24 Days of Best of Birding and Wildlife of Uganda.
This specialized safari demonstrates exactly how Uganda is ‘Gifted by Nature. This 24 days’ Safari takes you through Uganda’s top birding and wildlife destinations with the help of a superior network of bird guides. Our experienced tour leaders will guide you through the beautiful, rugged, and biologically diverse Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest, as well as Africa’s best Shoebill bird location, the Mabamba Wetland. Each night you will rest comfortably mid to top luxurious accommodations, strategically located to optimize our birding potential.
Day 1: Arrival for the birding safari in Uganda
Upon arrival you will be met by one of our professional bird guides and transferred to your hotel of choice. Depending on the time of arrival, we may start our safari with bird watching around the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe. Stay at Lake Victoria Hotel, Lindsay Cottages or Entebbe Travellers’ Inn.
Day 2-3: Uganda Bird watching safari to Mabamba Bay. (2 nights at Lake Mburo)
This day we shall visit the Mabamba Village and its adjacent swamp on our birding safari in Uganda, a labyrinth of channels and lagoons located about 52 km from Kampala. The road to Mabamba winds its way through areas of secondary forest and agricultural land attracting; Red-headed Lovebird, Crowned-Hornbills, and a range of sunbirds including; the Green-headed, Green, Red-chested, Collared, Marico and Scarlet-chested. We shall stop over at Mpigi Swamp to look out for the Papyrus Gonolek and the White-winged Warbler. The road ultimately ends at a papyrus reed bed adjoining Lake Victoria, where we will explore by canoe a maze of channels and mudflats for a reliable resident, the majestic Shoebill. Although sightings can never be guaranteed, we should have a very good chance of seeing this magnificent bird in Mabamba.
The Mabamba birding site also offers a large selection of other bird species which might include; African Pygmy Goose, the rare Lesser Jacana, Carruthers’ Cisticola, African Fish Eagle, Winding Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, etc. The rare and elusive Sitatunga Antelope also occurs here but it is very shy and rarely seen. We also expect to encounter the Spot-necked Otter in one of the channels that we shall paddle through.
Proceed to Lake Mburo National Park. Accommodation of choice include Mihingo Lodge, Arcadia cottages and Mantana tented camp.
Common conspicuous birds encountered whilst driving towards Rwonyo Camp, the park headquarters include; Red faced Barbet, Tabora cisiticola, Green-backed Wood pecker Crested Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away –bird, Blue-napped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, and Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, African Grey Hornbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Yellow-Breasted Apalis, Northern Black Tit, Chin-spot Batis, Greater Blue-eared Starling and Marico Sunbird.
Day 3: An early morning start will give us a chance to have a game drive as well as a boat-ride on L.Mburo giving us a chance to see animals like; buffalos, water and bush bucks, zebras, Leopard, Mongoose, Topi, warthogs and Impalas. We will have a chance of seeing birds like; the African Finfoot, a very shy bird, White-backed Night heron, plus other water birds as well as animals like; crocodiles and hippos.
The more open grassland north of the camp, particularly along the Zebra Track, is worth exploring for species such as; Coqui Francolin, Red-necked Spur fowl, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, African Wattled Plover, Rufous-naped and Flappet Larks, Rufous-chested Swallow, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Southern Red Bishop. Small number of the migratory Brown-chested Plover is regularly observed. Some of the nocturnal species include; African Scops Owl; Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and Fiery-necked, Pennant-winged, Swamp, and Black shouldered Nightjars.
Day 4- 8: Birding to Bwindi (Ruhiija and Buhoma) birding and Gorilla tracking with other primates.
Choice of accommodation; Trekkers Traven, Gorilla Mist Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Gorilla Forest Camp, Engagi Lodge, Community camp ground.
Bwindi Impenetrable Conservation Area lies in the rugged Kigezi highlands of South Western Uganda, protecting a continuum of forest that ranges from montane to low land areas. It is this altitudinal variation, combined with its location within the Albertine Rift that results in Bwindi impenetrable being the richest forest in East Africa in terms of its trees, butterflies and birds. Bwindi is a home to over 400 Gorillas about a half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas.
Bwindi is a bird watchers’ haven, it holds 347 species of birds. The forest has 10 of the 26 globally threatened species in Uganda, five of which are vulnerable. Bwindi has 23 of the locally Albertine Rift endemic species in the country and some, such as; African Green Broadbill, Chapin’s Flycatcher and Shelley’s Crimsonwing have limited distributions elsewhere in their range.
Bwindi national park has 76 of 144 Guinea – Congo forest biome species that occur in Uganda, recorded especially in the North sector. The site also qualifies for Afro tropical highland biome species with 68 of 86, and for the Lake Victoria biome with 4 of 12 species. The park is blessed with 90% of all Albertine Rift Endemics, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa and seven IUCN red data listed species. An experienced birder watcher can identify over 150 species in a day.
Ruhiija is likely to be one of the highlights of any bird watching safari to Uganda with excellent birding in spectacular surroundings. The Birds are many here and somehow easy to see, many associating in mixed feeding flocks that are active throughout the day. An early start offers the best chance of finding; the striking Handsome Francolin, African Green Broad-bill, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Western Green Tinkerbird, Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Regal Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, Grauer’s Warbler, Dusky Crimsonwing, White starred robin, Rwenzori Nightjar, Mountain masked and Chestnut-throated Apalises, Rwenzori Batis, White-tailed crested Flycatcher and many more.
Day 9-10: Bird watching Uganda Safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park. After an early morning breakfast we begin the long drive to the renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park, frequently stopping for birding along the way. Going through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth will give us a chance of seeing the Tree-climbing lions.
Spanning the equator is the vast Queen Elizabeth National Park boasting of impressive Crater Lake scenery, expansive grasslands, papyrus swamps and tropical forests, huge herds of Elephant and Buffalo, Lions, Leopards, and a diverse array of birds. It contains Uganda’s best game populations as well as some of Uganda’s best bird watching sites, an incredible bird list of 610 bird species and an overwhelming record of 296 species in a single day, makes this birding site the highest not only in Uganda but in Africa!
Depending on time of arrival, some late afternoon birding might produce views of the; African Morning Dove, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Black-headed Gonolek, Slender-billed, Yellow-backed and Lesser-masked Weavers, Pin-tailed Whydah and Black-winged Pratincole. The following day, we have an early start of bird watching and a game drive in the park towards the Kasenyi trail. The game drive takes us through a productive area of grassy plains, which support large flocks of a variety of stork species including; the Spectacular Saddle-billed and Woolly necked Storks. Other species include; the Bateleur, Grey Kestrel, Lappet-faced, Ruppell’s Griffon, White-backed and Palmnut Vultures, African Crake, Black Coucal, Common Button, Harlequin and Black-rumped Quails, Red-necked Spurfowl, Rufous-naped and Flappet Larks. Common mammals include; the Uganda Kob, Lion, Warthog, Bush Buck, Deffassa Waterbuck, Spotted Hyena, Leopard and many others.
In the afternoon we take a launch tour on the Kazinga Channel which is a natural magnet for herds of Elephants, Giant Forest Hog, Buffalo, Monitor lizard, Crocodiles and the abundant Hippopotamus. Birding here is excellent with great photographic opportunities. We might be blessed with congregations of; African Skimmers, Great-white and Pink-backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Open-billed Stork, African Skimmer, White-faced Whistling Duck, Marsh, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Malachite Kingfisher, African Jacana, African Wattled Plover etc.
Accommodation options include; Mweya Safari Lodge, Mweya Hostel Kyambura Lodge, Jacana Lodge, Katara Lodge, Enganzi Logde or Kingfisher Resort
Day 11-12: Uganda Bird Watching and Wildlife Safari to Kibale Forest.
Kibale Forest National Park protects a diverse array of primates, from the minuscule, nocturnal Demidoff’s Galago to our closest living relative, the Chimpanzee. Here we will take expeditions to observe the Chimps and many other species of primates and birds. We have a chance of birding the main road or one of the trails in the forest. We might come across the; African Emerald Cuckoo, Purple-headed Starling, Black-billed Turaco, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-throated Barbet, Blue-throated Roller, Narrow-tailed Starling, Western Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds.
The next day, we wake up very early and assemble for briefing prior to Chimpanzee Tracking and thereafter enter the forest to look for our cousins, the Chimps. The activity takes 1 to 5 hours. In the afternoon, we may choose to go bird watching in Bigodi Wetland or take one of the trails in the Forest to look for the stunning; Green-breasted Pitta, Fire-crested Alethe, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, colourful butterflies and other species of primates.
Stay at Chimpanze Guest House, Ndali Lodge or Primates Lodge.
Day13 – 15: Uganda Bird watching Safari to Budongo Forest.
On this day, we set off early driving towards Budongo Forest Reserve in Masindi. This is a rather longer drive but there are a few birding spots along the way. This forest is part of Murchison Falls Conservation Area and is the largest natural forest in Uganda and East Africa as a whole. It lies on the escarpment northeast of Lake Albert. It consists of a medium-altitude, moist, semi-deciduous forest, with areas of savanna and woodland. The reserve occupies gently undulating terrain, with a general slope north-northwest towards the Rift Valley.
Specialties in Budongo Forest include among others; Sabine’s Spinetail, Cassin’s Spinetail(rare), Pygmy Crake, Kingfishers (Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted, African Dwarf), White-spotted Fluff tail, Ituri Batis, Puvell’s Illadopsis, Brown Twin-spot, Cameroon Somber Greenbul, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Forest Robin, Little Green Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Olive Green Camaroptera.
The following day, we will be at Budongo’s famous Royal Mile by early morning – a wide forestry track considered by many to be the country’s premier forest birding locality. This is the best place in Uganda for; Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. Here we will find many confusing forest greenbuls to test us, including; Spotted, Xavier’s, White-throated, Red-tailed & Honeyguide Greenbuls. Canopy flocks support Yellow-mantled Weaver, Rufous Thrush and Uganda Woodland-Warbler. Undergrowth alongside the track holds numerous skulkers including; Scaly-breasted, Brown & Pale-breasted Illadopses, Fire-crested Alethe, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Yellow Longbill and Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher. We will keep an eye on any openings in the forest canopy as; the Cassin’s and Crowned Hawk-eagles, Cassin’s and Sabine’s spinetails, and White-throated Bee-eater are all possible. The area around the Park Headquarters is the only site in East Africa for the elusive canopy-dwelling Ituri Batis. In the afternoon, we transfer to the Busingiro section of the forest for yet another awesome bird-watching session.
Stay at Masindi Hotel or Court View Hotel
Day 16-18: Bird Watching and Wildlife holiday to Murchison Falls National Park.
Today we leave early for Murchison Falls National Park.
The name of the park was derived from the incredible Murchison Falls, where the Nile is forced through a 6-meter gap, forming the most powerful water surge on the planet. A boat cruise on the calmer stretches will allow us to watch and photograph the birds and the large animals which throng the banks, and we may have chances of finding the world’s most peculiar bird, the Shoebill. We will also explore the park’s broad-leaved woodland, dry grasslands, and forests, including nocturnal expeditions to find the unrivaled Standard-winged Nightjar.
There are chances of seeing animals like ; Giraffes, Elephants, kobs, Oribi , Elephants, Lions, Spotted Hyenas, Grass hare, Warthogs, leopards, buffalos and Birds such as Black-headed Gonolek, Spotted Dikkorp, yellow-throated Longclaw, Kittlitz’s plover, Water and Senegal Thicknees, Blue-naped and Speckled mouse birds, Spur-Winged Plover, African wattled Lapwing, Violet -Backed Starlings, Crowned Lapwings, Black-bellied Bustards, Red-necked Spurfowls, Northern, Red and Black-Winged Bishop, White-browed Coucal and many others.
Special birds to look for Murchison Falls National Park include; Shoebill, Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Hornbill, Pied Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Senegal Thick-knee, Water Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Osprey, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Vinaceous Dove and Grosbeak Weaver. Other specials include; Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Marabou Stork, Red-throated Bee-eater, Silver Bird, Beautiful Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Speckle-fronted and Golden-backed Weavers, White-rumped Seedeater, Pel’s Fishing Owl, White Crested Turaco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Carmine Bee-eater, Night jars (Pennant-winged &Standard-winged) etc.
Day 19- 22: Birding Kidepo Valley National Park.
The park contains one of the most exciting faunas of any Ugandan national park. Along with the neighboring Karamoja region, it houses many species found nowhere else in Uganda, including the; Greater and Lesser Kudu, Eland and Cheetah. Carnivores here include; the lion, leopard, spotted hyena and black-backed and side-striped jackals. Other large species regularly seen here are; elephants, Burchell’s zebra, bush pigs, warthogs, Rothschild’s giraffe, Cape buffalos, bushbucks, bush-duiker, Defassa Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Jackson’s Hartebeest and Oribi.
The park boasts an extensive bird list of around 475 species, making it second only in Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park. A few species of note are; the Ostrich, Kori Bustard and Karamoja Apalis, Abyssinian Roller ,Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Black Breasted Barbet, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Fox Kestrel, Golden Pipit, Jackson Hornbill, Karamoja Apalis, Purple Grenadier,Pygmy Falcon, Red-throated Bee-eater, White Bellied Go away bird.
Kidepo is notable for its birds of prey. Of the 56 species recorded, 14 including; the Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Pygmy Falcon are believed to be endemic to the Kidepo and Karamoja region. There has, however, been no comprehensive survey of birds in Kidepo and visitors stand a good chance of adding to the current list.
Day 23: Birding to Soroti for Fox’s weaver, the Only Uganda’s endemic bird.
Day 24: Travel to Kampala for overnight stay or Entebbe for evening departure.