Mabira Forest Reserve
This forest reserve is one of the last untouched tropical rain forests in Africa. The forest is recorded to stretch for more than 300sq kilometers on Kampala Jinja Highway. It sits on a stretch of valleys, hills and some parts are fringed by papyrus swamps and savannah on the shore of Lake Victoria.
This reserve is filled with more than 300 endemic plants and species that are only sighted in the Coing-Guinea forests such as the Francolinus nahani, Phyllanthus atripennis, Macrosphenus concolor, Caprimulgus nigriscapularis, and Trochocercus niten among many others. Some of the species in the forest are used as traditional medicinal herbs thus stressing the importance of this forest to the livelihood of the surrounding villages.
The forest offers an important bio-sphere system for Lake Victoria with water catchment for lakes (Kyoga), rivers and falls like R.Nile, Musanya and Sezibwa falls
Although the forest is highly endangered by human activities such as deforestation and charcoal burning, it remains a very lush eco-system with several species of animals and birds.
There are 9 endangered species of mammals in Mabira not found anywhere else in Uganda and they include the short tailed fruit bat, Mangabey, baboon, colobus monkeys, butterflies and several birds. Statistics has that the forest has 218 species of butterflies, 23 mammals including primates and 95 moth species. Some of the birds in Mabira forest reserve include red headed blue bill, black, bellied seed cracker,cassin hawk eagle, purple throated cuckoo, forest wood hoope and tit hylia, to mention a few.
Mabira is located on the Kampala Jinja Highway, some 54km from Kampala the capital and 21km from Jinja town on the shores of Lake Victoria. It takes just a one-hour drive from Kampala to reach the lush forest in the district of Buikwe, after a town called Najjembe.
The forest reserve is particularly good for hiking, forest walks and mountain biking. There is a network of well maintained forest walks through the forest carefully built to protect the forest vegetation and a few other sites used for picnics
There is comfortable accommodation in the forest with some few lodges and cottages built to match the serenity of the forest reserve. The Rain Forest Eco-Lodge has 7 double rooms and five twin suite with furniture, private balconies with view of the forest, swimming pool, health spa, restaurant and a well stocked bar. The ambiance at the forest lodges is great for a weekend gateway.
A public campsite is available for outdoor camping and educational tours with 12 tents and water
Author: Sandra Nans