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17 Days Birding Safari

17 Days Birding Safari

Day 1 Arrival

Day 2: Birding Mabamba or Kamengo and afternoon at Mpanga forest

Day 3: Birds and Mammals of Murchison Falls National Park

Day 4: Whole day birding trip in Murchison falls

Day 5: Birding safari to Budongo forest Uganda

Day 6: Whole day bird watching in the Royal Mile

Day 7: Bird watching to Kibale forest.

Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking Kibale forest National Park Uganda

Day 9: Bird Watching Queen Elizabeth National Park

Day 10: Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth N. Park Uganda

Day 11: Travel to Bwindi National Park.

Day 12: Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

Day 13: Whole day bird watching on the Main trail – Uganda.

Day 14: Birding to Lake Mburo National Park

Day 15 : Whole day Birding in the Park including a boat ride

Day 16: Transfer to Entebbe.

Day 17: Departure Day.

Routes & Itinerary

17 Days / 16 Nights

  • Day 1: Arrival

Early arrivals may have optional birding in afternoon at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, the Entebbe Botanical Gardens are virtually on the Equator, and covers an area of 40.7hectares. The gardens house a collection of species of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones, besides several shrubs and other plants which regenerated naturally over the years. The unique habitat is home to diverse range of bird species and monkeys. More than 206 bird species are found in the territory which includes the Orange Weaver, Golden and Yellow-backed Weavers, Ross’s and Great blue Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Superb Sunbird etc.

  • Budget: Anderita Beach Hotel
  • Day 2: Birding Mabamba or Kamengo and afternoon at Mpanga forest

After the first meal of the day, we head towards the Mabamba Kamengo Wetlands which is located about 50 km west of Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. The swamps are one of the few remaining ones in Uganda which are now protected by local communities. The labyrinth of channels and lagoons of the papyrus swamps are classified as IBA (Important Bird Area) which serve as home to many bird species including the classic Shoebills, the most famous bird species of Uganda. Shoebill is the only representative of its family and is among the most sought-after bird species in Africa. On this day, we’ll be making special efforts to spot it by paddling through the river channel. Unavoidably, there will be a whole selection of East African water birds on display like the African Marsh-Harrier, Yellow-billed Duck, African Water Rail, Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Goliath Heron, Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant etc. More common species found are Long-toed Plover, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, White-winged & Papyrus Yellow Warblers, and Papyrus Gonolek. In the nearby areas of Entebbe there’s a high possibility of spotting the following species: African Open-billed Stork, Grey Kestrel, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, African Green Pigeon, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher maybe the rare Weyn’s Weaver.

  • Day 3: Birds and Mammals of Murchison Falls National Park

After breakfast, we will depart for Murchison Falls National Park, stopping over in Masindi town for lunch. Murchison falls National Park is one of the most popular of our Uganda national parks. We will drive through the beautiful country side arriving in the evening. Special birds include; Cliff Chat, Yellow fronted Tinkerbird, Grey-headed Bush Shrike, Singing Cisticola, Namaqua dove, Green Winged Pytilia, Red-backed Shrike, Crested Francolin, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Northern and Black winged Red Bishops, Black-bellied Fire finch, Black-faced Waxbill and March Tchagra.

  • Up-Market: Paraa Safari Lodge
  • Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge / Murchison River Lodge/ Pakuba Lodge
  • Low Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (Tents) / Murchison River Lodge (Tents)/ red chilli rest camp
  • Meals Plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 4: Whole day birding trip in Murchison falls

After an early breakfast, a morning game drive will be conducted in the lush Borassus grassland where you’ll have an encounter with the elephants, buffalos, giraffes, a wide range of antelopes, lions, and leopards. A bush lunch will take place at a scenic place following which an afternoon boat trip to the bottom of the falls will be conducted. There are chances that you will also be dazzled with a variety of water birds including species like; the Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Hornbill, Pied Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Senegal Thick-knee, Water Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Osprey, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Vinaceous Dove and Grosbeak Weaver. Other specialties include; Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, 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 etc.

  • Up-Market: Paraa Safari Lodge
  • Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge / Murchison River Lodge/ Pakuba Lodge
  • Low Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (Tents) / Murchison River Lodge (Tents)/ red chilli rest camp
  • Meals Plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 5: Birding safari to Budongo forest Uganda

On the fifth day of the tour, you’ll be birding either through the escarpment or the Kanio Pabidi depending upon the condition of the road. The escarpment area will enable you to have a good view of the Lake Albert and Rift Valley. The openness of the area contributes to its rich bird diversity. Kanio Pabidi especially is known for accommodating rare bird species including the Puvell’s Illadopsis. The forest are of Budongo is the largest of its kind in East Africa where we can expect to find a wide range of bird species like the White Crested Turaco, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Yellow and Grey Longbills, Crested Guineafowl sporting their punk “hairdos”, Little Green Sunbird, Red-headed Blue Bill, Olive-bellied Crombec, Yellow-browed Camaroptera etc. There are also many other special birds with a West African origin like the Yellow-crested & Brown-eared Woodpeckers, Yellowbill, Western Black-headed Oriole, Green Hylia, Buff-throated, Black-throated & Black-capped Apalises, White-thighed Hornbill, Green-breasted Pitta, 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. The territory is also a renowned primate area where spotting primates such as Blue & Red-tailed Monkeys and Black-and-white Colobus – and Chimpanzees are possible. Budongo forest has recorded over 200 butterfly species .

  • Day 6: Whole day bird watching in the Royal Mile

A short bird watching drive from the Hotel at dawn will take us to one of the best of Uganda’s birdwatching spots, the Royal Mile. This is Uganda’s historically known leisure spot for the traditional King, hence the name Royal Mile. Here the forest has been cut back a few meters along the sides of the main trail, which makes it a particularly good viewing area in this excellent forest. Some special bird species of Uganda found here include Yellow-spotted and Yellow billed Barbets, Western Black-headed Oriole, White-thighed and Black-and-white-Casqued Hornbills, Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spinetails etc. As the tour progresses with a walking tour along the trail, Red-tailed Bristle bill, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Brown Illadopsis, Red-tailed Ant-Thrushes skulk are seen. Greenbuls are always a challenge and include; Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honey guide and Spotted Greenbuls, whilst other regular species are; 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. Lower down we should see Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-spotted Flufftails and the elusive Nahan’s Francolin, believed to be one of the most handsome of all Ugandan birds. 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 to Kibale forest.

After breakfast, we will drive to Kibale forest arriving in Fort Portal in the late afternoon. Kibale forest national park is the best safari destination for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa. It contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of all tropical forests in Uganda. It hosts 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee. It has 1450 chimpanzees and these represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. It is also home to the rare L’hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened Red Colobus Monkey. Other primates that you may see include; the Black and white Colobus, Blue Monkey, Grey cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkey, Olive Baboon, Bush baby and Pottos. Kibale forest cover predominates in the northern and central parts of the park. Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip which stands at 1590m above sea level. The park also boasts 325 bird species, including 6 that are 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.

  • Luxury: Ndali lodge/Primate lodge/Kibale forest/Kyaninga lodge
  • Moderate: Mountains of the moon/Kibale forest camp
  • Budget: Rwenzori travelers/kibale forest camp/Chimpanzee forest guest house
  • Meal plan: Dinner
  • Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking Kibale forest National Park Uganda

After an early breakfast we drive to Kibale National Park visitor center for briefing and chimp tracking. The activity may last from a few hours to several hours. Kibale forest is home to 13 primates of Uganda. The most productive birding hours are during the afternoon up until sunset. Depending upon the weather conditions, birding at Bigodi wetland can also be productive with sightings of many riverine forest birds including White-spotted Fluff tail, Joyful Greenbul, Cabanis’s Greenbul, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Lesser Honey guide, Dusky and Olive Long tailed Cuckoo, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Olive-green Camaroptera, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis and White-collared Oliveback.

  • Luxury: Ndali lodge/Primate lodge/Kibale forest/Kyaninga lodge
  • Moderate: Mountains of the moon/Kibale forest camp
  • Budget: Rwenzori travelers/kibale forest camp/Chimpanzee forest guest house
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 9: Bird Watching Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park is named after the queen of England, Elizabeth, who made a visit to this park in 1954. It is the second largest national park in Uganda and in terms of diversity, it is second to none. The park is considered the best birding destination in Uganda with over 610 bird species recorded. On any given clear day, a tourist may spot upwards of 296 bird species including the Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Shoebill, Black Bee-eater, Harlequin Quail, Blue Quail, Caruthers’s Cisticola, Terek Sandpiper, Secretary Bird, White winged Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Papyrus Gonolek, Amur Falcon, Small (Common) Buttonquail, African Crake, , Ovampo Sparrowhawk, Lowland Akalat, and Temminck’s Courser. Mammals include; African Elephant, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Lion, Ugandan Kobs, Side-striped Jackal, Baboons, Chimpanzees, Bush and Water Bucks, Warthogs, Giant Forest Hogs to mention but a few.

  • Up-market/ Luxury: mweya safari lodge or jacana safari or katara lodge
  • Mid-range or moderate facility: Queen Elizabeth bush lodge (in rooms)/samba safari camp( in rooms)/Buffalo Safari Resort/Enganzi Lodge/Ihamba Safari Lodge
  • Budget price: Kazinga Channel View Resort/samba safari camp(Tents)/Mweya Hostels/Bush Lodge (Tents)
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 10: Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth N. Park Uganda

Following the day’s breakfast, a morning game drive will be conducted around the park. It comprises of a diverse ecosystem including savannahs, rainforests, dense swamps, crater lakes, and hills. With the massive Rwenzoris at the backdrop, the game drives will be on par excellence and you’ll get to spot animals like lion, leopard, cape buffalos, giant forest hog, Deffassa Waterbuck, elephant, Uganda Kob, topi, and buch buck.

  • Up-market/ Luxury: mweya safari lodge or jacana safari or katara lodge
  • Mid-range or moderate facility: Queen Elizabeth bush lodge (in rooms)/samba safari camp( in rooms)/Buffalo Safari Resort/Enganzi Lodge/Ihamba Safari Lodge
  • Budget price: Kazinga Channel View Resort/samba safari camp(Tents)/Mweya Hostels/Bush Lodge (Tents)
  • Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 11: Travel to Bwindi National Park.

Today we head further South to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. 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 Tree-climbing Lions at Ishasha sector. Packed lunch will be arranged in advance to enjoy later as we travel. Depending on the time of arrival, we may enjoy birding on the self-guided Munyaga trail. Forest Birding at Bwindi provides some of the best bird watching in Uganda and Africa as well, having been voted as the Number One Hotspot in Africa by African Bird Club Members. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics.

  • Lower Budget: Gorilla Valley Lodge/ Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro)
  • Moderate: Gorilla Safari Lodge/ Chameleon Hill Resort/ Mutanda Lake Resort
  • Up-market: Volcanoes Mgahinga Lodge/ Rushaga Gorillas Safari Lodge
  • Meal Plan: Dinner
  • Day 12: Gorilla Tracking.

After breakfast, we shall assemble at the Park Offices for the briefing prior to this historic event. Gorilla tracking is a very captivating activity; It might take 1-8 hours which involves walking in the wilderness in search of these gentle giants. Gorilla tracking is often a challenging undertaking which requires a level of physical fitness. Each day, only eight people per group are permitted to entire the park. Even though the gorillas are elusive, on some days they can be found within an hour by the tracker guides. Once you found them, it’s best to sit under the trees and admire their daily activities and watch them play around. Gorilla Tracking is indeed a “once in a lifetime” experience that you must never miss. Each encounter with the gorillas is different and has its own rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.

  • Lower Budget: Gorilla Valley Lodge/ Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro)
  • Moderate: Gorilla Safari Lodge/ Chameleon Hill Resort/ Mutanda Lake Resort
  • Up-market: Volcanoes Mgahinga Lodge/ Rushaga Gorillas Safari Lodge
  • Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 12: Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

After an early breakfast, you will report to the park headquarters for briefing prior to the gorilla tracking excursion. This activity may take anywhere between 1 hour and 8 hours so a reasonable degree of fitness is required. It is a wonderful experience to stare in to the eyes of these gentle giants; watch them in awe as they play and go about their daily activities. It is indeed a “once in a lifetime” experience that you must never miss. Each encounter with the gorilla family will be different are rewarding. But the common elements include adults feeding the young ones, resting, grooming, and delightfully playing displays.

  • Lower Budget: Gorilla Valley Lodge/ Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro)
  • Moderate: Gorilla Safari Lodge/ Chameleon Hill Resort/ Mutanda Lake Resort
  • Up-market: Volcanoes Mgahinga Lodge/ Rushaga Gorillas Safari Lodge
  • Meal Plan: Dinner
  • Day 13: Whole day bird watching on the Main trail – Uganda.

Bwindi is generally at a higher altitude and therefore is cooler. Temperatures range between 10 and 18 degrees centigrade. Forest birding at Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics.

Specialty birds include; 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, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-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.

  • Lower Budget: Gorilla Valley Lodge/ Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro)
  • Moderate: Gorilla Safari Lodge/ Chameleon Hill Resort/ Mutanda Lake Resort
  • Up-market: Volcanoes Mgahinga Lodge/ Rushaga Gorillas Safari Lodge
  • Meal Plan: Dinner
  • Day 14: Birding to Lake Mburo National Park

After breakfast, we’ll get transferred to Lake Mburo and arrive there by late evening. Spreading over an area of 260 sq km, Lake Mburo National Park is markedly different from other reserves in terms of fauna. It engulfs the entire lake and is the only national park to do so. It is located on the rolling hills and open grassy valleys and features four additional smaller lakes. The national park is covered in extensive open and wooded acacia savannah and is home to the largest plant and wildlife diversity in Uganda. It is also 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.

  • Luxury : Mihingo Lodge/ Mantana Lake Mburo Camp/ Arcadia Cottages
  • Moderate: Lake Mburo Safari Lodge/ Rakobo Rock
  • Budget: Eagles Nest Camp
  • Meal Plan: Dinner
  • Day 15 : Whole day Birding in the Park including a boat ride

Following the first meal of the day, we’ll embark on a morning game drive where we have greater chances of viewing several animal species like zebra, impala, topi, eland, buffalos, and hartebeests. The park’s landscape which consists of rolling grassy hills and idyllic shorelines provides a mesmerizing drive experience. You’ll be able to spot hippos, crocodiles, and various water birds like Papyrus Yellow Warblers, African Finfoot, African Fish Eagle, Great White Egret, Pied Kingfisher, the Night Heron, Papyrus Gonolek and many more.

  • Luxury : Mihingo Lodge/ Mantana Lake Mburo Camp/ Arcadia Cottages
  • Moderate: Lake Mburo Safari Lodge/ Rakobo Rock
  • Budget: Eagles Nest Camp
  • Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 16: Transfer to Entebbe.

After breakfast, we will transfer to Entebbe via Kampala arriving in good time for your departure flight or Overnight at your hotel of booking

  • Day 17: Departure Day.

Evening departures will have an opportunity to bird in the Botanical Garden.

Included:

  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodation and meals as per itinerary
  • Chimpanzee permit
  • Bigodi walk
  • Game drives
  • En-route lunches
  • Gorilla permit
  • Visit Lake Bunyonyi
  • Bird watching
  • Visit Mabamba and Mubwindi swamps

Excluded:

The expenses of personal nature like:

  • Air fare
  • Uganda Visa
  • Luxury drinks
  • laundry
  • tips to local guides
  • telephone, and porter fee while trekking
  • personal insurance
  • personal shopping bills