Maramagambo forest is located in Bushenyi in Southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park and stretches all the way to Lake Edward. The forest is also bordered by two crater lakes namely; Lake Kyasanduka and Lake Nyamasingiri. The forest is jointly managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and National Forest Authority (NFA) to ensure safety and protection from illegal activities like deforestation. The name Maramagambo is believed to have originated from the traditions of the region following an incident that involved two boys who had their way into the forest and got lost for a couple of days. This incident shocked the community members because the boys returned dumb henceforth, naming it Maramagambo.
How to get there
There are about three ways of getting to Maramagambo forest; the shortest route is from Kampala through Mbarara and then Bushenyi route and this takes about 6 hours. Alternatively, one can use Kampala, Mbarara Fortportal and then Bushenyi. There is also an airstrip at Mweya peninsular in Queen Elizabeth National Park that is only for chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport or from Kajansi airstrip
Best time to visit
The forest is open to tourists the whole year but the most favorable time is between December and February and June to October because in the former, it is dry season while in the latter, there is little rain in the area. Between June and September is the ideal time for spotting most of the primates. Other months of the year are rainy and the roads can be impassable.
Possible activities while in the forest include the following;
There are more than a million bats in the forest because of the existence of caves that act as habitat for these bats. Safe viewing points were constructed by the government of Uganda with support from American Center of Disease Control following contraction of Marburg from the caves. The tourists can now enjoy bat watching without being at risk of contracting diseases. You will also enjoy viewing forest birds that are resident within the forest.
The forest has about 7 primates that include the red tailed monkey, olive baboon, Blue monkeys, chimpanzees and the nocturnal primate like pattos and bush babies that can be easily spotted at night while taking nature walks. The chimps that are in the forest are not well habituated and sighting them is not clear since they will be moving a lot
It is believed that Maramagambo is one of the best places to enjoy nature walks in Uganda because there is no congestion. The walk can take almost half a day while in the jungle. This means that tourists should pack their own food and plenty of water to refresh them once they are exhausted. Nature walks in Maramagambo can be possible through following a number of trails that include forest trail which is good for those who cannot climb hills, palm trail which is famous for frame trees whose leaves are considered to boost female libido, river trail goes up to River Kajojo, valley trail and waterfall trail that leads you to breathtaking Kilyantama waterfalls. While embarking on the nature walks, there is a possibility of viewing several bird species and primate species. Another importance of nature walk in this case is the opportunity to take a glance at the beautiful crate lakes of Lake Kyasanduka and Lake Nyamasingiri. You can organize a nature walk with Queen Elizabeth information office and the ranger guide will take you on this nature walk that will lead you to the bat cave with pythons.
Forest research and Conservation
The forest has an information center at Nyamusingiri where visitors can go to after taking their nature walks. The center has UWA ranger guides who will provide you with information regarding conservation efforts about the forest and how it has impacted on the surrounding communities. However, there is a threat of encroachment from the community especially cutting the forest for timber for commercial purposes. NFA enforcement team however is always on ground to curb such acts.
You can visit the surrounding communities to learn about their way of living, visit their souvenir shops and visit women groups for storytelling and entertainment. You can also visit a historic cave near Nyanziibiri cultural encounter believed to give blessings, protected from misfortunes and other life calamities. The cave due to its secrecy was once a hideout for people who were running away from historical regimes due to their dictatorship.