Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is found in Magombe swamp just outside the Kibale national park about 6km in the south of the park and is best known as “the home for Great Turaco”. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is located on kamwenge road in Kibale district and is the best place for birders due to the nature of the wetland which harbors several bird species. This sanctuary is privately owned by the local community of Bigodi Village and the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) which was established in 1992 in order to conserve the wetland and develop the local communities by using the fund collected from the visitors who come to the sanctuary to construct roads around the Bigodi village, schools such as Bigodi secondary school and Bigodi nursery school which are used to provide education to the orphans and also provide support to the widows , elderly people and the people with abilities in the area.
The Bigodi wetland sanctuary obtained its name “Bigodi” from a Rutooro word “kugodya” which means to walk tiredly. A visit to Bigodi sanctuary can be incorporated with the visit to Kibale forest national park for chimpanzee trekking and the exploration of the crater lakes and Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru rocks.
Bigodi wetland sanctuary harbors around 8 primate species which include; the black and white colobus monkey, the blue monkey, the red colobus monkey, the red tailed monkey, the grey-cheeked mangabey, the olive baboons, the vervet monkey, and the L’Hoests monkey. Chimpanzees are normally seen visiting the sanctuary from Kibale forest national park.
Bigodi sanctuary is also home to several mammals such as Sitatunga, Bushbuck, Bush pigs, mongoose, otters and many more which are normally seen during nature walks in the sanctuary. Several reptiles such as snakes, lizards, frogs among others are also seen in Bigodi sanctuary.
However, the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development is trying very hard to make sure that a snake park is put in place to protect several snake species since it’s not easy to see them from the thick bush and the swamp and this will attract more visitors to the sanctuary to have a look at different snake types thus increasing the revenue.
Finally, Bigodi wetland sanctuary is home to over 138 bird species including the Great Blue Turaco which is known as the “Royal lover” due to the fact that it stays single for the rest of its life once it has lost its loved one and many more birds which are all seen during birding
There are several activities carried out with in the Bigodi wetland sanctuary and the surrounding community which include Birding, village walks, and Nature walks.
Birding in Bigodi wetland
Many visitors who visit Uganda especially in Kibale National park always sum it up with the visit to Bigodi wetland sanctuary due to the fact that it harbors over 138 bird species including the unique Great Blue Turaco making it the best place for bird lovers. In this activity, an experienced tour guide with experience in different bird species is provided to the visitors to assist them in explaining about different bird species as they trail along the swamp and thick lush. Other bird species which are encountered during the birding include; flycatcher, Abyssinians, western Nicator, king fishers, sunbirds, tinker birds, cranes, egrets, parrots, and many more species
Nature walk: During the nature walk, visitors alongside an experience tour guide from the KAFRED trail through the swamp and in the process they are able to see fauna and flora found in the sanctuary which includes the beautiful vegetation full of tall trees, papyrus plants, several mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and insects. This nature walks is best done early in the morning between 7:30am -9:00am when the swamp habitats are just waking up from the sleep as you will see several monkeys in the trees, sitatunga, Bushbucks, birds nesting, and sometimes you will be able to see chimpanzees visiting the swamp from the park. However, visitors can also do a nature walk in the evening at around 3:00pm-5pm. Visitors are required to wear long sleeved trousers and shirts, gloves, pack enough drinking water and insect repellant and strong closed shoes or boots while on a nature walk to protect their bodies from getting injuries.
Community walk: A guide from Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) will take the visitors through the community to meet the Bakiga and Batooro and interact with them area around the Bigodi village including the traditional healer as he elaborates how he uses herbs from the swamp to manufacture local medicine. Then proceed and visit the elderly people for storytelling about their traditional ways of living, traditional marriages and birth ceremonies and finally visit the local schools and churches around the swamp where you will enjoy a warm welcome by the pupils as they sing and dance for you.
During the community walk, the visitors have an opportunity of meeting the Bigodi Women’s group which consists of 40 members. These members came together and started their of handcraft projects in which they make several objects including mats, baskets, bags, and jewelry from local raw materials such as palm leaves, banana fibers, millet straws, and papyrus reeds. These products are sold both locally and international as export. So you will be able to learn how to make all those objects and buy anything you want directly from the source at a relatively cheaper price. The income generated from these handcrafts is used to develop the community, conserve the sanctuary and provide basic needs for the orphans and other disable people in the community.
During your community walk, don’t forget to visit the enyange dance and drama group as they sing for you the conservation song.
This walk takes about 3-4hours and your tour guide is always in position tall answer all your questions
Traditional meals: Interested in having a taste on Batooro meals, then look no further than visiting the Tinka family during the community walk where visitors are able to enjoy the precious food made from natural plants as they sit under a cool grass thatches environment listening to the beautiful melodies of different bird species in the wilderness. Visitors can also learn about how the food is prepared.
Since a visit to Bigodi wetland sanctuary is always join together with the exploration of the crater lakes, a visit to Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru Rocks and Kibale National park, visitors are advised to book lodges which are close to both areas. And some of these lodges include Ndali lodge, Isunga lodge, chimpanzee forest guest house, primate lodge and Kibale forest camp which can be booked according to visitor’s pocket.