Tour Dates: Wednesday 1st – Thursday 16th July 2020 (Entebbe to Entebbe)
Tour Price: £4,550pp (includes Gorilla Permit) plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Entebbe approx. £600 return
Deposit: £800 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £350 – £500
Minimum Number: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 8 people
Birds: Shoebill, Grauer’s Broadbill, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Green-breasted Pitta, Papyrus Gonolek, Shelley’s Crimsoning, Handsome Francolin, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Chapin’s Flycatcher, White-crested Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Great Blue Turaco and African Piculet to name just a few!
Mammals: Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, L’Hoests Monkey, Guezera Colobus and Red-tailed Monkey, Grey-checked Mangabey, Gentle Monkey, Yellow-backed Duiker, Leopard, Lion, Elephant and more!
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. However, three key birds stand out, the mighty Shoebill, the vivid green Grauer’s 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 key 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 rainforests in the central zone and various water bodies in the west of Uganda, this really is a must visit destination!
ACCOMMODATION: 16 nights in Uganda
A mix of the best quality hotels available and good quality lodges
1 night Lake Victoria, 1 night Masindi, 2 nights near Murchison Falls, 2 nights Semiliki Valley NP, 2 nights Kibale, 1 night Queen Elizabeth NP, 5 nights Bwindi Forest, 1 night Lake Mburo
Inclusive Meals: Full board
DAY 1: Arrival Entebbe
Arrive at Entebbe International Airport and transfer to our accommodation. If arrival times allow, we will do some relaxed birding around our accommodation. Overnight Lodge near Lake Victoria
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. It is an extensive papyrus swamp with channels and lagoons, classified as an Important Bird Area and home to several pairs of Shoebill. This species is the only representative of its family and one of the most sought after birds in Africa. We will make a special effort to find this amazing bird by taking a boat through the water channels where we hope to get some stunning views!
There will of course be a good selection of other classic African water birds to see here. 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, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Grey-crowned Crane, African Openbill Stork and maybe Allen’s Gallinule too. There should also be a good selection of Weavers such as, Northern Brown-throated, Orange, Golden-backed and Black-headed Weaver. We will also look for Red-chested Sunbird, 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 may find Great Blue and Ross’s Turacos, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, African Pied Hornbill, Superb Sunbird and Splendid Glossy Starlings. Overnight Hotel in Masindi
DAY 3: Birding The Royal Mile
We will have an early morning breakfast and drive to one of Uganda’s top birdwaching hotspots, The Royal Mile. Historically the site is better known as a leisure spot for the traditional King of Bunyoro. However, the forest here 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 are many and include African Dwarf and Chocolate Backed Kingfishers as well as the tiny African Pygmy Kingfisher and the aptly-named Shinning Blue Kingfishers. Yellow and Grey Longbills can be seen here along with Rufous Crowned Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaraptera and both Cassin’s and Sabine’s Spinetails. We will listen for the call of Nahan’s Partridge and keep on eye on the sky for Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle. Uganda Woodland Warbler will be a key species as well as numerous Sunbirds, such as Olive Bellied, Green-throated, Green-headed and Grey-headed Sunbird. A selection of Greenbuls will keep our interest with Olive, Cameroon Sombre, White-throated, Little Grey and Little Greenbul all possible. Other wildlife may include Guezera Colobus and Red-tailed Monkeys and a possibility of Chimpanzee! After lunch we will then proceed to Murchison Falls National Park. Overnight Lodge near Murchison Falls NP
DAY 4: Murchison Falls NP
A morning game drive and afternoon boat trip.
This is Uganda’s biggest National Park, famous for its big game, spectacular scenery and of course the falls to which the park is named. The birding experience here is exceptional with varied habitats of wetland and dry savannah for many key species. We will be looking for numerous possible species including 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, Vitelline Masked Weaver and Green-winged Pytilia as well as both Denham’s and Black-bellied Bustard. The bird list continues as we have chances of Crested and Heuglin’s Francolin, Red-throated, White-throated, Swallow-tailed and Little Bee-eaters, Red-necked Falcon and Grey Kestrel, Spot-flanked and Black-billed Barbets, White-crested Turacos, Speckle-fronted Weavers, Whistling, Siffling, Singing, Zitting, Rattling, Croacking and Foxy Cisticolas, Sooty and White-fronted Black Chat, Northern Camine Bee-eaters, Grey-headed, Woodland, and Striped Kingfishers, Abyssinian Ground and Grey Hornbills, Shelley’s Rufous Sparrow and more!
Of course we will also be looking for mammals as there are some excellent game viewing opportunities here. Species we hope to find include Elephant, Common Warthog, Giraffe, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Oribi, Bohor Reedbuck, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck and the Hartebeest. The abundance of herbivores in the park also supports a healthy Lion population that we will try and find. Overnight Lodge near Murchison Falls NP
Day 5: Murchison – Semuliki Valley National Park
This is mostly a travel day with some birding stops en route. Overnight Fort Portal
DAY 6: Semuliki Valley National Park
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.
Just some of the species we hope to see include and impressive number of hornbills including Red-billed Dwarf, Black Dwarf, Crowned, White-Crested, Black-casqued and White-thighed Hornibill. A selection of cuckoos that may include Yellow-throated, Dusky Long-tailed, Red-chested, and African Emerald Cuckoo. We will also look for Lowland Akalat, African Piculet, Ituri Batis, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Congo Serpent Eagle and African Crowned Eagle.
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. Overnight Fort Portal
DAY 7: Fort Portal – Kibale National Park
Another day of travel with birding stops en route. Overnight at Kibale Home Stay
DAY 8: Chimpanzee Trek
Kibale National Park is famous for the highest concentration of Primates in Africa and it is a reliable site for habituated chimpanzees. We will 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 and Red-chested Flufftail, Jameson’s Wattle Eye, Red-chested Owlet, Crested Guineafowl, White-throated Greenbul, Black-bellied Seedcracker, 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, Thick-billed and Willcock’s Honeyguides, Uganda Woodland Warbler and many more! Overnight Kibale Home Stay
DAY 9: Queen Elizabeth National Park – 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 will 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, maybe a Leopard too! Overnight Lodge near Queen Elizabeth NP
DAY 10: Game Drive Queen Elizabeth National Park – Bwindi Forest
Queen Elizabeth National Park 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, Holub’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 look for Leopards if we had no success the previous day. During the afternoon we will travel to Bwindi Forest. Overnight Bwindi
DAY 11: Gorilla Trek
Today we will have an early breakfast ready for our Gorilla trekking experience! The walk to see these gentle giants is completely random, sometimes it may only take 30 minutes, yet on other days it may take a few hours. Regardless, by the end of the day we hope to have enjoyed 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 Bwindi
DAY 12: Birding the Buhoma Trail
Today we will be birding the Buhoma trail, looking for some very special species like Neumann’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, Black-billed Turacos, Pink-footed Puffback, Many-coloured, Luhder’s Bush Shrike, Mountain Illadopsis and Red-faced Woodland Warbler to name just some of the species we hope to see. Overnight Bwindi
DAY 13: 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 Greenbuls, Toro Olive and White-throated Greenbuls, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed and Brown-capped Weavers, Dusky Tit, Grey, Buff-throated and Black-throated Apalis, Red-headed Malimbe, Red tailed Bristlebill, Narrow-tailed, Purple-headed, and Stuhlmann’s Starlings.
It is also the best place in Uganda to find the stunning Black Bee-eater. Overnight Trekkers Tavern
DAY 14: Ruhija – Mubwindi Swamp
A full day birding the forest trails.
One of the key target species here will be the Grauer’s Broadbill.
This stunning vivid 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, Doherty’s Bush-Shrike, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Dusky Twinspot, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, White-stared Robin, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Mountain Thrush, Mountain Oriole, Ruwenzori Batis, Archer’s Robin, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Oriole Finch, Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Olive Pigeon, Regal Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Strange Weaver and Black-billed Weaver, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher and much more.
We will also try for some nocturnal species such as Ruwenzori Nightjar and African Wood Owl. Other wildlife we hope to see includes Boehm’s Squirrel, Ruwenzori Sun Squirrel as well as L’Hoests and Blue Monkey. Though Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzee are fairly common, they are rarely seen. Overnight 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, Blue-naped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, 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, Topi and Eland. Overnight Rwakobo Rock
DAY 16: Transfer to Entebbe
We will do some final pre-breakfast birding around lodge before departing for Entebbe airport where the tour concludes.
Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides
Leaders: Wise Birding leader and local guide Harriet Kemigisha
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, bottled water, all entrance fees, gorilla and chimp permits, boat trips and services of the leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than above and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: £299
Transport: A/C Landcruisers throughout
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
Most birding is done on forest trails, from the vehicles when on game drives or in lodge gardens and grounds. When birding the forest trails, we will be birding at a slow pace and walking an average of around 4 – 6Km. The longest walks are in Kibale and Mubwindi Swamp when we will spend the whole day birding the trails. However, although long days they will be at a very slow pace and with many breaks.
Trekking for gorillas can take a matter of minutes or a whole day and it is just pot luck where the animals are feeding on the day. For the majority of occasions, gorillas tend to be found within the morning. The trekking is uphill and can be strenuous dependent on where the animals are found.
Climate: Day time temperatures mid to late 20 degrees Celsius
Tour Start Point: Entebbe International airport, Uganda
Tour End Point: Entebbe International airport, Uganda
Suggested Airlines: Emirates or KLM