Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the largest and most diverse central forest reserves in East Africa. It is a natural forest that carries a Uganda landscape similar to the Congo basin. The Congo basin has some of the largest whole tropical rainforests on the earth!
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) both manage Maramagambo Forest and create the best Uganda safari through it.
This forest is one of the top five forests in Uganda that ranks consistently for biodiversity conservation. The other four are Echuya Forest Reserve, Budongo Forest Reserve, Bugoma Forest Reserve, and Kasyoha-Kitomi Forest Reserve.
The National Forestry Authority previously discovered in a survey about 12 species that are not in any other place in Uganda. These included nine (9) butterflies, two (2) trees, and one (1) small mammal.
They also discovered in this forest ten (10) species that were endemic to the Albertine Rift. These were four (4) trees, four (4) butterflies, and three (3) birds. This shows how the forest is indeed a biodiversity conservation unit, promoting unforgettable safaris to Uganda.
Tree types in Maramagambo Forest are primarily the medium altitude moist Parinari and Cynometra-Celtis trees. South of Maramagambo Forest is dominant with Acacia trees and Albizia species. There are also grasses like Imperata, Cymbopogon (lemon grass), Hyparrhenia, and Beckeropsis.
Unfortunately, the largest part of Maramagambo Forest is inaccessible to wildlife safaris. The only exception is the Northern tip around the crater Lakes Kyasanduka and Nyamasingiri. Visitors can explore this section on the trails between these two forested craters, also exploring the flamingoes that visit its shores.
Similarly, these forested shores of Lake Nyamasingiri and Kyasanduka host rare Uganda bird species like the
- Scaly-Breasted Illadopsis
- Snowy-Headed Robin Chart
- African Finfoot
The forest in itself is home to various forest bird species that favor birding in Uganda for example the
- Rwenzori Turaco
- Forest Greenbuls
- White Napped Pigeon
- Forest Flycatchers
However, Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is not only a Uganda birding safari destination. It also harbors many Uganda animals including about 300 wild chimps, which kindle wildlife safaris in Uganda.
The forest is particularly famous for its ‘Bat Cave’ with a special viewing room from where visitors observe the millions of bats. The bat cave is also called the python cave because of the rock pythons that live alongside the bats, preying on them.
About 300 meters from the cave, is the Blue Lake which sits at the bottom of a small deep volcanic crater. It owes its coloration to the high levels of copper in its water.
Maramagambo Forest has one lodge, but many midrange lodges and campsites within the neighboring Kichwamba Escarpment.
Generally, the hidden jewels in the Maramagambo Forest are a continuous discovery, and so is every visit! As you safari Uganda in Queen Elizabeth National Park, discover the riches of this diverse destination to appreciate Uganda’s nature with us!
What you must know about the name “Maramagambo” Forest
The name “Maramagambo” derives from a local phrase meaning “the end of words”. Being vast, local folklore tells about a group of young people who got lost in the forest many years ago.
Consequently, they took many days to trace their path back to the village from where they had come. On returning, they were dumb hence the word “Maramagambo” meaning “the end of words”.
Where Is Maramagambo Located? | Which District Is Maramagambo Forest?
Maramagambo Forest is in Bushenyi District, South Western Uganda.
This medium-altitude rainforest, with an average of 1,380 meters above sea level is in the South Eastern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It runs west from the Katunguru−Ishaka road, and the Kichwamba Escarpment, to nearly as far as the shores of Lake Edward.
The forest lies along geographic coordinates, 0.3575° S, 29.9278° E and covers an area of 750km2. 60% of this area lies in the Queen Elizabeth park boundaries while 40% is shared between Kalinzu Forest Reserve and Kigezi Wildlife Reserve around the park.
Attractions In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park protects a large biodiversity. Hence a recommended destination for your Uganda tour. The various things to see in Maramagambo Forest include
- The “Bat Cave” | “Python Cave”
- Wild Animals
- Kalinzu Forest adjacent to Maramagambo Forest
- Tree species
- Butterfly species
Maramagambo Forest Python Cave Uganda | The Bat Cave In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest is famous for the Python cave or Bat cave which harbors millions of Bats and many Pythons. The Pythons live in the crevices of the cave floors, to prey on the bats.
The Python cave was closed from tourism in 2008 following a tourist from the Netherlands contracting the Marburg virus disease. It is assumed that the disease spread through the Egyptian Fruit Bat.
However, the park collaborated with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to construct a viewing platform from where tourists can safely see the bats. This has in turn contributed to unique safari activities like bat viewing.
The beautiful Blue Lake also known as Lake Kamilanjovu, just 300 meters away from the bat cave adds icing to the cake of this captivating cave. Lake Kamilanjovu means “the lake that swallows Elephants”. It got its name from a tale of the Elephant that local hunters were once pursuing. It fell into the crater and could not escape them.
There is yet a humble knowledge of the distribution of bats in Uganda as of the time of writing. However, the examples of the bat species below were recorded in the Western region of Uganda, including the Bat cave locale in Maramagambo Forest.
- Woermann’s Bat (Megaloglossus Woermanni)
- Straw-colored Fruit Bat (Eidoion Helvum)
- East African Epauletted Fruit Bat (Epomophorus Minimus)
- Franquet’s Epauletted Fruit Bat (Epomops Franqueti)
- Hammer-Headed Bat (Hypsignathus Monstrosus)
- Peters’s Dwarf Epauletted Fruit Bat (Micropteropus Pusillus)
- Little Collared Fruit Bat (Myonycteris Torquata)
- Egyptian Fruit Bat Or Egyptian Rousette (Rousettus Aegyptiacus)
- Angolan Rousette (Rousettus Angolensis)
- Long-Haired Rousette (Rousettus Lanosus)
- The Long-Haired Fruit Bat (Stenonycteris Lanosus)
- Bate’s Slit-Faced Bat (Nycteris Arge)
- Noack’s Roundleaf Bat (Hipposideros Ruber)
- Hildebrandt’s Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus Hildebrandtii)
- Welwitsch’s Bat or Welwitsch’s Mouse-Eared Bat or Welwitsch’s Myotis (Myotis Welwitschii)
- Aellen’s Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus Inexpectatus)
- Kuhl’s Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus Kuhlii)
- Banana Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus Nanus)
- Yellow-Winged Bat (Lavia Frons)
- Little Free-Tailed Bat (Chaerephon Pumilus)
Knowing that the bat cave is safe and up for Queen Elizabeth safari, it is a place you should visit. Get to see the colony of these only flying mammals in your Uganda tours and safaris!
Birds In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a rich birding spot for forest birds. There are over 190 bird species for your Uganda bird-watching tours in this forest. Birders who are passionate about Uganda wildlife, however, discover more species regularly.
Major Birds to see in Maramagambo Forest include
- Marsh Tchagra
- Red-chested Cuckoo
- Black Cuckoo
- African Emerald Cuckoo
- Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike
- Black Coucal
- Little Grebe
- African Finfoot
- Black Bishop
- Blue-breasted Kingfisher
- Black Bee-eater
- Blue-throated Roller
- Red-throated Wryneck
- Brown-eared Woodpecker
- Honeyguide Greenbul
- Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat
- Green Crombec
- Western Black-headed Oriole
- White-breasted Negrofinch
- Broad-tailed Warbler
- African Moustached Warbler
- Dark-capped Warbler
- Croaking Cisticola
- Black-headed Batis
- Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher
- Chestnut Wattle-eye
- African Paradise Flycatcher
- Brown Illadopsis
- Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike
Wild Animals Of Uganda In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest also has a large variety of animals from Uganda, particularly primates and herbivores. Some Carnivores are present while hunting for prey.
However, there are more primates in the forest including a population of more than 300 wild chimpanzees.
Below are the common animals in Uganda’s Maramagambo Forest;
- Black-and-White Colobus Monkey
- L’hoest’s Monkey
- Red-Tailed Monkey
- Vervet Monkey
- Olive Baboon
- Blue Monkey
- Vervet Monkey
- Bush Baby/Galago
Besides primates, the Maramagambo Forest is home to several other wildlife in Uganda including
- Bates’s Pygmy Antelope
- Giant Forest Hogs
- Yellow Backed Duiker
- Giant Elephant Shrew
- African Bush Elephants
- Rock Pythons
All these make part of your top Uganda wildlife safaris, hence creating unforgettable memories.
Kalinzu Forest Near Maramagambo Forest In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kalinzu Forest adjacent to Maramagambo Forest institutes a large number of habituated Chimpanzees. Over 70 Chimps living in two groups, were habituated by Japanese researchers out of the over 300 Chimps of the forest.
The 147 km2 forest is presently the most famous Uganda Chimpanzee trekking destination around Queen Elizabeth National Park! This is mostly because of its many habituated chimps and easy accessibility from Kampala.
More so, according to the National Forestry Authority, the forest boasts of over 6 primate species, 378 bird species, 414 tree species, 262 Butterflies, and 97 Moths! It is one destination offering the best safari in Uganda.
You can see the habituated Chimpanzees in the Kalinzu Forest Reserve which was originally the Maramagambo extension. The primates are also present for trekking in the neighboring Kyambura Gorge.
Vegetation (Plant Species) In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest has beautiful tree species comprising tall trees, canopy tree shades, soft and hardwood trees, and buttress-rooted trees. There are also several unidentified species of Uganda Vegetation in the Maramagambo Forest.
These trees are the common ones to see in the forest
- Funtumia Africana
- Strombosia Scheffleri
- Craterispermum Laurinum
- Dtypetes Spp
- Cassipourea Spp
- Celtis Durandii
- Xymalos Monospora
- Markhamia Platycalyx
- Oxyanthus Speciosus
- Beischmiedia Ugandensis
- Pleiocarpa Pycnantha
- Chionantthus Mildbraedii
- Diospyros Spp
- Dictyandra Arborescnes
- Rinorea Ilicifolia
- Parinari Excelsa
- Carapa Grandiflora
- Tabernaemontana Odoratissima
- Trichilia Rubescens
- Sapium Ellipticum
- Trema Orientalis
- Ficus Spp
- Uvariopsis Congensis
- Musanga Leo-Errerae
- Trichoscypha Submontana
- Trichilia Volkensii
- Teclea Nobilis
- Myrianthus Holstii
- Macaranga Schweinfurthii
- Syzygium Spp
- Pseudospondias Microcarpa Sp
- Erythrococca Trichogyne
Butterflies In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the few places that support the occasional Butterfly safaris in Uganda. The forest has over 227 Butterfly species that you can see during a nature walk or primate trekking in the forest.
As the saying goes “Butterflies come to pretty flowers”; you can see these beautiful multicolored creations on the flowering tree species. Even though at a low level, these butterflies are among the reasons tourists come for Queen Elizabeth National Park safaris.
There are many Butterfly species in the Maramagambo Forest including the
- Bicyclus anynana
- Bicyclus Mesogena
- Bicyclus Safitza
Other top destinations to do a Uganda Butterfly safari include
- Kibale Forest National Park
- Semuliki National Park
- Budongo Forest
Activities In Maramagambo Forest
Some of the most exciting activities to do in Maramagambo Forest as you safari Queen Elizabeth National Park are;
- Nature walks
- Mammal viewing
Nature Walks (Forest Walks) In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest is a serene place to enjoy nature as its inhabitants do. With only the voices of the wild, there is a lot to experience about the wildlife in Uganda Africa, in such an unusual environment.
The different trails that pass through the forest create this beautiful experience and they include
- Palm Trail
- Waterfall Trail
- River Trail
- Valley Trail
The Palm Trail
Visitors love the palm trail because it is moderately flat and easy to pass through! Its approximate 5 kilometers walk takes about two hours along different captivating tree species. An example is the frame tree that locals believe gives women a higher libido. There are also the Raphia Palms that women use to weave mats.
The Waterfall Trail
This is quite a long trail of 4 to 5 hours on an 11-kilometer distance through wet terrain to the hilly parts of Maramagambo Forest. It goes through a valley that leads you to Kilyantama Falls.
The River Trail
With the river trail, the estimated 1-hour walk on a 2.5 km distance seems like a very short experience because of the wonders along the trail.
The river trail passes near River Kajojo which offers the scenic view of Elephants bathing by its shores. Passing by the different plant species, you will meet different primates playing on them.
The Valley Trail
The valley trail passes through forest-filled ridges within valleys and has species like the Viagra tree. A nature walk on this trail is 3 and a half kilometers for about 3 hours.
All these trails provide a unique Uganda wildlife tour in Maramagambo Forest, as they give you distinctive sceneries.
Birding In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is also an exciting place for your birding tours in Uganda. It hosts many common and rare forest bird species.
These birds will give you the thrill of hearing them chirp through the forest. With your binoculars, you can view them clearly and even take their photo using your best birding camera.
Mammal Viewing In Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest gives a lot when it comes to mammal viewing. The bats alone are a perfect sight to behold in the Bat cave.
Primates also give an exhilarating experience during your wildlife tours in Uganda, as you watch them play and swing through the trees. There are both diurnal and nocturnal primates in the forest, but the easier ones to spot are the diurnal primates.
More so, you can also see Elephants bathing by River Kajojo when you take the river trail on a nature walk.
Other exciting activities to do in Maramagambo Forest include
- Conservation Education
- Butterfly Identification
Things You Must Know And Have Before Going To Maramagambo Forest In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Going to Maramagambo Forest comes with a few things to know and carry to make your journey memorable and every experience enjoyable.
Among the things you should carry;
Do not forget your camera; this makes a big difference in creating tangible memories for every step of your journey. Take photos of the attractions that you encounter with your best camera.
Carry a pair of binoculars; you can view some birds and animals clearly with the help of your binoculars. This is because some Uganda wildlife animals may be a bit far for physical eyes to reach.
You can have a guidebook that contains Uganda animals list. It will help you to identify birds or animals that you see. When you notice an animal or bird, you can notify your guide for confirmation.
A notebook will enable you to record all that you have learned or experienced in your Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda safari to the Maramagambo Forest.
Have an insect repellant; this will help to keep the uncomfortable forest insects away from disturbing or biting you.
Also, carry sunscreen lotion, a hat, and sunglasses; these protect you from the sun rays that may burn and damage your skin.
Pack a poncho or a rain jacket, just in case it rains.
Do not forget a bag to safely keep all your belongings.
How to dress as you go to Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo is a forest with different Queen Elizabeth National Park wildlife. And so, it is important to stay conscious of how to dress while you tour the place.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers; this will help to protect your skin from being hurt by the vegetation. Also, it will be hard for insects to penetrate your clothes.
Have firm trekking shoes for easy movement; this is because Maramagambo Forest is a place for nature walks and hikes. You will definitely need comfortable shoes that are suitable for hiking.
Human Threats Faced By The Maramagambo Forest In Queen Elizabeth Park
Maramagambo, unlike a few other forests in Uganda, is legally protected from adverse human activity. However, while conservationists work hard to preserve this forest, it sometimes faces threats from humans. This can be justified because the park is a Man and Biosphere Reserve. This means that there are also human settlements within the park.
Some of these threats are
- Illegal harvesting of Timber
- Burning Charcoal
- Hunting for Bush Meat
- Encroachment for Agricultural land and land for settlement
Encroachment for Agricultural land and settlement land
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a Man and Biosphere Reserve. With people staying within its locale, part of the conservation is used by the locals through agriculture hence causing a threat to Maramagambo Forest.
For example, the chimpanzees of the Kyambura Gorge are trapped in the Kyambura vicinity owing to deforestation of the past 15 years in pursuit of settlement. This consequently destroyed the biodiversity corridor along the Albertine Rift Escarpment causing migration failure among chimps.
Illegal Harvesting of Timber
Timber harvesting is legal in the neighboring Kalinzu Forest, but not in Maramagambo Forest. If locals are not taught to manage the activity, it may spread and put Maramagambo Forest in jeopardy of the same; seeing that it has prized timber species like the mahoganies Khaya and Entandrophragma.
Moreso some harvesters use pit saws instead of sawmills which may cause a high possibility of accidents among them.
Today, burning charcoal is illegal in tropical high forests including Maramagambo Forest. But the fact that residents burn it in neighboring Kalinzu and the Katshoya-Kitoma Forests poses an understated threat to Maramagambo Forest.
Hunting for Bushmeat
Even though hunting in Maramagambo Forest is illegal, there were times when authorities discovered signs of snares and pitfall traps laid by humans to trap animals.
This shows how hunters hunt with nets and dogs, causing a big threat to the animals in Maramagambo Forest. The danger with this is that even other species, not meant to be trapped can get hurt.
Conservation Strategies In The Maramagambo Forest
Encroachment; is managed by reinforcing laws and sensitization on living in the demarcated areas around the park.
Illegal Timber/Bamboo Harvesting; Locals have been involved in forest management by the conservationists educating them.
Burning Charcoal; in neighboring forests, locals are encouraged to practice reafforestation.
Bushmeat hunting; locals are educated while enforcing the laws to help keep the animals.
Importance Of The Maramagambo Forest In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Above, we see how Maramagambo contributes to safaris to Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda. However, there is more to this natural forest as seen below;
Maramagambo Forest together with the Kalinzu Forest creates a forest migration and movement corridor for wild animals.
This corridor links with Katshoya-Kitoma Forest Reserve and has a width of about 3 km. Animals like Duikers, Serval Cats, Genets, Wild Pigs, and others connect to other places using this corridor. These animals move to look for food in different seasons.
However, human activity has left the corridor as grassland, hence making it hard for animals like Chimps to migrate. Additionally, this corridor has ridges, making it hard for Elephants to move through it.
Biodiversity and conservation value of Maramagambo Forest.
Maramagambo Forest is a steward of various species like animals, birds, trees, butterflies, and moths. By preserving these biodiversities and ecosystems, the forest preserves nature.
Income generation through ecotourism
Queen Elizabeth National Park through Maramagambo Forest has collected revenue to help in the conservation of the wildlife of Uganda.
The income generated is also used to conserve their habitat, train more skilled professionals in the tourism sector, and pay workers.
Medicinal values of some plants in Maramaambo Forest
Maramagambo Forest is also a source of local herbs and medicine for the locals in Queen Elizabeth National Park. For example, women believe that the frame tree in the forest can increase their sexual urges.
Best Time And Period To Visit Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo forest gives the best experience in the dry season of June to September and December to February.
The nature walk trails in this season are dry and make nature walks generally enjoyable.
How To Get To Maramagambo Forest
A flight from Entebbe to Kasese airport is about one hour. From here, your guide will pick you up and guide you on your tour to Maramagambo Forest.
A journey using the Kampala-Mubende, Mubende-FortPortal, and FortPortal-Kasese roads takes about 7 hours for about 400km.
Accommodation/Lodges Around Maramagambo Forest In Queen’s Park
Jacana Safari Lodge; is almost the only place to stay while at Maramagambo Forest as the forest surrounds it. Strategic near Lake Nyamasingiri, the lodge offers boat trips to this lake.
Its surrounding floods with many forest birds, monkeys, and distant chimp calls.
Maramagambo Campsite; you can do Maramagambo Forest Camping at this campsite. It is close to Lake Kyasanduka, though the lake is not visible from the lodge. The place has beautiful bird and monkey life.
However, they have limited facilities even though you can eat at a price from Jacana Safari Lodge just 1km away.
Kalinzu Eco-Tourism Project; only has a campsite for those who would like to stay for a night. There is no restaurant in the place, therefore, campers ought to provide for themselves.
Maramagambo Forest is a careful protector of its abundant biodiversity. The trails through the woods give a magnificent Uganda scenery of the life in this forest. In your safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will realize how this forest gives an epic wild Uganda experience. Plan your travel with us to this amazing natural forest!