15-Day Birding, Wildlife and Gorilla Tracking Safari.
Day 1 Arrival and Birding at Entebbe Botanical Gardens.
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 2: More of the Lake Victoria Basin (Mabamba and Mpanga forest in the mid-afternoon).
Breakfast and then take a short trip to the Batwa community for a session of hunting skills, stories and traditional dance performances. Proceed to the border with Rwanda. Have lunch and a short nap and then proceed to the watering area of the cattle.
In the evening, be treated to a Uganda cultural tour by a traditional dance group. Dinner and Overnight at Nshenyi Village Farm Guest House (FB)/ Mbarara town
Day 3: Birding in Uganda’s largest conservation area- Murchison Falls National Park.
An early morning breakfast will set us off to Murchison Falls National Park- the world’s most powerful waterfalls towards the north western Uganda. The about three hour journey takes us through plain land terrain with dots of low lying hills in Nakasongola District.
Lunch and stop over at Traveller’s Inn in Masindi District or on the highway restaurant past Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Our lucky spots for today should be the Green Winged Pytilia, Red-backed Shrike, Cliff Chat, Yellow fronted Tinkerbird, Grey-headed Bush Shrike, Singing Cisticola, Namaqua dove, Red-backed Shrike, Crested Francolin, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Northern and Black winged Red Bishops, Black-bellied Fire finch, March Tchagra and Black-faced Waxbill.
Dinner and overnight at Paraa Lodge in Murchison Falls.
Day 4: Game Drive and Birding in Murchison falls.
Today we start off with an early breakfast and a morning game drive in the lush savannah grassland of Murchison Falls National Park where we should site big game like Leopards, Lions, Elephants, Buffalo and Giraffe and antelopes.
Mid-afternoon Lunch and short rest.
After lunch, we depart for an afternoon boat cruise that will take us to one of the most exciting part of this safari. We will ride upto the bottom of the Murchison Falls where we will witness the mighty River Nile force its way through a narrow opening in the rocks falling down the rocks creating a thunderous powerful water fall that gives you great photo opportunities.
Along the way, we could chance on water birds like Goliath Heron, Senegal Thick-knee, Water Thick-knee, the Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Hornbill, Pied Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Osprey, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Vinaceous Dove and Grosbeak Weaver.
Other species include Spotted Morning- Thrush, Marabou Stock, Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinker bird, Bar-breasted Fire finch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Marabou Stork, Red-throated Bee-eater, Silver bird, Beautiful Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Golden-backed Weaver, White-rumped Seedeater, Pels Fishing Owl, White Crested Turaco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Carmine Bee-eater, Night jars (Pennant-winged &Standard-winged), White-rumped Canary among others.
Day 5: Birding at Budongo forest Uganda
7.30 AM: Today is a day for both wildlife and great rare species birding. Besides the birding, the area is also home to the Blue & Red-tailed Monkeys, Black-and-White Colobus and Chimpanzees.
Budongo is the largest forest area in the region and it neighbours Murchison Falls National Park. Within Kanio Pabidi, we have a great spot for additional birding. The route through the Rift Valley escarpment is also a great spot. This area provides great photo shoot positions with the view overlooking Lake Albert and the Great Rift Valley. So today we will be treated to some rear species including the Puvell’s Illadopsis. There are additional bird species including Yellow and Grey Longbills, Olive-bellied Combec, Yellow-browned Camaroptera, Little Green Sunbird, Red-headed Blue Bill, Crested Guineafowl sporting their punk “hairdos”, White Crested Turaco, Rufous-crowned Eremomela among others. The diversity also provides species from outside the region including birds from West Africa like the Green-breasted Pitta, Blue-breasted, White-thighed Hornbill, Green-breasted Pitta, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Dwarf & Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Yellow-crested & Brown-eared Woodpeckers, Yellowbill, Western Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted & Yellow-billed Barbets, Green Hylia, Buff-throated, Black-throated & Black-capped Apalises, Black-eared Ground-Thrush, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec, Crested & Red-headed Malimbe and also various forest starlings among others. Budongo is also home to over 200 butterfly species.
Dinner and overnight at Budongo Lodges:
Day 6: Welcome to the Royal Mile- one of Uganda’s best bird watching spots.
The highlight is the possibility of seeing the elusive Nahan’s Francolin that some say is one of the most handsome of all Ugandan birds.
With a great historical narrative, the Royal Mile was a known leisure spot for the traditional King and it has preserved its name now providing a great birding spot.
Special Bird species here include the Blue Monkeys, the Western Black-headed Oriole, White-thighed and Black-and-white-Casqued Hornbills, Yellow-spotted and Yellow billed Barbets accompanied by the Red-tailed and Blue Monkeys. Nature is spread all over the terrain and you may also spot Sabine and Cassin’s Spine tails. There are also Greenbuls including Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honey guide and Spotted Greenbuls, Speckled Tinker bird, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Green Crombec, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Buff-throated Apalis, and both White-breasted and Grey-headed Negro finches. As we move further down, we should spot Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers and White-spotted Flufftails. Other possibilities here are Great Sparrowhawk, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Crested Guinea fowl, Tambourine Dove, Grey Parrot, African Emerald and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos, Yellow bill, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-throated Tinker bird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Dusky Tit, Western Nicator, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Forest Robin, Black-throated and Black-capped Apalis, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spine tails, Wilcock’s Honey guide, Yellow and Grey Long bills, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Blue-throated Brown and Little Green Sunbirds, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe, the Uganda Woodland Warbler and the Ituri Batis.
Day 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 10: 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 11: 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 12: 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 13: Birding and trip to Lake Mburo National Park.
The highlight here is the recently introduced giraffes that add to the largest diversity of pland and wildlife.
7AM: After breakfast, we begin our transfer towards south central Uganda through Lake Mburo National Park. It is a fairly long journey that will usher us to the only national park that contains an entire Lake. Situated in rolling hills and open grassy valleys, the park also consists of 4 other smaller lakes. Lake Mburo National park is covered in extensive open and wooded acacia savannah and it begins right from the roadside. This park is home to the largest diversity of both plant and wildlife of all Uganda’s national parks. Recently, they have introduced giraffes in Lake Mburo adding to its position as the best place to see the gigantic eland antelope as well as well as Zebra, Topi, Impala, the more uncommon Klipspringer, Burchell’s Zebra, Buffalo, Hippopotamus, and several acacia associated birds.
Besides the travel, you will spend most of the afternoon relaxing and resting
Dinner and overnight at Agip Motel/ Igongo/ Lake Mburo
Day 14: Wildlife and Birding
7AM: After breakfast, we will have a morning game drive.
Today you will see the recently introduced giraffes, Zebras, Impalas, Elands, Topi and Buffalos. You will also view the park’s sculptured landscape with rolling grassy hills and idyllic shorelines.
We will make time for a boat ride where you will see the hippos, crocodiles and a variety of water birds like the Great White Egret, Pied Kingfisher, and brilliantly colored Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warblers, African Finfoot, African Fish Eagle, the Night Heron and many more.
Dinner and overnight at Agip Motel/ Igongo/ Lake Mburo/ OR we can chose to beging the journey back to Kampala if we finish these activities early.
Day 15: Transfer to Entebbe and departure.
Transfer to Kampala enroute to Entebbe International Airport.
This is the end of our 15-day Safari! We hope you have truly enjoyed a bit of our country. Depending on your flight schedules, you can do a quick birding session at the Entebbe Botanical Garden or visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (Entebbe Zoo) for some personal moments with wildlife in an enclave.
Book your Trip today !
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.