Mabira forest is among the largest surviving natural forests in the country covering about 300 square kilometers located along the Kampala- Jinja highway in Buikwe district and very accessible throughout the year. It has been protected as Mabira Forest Reserve since 1932 and a home to some endangered species like Lophocebus Ugandae primate.
It is the closest and only rainforest in central Uganda, a place where one can always pay a visit, it is a picnic place, a favorite for birders and an oasis of natural beauty and wonders in the Pearl.
The inhabitants of this forest such as the monkeys, birds, butterflies and other small animals as well as the magnificent trees, plants and flowers make it a suitable host on your gate away from the towns and to spend some good hours or a night in this natural setting.
The outer part of the forest consists of tree species with some over 25years old. Mabira forest is biologically diverse, a sanctuary to several animals and birds such as blue duikers, fruit bats, tree hyrax among others
Since it is a rain forest, Mabira is an important water catchment area serving many streams that flow to the Nile, river Sezibwa, among others. The forest is also of great cultural and historical significance to the tribes around it because it provides medicinal plants that can be used to heal a number of ailments.
Mabira hosts over 300 tree species which include flowering plants, ancient trees that have been here for centuries; over 300 bird species, over 20 mammal species among others. The forest offers activities like forest walks, mountain biking, bird watching, picnics and camping, primate watching, environmental education and research among others.
Activities that can be done in Mabira Forest
To be in position to experience the Mabira forest canopy, you have to behave like monkeys. Amidst the forest is a Canopy super skyway, a zip line system that sends one soaring amidst the tallest and ancient trees in the rainforest as you enjoy views the red tailed monkeys, birds like the palm nut vultures, blue turacos among others. This activity takes between 2-5 hours and after that, you will hike back to the camp.
Visit Griffin Falls
Griffin Falls is the soundest of all falls located in this forest. They are famous because the camp that does ziplining in Mabira is named after them. A forest walk after your will lead you to these falls, a hidden treasure in Mabira also towards the end of the ziplining activity, sounds can be heard from the falls and those with keen eyes can see it while still up in the canopies.
Primate watching and Mangabey tracking
This rain forest is the only place in the country that harbors the rare Gray Cheeked Mangabey; an old world monkey that dwells in trees and closely related to the baboon family. There are three habituated groups in the forest and can be easily tracked with the help of guides. There are other monkeys such as the red tailed monkey among others.
Forest walks/ Nature Walks
Taking a forest hike/ walk through will help you see the forests’ flora and fauna standing tall in its natural home. Mabira forest has well maintained trails that offer long and adventurous meandering treks for forest walks or hike for any fitness level even for children. These offer amazing sights of a rich population of birds, monkeys, butterflies and giant ancient trees.
Mabira forest reserve boasts of over 300 bird species including the rare tit hylia, yellow and grew long bills, Jameson’s wattle eyes, Nahan’s francolin, purple throated cuckoo shrikes among others. A number of birds that exist within the country can be seen here, about 46% of the forest birds can be spotted in Mabira than anywhere else in Uganda.
The forest has some well- maintained trails that offer mountain bikers the opportunity to blaze through it and even in the communities surrounding the forest. Mountain bikes can be rented at Griffin falls camp, outside the forest at the National Forestry Department and if you have your own mountain bike, it can be used.
Visitors to the forest can choose to do camping/ picnic at the site. The camping grounds are well organized with food and easy access to forest creatures such as the primates, butterflies and bird. There is a picnic trail which starts at the site through various ancient trees and forest streams, a cultural performance can be arranged on request.
There is no shortage of accommodation facilities in Mabira Forest Reserve and Najjembe Trading Center. There are bandas and camping tents, most of them built to allow visitors experience the beautiful scenery of the forest
The forest is located along Kampala Jinja Highway in Buikwe district, about 54 kilometers from the city Center. The forest is accessible by all vehicles throughout the year.