Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Bigodi is majorly known for being close to Kibale forest National Park and is located 6 kilometers away from Kanyanchu information center. Bigodi is known to be more of a swamp but it is a community based project which has helped upgrade the lives of all the people who are living around the area.
Bigodi located in Magombe swamp is a wetland sanctuary and it is locate near Kibale National park. The name Bigodi is Rutooro word derived from Kugodya and it is loosely translated as to walk wearily. Some locals share the history of the place saying that they came up with the name because the different people who would walk to the wetland would reach when they were extremely tired and hence had to rest. This led to the wetland being called Bigodi.
Bigodi Island is well known for its biodiversity and the natural vegetation and resources found in the area and this is what attracts most people to go to Bigodi. There are different wild life that you can see when you visit Bigodi and some of these include the sitatungas, bush pigs, blue monkey, baboons, red Colobus monkeys, bush bucks, black and white Colobus, chimpanzees and many more of which you can view some from the neighboring Kibale National Park.
Bigodi has helped to conserve the area and aided to the growth of the economy of the surrounding areas and the benefits have been enjoyed by both the local people and the government.
Activities carried out in Bigodi
There are several activities that can be carried out in Bigodi wetland sanctuary and below is a list of what you can expect when you visit this wonderful place.
Primate and butterfly spotting
Bigodi is a place that has a lot of butterflies and if you are a person who loves butterflies, this is your chance to explore the different butterfly species in the area. This is the place to be to enjoy the beautiful scenery that is created by the colorful butterflies.
You can also carry out chimpanzee trekking in Bigodi and this is done with the aid of tour guides. Bigodi has eight different species of primates and the guided walks while trekking these primates are at a fee of 40,000 shillings and this comes with gumboots and binoculars.
Viewing of wild animals in Bigodi
With the variety of animals that are found in Bigodi wetland, the visitors get to spot all those wonderful animals with a tour guide showing them the clear marked routes to use on the swamp. There are red ants and termites and in order for the visitors not to get insect bites, they are advised to tuck their stockings into their pants and get good hiking shoes.
The swamp will is a habitat to a large number of aquatic life and some animals which include the otters, situngas, monkeys, bush bucks, and other species which have already been mentioned at the start of this article.
Birding in Bigodi
Bigodi is a sanctuary for bird watchers as you get to see a variety of birds in their habitats. There is not much you need as you head out to Bigodi for bird viewing and all you need are the tour guides and birding equipment which will ease you birding process.
Bigodi is wetland sanctuary is run by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development KAFRED and it is one of the greenest places in Uganda. The primates in the area give you a run for your money and if you want to arrange a guided tour in Bigodi they are done in two phases that is in the morning at 7:30 am and at 3:00pm in the afternoon.
Bigodi wetland sanctuary has a population of over 138 bird species that can be seen in the different parts of the wetland. The bird watching can be done on clearly marked areas like the board walk trail and the viewing platforms which are found in the area and all this can be done with the aid of a guide showing you the different bird species available and explaining their unique character.
The bird species that is common in Bigodi wetland sanctuary is known as the grand blue Turaco. The great blue Turaco bird has an interesting history which is told by the different tour guides and locals. It is said that this bird remained single after the loss of the loved one and that is why it is known as a loyal bird.
There are other bird species that are found in the wetland and some of these include the spotted barbet, Flycatchers, crowned eagle, the African Pitta, White spotted fluff tail, western nictor, Blue breasted kingfisher, Collared Apalis, Abyssinian ground thrush, Green breasted Pitta, Brown chested Alethe, Black bee- eater, Black capped Apalis, Purple breasted sunbird, Black Gonolek, Hornbills, little Greenbul, Brown throated wattle eye, weaver birds, cuckoos, white breasted Negrofinch, Black and white flycatcher, Grey winged robin chat, brown crowned Tchagra, grey winged robin, yellow billed barbet, hairy breasted flycatcher, Bocage’s Bush shrike, white tailed ant thrush, western Nicator and the purple breasted sunbird.
The Village Culture and Walks
The village walks in the areas surrounding the wetland normally go for 30,000 shillings per person with a local tour guide and these can be done any time of the day although evening is the best time to take these walks. The guided walk through the wetland will roughly take you three hours before it is over and you should be able to enjoy the walks as the guides keep on explaining almost everything that you find along the way.
On these walks you will be able to see several demonstrations of how the weaving of baskets is made, cultural dances and performances that are portrayed by the different people who sing and dance as a sign of welcoming the visitors and a sign of hospitality. You will also get to see and taste the different local food that is prepared by the locals and this goes for 15,000 Ugandan shillings per person but in order to get a meal, one has to book in advance to enjoy it well.
You can also go water rafting in Bigodi, gorilla trekking although this is at a slower pace and other fun activities that you will find in Bigodi Wetland sanctuary.
Benefits of Conserving the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Unlike other wetlands in Uganda that have been destroyed to pave way for construction, there are several benefits that have been realized after the conservation of the Bigodi wetland sanctuary and some of these have been listed below:
- The community has been able to construct schools from nursery to secondary schools which has enhanced the education levels in the area.
- There has been construction of bridges over the wetland and this has eased the ravel between the forest area and the villages.
- The farmers get a chance to sell their produce to the tourists earning a living o sustain their standards of living.
- The women have been able to set up a women’s group called Bigodi women group where they use recycled paper material that are used in making beautiful necklaces, hand bags, arm bands and earrings from the beads they make and phoenix palm leaves that are used to make baskets and these are sold to the different tourists who come to visit Bigodi and some others are exported to outside countries especially to Europe.
- Some tourists are sponsoring children though out their education process and giving them a chance to improve on their future chances in the world.
- There has also been construction of hospitals and other health facilities to improve on the health of the local people and the tourists who can now easily get medication.
- The people have been able to get employment especially from the water project and this has improved their standards of living.
A trip or safari to Bigodi as you visit Kibale Forest National park is a must as this is a onetime experience that you will only get when you visit the wetland. The Bigodi wetland is in form of a jungle setting due to the thick vegetation that is enhanced by the good weather and this lets you experience something out of the ordinary as you enter into the world of primates, birds and butterflies. Those who love birding, it done in the morning and for those who want to sight the primates and other animals walking around the wetland, afternoon is the best time to view them.
The offices of the tour guides for those who need them at Bigodi wetland are open from 7:00am to 5:00pm in the evening and you are free to go and make all the inquiries that you deem necessary. And you should also remember that a visit to Bigodi is a step to promoting wildlife and wetland conservation in the area with the collected money that is got from the tourists.