The Mpanga Epic: Why Mpanga forest is perfect for a day hike.

Mpanga Forest Reserve is about 1 hour west of Kampala, near Mpigi town, along the Masaka Road. Mpanga is recorded to have over 500 tree species and shrubs, with some trees estimated to be 100-years old. There are over 200 bird species recorded in this reserve. The common birds to watch include, hornbill, spotted greenbul, black and white casqued, African pied hornbills, Uganda woodland warbler, great blue turaco and the ross turaco. Mammals found in Mpanga include; bushbuck, red-tailed monkey and flying squirrels. Several butterfly species can also be observed throughout the reserve.

Hiking in Mpanga forest Mpigi


But what else makes this forest a perfect place for a day hike apart from it's closeness to the city and abundance in nature.
Mpanga forest has the perfect trails which have been used for years by locals to navigate the expansive green. The trails are;

The butterfly loop or trail

The butterfly trail stretches for about 1 kilometer distance covering the forest with lots of animals and vegetation types to be seen animals common on this trail are bush babies and red tailed monkeys. This trail takes about 30 minutes to walk through.

The baseline trail

This trail provides hikers with clear views of the forest canopy and the surrounding villages, it’s gifted with various bird species and numerous butterflies, and this trail ends at the papyrus swamp at the base of the forest. This trail can also be used for mountain biking for those not interested in hiking.

The hornbill trail

This is considered to be the best of the forest trails, it gives visitors opportunities to see bird life, spectacular rolling hills, forest streams, buttresses, fungi, root structures, monkeys, butterflies and much more. It covers a distance of about 5 kilometers, hiking this trail normally takes about 3 hours.


What is the hike day plan?

Set off from Kampala is at 8.30am from Lugogo mall. Be at Lugogo mall by 8am

Arrival at the Mpanga forest camp site by 10.30am. For unpacking, changing and putting on gear, snacking and warming up for the hike. Plus also briefing from the guides.

11.30 Start of the hike   which lasts up to 4 hours for the slowest hiker.

15.30- Back to Camp site for lunch. Freshening up, hydrating, departure to Kampala for those signed up for the day hike only. estimate arrival is by 5.30pm.

For those camping over-  checking into the tents and alternative accommodations.

5.00pm - A tour of Mpambire drum village and to the hill for sunset viewing for those still up to it.

7.00pm- Camp fire is lit. Drinks, music and Dinner till late.

Next day:

8.30a.m Breakfast

More exploration, social and games. Departure at Will.

Can you handle the hike?

It is a beginner's hike suitable for all groups and ages including kids from 4 years

What you need to pack?

It is a day's hike with optional over night camping at the end so you need to pack hiking and camping gear except tents and mats if staying for the camping. What to exactly pack depends on personal comforts.

Hiking gear:
Hiking backpack
Hiking boots(preferably) or trail running shoes
Thick hiking socks
Hiking pants
Waterproof jacket or poncho
Quick dry and light hiking shirt
Sun hat
Sun glasses
Neck gaiter or buff
Sunscreen/sun protection cream
Hiking pole
Hydration pack

This blog post on the Sunny Outdoors website can help


Camping gear:

Sleeping bag
Hand sanitizer
Body wipes – the best camp hack to stay clean!
Biodegradable soap
Toilet paper
Trash bags
warm clothing
Wool socks
Headlamp with extra batteries
Wireless cell phone charger
Cell phone
Camera with extra batteries
Pants for the cooler evening
Sleeping thermals
Long sleeve shirt
Short sleeve shirt
Sandals – depending on what you plan to do
All this can be placed in a good waterproof backpack

This camping blog post can be of help for beginner campers

Don't forget lots of water and snacks.



Day hike only: Ugx 70,000

Cycling only : Ugx 170,000(includes bike)

Cycling with own bike: Ugx 70,000

Day hike and Sundowner camping: ugx150,000

*Free for Sunny outdoors members(Subscription is ugx 50,000 monthly)


Bookings here for May 18th 2024 day hike---->


The costs Includes;

Hiking - Transportation to and from
The Hiking experience

Camping- Transportation to only, Dinner
Camping tent and mattress

Points to Note:
If you can self drive to the reserve, it is perfectly fine. Follow pin to the start point.

Kids are welcome

If you would like to bike, the camp does not have bikes for rent, so please bring your own or contact Sunny for bike hire in advance.

Directions: Here is the pin to the trail head at mpanga nature centre


Any questions, please contact Sunny at or on 0702590664

See you on the trail.