Birding safaris in the Royal Mile – Budongo forest Murchison falls National Park
Birding safaris in the royal mile – The terrain of this site is flat which is perfect for nature walks, taking care of all the travelling conditions for tourists. The Royal Mile is a magnificent and long trail in Budongo Forest, on the Southern side of the Forest. Budongo Forest Reserve, covering over 739 square kilometers lies at the border of the Albertine Rift Valley and is part of the Southern side Murchison Falls National Park. Next to the edge of Budongo Forest is the spectacular Lake Kanyege, a home to numerous aquatic bird species and several butterfly species. Not only that, chimpanzees within habituated communities can be tracked during a safari in Uganda and the best time is to track them as early as possible hence overnight within the Forest is recommended.
Birding safaris in the Royal Mile – Birds of Royal in the Royal mile
There are several bird species within the Royal Mile. And 2 species are endemic to the trail-the Illadopsis puveli and the yellow-footed flycatcher and other numerous species endemic to the Albertine Rift region. Some of the notable bird species you will encounter within the Royal Mile Trail include the Hairy-breasted Barbet, the Blue-breasted Kingfisher, the Nahan’s Francolin, the Cassin’s Spine tail, the Fire-crested Alethe, the Dwarf Kingfisher, the Black-capped Apalis, the Blue-throated Roller, the Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, the Ituri Batis, the Lemon-bellied Crombec, the Rufous-crowned Eremomela, the Western-black Headed Oriole, the Piping Hornbill, the Spotted Greenbul, the Yellow-browed Camaroptera, the Sabine’s Spine tail, the Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, the Yellow-billed Barbet, the Grey-headed Sunbird, the Yellow-spotted Barbet, the Brown-eared Woodpecker, the Chestnut-caped Flycatcher, the Yellow-crested Woodpecker, the White-spotted Fluff tail, the White-thighed Hornbill, the African Crowned Eagle and the Red-capped Robin-Chat, to mention but a few.
Best time to visit Royal mile
The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry seasons from December to late February and from June to September, as the animals congregate around water bodies making them easier to observe. Also you should not forget the green season from March, April, May and September October and November are the rain seasons in the park and usually the park is green.
How to get to Royal mile.
From Murchison falls via Masindi-the 130 km road from the Paraa ferry to Masindi is the easily accessible by 4wheel drive as the road from Masindi to royal mile can be slippery.
Birding safaris in the royal mile – Budongo forest chimpanzee tracking usually starts with briefing from the information Centre at the Budongo Eco Lodge. The forest has well established trails to allow visitors spot the chimps as well as other smaller primates and birds. Chimpanzee trekking is done in two shifts –morning and afternoon. The Chimp communities roam very close to the Budongo Eco lodge on most days of the year. However, during certain periods of the year, they wander way in search of fruits and water. During these periods of food scarcity, finding them is not always guaranteed. The success rate of seeing chimps is still very high, only bettered by Kibale forest national park. For the best possible chance of spotting the chimps, visit during the months between October and January. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo lasts for an average of 3 hours. After locating the chimp community, visitors are only allowed one hour with them.
In order to participate in the chimpanzee trekking exercise, one needs to be in good health and free from diseases like flue or Tuberculosis. Chimps easily contract human diseases. One also needs to be at least 15 years of age to track chimpanzees. The cost of chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is $80. Chimpanzee tracking can be combine with game drives in the park.
Chimpanzee habituation experience:
Chimpanzee habituation is the process of enabling chimps to get used to human presence around them. The process takes about two years. In Budongo forest, visitors are also offered an opportunity to take part in the chimpanzee habituation process especially during periods when here are fewer visitors to the forest. The chimpanzee habituation involves following a community of chimps and learning about their behavior under the guidance of senior researchers and trackers. It differs from normal chimpanzee trekking because it goes on throughout the day. Visitor are allowed a lot more time with the chimps. For the best chimpanzee habituation experience, one need good hiking boots, hand gloves, long sleeved shits/pants, sun glasses and a hat. The chimpanzee habituation experience in Budongo forest cost $160. This amount is less than that charged in Kibale National Park.
How to get to Budongo forest?
Budongo forest is found in North-western Uganda. It takes 3 hours to reach the reserve from Kampala. From Kampala, one needs to first drive to Masindi town before heading to the forest reserve. Entrance to Budongo Forest reserve costs $40 per person.
Accommodation around budongo forest?
Visitors to Budongo forest reserve have plenty of options for accommodation. The final choice of accommodation depends on one’s budget. The lodges and hotels can be got within the forest reserve, in Masindi town or further at the Murchison Falls National Park. For those who love outdoor camping, it can be arranged within the reserve. The Research Centre in Budongo forest also offers simple rooms at affordable rates:
Budongo Eco Lodge:
Budongo Eco Lodge is a budget lodge built within the Budongo forest reserve. The lodge is 30 km away from the town of Masindi and offers a perfect atmosphere for relaxation and in a tranquil environment. Budongo Eco lodge offers comfortable special cabins with balconies and also dormitory rooms. The dorm rooms are spacious and designed to be used by large groups of tourists. The lodge has a restaurant where residents can order for both local and international foods. While at the lodge you can participate in activities like chimpanzee trekking, bird watching, chimpanzee habituation experience and nature walks. Those who are interested in local souvenir can go to the Visitor Centre and purchase locally made art pieces and gifts.