A morning of chimp trekking in Uganda’s Kibale National Park had been hot, exhausting and disappointing, so we were not really in the mood for our afternoon activity of a 4.5km walk around Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. Having driven the 5km between the two, we were met by our guide Owen. As it was nearing midday, we discussed whether to lunch first or afterwards and we opted to picnic on the shaded terrace of the visitors centre, with Owen helpfully bringing out tables and chairs. Our mood improved.
Lunch over, we were advised to tuck socks into trousers to avoid safari ant bites and Owen gave us a brief introduction to the wetlands telling us that ‘Bigodi’ was derived from a local word, meaning ‘to walk wearily’. When visitors first reached the Bigodi swamp on foot, they were too tired to visit the jungle and rested there. Bearing in mind how weary we felt, we thought it was rather appropriate.
The route was good and the path although narrow, was relatively flat with only a couple of mild uphill stretches.
We passed a couple of stalls where entrepreneurial young boys were selling wood carvings and pottery figures of birds and animals. Wooden boards had been put over the marshy areas, including a 400m stretch. Owen, and his trainee, Innocent, were lovely and took it very slowly, with Innocent immediately spotting two great blue turaco, one of the birds most strongly associated with the area. Owen also talked about the flowers and birds we saw, and in particular the distinctive hanging nests of the weaver bird which are built by the male, who then invites his partner to check it out. We saw nests on the ground which had been discarded as unfit for purpose by a picky female weaver.
We saw the invasive lantana plant, Ugandan tulip, with its bright red flower and a range of crops including coffee, sweetcorn (which is damaged by the monkeys) and ground nuts.
In contrast to our disappointing chimp trek, we spotted baboons and four species of monkey: black and white colobus, red tailed, greyish black Uganda Mangabey and L’Hoest.
Half way around the circular walk, we stopped for water at a shaded rustic bench and eventually made our way back to the entrance having passed a nursery area where saplings were being grown in black plastic bag pots.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 3-hour walk: much of it had been in the shade, the walking was easy and Owen and Innocent had been good company.