Bigodi Wetland – A hub for nature near Kibale Forest.

Bigodi wetland is 6km south of Kibale Forest Park’s visitor centre-Kanyanchu. It is a section that is linked/combined with the Magombe swamp that is a 4sqkm area and is home to a variety of birds and primates. Bigodi Wetland hosts about 200 bird species, butterflies, primates, and plant life. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary (The area that is visited) was established by a local organization- Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) that manages the area protecting its biodiversity and a drip of rich lush green vegetation. They do this by offering activities here like the swamp walk, birding tours, community tours, basket weaving demos, dance and drama, meals, and homestays. The area never disappoints.

Wetlands are always about stomping the bog, so this may sound not appealing, but visiting the wetland is extremely rewarding and an initiative that aims at transforming the lives of people in Bigodi. This helps the community/locals also benefit directly from the tourism taking place in the area. The revenue collected supports genuinely sustainable projects like schools and the vulnerable in the community.

The walk

The Bigodi wetland walk is the highlight of all the activities here. The walk is about 3-4 hours through the area on the outskirts of Bigodi trading center. The walk is not only in the swamp, it also extends to the community for an experience of the day-to-day life of the locals here.

Knowledgeable guides from KAFRED lead visitors as they explore the area. As you walk, they listen to distinctive bird calls, spot birds, primates, medicinal herbs, and explain life here. For bird lovers (birders or twitchers), the wetland is a paradise for you and the Great Blue Turaco is the most prized bird here. The walk is flat and doesn’t require a level of fitness, it is reasonable for all ages. Where there is swamp water, there are walk boards, but even where you meet the mud, it is considered part of the package.

Bigodi Wetland is unique and sits at a junction of a rainforest and the Rift Valley. It is at the far end of the range in terms of bird species and life. It is gifted with vast species and other life (Plants and animals) that make it a hub of nature. Primates here include L’Hoest’s monkey, the Mangabey, olive baboons among others.

There are two sessions here (morning and evening). The morning session starts at 7.30 am and the afternoon session starts at 3 pm. You don’t need to book in advance for the walk, when you show up, you depart for the walk when the guides are available.  

Women in the communities make crafts from banana fibers and palm trees, beads from recycled papers that are sold to tourists, and some are exported. Part of the profit from the sales is put into community development.

From when the project was started, there has been reduced poaching within Kibale Forest because now people engage in tourism as guides at Bigodi and other different products. The project is one of the great examples of a community-based approach to natural resource conservation. This is why we would like you to know about it.

If you are visiting Kibale Forest for Chimpanzee tracking, you can dedicate the afternoon to a walk in the Bigodi wetland.