A huge and beautiful forest with an extensive visitors trail network. There are 10 forest trails catering for people of all time schedules and abilities. Both guided and unguided trails are available. The Mabira Forest project was established with help from the European Union. If you are not rushing to the west of Uganda or needing to get to Kampala in a hurry then Mabira Forest is a pleasant backwater and stop over to consider.
Mabira Forest straggles the main Jinja to Kampala highway; it is 54 km from Kampala and 20 km from Jinja. The forest center is on the edge of Najjembe village approximately 500m north of the main road. Coming from Kampala it is signposted to your left just before you reach the roadside market at Najjembe.
A short walk or drive down this marrum road will bring you to the forest center where parking is available and the Visitors center.
The site is readily accessed by public transport. From Kampala take a taxi from the old taxi park heading towards Jinja and get off at Najjembe market. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and costs Ushs1,500-. From Jinja take a taxi from the taxi park heading towards Lugazi or Kampala get off just pass Najjembe market, the forest center is on the road to your right. The journey takes approximately half an hour and costs Ushs1,500.
Mabira Forest Lodge: Tel. (0)41 4258273, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The 24 bed Rain Forest Lodge opened in 2007 and is operated by GeoLodges Uganda in association with their other establishments of Jacana Lodge (QE), Nile Safari Camp (Murchison) and Silverback Lodge (Bwindi). Access to the lodge is on the opposite side of the road to the access to the Ecotourism Centre.
Each of the 15 luxurious and spacious cottages is idyllically nestled in it’s own swathe of primary forest. A huge restaurant and visitors reception affords visitors a wonderful venue in which to experience the majesty of the forest. There is a gymnasimum and two swimming pools one solely for the use of residents and the other open to day visitors.
By virtue of it’s location Rain Forest Lodge has become very popular for weekend visitors from both Kampala and Jinja.
Rack Rates 2012:
Twin Share( per person per night)/Single( per night)
Fullboard: US$180- / US$220-
Birding with resident guide along a forest trail
Mabira Forest Ecotourism Centre. P.O. Box 142 Lugazi. Tel 0712 487173, 0712 955671, 0712 920515
Entrance Fees 2012:
Foreign Resident: Ushs20,000-, Non Resident: Ushs17,000-, Ugandan citizen Ushs5,000-
Children are half price and the under 6’s free.
Entry Permit includes guide service if required.
Bandas: The banda’s have been refurbished, each unit has an outside washing area and toilet. See additional information below.
Single: Ushs15,000-, Double: Ushs20,000-, Quadruple: Ushs25,000-
The visitor center
Discover more about Mabira with a visit to the forest interpretation center. Find out about the rare and wonderful creatures that inhabit the forest, learn about the importance of the trees and plants and find out what we can all do to help conserve our forest resources.
On sale at the visitor center are craft items made by local groups, postcards, tourist maps, bird books and souvenier Mabira Forest T- shirts.
Picnic site and viewing platform
Enjoy a soda, snack or picnic in the tranquil picnic site surrounding the visitor center. Flowering trees and good views into the forest make it an excellent place for watching exotic sun birds and playful red tailed monkeys. The raised viewing platform elevates you into the forest canopy where you can relax in shady comfort.
The forest center has three traditional styled African Banda’s offering visitors private and comfortable accomodation set in beautiful forest glades. Each Banda has it’s own balcony with views into the forest, a perfect spot to relax after a forest walk.
There are two double Banda’s and one family Banda sleeping 6 people. Each Banda has its own latrine and bathing facilities.
Water and firewood can be provided for self catering visitors or meals can be arranged in advance with the caretaker.
The campsite is set in a idyllic forest glade. It can cater for up to 12 tents. A camp fire area and picnic tables make it ideal for self catering groups. A spacious thatched camp shelter adjacent to the campsite offers additional comfort to campers. The campsite has its own latrine and bathing facilties.
The Forest Trails
An excellent trail system allows visitors easy access to both undisturbed primary forest or good secondary forest. The trails have been designed to suit all ages and abilities.
Leading from the picnic site this short 15 – 20 minute self guided trail journeys into the forest meandering through regenerating forest along the valley of one of Mabira’s many forest streams.
It is ideal for children and visitors on a tight time schedule.
Keen bird watchers will enjoy the Grassland Trail loop which offers good views into the broken canopy which, together with an abundance of fruiting trees, make sightings of large numbers of forest birds a real possibility.
It is a 3km trail which can take anywhere between 1 and 3 hours depending on bird sightings. It is well waymarked so visitors can walk alone or with a guide who will help interpretate the sights and sounds of the forest. The trail travels through regenerating secondary forest flanking the sides of the Najjembe stream valley. It is possible to link with other trails to extend your walk.
The Radio Hill Trial Network
For visitors wanting a more ‘jungle like’ experience and views over the forest canopy a number of trail circuits link to Radio Hill where a steep climb is rewarded by panoramic view north over the forest reserve.
The Primary forest trails are across the main road from the forest center. Visitors enter a cool tropical shadowdy environment characterised by gurgling forest streams, giant tree trunks , twisted stems of strangler figs and the chattering of tribes of monkeys high above in the forest canopy.
This is intact tropical forest and rich in plant and animal life. Visitors will enjoy walking in this cool environment and wonder at the amazing natural formations in this artists paradise.
All walks in the primary forest must be lead by a trained guide. They will chose a trial to suit your time schedule and fitness level. All walks are on looped circuits with resting points.
The Market Loop
This trail links two impressive fig trees and is a common area for monkeys which feed on the fruit. You may meet Red Tailed monkeys or Black and Grey Cheeked Manabeys which often raid people’s gardens on the forest boundaries. The market loop takes approximately one hour from the Forest Center.
The River Mabugwe Loop
This trail leads through intact rainforest along the path of the River Mabugwe which is one of the permanent rivers in Mabira Forest. A huge strangler fig is a prominent feature on the trail and the trail opens up in places to provide excellent sites for butterfly and bird viewing. This trail takes approximately 2 hours from the forest center.
Gangu Ridge Trail
This is the longest trail and leads into shaded thick forest far away from the main highway. It takes approximately 3 to 4 hours and involves a trek through primary forest across three valleys including the Gangu valley. The trail has two resting points from which you can view birds, forest primates or you may spot signs of the elusive bush pig. This trail links to the Butterfly loop and Radio Hill Circuit.
The Fig Junction Trail
Another trail through thick primary forest. The main feature of this trail is an impressive fig tree junction which provides an excellent bird watching area. Watch out for the Black Billed Turaco, Yellow Billed Barbet or Dusky Long Tailed Cuckoo. This trail takes approximately 2 to 3 hours from the forest center.
Radio Hill Loop Circuit
A trip straight to the viewpoint at the top the radio tower on Radio Hill will take approximately 45 minutes. It is well worth the climb to witness a marvellous panoramic view over the forest, from here you can start to appreciate the sheer scale of the forest which is the largest in Central Uganda.
Butterfly Viewing Trail
This trail is much more open and sunny. It is characterised by many flowering plants such as Lantana Camara, whose pink and yellow flowers attract clouds of butterflies. Birds such as White Throated Bee Eaters and Pied Kingfishers enjoy this forest edge environment. This trail takes approximately 2 hours from the forest center.
Macaranga Loop Trail
This trail is characterised by the Macaranga species of trees with their amazing thorny stems. Discover how these trees protect themselves against forest predators. This trail takes approximately 1½ hours from the forest center.
Top afternoon birding spot in Mabira Forest. White Spotted Flufftail, Sooty Boubou, Shinning Blue Kingfisher, and Jamesons Wattle Eye can potentially be spotted here. Take a guide from the interpretation centre.
From the visitor center visitors with their own mountain bikes can follow a specially designed cycling circuit which offers a challenging trail to the top of Namusa Hill for experienced cyclists and an alternative route along the Wagala ridge pylon clearing for less experienced cyclists.
The trail follows a quiet forest road for 8km into the heart of the forest, at Ssese village visitors can chose to follow the 5 km loop up to Namusa Hill or turn left to follow the pylon clearing. The two trails meet and continue towards Lugazi. The more adventurous may like to search for the Griffin WaterFalls, simply ask directions at the houses half way up the hill when you have crossed a bridge over the river.
The trial eventually leads out of the forest into Lugazi passing through the tea and sugar cane plantations which surround the forest.
Mountain bike rental – Ushs30,000- per bike
Back up the track from the Visitors Centre on the main Jinja-Kampala Rd at Najjembe market you can buy fruit and the most amazing grilled chicken on sticks from hawkers identified by their blue overcoats.