Uganda is a beautiful country with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and a number of exciting Albertine Rift Valley endemics making it one of the best places in East Africa for birding. Three key birds stand out and they are the mighty Shoebill, the fluorescent African Green Broadbill and the mystical Green-breasted Pitta, all of which we have an excellent chance of finding in July. Gorilla and Chimpanzee sightings are also a large attraction to this country and we will certainly make time to try and see these wonderful primates. From snow capped mountains in the west to semi-arid areas in the north-east, rainforests in the central zone and various water bodies in the west Uganda really is a must visit destination!
DAY 1: ARRIVAL
Arrive at Entebbe International Airport and transfer to our accommodation.
Overnight at Lake Victoria View guest house.
DAY 2: MABAMBA SWAMP
After an early breakfast we head to Mabamba swamp on the shores of Lake Victoria west of Entebbe International Airport. This is one of the few remaining wetlands in the country protected by the local communities, an extensive papyrus swamp with channels and lagoons, classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebill. This charismatic species is the only representative in its family and one of the most sought after birds in Africa. We will make a special effort to find this amazing bird by paddling through the water channels by boat in order to get some stunning views!
There will be of course a good selection of other classic African water birds to see. These may include Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Pink backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Goliath, Purple, Squacco and Black-headed Herons, African Fish Eagle and African Marsh Harrier, Yellow-billed Duck, African and Lesser Jacanas, Long-toed Lapwing, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Swamp Flycatcher, Hamerkop , African Water Rail, Allen’s Gallinule, Papyrus Gonolek , Papyrus Canary, Grey-crowned Crane, African Openbill Stork , Northern Brown-throated, Orange, Golden-backed, Black-headed and Village Weavers , Red-chested Sunbird, Cape Wagtail, Fan tailed Widowbird ,Winding Cisticola and African Grey Parrots may be seen flying overhead. At the edge of Mabamba swamp in the farmland areas, we are likely to find Great Blue and Ross`s Turacos, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, African Pied Hornbill, Superb Sunbird, Weyns`s Weaver, Purple and Splendid Glossy Starlings.
Overnight at Masindi Hotel
DAY 3: Birding The Royal Mile
We shall have an early morning breakfast and drive to one of Uganda’s top birdwaching hotspots, The Royal Mile. Historically it is more well known as a leisure spot for the traditional King of Bunyoro. The forest comprises of huge mahogany trees and the forest has been cut back a few meters along the edge providing an excellent viewing area for the birdlife that feeds and breeds in the area.
Key species here include: African Dwarf and Chocolate Backed Kingfishers, African Pygmy, Blue Breasted and Shinning Blue Kingfishers, Yellow and Grey Longbill, Forest Flycatcher, Rufous Crowned Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaraptera, Spotted Greenbul, Cassin`s and Sabine’s Spinetail, Nahan`s Francolin, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Cassin`s Hawk-Eagle, Blue-throated Roller, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Olive Bellied, Green-throated, Green-headed and Grey-headed Sunbirds, Western Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-crested and Brown-eared Woodpeckers, White-thighed Hornbill, Ituri Batis, Chestnut Wattle-eye, White breasted Negrofinch, Pale breasted, Scaly-breasted and Brown Illadopsis, Rufous flycatcher-Thrush, Tambourine Dove, Slender-billed, Toro Olive, Cameroon Sombre, White-throated, Little Grey and Little Greenbuls. Other wildlife may include Guezera Colobus and Red-tailed Monkeys and a possibility of Chimpanzee! After lunch we proceed to Murchison Falls National Park.
Overnight at Kabalega Wilderness Camp
DAY 4: Murchison Falls NP
A morning game drive and afternoon boat trip.
This is Uganda`s biggest National Park and famous for its big game, spectacular scenery and of course the falls for which the park is named. The birding experience here is exceptional with an abundance of wildlife, fabulous scenery and varied habitats of wetland and dry savannah for many key species. We will be looking for Blue-naped and Speckled Mousebirds, Spotted Morning Thrush, Siverbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black Headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned and White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Viteline Masked Weaver and Green-winged Pytilia, Denham’s and Black-bellied Bustard, Crested and Heuglin’s Francolin, Red-throated, White-throated, Swallow-tailed and Little Bee-eaters, Black-bellied and Bar-breasted Firefinches, Bruce’s and African Green pigeons, Red-necked Falcon and Grey Kestrel, Senegal and Spotted Thick-knee, Black-billed and Blue-spotted Wood-Doves, Double-toothed, Spot-flanked and Black-billed Barbets, White-crested Turacos, Speckle-fronted Weavers, Slender-billed and Compact Weavers, Red-winged Warblers, Broad-Billed and Abyssinian Rollers, Piapiac, Yellow-mantled Widowbird and Northern Red Bishop, Whisling, Siffling, Singing, Zitting, Rattling, Croacking and Foxy Cisticolas, Sooty and White-fronted Black Chat, Northern White-crested Helmet shrike, Yellow-billed Shrike, Northern Camine Bee-eaters, Grey-headed, Woodland, and Striped Kingfishers, Brown Babblers, Abyssinian Ground and Grey Hornbills, Grey-backed and Woodchat Shrikes, Shelley’s Rufous Sparrow and more! Of course we will also be looking for mammals with some excellent game viewing. Species we hope to find include Elephant, Common Warthog, Giraffe, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Oribi, Bohor Reedbuck, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck and the Kongoni. The abundance of herbivores in the park also supports a healthy Lion population that we will try and find. Overnight at Kabalega Wildness Camp
Day 5: Transfer to Semuliki Valley National Park
This is mostly a travel day with some birding stops en route. Overnight UWA Cottages
DAY 6: Semuliki Valley National Park to the famous Kirumia Trail
Semuliki National Park lies in the Albertine Rift valley, north-west of the Ruwenzori Mountains. Semuliki Forest represents an eastern extension of the great Ituri Forest of North-eastern DRC and as such, its flora and fauna show strong affinities with the Congo Basin Forests. It is therefore the best place in Uganda to see most of the West African specialities that are very difficult to access elsewhere in Africa. We will spend the whole day birding the Kirumia trail and associated forest.
Key species include: Red-billed Dwarf, Black Dwarf, Piping, African Pied, Black-and-White Casqued, Crowned, White-Crested, Black-casqued, Wattled and White-thighed Hornibills, Red-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-throated Tinkerbirds, Yellow-throated, Dusky Long-tailed, Red-chested, and African Emerald Cuckoos, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Blue-billed, Crested and Red-headed Malimbes, Green-tailed and Red-tailed Bristlebills, Fire-crested and Brown-chested Alethes, Lowland Akalat, Eastern Forest Robin, African Piculet, Grey-throated Rail, Nkulengu Rail, Ituri Batis, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Maxwell`s black Weaver, Yellow-throated Nicator, Red-tailed and White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Congo Serpent Eagle, Ayres`s and Cassin`s Hawk Eagles, African Crowned Eagle, Narina Trogon, Yellow-crested, Brown-eared and Gabon Woodpeckers and many more!
An amazing 53 mammal species have been recorded in the park, but many are shy and nocturnal. Some of the more conspicuous species that we hope to see include Grey-checked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed and Gentle Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guezera Colobus. De-Brazza’s monkeys are rare and Chimpanzees are occasionally heard but seldom seen. There are also Elephant, Bush Pig, Buffalo and White-bellied Duiker in the park. Overnight UWA Cottages
DAY 7: Transfer to Kibale National Park
Another day of travel with birding stops en route. Overnight at Kibale Home Stay
DAY 8: Chimpanzee trekking and Birding
Kibale National Park is famous for the highest concentration of Primates in Africa and it is a reliable site for habituated chimpanzees. We shall focus much of our time trying to see these intriguing primates as well as giving time to see the key birds of this forest. One such key bird species is the Green-Breasted Pitta and Kibale is by far the best place in Africa to find this Pitta and our local guide knows the best area!
Other species we will look for include: White-spotted Flufftail, Red-chested Flufftail, Jameson’s Wattle Eye, African Blue Flycatcher Purple-headed and Chestnut-winged Starlings, Red-chested Owlet, Shinning Blue and Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Brown and Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Crested Guineafowl, White-throated Greenbul, Yellow-spotted, Yellow-billed and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Grey-headed Olive-Back, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Fawn-breasted and Black-crowned Waxbills, Green-backed Twinspot, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Superb, Green-throated, Tiny, Orange-tufted and Green-headed Sunbirds, Dark-backed, Black necked and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Dusky and Olive longed-tailed Cuckoos, Grey-throated and White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Scarce Swift, Thick-billed and Willcock’s Honeyguides, Uganda Woodland Warbler and many more species!
Overnight at Kibale Home Stay
DAY 9: Queen Elizabeth NP & afternoon boat cruise
We will leave early for Queen Elizabeth National Park where we enjoy a boat cruise in the afternoon. During the boat trip we shall have our first chance to see African Skimmers, Saddle-bill Stork, African Spoonbill, Kitlitiz`s plover, Yellow-billed Stork, Goliath and Grey Herons, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, African Fish Eagle, Black Crakes and many other migratory and resident shore birds. Other wildlife may include Elephants, Uganda Kob, Bushbuck, Hippopotamus, Spotted Hyenas, Banded Mongoose, Waterbuck, Lion and with luck Leopard also! Overnight Bush Lodge
DAY 10: Morning Game Drive Queen Elizabeth NP and then Bwindi
Queen Elizabeth NP is yet another area with some of the highest biodiversity than any other game park in the world. Its varied habitats of open savannah, acacia woodlands, tropical rainforests, dense papyrus swamps and lakes make it one of the most wildlife rich parks in Africa.
During the morning we will look for species such as Trilling, Red-faced, Croaking, Stout and Zitting Cisticolas, Hollub`s Golden Weavers, White-headed and Double-toothed Barbets, Sooty Chat, Broad-tailed and African Moustached Warblers, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Long-crested Eagle, White-headed, Lappet-faced, African White-backed and Ruppell`s Griffon Vultures, Arrow-marked and Black-lored Babblers and much more. Again we will also be looking for Leopards if we had no success on the previous day. During the afternoon we will travel to Bwindi. Overnight at Bwindi Haven Lodge
DAY 11: Gorilla trekking
Today we shall have an early breakfast ready for our Gorilla trekking experience! Trekking uphill to see families of Gorillas is a must do life time experience. We hope to have an opportunity to enjoy close views of adults feeding, grooming and resting as young animals swing from vines in a delightfully gentle display. In addition we may see Ruwenzori and Yellow-backed Duikers, Blue Monkey and Guereza Colobus Monkey. Overnight at Bwindi Haven Lodge
DAY 12: Birding the Buhoma Trail
Today we will be birding the Buhoma trail, looking for species like Newmann`s Warbler, African Broadbill, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Red-capped, Grey-winged and Blue-shouldered Robin Chats, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Oriole Finch, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat and White-bellied Robin Chat, Great Blue and Black-billed Turacos, Pink-footed Puffback, Many-coloured, Bocage’s and Luhder’s Bush Shrike, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Mountain Illadopsis, MacKinnon’s Fiscal, Elliot’s, Fine-banded and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Red-faced Woodland Warblers, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, African Goshawk and Fraser’s Eagle Owl to name just some of the species.
Overnight at Bwindi Haven Lodge
DAY 13: Transfer to Ruhija via the Neck
The Neck is a relatively narrow stretch that separates the two sections of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, those being Ruhija and Buhoma. This section of forest is characterised by riverine forest vegetation and has many specialities such as African Black Duck, Mountain Wagtail, Kakamega and Red-tailed Greenbulls, Toro Olive and White-throated Greenbuls, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed and Brown-capped Weavers, Dusky Tit, Grey, Buff-throated and Black-throated Apalises, Red-headed Malimbe, Red tailed Bristlebill, Narrow-tailed, Purple-headed, and Stuhlmann’s Starlings, and It is also the best place in Uganda to find the stunning Black Bee-eater. Overnight at Trekkers Tavern
DAY 14: Birding in Ruhija and the Mubwindi Swamp
A full day birding the forest trails.
One of the key target species here will be the African Green Broadbill. This stunning luminous green coloured bird is most definitely on every birder’s wish list when visiting Uganda! Other species we will look for include numerous specialities of this region such as, Handsome Francolin, Mountain Masked Apalis, Ruwenzori Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, White-browed Crombec, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Scally-throated Honeyguide, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Doherty’s Bushrike, Mountain Illadopsis, Red-throated Alethe, Black-headed Waxbill, Shelley’s Crimsonwing , Dusky Crimsonwing, Dusky Twinspot, Grauer’s Warbler, Dwarf Honeyguide, White-stared Robin, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Mountain Thrush, Mountain Oriole, Great Blue and black-billed Turacos, Waller’s Starling, Narina Trogon, Ruwenzori Batis, Archer’s Robin, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Oriole Finch, Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Barred-long tailed Cuckoo, Brown Necked Parrot, Slender-billed Starling, Olive Pigeon, Regal Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Strange Weaver and Black-billed Weaver, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher and much more. We will also try for some nocturnal species such as Ruwnzori Nightjar and African Wood Owl. Other wildlife we hope to see includes Boehm’s Squirrel and the Ruwenzori Sun Squirrel, L’hoests and Blue Monkeys while Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzee are fairly common but rarely seen.
Overnight at Trekkers Tavern
DAY 15: Lake Mburo National Park
Today we visit Lake Mburo and the only place in Uganda where we can see the more typical southern savannah species. Of particular interest we will look for Red-faced Barbet, Tabora Cisticola, African Finfoot, and White-backed Night Heron.
Most of the park is dominated by tall grass savannah dotted with Acacia and Euphorbia trees. Common birds in this habitat include: Crested Francolin, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-Away Bird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, African Grey Hornbill, White-headed and Double-toothed Barbets, Nubian and Cardinal Woodpeckers, Trilling Cisticola ,Yellow-breasted Apalis, Northern Black Tit, Chin-spot Batis, Greater Blue-eared Starling , Marico Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Brown-backed and White-browed Scrub Robins, Rufous-chested Swallow, Black-bellied Bustard, African Wattled Plover, Rufous-naped and Flappet Larks, Coqui Francolin, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Southern Red Bishop. We also have a good chance of Brown-Chested Plovers that can be seen from the second week of July to December. At night if the weather is good we will look for nocturnal species such as Black-shouldered Nightjar, Swamp and Pennant-winged Nightjars, Verreaux`s Eagle Owl and African Scops Owl. The park will also give us a variety of game viewing opportunities such as Buffalo, Impala, Warthog, Zebra, Hippo, Waterbuck, Dwarf and Banded Mongoose, Side-striped Jackal, Bushbuck, Topi and Eland. Overnight at Rwakobo Rock
DAY 16: Transfer to Entebbe and Departure