15 Nights, 16 Days birding and Wildlife experience
The 16 days birding and wildlife experience tour is meant to take you all around Uganda’s most naturally gifted areas for unique birding spots, Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee tracking, Boat cruises, Hiking to the top of the magnificent falls and game safaris. Culture, to a small extent will as well be unveiled at a request since the guide will be at your full exposure to provide every detail of every particular area that you are to visit, leaving you with many options of choosing from the many activities at your disposal.
Day 1-Entebbe to Kampala and optional birding
Pick up from Entebbe International Airport to your hotel. The drive may take 45 minutes or more depending on traffic. On arrival, some may choose to rest from the long flight, while others go birding in and around Kampala.
Mid range-Hotel Protea
Day 2 –Mabamba Wetland and transfer to Lake Mburo National Park.
After an early breakfast, the driver guide will drive off to Mabamba Swamp which is roughly 51km west of Kampala and stop en route at Mpigi Swamp for some chance birds (rarities). Keep your eyes open for the Papyrus Gonolek, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Blue-headed Coucal, Yellow backed weaver and other swamp specialties.
On arrival at the swamp, you are to board a canoe for the birding activity, paddled by our local site guides. Look for the Shoebill both in the sky and down on the marsh. This most famous and bizarre avian creature is the only representative in its family. Prepare to be mesmerized by watching the bird as it preens, showing off its grinning, wooden clog-like bill. You may also have marvelous views of it as it soars on broad wings.
Also watch for the; Swamp Flycatcher, African Purple Swamphen, African Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, African Pygmy Goose, White-faced Whistling-duck, Squacco, Rufous-bellied and Purple Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, Black Crake, African Marsh Harrier, Hamerkop, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Common Waxbill, Yellow-billed Duck, Blue-headed Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Intermediate Egret, Osprey, Long-toed Lapwing, African Pied Wagtail, and Red-billed Fire-finch.
Later, transfer to Lake Mburo National Park. The park contains an extensive area of wetlands. The bird population is rich, including the most sought after birds of Uganda, Green-backed Woodpecker, African Finfoot, Brown-chested Plover, Southern Ground-hornbill, Spot-flanked, Red-faced and Black-collared Barbets; White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Carruthers Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and Northern Brown-throated Weaver.
Mid range- Rwakobo rock lodge
Budget-Mantana tented Camp
Day 3: Birding safari in Lake Mburo National Park.
After an early breakfast, you go on a birding and game drive following numerous tracks in Lake Mburo National Park. You have chances of viewing mammals such as Zebras, Topi, Elephant, Eland, Impala, Buffalo, Water Buck, etc. Birds you have chances of viewing include; Black-headed Oriole, White-backed Scrub Robin, Bateleur, Ruppel’s Long-tailed Starling, Common Bulbul, Brown Parrot, Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture, Grey Hornbill, White-browed Coucal, Lesser Masked Weaver, Water Thick-knee, Wood Hoopoe, Verreux’s Eagle Owl, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Little Bee-eater, Chinspot, Tawny Eagle, Senegal Lapwing, Plain-backed Pipit, Greater Honeyguide, Sooty Chat, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Red-faced Crombec, Brown-tailed, Bronze-tailed Starlings, Northern Brubru, Grey Kestrel, Coqui Francolin, Broad-billed Roller, Grassland Pipit, and Golden-breasted Bunting.
Day 4: Birding safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Most of the day will be spent on driving to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to approximately half of the world’s endangered population of Mountain Gorillas. This vast reserve arguably offers the most productive montane forest birding safari experience in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species.
Mid range- Haven Lodge
Budget-Buhoma Safari Camp
Day 5: Birding safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Forest birding at Bwindi ranks as the best bird watching in Uganda plus it is ranked as the number one hot spot in Africa. 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, 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 and so many other endemics.
Day 6: Gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi impentrable national park.
Gorilla tracking will be an optional excursion and those not wishing to go can spend time looking for the excellent birds around the lower trails accompanied by a local bird guide.
For those wishing to do the trekking, after breakfast, we shall assemble at the park offices for briefing prior to this historic event. Gorilla tracking is a captivating pursuit; it involves walking in the wilderness in search of these great apes.
On occasions the Gorillas prove elusive but often can be found within an hour by the tracker guides. Each encounter 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.
Day 7: Birding safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Today, we shall start early after breakfast and drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Due to the unpredictable rain seasons that sometimes make the roads impassable, we may either drive through Ishasha sector popularly known for its tree climbing lions or drive through the beautiful sceneries of Rukungiri district. Birding on the way may produce species such as Grey capped Warbler, African Long Crested Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Black headed waxbill, Black and white Manikin, Senegal Coucal, Red Chested Cuckoo, and others.
The Park, which is named after the Queen of England who visited it in 1954, is the second largest national park in Uganda. The park’s excellent biodiversity ranks it as one of the best birding sites in Uganda with over 610 species recorded.
Specialty species in the park include: Harlequin, Blue, Small (Common) Button Quails, African Crake, White-winged Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Papyrus Gonolek, Amur Falcon, Ovampo Sparrow-hawk, Lowland Akalat, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, rare Shoebill, Black Bee-eater, Caruthers’s Cisticola, Terek Sandpiper, Secretary Bird, and Temminck’s Courser.
While on your birding safari, little will you avoid Mammals such as; African Elephant, Spotted Hyenas, Leopards, Lions, Ugandan Kobs, Baboons, Chimpanzees, Bush and Water Bucks, Warthogs, Giant Forest Hogs and many more.
Luxury-Mweya Safari Lodge
Mid range-Park view Safari Lodge
Budget-Mweya Uganda Wildlife Authority Cottages
Day 8: Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Boat cruise on Kazinga Channel.
After breakfast we set out for a bird watching safari in Queen Elizabeth national park as we head towards the north eastern parts of the park. Later in the afternoon you have an exciting boat cruise on the Kazinga channel. This is a narrow neck of water that connects Lakes George and Edward, with excellent photographic opportunities for waterside birds and abundant Hippopotamus. The birds you are likely to encounter include: African Skimmers, Striated Heron, African Spoonbill, Water Thick-knee, Three-banded Plover, Marsh, Green, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Gray-headed Gull, Plain Martin Lesser Swamp-Warbler and Yellow-billed Oxpecker.
Day 9: Transfer to Kibale Forest.
After breakfast, we drive to Kibale forest National Park. Kibale forest is a good site for a number of birds that are hard to find elsewhere including; Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’s Greenbul and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Flufftail, Dusky and Olive Longtailed Cuckoo, Lesser Honeyguide, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Oliveback.
Mid range-Chimps nest
Budget-Kibale Forest camp
Day 10: Bird watching and Chimpanzee tracking (optional Chimp tracking).
After an early breakfast we drive to Kibale Forest National Park visitors’ information center for briefing prior to chimp tracking. Kibale Forest is known for its thirteen species of primates; Monkeys like the; Black and White Colobus, Red Colubus, Red Tailed and Blue Monkeys. Others are Olive Baboon, Chimpanzee, Pottos and Bush Babies. Our tracking may last for 3-4 hours to several hours and conduct light birding along the way.
Bird watching in the afternoon along the main road may be productive. Depending on the weather predictions, birding in Bigodi wetland is also productive with riverine forest specialties. Species include: Black headed, Grosbeak, Black-necked, Vieillot’s, and Black billed Weavers, Speckled Mouse-bird, Mosque Swallow, Blue Flycatcher, Black and White Mannikin, Red-eyed Dove, White-chinned Prinia, Little Grey and Joyful Greenbuls, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Lead-colored Flycatcher, Open-billed Stork, Olive-bellied Sunbird, White-throated Apalis, White-winged Warbler, Black-billed Turaco, White-spotted Flufftail, Alpine Swift, Collared Sunbird, Papyrus Sunbird, White-breasted Negro-finch, Superb Sunbird, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Hadada Ibis, Senegal Plover, Purple-headed Starling, Toro Olive Greenbul, Black-crowned Waxbill, Brown-backed, White-crowned Scrub-robins, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, Abdim’s Stork, Red-headed Bluebill, Black-headed Heron, Senegal Coucal, Spectacled Weaver, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Red-faced Cisicola, Bocages (Grey Green) Bush Shrike, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Black and White Casqued Hornbill, Yellow White-eye, Tambourine Dove, Dark-capped Yellow, Grey-capped Warblers, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Black and White Shrike-flycatcher.
Day 11: Transfer to Budongo forest.
We take a long drive to Budongo, arriving late afternoon. If time allows, we may bird along the way at Busingiro section of Budongo Forest.
Night to be spent at Masindi Hotel
Day 12: Bird watching in the Royal Mile.
A short drive from the hotel at dawn will take us to one of Uganda’s best bird watching sites, the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is called so because historically it has been a leisure spot for the traditional King of Bunyoro Kingdom.
Here the main trail in this excellent forest has been cut back a few meters along both sides which make for particularly good viewing. Specialty birds in Budongo include; White-thighed and Black-and-white-casqued Hornbills, Yellow-spotted and Yellow billed Barbets, Western Black-headed Oriole, along with Red-tailed and Blue Monkeys. Overhead, Sabine’s and sometimes Cassin’s Spinetails soar over the clearings. As we walk quietly along the trail, Red-tailed Ant-Thrushes skulk in the shadows, as do Red-tailed Bristlebill, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Brown Illadopsis.
Greenbuls are ever a challenge and include Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honeyguide and Spotted, whilst other regular species are; Speckled Tinkerbird, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Green Crombec, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Buff-throated Apalis, and both White-breasted and Grey-headed Negrofinches. Lower down we should see Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-spotted Flufftails and the elusive Nahan’s Francolin. Other possibilities here are; Great Sparrow-hawk, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Crested Guinea-fowl, Tambourine Dove, Grey Parrot, African Emerald and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos, Yellowbill, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, 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 Spinetails, Wilcock’s Honeyguide, Yellow and Grey Longbills, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Blue-throated Brown and Little Green Sunbirds, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe and Uganda Woodland Warbler, Ituri Batis.
Day 13: Bird watching in Busingiro Section.
On this day, we bird in the Busingiro section of Budongo Forest. Specialties here include; Red-headed Malimbe, Sooty Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Tit Hylia, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Buff-throated Apalis, Black-throated Apalis, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Green Sunbird, Superb Sunbird, Tambourine Dove, Golden-breasted Bunting, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, African Jacana, African Fish Eagle, Sabine’s Spinetail, White-rumped Spinetail, Pied Kingfisher, Angola Swallow, Purple-headed Starling, Hamerkop, White-headed Saw-wing, Cassin’s Spinetail, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Senegal Coucal.
Day 14: Birding and Boat cruise at Murchison Falls National Park.
After breakfast, we drive northwards to Murchison Falls National Park birding through the Escarpment. Special birds include; Cliff Chat, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Grey headed Bush Shrike, Singing Cisticola, African Finfoot, Namaqua Dove, Green-winged Pytilia, Red-backed Shrike, Crested Francolin, Black-headed Bush Shrike, Northern and Black-winged Red Bishops, Black Bellied Firefinch, Black-faced Waxbill and March Tchagra. It’s during the activity you will as well visit the top of the falls to which the park’s name is derived.
In the mid afternoon, you will go for a boat cruise to which a variety of water bird species like the Pied King fishers’, Malachite kingfisher, Egrets, cormorants, Herons and many more will be viewed. Other attractions to lookout for are the abundant Hippos, Elephants, Buffalos, Giant foresthogs, Water bucks, Croccodiles and the bottom of the falls, to mention but a few.
Luxury-Paraa Safari Lodge
Mid range-Murchison River Lodge
Days 15: Driving back to Kampala
After breakfast, the driver guide will drive back to Kampala as you practice light birding. The journey will take 6-7 hours depending on traffic.
Mid range-Hotel Protea
Day 16- Birding at botanical gardens and dropping off to Entebbe International Airport
The beauty of Botanical gardens in terms of flora and fauna provides a perfect spot for leisure and birding as you enjoy the breeze from Lake Victoria. Imperial resort beach will as well be one of our hanging spots for Lunch before transferring you to Entebbe International Airport for your early evening flight.