The eco-tourism destinations in Uganda include all the ten national parks, wildlife and game reserves, forest reserves, events/cultural centres, community wetlands, theme parks, resorts and important bird areas. Ecotourism is managed by the national forest authority which was founded in April 2004 under the National Forest Authority and tree planting act. The prime authority of National Forest Authority is to manage central forest reserves on a sustainable basis and to supply high quality forestry products and services. The benefits of eco-tourism are divided into three i.e. environmental, economic, and socio-cultural benefits.
Ecotourism has several activities that are carried out forexample nature walks, bird watching, village/community walks, forest walks, butterfly watching, sport fishing, mountaineering / hill climbing, gorilla tracking, chimp tracking, game viewing, boat cruises, caving, scenery viewing /nature photography, primate watching to mention but a few.
There are a number of central forest reserves that undoubtedly have features and attractions that are of real interest to domestic and international tourists on a sustainable basis which include;
- Mabira central forest reserve,
- Mpanga central forest reserves,
- Lutoboka and Bunjazi forest reserve,
- Kalinzu forest reserve,
- Bugoma eco-tourism site,
- Budongo forest reserve,
- Kaniyo forest reserve
Uganda has several tropical rain forests and thus its temperatures are tropically off equatorial regions. Most of Uganda’s forests are moist semi deciduous forests which are similar to the ones in the Congo and West African countries.
Mpanga forest reserve offers forest walks in three main trails, the butterfly loop, horn bill and Baseline. The forest has 196 animal species; bush pigs, insects, about 14 species of butterflies and 200 species of trees.
Mpanga forest is also rich in primates like the monkey red tailed black and white colobus and other wildlife include pangalin, cevet cats, snakes especially those falling under the class of pythonidia, Antelopes, tree squirrels and many others. Other activities include nature walks, night walks, bird watching, research experiments from the education sector, picnicking, camping and facilities include accommodation and conference facilities.
The forest is located east of Kampala, 54km from Kampala and 26km from Jinja. It has a total boundary of 3474 km all adjoining community land. It covers an area of 3061km² (30hectares). This is the biggest remainant of the once equatorial rain forest in central Uganda with an altitude of 1070-1540m above the see level.
The forest is endowed with a variety of snakes and other reptiles. The forest has five wildlife groups according to the wildlife inventory of 1995-1996, it has the following trees and scrubs of about 312 species, mammals of about 27 species, moths of 97 species and butterflies of about 218 species and birds of about 315 species.
The tourism activities in the area include; Avi-tourism, game viewing, the attraction of botanists among others. Cultural tourism is also a popular tourist activity within the enclaves of the local communities. The forest is also crossed by a lot of rivers; this hydrosphere is habituated with uncounted water fauna and flora for the tourists. Mabira forest is also rich in primates like red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus which provides a haven for the primatologist. Other activities in the forest also include nature walks, bird watching picnicking, camping, accommodation facilities and research stations among others.
This is a representative of the once tropical rainforest which are now slowly diminishing because of mans activities. It is locates 40 km away from Kampala and occupies a total area of 4km². It was gazzeted for environmental conservation and has three ecosystems including grassland which is in the fore front, forest ecosystem and swamp or wetland vegetations and this gives three distinct canopies, as the low canopies, middle and taller canopies.
The forest has also a variety of primates especially the monkeys such as patas monkeys in the savannas, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys providing ideal resources for promatologist that allows primate viewing. A lot of bird species hover, the forest and occupies the tree ranging from aboreal birds in the forest to the wetland birds such as the shoebill stork and this richness promotes avi-tourism, birds such as cascet, hornbill, rasses and there are over 45 bird species in the forest.
Numerous butterflies also exist in the area and the forest is especially known for butterfly breading the pupas are exported to Denmark, Britain, New Zealand and Nairobi. According to Odupiano Oba the butterfly expert in pupa costs Ugshs 10,000. Other animals in the forest include the rats, snakes, pythons which can all be viewed by tourist. Animal species include the sitatunga, boar diker.