24 Days Uganda Birding Safari

Tour Leader: Alex Gabiito

birding in mabira Alex is a top expert bird & wildlife guide hailing from Uganda’s premier birding spot and home of the endangered Mountain Gorillas – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

He boasts 8 years of birding experience, including 3 years at the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) of Bwindi, during which he carried out extensive research on rare birds, the most notable being the Sherry’s Crimson-wing & Stripe-breasted Tit in Bwindi.

Alex is a senior member of the Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA) & Uganda Bird Guides Club, and Vice Chairman of Bwindi Guides Club.

With 1057 species of birds and still recording, Uganda accounts for about 50% of Africa's birds (2250) and 11% of the global population. The huge bird list is attributed to Uganda's remarkably diverse habitats - ranging from montane & tropical rainforests, thickets, swamps, lake shores to savanna and open grasslands. This huge bird checklist containted within just 235,000 square kilometers (approximately the size of Great Britain) is what makes birding in Uganda even more remarkable.

Within 24 Days (approximately 3 weeks), we explore Uganda's diverse birding hotspots and expect to encounter a fair proportion of Uganda's huge bird list, possibly up to 700 species. Expect many unique and rare birds that you won't find anywhere else. Not only birds but also lots of other wildlife ecounters make your birding trip like no other. Expect lots of primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, butterflies, and big game in national parks.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive at Entebbe International Airport

Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, your driver guide from African Adventure Travellers shall warmly receive you and welcome you to this birding paradise
Depending on your arrival time, you shall transfer to Entebbe Botanical Gardens or to Mabira Forest Reserve for the overnight. The Entebbe Botanical Gardens situated a few minutes’ drive from the airport is a great introduction to Uganda’s birds. A brief walk in the gardens offers birds such as Orange Weaver, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Red-chested Sunbird, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Brown-throated Weaver and Yellow-backed Weaver among others.

Day 2: Full day birding in Mabira Forest Reserve

Wake up to an early cup of coffee and set out for a forest walk. Birds are plentiful and Mabira offers a good introduction to forest birding in Uganda. There is a network of forest trails offering good views into the canopy. Scan the forest for birds including Green Wood Hoopoe, Nahan’s Francolin, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Jackson’s Wattle-eye, Toro Olive Greenbul, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Shining-blue, Blue-breasted, Dwarf and White-bellied Kingfishers.
The forest harbors a number of monkeys and several small animals such as bush babies and squirrels that you could sight while birding. Return to the lodge in time for lunch. Later set out to walk the forest trails yet again and delve into Mabira for more bird and wildlife observations. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 3: Transfer to Budongo Forest Reserve, Birding the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary en-route

After an early cup of tea you could bird in Mabira briefly, thereafter check out and depart for Budongo Forest Reserve, Murchison Falls National Park. Drive through Kampala, onto the Kampala – Gulu highway. There are swamplands and particular spots along the highway known to be rich in birds. Depending on time and advice from your driver guide you could make brief stopovers to observe some birds.
After driving through Luwero District to Nakasongola, get to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – a vast piece of land hosting the only wild Rhinos in Uganda and over 250 species of birds and several wildlife. Set out to trek the sanctuary and expect to view birds such as the White-crested Turaco, White-head Barbet, Yellow-billed Shrike, Nubian Woodpecker and more. Along with the birds you could sight the white rhinos, and the rich flora and fauna.
Return, continue with the drive, have lunch en-route and get to Budongo Forest Reserve. Check in at your lodge to relax have dinner and overnight.

Day 4: Full day birding in Budongo Forest including the Royal Mile

After an early cup of coffee set off into the forest to the famous “Royal Mile”. It is a wide track considered by a number of birders to Uganda's premier forest birding destination. It is the best place in Uganda for Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted and African Dwarf Kingfishers. Scan the fruiting trees for White-thighed and Black-and-white-casqued Hornbills, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted and Yellow-billed Barbets, Western Black-headed Oriole and Purple-headed Starling. Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honeyguide, White-throated, Red-tailed and Spotted Greenbuls are in abundance. More birds include Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Black-collard Lovebird, Nahan’s Francolin, Piping Hornbill, Red-sided Broadbill, Puvel’s Illadopsis, and more.
Return for lunch, and after some relaxation set out to bird Busingiro area. The area shares many species with the Royal Mile, although some are easier seen here. Scan the area for the Scaly-breasted, Brown and Pale-breasted Illadopses, Grey-throated and Chestnut-capped Flycatchers among others. Return for dinner and overnight.

Day 5: Transfer to Paraa, birding the Kaniyo Pabidi section of Budongo Forest, along the southern banks of the Nile to the Top of Murchison Falls.

After your cup of tea set out to bird the Kaniyo Pabidi section of Budongo Forest Reserve. Expect birds such as Pygmy sunbird, Nahan’s Francolin, Crested Guineafowl, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Brown Twinspot, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Red-throated Bee-eater and Rock Pratincole. Transfer to Red Chilli Rest Camp for lunch. After lunch bird along the southern banks of the Nile to the top of the spectacular Murchison Falls for plenty of birds. Thereafter proceed to the ferry crossing and get to Paraa for dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Full Day birding and game viewing in Murchison Falls National Park

After an early cup of coffee, pick your packed lunch and set out to spend a full day on the game-viewing tracks on the northern side of the Nile. There is plentiful of birdlife. Look out for Secretary bird, Denham’s Bustard, Senegal Skinner, Egyptian Plover, White-crested Turaco, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Standard-winged Nightjar, Sooty Chat, Red-throated Bee-eater, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Spotted Thick-knee, Swallow-tailed and Carmine Bee-eaters, Tawny and Martial Eagles, Red-necked Falcon and more. In addition to the abundant birdlife there is a variety of big game including herds of buffalos, Jackson’s hartebeests, Uganda Kob, Lions, Giraffes, Oribis, and waterbucks among others. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 7: Early morning Shoebill Boat Ride to the Delta & Afternoon Launch Cruise to Base of Falls

After your breakfast get on a boat ride along the Nile to Delta point. You stand a chance of sighting the elusive Shoebill and birds such as African Skimmers, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Goliath Heron, and Common Squacco Heron. Return to the lodge to relax and have lunch. Later set out for the afternoon Launch Cruise along the Nile to base of the Falls. There’s plenty of birdlife and game that come to the river to quench their thirst, cool off the scorching heat and eat fresh grass. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 8: Transfer to Kibale National Park

Be up for early breakfast and depart for Kibale National Park. Drive on the Masindi-Hoima-Fortportal highway with great views of the Albertine Rift Valley escarpment and get to your accommodation in Kibale National Park. Lunch is enroute. Relax and have dinner and overnight at your lodge.

Day 9: Early morning chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park & Afternoon birding in Bigodi Swampland

After an early breakfast transfer to the ranger station for briefing by the ranger and then set off to track habituated chimps in the forest whilst increasing your bird list. Along with chimpanzees and several monkeys, expect to see and hear a range of birds including Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-napped Pigeon, Joyful Greenbul, Afep Pigeon, Narina Trogon, Yellow-spotted, and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Purple-headed and Chest-winged Starlings, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Black-capped Apalis, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Superb, Green-throated and Green-headed Sunbirds, Dark-backed and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos, Scarce Swift, the superb Black Bee-eater, Grey-throated Flycatcher and White-bellied Flycatcher. Return for lunch and relaxation. Later set out for a nature experience in the Bigodi Swampland. There is plenty of birdlife and monkeys.

Day 10: Early morning birding in Kibale Forest & Transfer to Semuliki National Park

Early morning birding in Kibale Forest National Park and look for the rare Green Breasted Pitta and more forest species. Return in time for lunch at your lodge, thereafter checkout and transfer to Semuliki National Park. Relax, dinner and overnight at your lodge.

Day 11: Full day birding in Semuliki National Park

Early wake up, have breakfast, pick your packed lunch and set out for the birding expedition in Semuliki National Park. From the ranger post do the walk to the “Hot Springs”, through swamp and fine patches of superb forest. There is abundance of birds and lots of monkeys. Thereafter head to the “Kirumia River Trail”, arguably one of Uganda’s birding highlights, offering great forest birding with lots of lifers for birder. Birds expected include among others Egyptian Goose, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Black-billed Barbet, Snowy-headed Robin Chat, African Scops Owl, Narina Trogon, Pygmy Kingfisher, Hartlaub’s Duck, Nkulengu Rail, White-bellied Kingfisher, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Spotted Honeyguide, African Piculet, Swamp Palm Greenbul, and Toro Olive-Greenbul. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 12: Early morning birding in Semuliki Wildlife Reserve, Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Early morning wake up and transfer to the immensely habitat diverse Semuliki Wildlife Reserve for some excellent birding along with wildlife viewing. Some of the birds common with this reserve include Crested Francolin, Green Wood-hoopoe, Broad-biller Roller, African Grey Hornbill, Northern Red Bishop, Shoebill, Snowy-headed Robin Chat, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Narina Trogon, Black-chinned Quail-Finch and more. Return for lunch, after which you check out and transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Check in at your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 13: Early morning birding and game viewing, Afternoon boat ride along the Kazinga Channel – Queen Elizabeth National Park

After an early breakfast drive along the game-viewing tracks, in the Kasenyi plains and Lake Kikorongo. There is plenty of birds and game. Some of the birds include Temminck’s Courser, Stout Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, and Red-billed Queleas. Return to your lodge for lunch and relaxation. Later get on the boat ride along the Kazinga Channel. The Channel is a natural mass of water joining lakes Edward and George. There is a plethora of birds and game along the banks of the channel. Among common birds along the channel include Purple Heron, African Skimmer, Goliath Heron, Giant Kingfisher, Long-tailed Cormorant, Egyptian Goose. Hippos, Buffalos and Crocodiles are a common sight, while elephants, antelopes and lots animals come to the channel to freshen up and eat fresh grass along the channel. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 14: Transfer to Bwindi National Park, birding Ishasha En-route

After an early cup of coffee check out and depart for Bwindi National Park. Travel through the southern remote section of Queen Elizabeth National Park called Ishasha. This area is popular for the famed tree-climbing lions and lots big game including large herds of Elephants and Topis. Birdlife is quite impressive too and could encounter species such as Brown-chested Lapwing, Black Bee-eater, Red-chested Sunbird, African Open-billed Stork, White-faced Whistling Duck, African Fish Eagle, Swamp Flycatcher and Yellow-backed Weaver. Lunch en-route and proceed to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with panoramic views of the green highlands of Kigezi. Check in at your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 15: Full day birding in Buhoma – Bwindi National Park

Very early after a cup of coffee or tea, walk through excellent forest onto the “Waterfall Trail” (2km). The trail winds through beautiful forest to a series of cascades along the Munyaga River. Birds commonly heard and seen during this walk include the Black Saw-wings, Little Green Sunbird, Tambourine Dove, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Blue-headed sunbird, Handsome Francolin, Short-tailed Warbler, Kivu Ground Thrush, While-bellied Robin-Chat, Crested Francolin, Bar-tailed Trogon, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Banded Prinia, White-browed Crombec, Red-throated Alethe, and Red-faced Woodland Warbler and several Albertine Rift endemics. Return for lunch, a brief relaxation and set out to walk more trails around Buhoma. Buhoma has a number of wide well maintained trails that offer some of the best forest birding in Africa. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 16: Gorilla Trekking and Evening Birding in Buhoma

Very early after your breakfast, carry along packed lunch and transfer to the ranger station for briefing. Then set out to track habituated mountain gorillas and a chance of encountering more Albertine Rift endemics and lots of wildlife. Finding the gorillas could take from a few minutes to several hours. After the gorilla expedition return to the lodge for relaxation. Depending on time and energy, you could have evening birding in Buhoma. Dinner and overnight at your lodge.

Day 17: Transfer to Rhija, birding the “Neck” En-route.

Early checkout and depart for Ruhija, birding “the Neck” en route. The “Neck” is a narrow connect between larger southern sections of the park and the smaller northern sector. It is accessed by the road from Buhoma to Ruhija and offers great birding enroute from Buhoma to Ruhija and vice versa. Scan the canopy for species such as Black Bee-eater, Mountain Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Little Green Sunbird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Elliot’s Woodpecker, Olive Dusky Cuckoo, African Dusky Blue Flycatcher, White-chinned Prinia, Sooty Flycatcher, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Rufous Flycatcher-thrush, Dusky Twinspot, Rwenzori Batis, Mountain Masked and Chestnut-throated Apalises and more. Transfer to your lodge in Ruhija for dinner and overnight.

Day 18: Full day birding in Ruhija

After early breakfast pick you packed lunch and set out for a whole day of birding in Jinja including the trek to the “Mubwindi Swamp”, an area known for the much sought-after African Green Broadbill. From the ranger station two trails lead to the Mubwindi Swamp, that is, “Short Trail” (7km) and the “Long Trail” (10km). Choosing which of the two trails to take shall depend on your energy level, alternatively you could trek both trails. Ruhija is a highlight for any forest birding adventure in Uganda producing lots of rare birds and lifers. Some of the birds you should look out for include: Dwarf Honeyguide, Narina Trogon, Cabanis's Greenbul, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Archer’s Robin-chat, Waller’s Sterling, Narrow-tailed Starling, Waller's Starling, Stuhlmann’s Starling, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Northern Puffback, and Oriol Finch.

Day 20: Full day birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga is Uganda’s smallest national park most popular for its magnificent scenery, arguably the best. The park hosts some of Uganda’s most spectacular birds. After your early cup of tea look to spend all day birding. Birds include Rwenzori Turaco, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Sherry’s Crimson-wing, Dusky Twinspot, African Hill Babbler, Dusky Turtle Dover, Olive Pigeon, Rwenzori Nightjar, Kivu Ground Thrush, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird. Relaxation, dinner and overnight at your lodge.

Day 21: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park, birding en-route

Early check out and transfer to Lake Mburo National Park, with occasional stopovers to spot some birds along the way. Lunch in Mbarara town and proceed to Lake Mburo National Park. As you drive through the game trails to your lodge there is lots of wildlife and birds to savor. Zebras and Impalas are in plenty. Check in at your lodge to relax, dinner and overnight.

Day 22: Early Morning Birding and Game Viewing, Afternoon Boat Ride on Lake Mburo

After your early breakfast embark on the drive through the game tracks to the scenic Lake Side track. The drive produces a diversity of species including a number of papyrus and aquatic birds. Watch out for birds: Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Senegal Lapwing, African Scops Owl, Papyrus Gonolek, Blue-headed Coucal, Spur-winged Plover, Malachite Kingfisher, Red-throated Lovebird, Lead-colored Flycatcher, Green-capped Eremomela, African Marsh Harrier, Gabar Goshawk, Dark Chanting Goshwak, Martial Eagle, and Grey Kestrel. Return to your lodge for lunch. Head out for the boat ride on Lake Mburo for more aquatic birds and game. Hippos and crocodiles are a common sight. Birds expected include Malachite Kingfisher, African Finfoot, Black-crowned Night Heron, African Fish Eagle, White-backed Heron and more. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 23: Early morning nature walk, transfer to Entebbe birding Mabamba en-route.

Wake up to early morning walk for a close nature experience. Expect to expand your bird checklist. Return to your lodge for breakfast, check out and depart for Entebbe. En-route to Entebbe you shall take a detour to Mabamba Wetlands situated on the shores of Lake Victoria. Mabamba is a haven for lots of swamp and aquatic species including the much sought-after Shoebill. Take a dugout canoe and look for birds look out for Black Heron, Common Squacco Heron, White-winged Tern, White-faced Whistling Duck, Yellow-billed Egret, Purple Heron, Goliath Heron, African Jacana, Swamp Flycatcher, Winding Cisticola, and Fan-tailed Widowbird. Lunch is en-route. Proceed and get to your hotel in Entebbe for relaxation, dinner and overnight.

Day 24: Relaxation & Departure

Relax in Entebbe and later transfer to the airport to catch your flight back home.

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