10-Day Birding, Wildlife and Gorilla Tracking.
Day 1 Arrival and Birding at Entebbe Botanical Gardens.
If your flight arrives early, you can catch a quick afternoon birding session at Entebbe Botanical Gardens which is ten minutes’ drive from Entebbe International Airport on the shores of Lake Victoria. The Entebbe Botanical Gardens is also a warm arena of several species of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones, besides several shrubs. Because of this environment, 206 bird species and monkeys are inhabitants here. Be on the lookout for Ross’s and Great blue Turaco, Superb Sunbird, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Orange Weaver, Golden and Yellow-backed Weavers among others.
Dinner and overnight at Boma/ Entebbe Travellers’ Inn/ Imperial Resort Hotel.
Day 2: More of the Lake Victoria Basin (Mabamba and Mpanga forest in the mid-afternoon).
Today we explore more of the birding spots around the Lake Victoria Basin. After an early morning breakfast, we head off to Mabamba, Kamengo Wetlands which is about 50km from Entebbe town. Mabamba is an extensive papyrus swamp ballooned by channels and lagoons and is classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area). The community jealously guard this sanctuary which is home to the world famous Shoebills regarded as Uganda’s most famous avian resident.
A short boat paddle will bring us to this famous bird with a giant beautiful beak that is a much sought after bird across the continent. Seeing it will be our mainstay today. This area also boast both local species like Long-toed Plover, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue-headed Coucal, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Swamp Flycatcher, White-winged & Papyrus Yellow Warblers alongside the classic birds like the African Fish-Eagle, African Marsh-Harrier, Goliath Heron, Yellow-billed Duck, Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, , African Water Rail, Allen’s Gallinule and Malachite Kingfisher. The metropolis areas of the airport town Entebbe and Kampala city provides early chances of your birding experience without necessitating you to travel hundreds of kilometres. Close to 300 species are found within this short radius including the African Green Pigeon, African Open-Billed Stork, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Grey Kestrel, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher and the.
Return to lodge for dinner and accommodation.
Day 3: Bird watching and trip to Kibale Forest.
Today we head further down South Western Uganda to the tourism district of Fort Portal through Kibale- home of the largest concentration of primates. The Kibale Forest National Park has 13 primates species among them over 1400 chimpanzees.
7AM: After Breakfast we hit the road straight to Kibale Forest National Park which is the best spot for tracking chimpanzees in the East African region. It harbours one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of all tropical forests in Uganda. It is also home to the rare L’hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened Red Colobus Monkey. Other famous primates likely visible here include the Black and white Colobus, Blue Monkey, Grey cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkey, Olive Baboon, Bush baby and Pottos.
For birding, this is another hot sport where you will be treated to 325 bird species- with 6 species endemic to the Albertine rift region! They include; the Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird and Red-faced Woodland Warbler. If you are lucky you may also see the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Black Bee-eater, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Black eared Ground-Thrush, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue breasted kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, and the Crowned Eagle.
Dinner an overnight in Fort Portal town- Ataco/ Mountains of the Moon
Day 4: Chimpanzee tracking day at Kibale Forest National Park Uganda.
Today we have the chance to fully view one of the endangered primates- the chimpanzee.
7AM: After an early breakfast we hit the road to Kibale National Park.
Chimp Tracking is both adventurous and tedious and can last a few hours to several hours. Spend time and experience the habits of the chimp that is one of mankind’s closest kins. After experiencing the primates, we return to Fort Portal town for Lunch.
We resume birding in the afternoon along the Bigodi wetland. Several species exist here including the riverine forest birds along the road. We may also find the Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’s Greenbul and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Fluff tail, Dusky and Olive Long tailed Cuckoo, Lesser Honey guide, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Oliveback. Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Dinner and overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge
Day 5: Birding and the Tree Climbing Lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park
The highlight of this part of the safari is the famous tree climbing lions and several neighbouring crater lakes all summed up by the imposing view of the Rwenzori Mountain- Africa’s most rugged mountain in the background.
This dense and diverse eco system of savannah to rain forest, from dense papyrus swamps and brooding crater lakes and the vastness of Lake Edward provides a unique appeal for biodiversity which is almost unmatched in the world.
7AM: We start the day with an early morning game drive after breakfast where we have the opportunity to see Lions, Cape Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Leopard, Giant Forest hog, Elephant, Deffassa Water buck, Topi, and Bush buck among others.
After the game drive, we return for a short break and commence the birding experience in this reclusive habitat.
(We also have options like the Hot Air Balloon safari that last just a few hours.)
Queen Elizabeth National Park has a huge birding population numbering over 610 species recorded, and a one day record of 296 species. These include the famous Shoebill, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Amur Falcon, Lowland Akalat, Harlequin Quail, Blue Quail, Small (Common) Buttonquail, African Crake, White winged Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Papyrus Gonolek, Amur Falcon, Ovampo Sparrowhawk, Lowland Akalat, Black Bee-eater, Caruthers’s Cisticola, Terek Sandpiper, Secretary Bird, and Temminck’s Courser.
Other mammals here include the African Elephant, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Lion, Ugandan Kobs, Side-striped Jackal, Baboons, Chimpanzees, Bush and Water Bucks, Warthogs, Giant Forest Hogs among others.
Day 6: Birding and Tracking the Mountain Gorilla at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Our next stop will be a fairly long route to western Uganda to the home of the world famous Mountain Gorillas.
This is another key segment of the safari which will also take us to the Number One Birding Hotspot in Africa.
Forest Birding at Bwindi has been voted as the Number one Hotspot in Africa by African Bird Club Members. This area provides some of the best bird watching in Uganda. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics.
6.30AM: After an early morning breakfast we start the journey to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This journey will take most of the day.
Depending on the season we may choose to go through the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, where there are chances of encountering the rare tree-climbing Lions at Ishasha sector of the park.
1PM: Today, lunch will be packed and served enroute. If we make it in time, we may have a birding session at Munyaga trail.
Dinner and overnight at Chameleon Hill/
Day 7: Gorilla Tracking Day
It is D-day! Preparations begin quite early with a quick breakfast to enable you catch up with the group. The hiking and tracking is both beautiful, tiresome, adventurous and deeply rewarding. The terrain can be treacherous and muddy while the tracking can take anywhere from two to eight hours. But it is all worth it as you come face to face with these dinosaurs of the wild described as the amazing “Gentle Giants.” The gentle habits of these incredible creatures defy their size. You will be guided on how to behave in their presence as well as how to capture your lifetime memorable photos while in their presence. Unique moments include the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from the green tree branches creating an awesome mix of nature and creation.
You are restricted to only one hour with the gorillas because of safety and habituation reasons. But again, it is all worth it.
Dinner and overnight at Chameleon Hill Lodge/ Engagi Lodge/ Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.
Day 8: Whole day bird watching on the Bwindi Main trail.
Today we dedicate it to birding watching. Bwindi is no doubt impenetrable and Forest birding here is ranked number one in Uganda. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemic birds.
These include the Chapin’s Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-flycatcher, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced Apalis, Black-throated Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Mountain Illadopsis, African Hill-Babbler, Dusky Tit, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Sooty Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, White-naped Raven, Montane Oriole, African Golden Oriole, Stuhlmann’s Starling, Narrow-tailed Starling, Waller’s Starling, Strange Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver, Black-billed Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed Seedeater, Streaky Seedeater, African Green Broadbill, Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Wood-Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Black Bee-eater, (Western) Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Elliot’s Woodpecker, African Broadbill, Western Green Tinkerbird, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Archer’s Ground Robin, Toro Olive-Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, White-bellied Robin chat, Olive Thrush, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Grauer’s Rush-warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Neumann’s Warbler and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.
Dinner and overnight at Chameleon Hill Lodge/ Engagi Lodge/ Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.
Day 9: Equator and transfer to Kampala.
Today, we will depart for Kampala after an early morning breakfast. This trip is fairly long and will take most of the day. There will be stopovers at the Equator- the imaginary line that divides the earth into two hemispheres. Here you will see water swirling in two different directions creating an enchanting experience of the forces of nature at play. You can also buy some souvenir and crafts in the nearby shops enroute to Kampala
Arrive in Kampala and either relax or enjoy a bit of the vibrant Kampala night life.
Day 10: City Tour and Departure.
Depending on your flight schedule, you can sample some of the amazing history of Kampala. A trip to Namugongo Martyrs shrine, the Bahai temple, the several hills, Kabaka’s palace and man-made Lake.
This is the end of our safari! We hope you have had a great time exploring a bit of our country and will return to experience more of the people and the culture.
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With 1078 bird species and counting, no country boasts such bird diversity like Uganda. Uganda is home to 11% of the world’s recorded bird species which is 50% of Africa’s bird species richness.