at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and protects the savannah grasslands and seasonal wetlands to the western side of the enormous Murchison Falls National Park which are habited by both mammal and bird species.
The reserve boasts with various wildlife and is one of the best places to go for game drives in the country; tourists will come across a number of mammal species such as lions, leopard, hippopotamus, bush buck, sitatunga antelopes, dick-dick, over 600 Uganda kobs, about 1200 oribis, elephants, Jackson’s hartebeests, herds of buffalos, topis, warthogs plus primates such as the chimpanzees, red tailed monkey, vervet monkey, blue monkey, black and white colobus, olive baboon, patas monkey, L’Hoest monkey and many more.
Besides that, the reserve is a home to over 240 bird species like the giant kingfishers, swamp flycatcher, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black headed gonolek, rare shoebill stork, black-billed barbets, eastern grey plantain-eater, the speckle-breasted woodpecker, black-headed batis, white browed sparrow weaver, dark chanting goshawk, black-bellied bustards, black-billed wood dove, double toothed barbet, saddle-billed stork, dark chanting goshawk to mention but a few. Tourists can also engage in visiting the local communities living within the reserve and learn about people’s ways of living and also get entertained with traditional dances as well as acquire hand-made souvenirs to take back home for remembrance.
Activities carried out in the reserve
Game drives in this reserve are conducted by an experienced guide who has knowledge of most wildlife species you might encounter on a drive through different tracks running through savannah plains of the reserve such as herds of elephants, buffaloes, Uganda kobs, water bucks, lions, leopards, oribis, sitatunga antelopes, Rothschild’s giraffes, topis, dik-dik and more.
As noted above, Bugungu wildlife reserve is a home to over 240 bird species and a birder’s paradise to the bird lovers. This activity gives tourists an opportunity to spot a number of birds both residents and migratory which include; the saddle billed stork, giant kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, pied kingfisher, grey plantain eater, yellow throated greenbul, black headed gonolek, papyrus canary, shoebill stork, among others. Don’t forget to carry your binoculars, cameras for clear pictures and videos to take back home for memories.
Guided nature walks
Bugungu wildlife reserve is gifted with scenic landscapes that are dominated by savannah grasslands which support amazing guided nature walk safaris. They are conducted by a knowledgeable guide and as you walk through the reserve, you will spot many animals such as water bucks, Oryx, warthog, elephants, Rothschild’s giraffe, Uganda kobs, sitatunga antelopes and birds like, the saddle billed stork, kingfishers, double-toothed barbet, black bellied bustards, black and white casqued hornbill, African grey parrots and many more. During this activity, you will also come across different primates such as the red tailed monkey, black and white colobus, vervet monkey, blue monkey, patas monkey and so many others.
This is a perfect way to meet local communities by the help of the guide. Tourists can engage in visiting the local communities living around the reserve to learn more about their ways of living, historical backgrounds, main occupations and also feel free to participate in some activities like their dances, farming and fishing practices etc.
Best time to visit
Bugungu wildlife reserve is an all year destination but perfect satisfaction and memorable experience is achieved if the activity is conducted in the dry seasons in the months of June to September and December to February. The rainy season from February to May and October to November is always avoided because the poor roads leading to the reserve tend to be slippery and muddy. This is the main reason why tourists are advised to use a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle that can maneuver through the slippery roads.
How to get there
Bugungu wildlife reserve can be accessed by both road and air transport; by road transport, the reserve can be accessed using the Kampala-Masindi route which is approximately 313 kilometers and the Kampala–Hoima route which is approximately 293 kilometers. By air transport, domestic flights are offered at Kajjansi airstrip and Entebbe International Airport which will fly you to Bugungu airstrip.