Maramagambo forest : Queen Elizabeth National Park
Maramagambo forest is located in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park and it stretches from the Kichwamba escarpment to Lake Edward. Its name was derived from a traditional story of a group of people from a nearby village who got losdt in the forest for a number of days before they could find their way out. When they finally got out, they were very tired and traumatized and couldn’t speak for quite a long time hence the name “Maramagambo” which means “end of words”.
Maramagambo forest is a famous place in Queen Elizabeth national park because of its Bat caves. These are volcanic tube caves where lots of bats regularly stay and also attract pythons which feed on them. News about this place went viral in 2008 about a tourist from Netherlands who was said to have acquired Marbug from the Bat cave in this forest. This incident led to closure of the area until a viewing platform was constructed by the American Centre for Disease Control. Since then, there has not been any other case regarding such outbreaks and the place is very safe for all activities such as bat cave visit, nature walk, forest walk among others.
Besides the Bat caves, Maramagambo forest is a natural habitat for primates including chimps, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys and baboon, elephants, bush pigs, pygmy antelopes and many birds. Nocturnal animals in the forest include Pottos and Bush babies. Visitors who visit the place also get a chance to view the two beautiful crater lakes bordering the forest; Nyamisingiri Crater Lake and Kyasanduka Crater Lake. It also has another historical cave at Nyanziibiri community and is believed to have been a sacrificial and cleansing ground for misfortunes. The same cave is also said to have been used as a hideout by the previous Ugandan presidents during the dictatorial regime. Today, this place has a hut that has been preserved by the Banyaruguru, filled with valued local artifacts that were used in daily life.
How to Access Maramagambo Forest
you can get there through Queen Elizabeth national park gate which is near Jacana lodge. This is about 12km off Katunguru-Mbarara highway. From Kampala, you’ll pass via Mbarara to Bushenyi and connect to the Nyamisingiri. By flight, charter aircrafts operate from Entebbe or Kajjansi to Mweya airstrip or Kasese airfield.
Things to do at Maramagambo Forest
Maramagambo forest is one of the areas in queen Elizabeth national park with a rich biodiversity though it is visited by few people due to its location and distance associated with that compared to other nearer places like Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu forest. Activities done in the forest are one of those that will give you great memories of your tour.
Visiting the bat caves
Maramagambo forest has a number of bat caves with a lot of bats. Visitors view these from a designated viewing point to avoid contact with the caves. These caves are often visited by pythons that come to feed on the bats.
There are several trails through which visitors are guided by ranger guides to different areas of the forest and the surrounding, for example to areas where you’ll view the crater lakes. Nature walks last for about 2-6 hours and this forest has a lot to offer during that period including its different plant species, birds and the animals. Depending on the fitness on the visitor, you’ll be adised to use trails such as the forest trail because it is less steep compared to other trails which include the palm trail, river trail, valley trail and the waterfall trail. As you walk through the forest beware of soldier ants which often move in columns in the forest.
Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the destinations in east Africa with a large number of bird species and a great bird watching site. Maramagambo contributes to its position in birdlife with prime bird species like the Rwenzori Turaco, White napped pigeons and Forest fly catchers. Other bird species include the Dark-capped yellow warbler, Bat hawk, Ross’s Turaco, Fawn-breasted wax-bill, Sulphur-breasted bush shrike and African green pigeon among others.
This activity is not very famous in this forest because it is big yet with few primates. Some of these primates are however often seen during nature walks. Visitors can also go for night walks and see the nocturnal primates of the forest that is bush babies and pottos.
This is all about visiting the cave at Nyanziibiri which is used by people who want to be protected from misfortunes and other calamities of life. This cave was also secretly used by previous leaders in Uganda who were running away from dictatorial regimes.
The best time to visit Maramagambo
Maramagambo forest is open for tourists all year round. However, there are varying periods best for different activities.
The best time to view primates is from June to September and from December to February when during the dry season. This is when you can easily pass through the trails because it is a dry season and they are dry.
The forest has a lot of birds during the wet season. The trails are slippery but this is when you can spot a lot of birds including both resident and migratory birds.