Mpanga forest is a beautiful compact forest which has been protected as a scientific research site since 1953 and is criss crossed with an extensive network of paths from which visitors can view the prolific bird life that make this forest their home.
Mpanga forest is easily accessed from Kampala and well worth a stop on a visit en-route to the west of Uganda. Located 37km from the city center of Kampala, the forest can easily be accessed via Kampala-Masaka road. Experience the silence of a noisy forest, witness-floating paths of butterflies and enjoy the peace and solitude of a beautiful forest setting just one hours drive from the capital.
When we speak of forests, people’s perception is often summed up to mean trees, however, forests always have more to offer than simply seeing trees, and this can be witnessed when you visit Mpanga Forest. One of the main activities that may be enjoyed in forests is photography. This means putting in consideration the weather ,the time of the day to enhance the scenery beauty. However to enjoy this experience to the fullest, you might need to consider carrying your own camera or hiring someone professional at this at a negotiable fee.
In the African societies, there is a belief that luck and favor can be conjured through an individual bathing herbs, this helps them to grow in favor with men and the gods. When a child is born, several herbs that are believed to have a co-relation to granting someone favor with men, luck as well as improving the quality of someone’s skin are collected from tree-bucks, tree leaves and other plant herbs which are cooked together. The solution that is formed by cooking these herbs is then used to bath the babies for their luck, favor with men and good skin. With the help of the guide, you will have the opportunity to identify most of the trees used in coming up with this solution.
Besides learning about the herbal side of the trees in this forest, you also have the opportunity to learn the roots of the names of the trees in the local languages, in Buganda, most of the plants/trees were named in relation to their perceived importance in terms of medicine and rituals while others were named based on an ancient storyline that would also help you enhance your knowledge of the African culture.
The forest is also home to over 200 bird species including but not limited to the horn bills, Turacos, woodland warbler among many other species. The beauty with birding is; you get the opportunity not only to see these beautiful creatures but also hear the marvelous sound of nature enhanced by the mixture of the sounds produced by trees in the cool of the day
Mpanga forest is home to mammals that include red tailed monkeys which can be spotted any time of the day, bush-backs, and squirrels. With the help of a guide, you will be granted the pleasure to learn about the co-relation between the flora and fauna in this forest and the African culture.
Drum making is of the main activities carried out near the forest with their concentration at Mpambire village near Mpanga the Royal Drum makers’ home. There are five main tree species suitable for this traditional craft that can be found in the forest and at the visitor’s reception you can learn about the drum trees , and the reasons behind not using any other kind of tree. Drums since time immemorial have been used in Africa for communicating and calling people to festive occasions as well as music instrument.
When visiting places like Ndeere cultural centre in Kampala, you will be granted the opportunity to see these drums played in harmony accompanied with the different dances indigenous to the Buganda kingdom.