Small or Large, most of Forests are verdant and offer habitats to a number of interesting attractions that will always draw the attention of tourists on Uganda safaris. Although still not known to many visitors, it is undeniable that Mount Otzi Forest Reserve is one of the outstanding places you can ever desire to visit, interestingly the fact that it even receives fewer tourists visit it compared to the larger and well known forests such Mabira Forest and Budongo Forest.
It is nestled on an escarpment that overlooks the confluence of River Achwa and the White Nile as it flows into South Sudan within the West Nile region and covers an area of 188 square kilometers (18,800 hectares). It is therefore evident that it is bordered to the North by the International border of South Sudan. This Reserve is specifically situated at about 18 kilometers (11 miles) Northeast of Moyo Town and stands at an attitudinal range of 7602 meters (24940 feet) above sea level.
Around half of this Forest Reserve is dominated by the Butyrospermum wooded savannah dotted with undifferentiated semi-deciduous thicket and combretum savannah. It is mostly intact except for some light encroached areas especially the lower elevations, due to the sparse population density around the Forest Reserve as well as the rugged terrains that greatly limit cultivation hence when you will visit it during Uganda safaris you will find most of the areas being untouched.
Mount Otzi Forest Reserve is a significant site of the local communities surrounding it in that the bamboo poles and other non-timber products are important for building materials and also provides timber. Not only that, it has been ranked as an Important Biodiversity Conservation Area by the National Forest Authority Department because it stands tall as a significant water catchment Area
It should be noted that it is rich in biodiversity. There are over 261 tree species in the Forest Reserve comprising of 52% woodland, 40% grassland and 8% bush land that include Eucalyptus species, Tectona grandis, Vitex doniana, Moringa oliefera, Pterolobium stellatum and Azadirachta indica among others.
Mount Otzi Forest Reserve also offers shelter to over 168 bird species including 14 of the 22 species native to the Sudan-guinea Savannah Biome found in Uganda. Besides Kidepo Valley National Park, the Falco alopex has been recorded only within this Forest Reserve in the whole country hence making it one of the richest avifauna areas within the Northern Uganda region with majorly open habitats and savannah woodland species.
Other notable bird species in the Forest Reserve worth spotting during Uganda safaris include the purple glossy starling, the white chestnut turaco, black-bellied firefinch, the bronze-tailed glossy starlings, Red-throated bee-eater, Piapiac, foxy Cisticola, Uganda’s spotted woodpecker, the brown-rumped bunting, Chestnut crowned sparrow weaver, red pate Cisticola, Emin’s shrike and the black-rumped waxbill among others. Additionally, a population of Chimpanzees was recorded within Mount Otzi Forest Reserve during a survey in the 1990s but presently, their numbers or current status is still not clear.
In conclusion, Mount Otzi Forest Reserve is one of the most interesting places to visit within the West Nile region during Uganda safaris. It is a haven to over 261 tree species and more than 168 species of birds, but received fewer tourists thus greatly untouched.