Katonga Wildlife Reserve: On the list of protected Areas in Uganda also Katonga wildlife reserve line up, the reserve though may seem to be one of the remotest wildness of Uganda. But a moment here is very rewarding as far as nature is concerned.
Katonga Wildlife Reserve was first gazzetted in 1964 as a game reserve under the management of former Depertment of and Uganda National Park which later emerged to form Uganda Wildlife Authority and the reserve tuned into a wildlife reserve in 1996. At first, Katonga wildlife reserve was formed a corridor for migrating animals from western Uganda to Tanzania and Sudan.
Katonga wildlife reserve fall under Kibale Conservation Area which includes Kibale forest national park is, it’s a smaller reserve covering an area of 207 kmsq, being one of the smallest nature reserves in Africa. Katonga is another perfect natural destination which can be extensively explore on foot due to absence of the big cats.
The reserve is situated in between Kyenjojo and Kamwenge districts in western Uganda, it derives the name from River Katonga that flows westwards from Lake Victoria to Lake George.
Katonga reserve is characterized with relatively sloping and flat landscapes covered with acacia woodlands, Savannah grasslands, riverine forests, tropical forests and wetlands. The reserve used to accommodate a number animal species, but due to greater impacts of heavy poaching and human encroachments on the reserve premises a number of species where hunted down not until 2004 when UWA evicted all encroachers on the reserve land.
There is a wider range of wildlife species which are recorded at the reserve on the list include; the rare Sitatunga antelope, Uganda kob, elephants, buffalos, bush bucks, water bucks, Reed bucks, primates such as baboons, black and white colobus monkeys. With efforts to restock the reserve, Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2013 trans-located zebras and impalas from Lake Mburo to Katonga wildlife reserve. Today the impalas of the reserve have multiplied and now over 300 impales are recorded here, it’s a birds hub with over 150 bird species recorded flying into the savannahs, valleys of wetlands, and forests.
Planning for a safari visit at the reserve, a number of adventures can be undertaken including game viewing which can be done on foot, or in a safari vehicle in the made driving tracks. Game viewing rewards with finest sights of duikers, Uganda Kobs, bushbucks, reedbuck, sitatunga, elephants, coming closer to a number of bird species etc.
Through river Katonga, canoeing adventures are conducted which exposes you to the Flora and fauna of the reserve. It’s one brightest moments for watching greater numbers of bird species at the reserve through the swamps and watching of aquatic life. The canoe ride wanders you through the two kilometers in Reed, the conies rides are operated by the local people around river Katonga.
What to do in Katonga Wildlife Reserve
Nature guided walks is very ideal to do at the reserve, there are various walking trails which can be taken among Sitatunga trails which takes you through the swamps. Other trails are Kisharara trail leads you to animal hub through the savannahs, grasslands and swamp fringes to exciting sitatunga sights, various birds and monkeys among others. Kyeibale trail it leads to the rock cones, caves and forested valleys, taking one of the trail on a guided walk brings closer a combination of species.
Katonga wildlife reserve also provides a great birding experience gifted with over 150 species of birds, birding however can be combined on any of the other activities of canoeing, nature walks, game viewing etc.
Where to stay in Katonga Wildlife Reserve
The major accommodation possibility at the reserve is camping at the set UWA set campsites. It’s advisable to visit the reserve with camping gears if wishing for a night to the park. The camping site is called Kabangole and is two kilometers drive from the reserve headquarters. Other places where to sleep can be got outside the reserve such as Katonga view lodge, other nearby accommodation option are Crater Safari Lodge, Reba Akasha Establishments etc.
Katonga wildlife reserve can be accessed from Uganda’s capital city on fort portal- Kampala road the drive will take about 4 hours depending on traffic jam when living the city center.