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Birding 20 days:Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

Safari tour package: A custom, tailor-made, private safari
Prices: $6000
Includes internal flights: No
Length of safari: 20+ days
Best months: All year
Countries visited: Uganda Uganda
Parks visited: Bwindi Impenetrable, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo
Activity level: Active - Hiking, horse riding
Safari type:
  • Cultural
  • Birding
No other area can match in Africa Uganda’s diversity of habitats and the richness is reflected in the ever burgeoning birder list of 1000 species . Amongest these are the special birds such as Shoebill and the numerous spectacular endemics of the albertine rift that are difficult or impossible to find else where. By size of the country like that of Great Britain makes it the richest African bird destination.

Day 1. Arrival at Entebbe International Airport
Our representative will meet and  greet you  at the airport before driving you to Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel or Sophie’s Motel or Boma Guest House where you will check in will meet you at the airport. Both hotels border Botanical gardens on the shores of lake Victoria and if time allows you will carry out birding or overnight.  Birding will take place along the shores, including the beautifully Botanical Gardens, looking for the first Lake Victoria specials. The surrounding bush holds Eastern Grey Plantain-eater and the enormous Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill is conspicuous around Entebbe.

Day 2. Mabamba Swamp
After early breakfast will drive southwards to Mabamba Swamp Wetland.  This is the nearest site for the Shoebill, Lesser Jacana, Blue Swallow, Black-Shouldered Nightjar, Afep Pigeon, Blue Breasted Bee-Eater, Papyrus Gonolek, and White Winged Warbler. Mabamba Swamp is located on the fringes of Lake Victoria. We shall look for many of the Victoria specials, including White-winged Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola and Papyrus Gonolek. Other wetland birds abound and we will keep our eyes spotting Swamp Flycatcher, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, herons, egrets, ducks, plovers, gulls, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers and perhaps the greatest prize of all, the incredible Shoebill, which is seen here from time to time
Spend the whole day birding in this wetland and the surrounding areas, have a picnic lunch there returning to Kampala in the evening and over night at Serena Hotel or Sheraton Hotel for up market or Hotel Africana or Holiday Express Hotel.

Day 3. Mabira Forest
After early breakfast drive to Mabira Forest and enjoy the dawn chorus at the brilliant Mabira Forest near Jinja, which although small, allows access to some fine primary and good secondary forest as well as forest-edge. We will search for Little Olive, Blue-throated Brown and Superb Sunbirds. The parties hold the magical Black-throated Apalis, Forest Robin and Common Wattle-eye amongst a plethora of illadopses and ground robins. The forest edge supports the superb Red-headed Bluebill and Black-bellied Seed cracker while the canopy harbors the excellent African Shrike Flycatcher and Red-headed Malimbe amongst others. The dead trees support hole-nesters such as the Grey-throated, Yellow-spotted and Yellow-billed Barbets.  The fruiting figs attract the cartoon-esque Great Blue Turaco and Pied Hornbills. Overnight at Kingfisher resort or Sunset Hotel -Jinja.

Day 4. Jinja- Masindi
Early this morning, bird along shores of lake Victoria, visit the source of the Nile River and Bujagali Falls. Lunch and proceed making way through Kampala before proceeding to Masindi. Overnight at Masindi Hotel.

Day 5. Budongo-Murchison Falls
Start by driving to the northern sector of Budongo forest for the early morning. Look for Uganda Wood-Warbler, Grey-headed Sunbird, Ituri Batis, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, White-spotted Flufftail, Afep Pigeon Dusk tailed Cuckoo, Black Shoulderd Nightjar, White thighed Horn Bill, Yellow throated Tinkerbird, Willock’s Honeyguide, Golden-crowned Woodpecker, African Shrike-flycatcher etc.
After lunch head to Kaniyo Pabidi, birding the whole sector of the forest en-route to Murchison Falls. Several species are more easily found here including many of the lowland akalats, particularly Puvel’s and Akalat. Other specials here include Sabine’s Spinetails, Piping Hornbill, Fire-crested Alethe, Brown-chested Alethe, Black-capped Apalis, and Jameson’s, Chestnut wattle-eyes.  In the evening we shall be making our way to Murchison Falls N.P. Overnight Sambiya River Lodge or paara safari lodge for up market and Red chilli for budget option.

Day 6-7. Murchison Falls N.P.
We shall spend three days exploring the many tracks and trails around Murchison Falls Park.  The park HQ at Paraa holds some excellent species including the Blue-naped Mousebird, Silverbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver and the highly localised White-rumped Seedeater. The river line thickets hold Yellow-throated Leaflove, Red-winged Grey Warbler, White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Grey Kestrel, Heuglin’s Francolin and many others. Crossing the Victoria Nile of the ferry, one might encounter Stanley’s Bustard and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. The grasslands support Bar-breasted Firefinch, Fawn-breasted, Black-faced and Black-rumped Waxbills.  A boat trip will be taken to the magnificent falls and abundant waterbirds shall be viewed on the way. Red-throated Bee-eaters that breed along the sandy river cliffs and the famous Rock Pratincoles will be spotted below the falls.

Day 8. Murchison Falls-Budongo
Bird around the surroundings and leave in time to reach Busingiro Forest Center by around midday via the Lake Albert route, birding on the way. Bird around the forest center in the afternoon. You are likely to spot the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec and yellow-crested Woodpecker and many more. Drive through to the Forestry College near the Royal Mile circuit continue to Masindi for overnight or overnight at Busingiro eco site center.

Day 9. Budongo Forest
Early morning start dawn to Budongo’s Royal Mile. A site for several species, it is the best place in Uganda for Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. We shall also search for Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers. Fruiting trees attract White-thighed and Black-and-White Hornbills, Western Black-headed Oriole and Purple-headed Glossy Starling. Greenbuls abound, and this is one of the only sites holding Spotted, Xavier’s, White-throated and Honeyguide Greenbuls. Canopy flocks support Brown-crowned Eremomela and the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec and Yellow-mantled Weaver, Rufous Thrush, Green Hylia, Grey Longbill and Uganda Woodland Warbler. We return to Masindi for the evening.

Day 10.  Drive to Fort portal via Hoima birding en-route.
Drive to Fort portal via Hoima birding en-route. Overnight at Fort Motel or Toro Resort Lodge or Ndali Lodge.

Day 11. Kibale Forest National Park
Drive to Kanyanchu – Kibale forest track chimps in their natural habitat. The forest supports different species of birds. In the afternoon visit Bigodi swamp famous birding sanctuary and overnight.

Day 12. Fort Portal – Queen Elizabeth N.P
Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, driving through the foothills of the Rwenzoris Mountains. Birding en-route we shall explore Lake Kikorongo and the Shoebill Swamps before making our way to the Lodge.

Day 13. Queen Elizabeth N.P
Start the day exploring the Kasenyi Track and the Kazinga Channel. Queen Elizabeth is famous for its water bird concentrations of water logged waders, herons, storks, plover, Water Thick-knee, kingfishers, terns, ducks and geese, cormorants, ibises and pelicans. The Kasenyi track supports many raptors, with Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur and Martial Eagles being common, as are the vultures. Other typical savanna birds including shrikes, bee-eaters, kingfishers are endemic to this area.

Day 14. Queen Elizabeth N.P.
This morning you will drive to the Maramagambo forest, explore the bat caves and watch birds the whole day. Check in at Jacana Safari Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 15. Queen Elizabeth N.P  – Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park.
Depart for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest arriving in time for an afternoon bird walk in the Buhoma area, looking for Black-billed and Black-necked Weavers, Black Bee-Eater, Black and White Shrike Flycatcher, Pied Mannikin and much more.

Day 16 -18. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest /Mgahinga 
Gorilla tracking is set aside but optional. Spend next days at the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, in the rugged Kigezi Highlands of southwestern Uganda. Highly diverse, this park supports 24 of 26 Albertine Rift Endemics that occur in Uganda. Once continuous with the forests of the Virunga Volcanos (Dain Fossey’s stomping ground), Bwindi is now an ecological island, surrounded by cultivation on the rich volcanic soils. We shall start at Buhoma, in the valley of the Munyaga River, at 1550 m.

There are many  birds in this area, but we will be on the lookout for key endemics such as Red-throated Alethe, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Montane Masked Apalis, Neumann’s Warbler and Ruwenzori Batis. Other non-endemic specials include Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Dusky Tit, Black Bee-eater, White-bellied Robin-chat and Sooty Flycatcher as well as hole-nesting Waller’s and Narrow-tailed Starlings in the dead tree snags. The Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black-necked Weaver, Lühder’s Bush-shrike and Bar-tailed Trogon will be spotted. Buhoma deserves several days of exploration before we make our way towards Kitahurira, the neck of forest linking Buhoma to Ruhiza. This is the best site for Toro-Olive Greenbul, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher and Western Bronze-naped Pigeon.  At least one day will be spent exploring the highland forest at Ruhiza, some 800 m higher than Buhoma, on a clear day one can see all the way to the Virungas. It has a dramatically different nature and avifauna; it is also the site with most of the Albertine endemics.

The star attractions here are Collared Apalis, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Dusky Crimsonwing, Archer’s Robin-chat, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Dwarf Honeyguide and many others. The trail to Mubwindi Swamp promises to reveal some of the most difficult of all rift-endemics including the mythical African Green Broadbill. Mubwindi Swamp holds Graur’s Rush Warbler and Carruther’s Cisticola.

Day 19. Ruhija-Lake Mburo N.P.
The famous Bwindi avian life will be left from Ruhija early this morning, Drive to Lake Mburo National Park and bird the Lakeside Track and Kigambira Loop to look for savanna and Acacia woodland species including Blue-naped Mousebird, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Northern Black Tit, Red-headed Lovebird, Green-capped Eremomela, Ross’ Turaco and the highly sought-after Red-faced Barbet.

Day 20. Lake Mburo N.P. -Kampala
Bird in Lake Mburo National Park and make way back to Kampala, stopping for birding at  Kaaku swamp for the Rufous-bellied Heron, Lesser Jacana, Lesser Moorhen and a variety of water birds then drive to Entebbe for your flight, end of services suitable sites. Stop at Equator the hemispheres point of meeting  overnight in Kampala or strait Transfer to flights at Entebbe airport whichever applicable. (flight to be in the evening 5.00pm and above).

City Tour, Kasubi tombs, Uganda Museum,Lake Mburo, Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi gorillas, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Fores...

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