22 Days Uganda Birding, Gorilla, Wildlife & Cultural Safari
Arrive in Uganda following the flight from your respective country of origin. You land at Entebbe International Airport which is the main gateway to Uganda where you will find the company representative dedicated to offer you a courteous welcome. The amazing weather and brightening atmosphere on the shores of Lake Victoria give you a notable first impression of Uganda. After briefing about Uganda and the safari, you will connect to the respective hotel for relaxation and overnight
After an early breakfast, connect to Mabamba swamp which is a labyrinth of channels and lagoons located about 52 km from Kampala. The road to Mabamba winds its way through areas of secondary forest and agricultural land attracting Red-headed Lovebird, African Crowned-Hornbills, and a range of sunbirds including the Green-headed, Green, Red-chested, Collared, Marico and Scarlet-chested. We shall stop over at Mpigi Swamp to look out for the Papyrus Gonolek and the White-winged Warbler. The road ultimately ends at a papyrus reedbed adjoining Lake Victoria, where we will explore by canoe a maze of channels and mudflats for a reliable resident, the magnificent Shoebill. Although sightings can never be guaranteed, we should have a very good chance of seeing this magnificent bird in Mabamba. The Mabamba birding site also offers a large selection of other bird species which might include African Pygmy Goose, the rare Lesser Jacana, Carruthers’ Cisticola, African Fish Eagle, Winding Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, etc. The rare and elusive Sitatunga Antelope also occurs here but it is very shy and rarely seen. We also expect to encounter the Spot-necked Otter in one of the channels that we shall paddle through. Retreat from the encounter and proceed to Lake Mburo National Park for relaxation, dinner and overnight
After an early morning breakfast, embark on the extensive wildlife and birding experience in the rolling savannah landscapes of Lake Mburo National Park. Explore the park on foot following the respective trails in the company of an armed ranger to save you from attacks of wild animals. Explore the Miriti and Warukiri swamps, Rubanga forest and the salt lick.
The encounter offers you chances of spotting Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Brown-chested Lapwing, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Black-bellied Bustard, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Brown Parrot, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Red-faced Barbet, White-headed Barbet, Long-tailed Cisticola, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Finfoot, White-winged Tit and Yellow-breasted Apalis among other birds.
The walking & driving experience also offers an opportunity to explore counts of wild game including the Rothschild giraffes, the Topis, elands, waterbucks, Buffaloes, Burchell’s Zebra, Impala, Warthogs among other species. The afternoon is dedicated for a thrilling boat ride on Lake Mburo where opportunities for exploring the African finfoot, the range of King Fishers and the African fish eagle. Retire for evening relaxation, dinner and overnight
Bwindi offers some of the finest montane forest bird watching in Africa, and is unforgettable destination for any birder undertaking a Safari in Uganda. There are approximately 350 bird species with 23 endemic to the Albertine Rift and 14 recorded nowhere else in Uganda. Some species that are threatened globally including; African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimson wing can be traced in Bwindi. Other species of birds are; the Black-billed Turaco, African Broadbill; Handsome Francolin; Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters; Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds; Western Green Tinker bird; Short-tailed and Black-faced Rufous Warblers; Mountain-masked and Collared Apalis; Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls; and Many-colored Bush-Shrike, among others. Ruhiija area is seen to be among the highlights of every trip done in Uganda with outstanding birding within the remarkable vicinities. The abundance of birds makes it stress free to spot them; several species connecting in assorted feeding flocks which are active all through the day. Early morning birding walks offers the finest opportunity of finding the remarkable handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, white-tailed crested Flycatcher, Ruwenzori batis, red-faced woodland Warbler, western Green Tinker bird, Mountain plus yellow-streaked Greenbuls as well as the Mountain marked plus chestnut-throated Apalis, among others. You drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with a traditional lunch stop at Igongo Cultural Center before proceeding to the Park arriving in the evening for relaxation, dinner and overnight
After your early morning breakfast, gather at the respective Park Headquarters for briefing from the park rangers about the conduct of gorilla trekking activity. After the short briefing, you embark on the challenging trek through the impenetrable jungle of Bwindi with its rugged landscape involving valleys, swamps, steep slopes and rocky areas amidst amazing jungle sounds and bird songs which is an attraction in its self.
You will finally come across these endangered apes in thriving in their ancient habitat foraging or socializing. You will marvel at the gorillas as they welcome you, interact and finally say bye when your one hour with them is used up to minimize stress on these endangered species.
The opportunity to take as many photos as you can is availed to you while asking questions to your guide about these apes is up to your discretion. The activity ranges between 2 – 8 hours. Spend the evening relaxing at the lodge
This is designed to allow you explore the birds of Bwindi in detail along the trails like the Munyange water fall trail, River Ivi walk and Habinyanja trail. The birds that might be encountered include; Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Rufous-chested Fluff tail, Pink Footed and Northern Puff Back, Honey Guide, Red Tailed, Toro Olive, Slender Billed, Little, Sheilley’s, Little Grey, Cabani’s White Throated and Yellow Wiskered Greenbuls, Cameroon Sombre, Elliots, Cardianl, Yellow Crested, Red Throated Allethe, Fine Banded woodpeckers, Red Faced Woodland Warbler, White Headed Wood Hopoe, Black faced Woodland Warbler, Waller’s, Stulman’s and Narro Tailed Starlings, Banded and White Chinned Prinia, Black Bee Eater, Blue Throated Brown, Northern Double Collard, Blue Headed, Collard, Olive, Green, olive Bellied, Rwenzori Doulbe Collard and Green Headed Sunbirds, Kivu Ground Thrush, Bar tailed Tragon, African Broad Bill, Neumann’s Warbler, Red-chested Owlet, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher and Pale-breasted Illadopsis. Retire for overnight
Ruhiija is likely to be one of the highlights of any bird watching safari to Uganda with excellent birding in spectacular surroundings. After breakfast, you head to birding encounters in Umubwindi swamp where you might have chances of encountering; the beautiful leafy looking broadbill, Olive, Elliot’s and Fine-banded Woodpecker, Black-billed Turaco, African Hill Babbler, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Mountain Illadopsis, Mountain Greenbul, Red-faced Woodland, Grey Cuckoo Shrike, Chestnut-throated Collard and Black Throated Apalis, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Mountain, Shelley’s and Yellow-streaked Greenbul, African Green-Broadbill, Regal Sunbird and Rwenzori Batis among other bird species. Return through the hilly forested landscapes of Ruhija with sights of birds like; Macknon’s Fiscal, Augar Buzzard, Tropical Boubou, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Mountain Buzzard and Wagtail, Western Bronze Naped Pigoen, Barred and Dusky Long Tailed Cuckoo, Black Faced Rufous Warbler, White Headed Wood Hopoe, Ducky Tit, Ludhur’s and Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Grey-Green Bush-Shrike, White Eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Chestnut Throated Apalis, Streaky Seed-Eater, White Starred Robin, Stripe Breasted Tit among others. Retire for overnight
After breakfast, you transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park 160km from Buhoma, 218km from Ruhija. You will pass through the landscapes of Ishasha in the south of Queen Elizabeth where by chance you can encounter the tree climbing lions that dwell in the fig trees of Ishasha. The Fig frees of Ishasha with the low bent branches present an ideal ground not only for the lions to climb but also better viewing opportunities. You undertake a day drive in Ishasha where you also have an opportunity to explore the range savannah bird species in this sector including the Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bateleur, Long-created Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Crake, Black-bellied Bustard, African Wattled Plover, Senegal Plover, African Green Pigeon, Ross’s Turaco, Striped Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Double-toothed Barbet, White-headed Barbet, Greater Honey guide, Grey Woodpecker, White-browed Robin-Chat, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Green Crombec, Cisticolas, Grey-backed Fiscal and Yellow-billed Oxpecker. Retreat and proceed to the northern sector for relaxation and overnight
Queen Elizabeth National Park features over 600 bird species, making it the second highest of any park in Uganda and the 6th highest of any park world-wide. The birding along Mweya Peninsula, Kasenyi Area and along the Katunguru Bridge Area presents an opportunity to explore a myriad of bird species including the Temminck’s Courser, Rupell’s Griffon, Martial Eagle, White Headed, Lappet Faced Vultures, Blue Quail, Harlequin Quail, Small (Common) Buttonquail, African Crake, Black Headed Gonolek, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Amur Falcon, Lowland Akalat, Ovambo Sparrowhawk among many more. The sights of wildlife like elephants, buffaloes, lions, spotted Hyena, side stripped jackals, defassa water bucks, Uganda kobs and Antelopes among others may not be missed. In the afternoon, you embark on the birding encounter along the 45m long Kazinga channel using the launch. The two hour launch cruise will not only expose you to over 60 species of birds but also other Uganda safari offerings like Hippos, Nile Crocodiles not forgetting elephants, buffaloes and other antelopes drinking on the channel side. The birds that might be encountered include; the African Skimmer, African Spoonbill, Striated Heron, Herring Gull, Water Thick-knee, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Three-banded Plover, Green, Marsh, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Plain Martin, Gray-headed Gull, Lesser Swamp-Warbler among others.
After breakfast, embark on the transfer to Kibale National Park 157km about 4 hours’ drive. You will pass by the scenic Rwenzori Mountains that were noted in the ancient times as the legendary mountains of the moon. They tower up to 5,109m above sea level covered with snow. You take a relaxed drive exploring amazing sceneries en route including the Ndali Kasenda Crater field which is another set of volcanic explosion craters that characterize the Albertine rift. Spend the entire afternoon relaxing at the Lodge
After breakfast, embark on the chimpanzee trekking encounter in Kibale National Park. You gather at Kanyanchu tourism Center for briefing at 8am by the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers after which you head to the prehistoric forest in search of your closest cousin. Kibale National Park offers great flora concentration with 351 Species of trees some of which are 200 years old and over 55m tall. The park also supports 70 species of mammals and 13 species of Primates among which include the common chimpanzee, Black and white colobus and red tailed monkey. The 375 Species of birds thrive in the park including the impressive western green tinker bird, two species of pittas (African and green-breasted), olive long-tailed cuckoo, African grey parrot and the endemic ground thrush (Turdus kibalensis). Thus makes the search for the chimpanzees beyond the ordinary. Upon encountering the chimps, you have an opportunity to see them munch fruit, hunt, patrol, copulate, young ones playing, make pant hooting calls among other interesting aspects for one full hour. The exciting moments with the chimps will leave you with no other option but to be active with your cameras to make a reserve of remarkable photos that will always take you back to the memories of this wonderful moment. Retreat from the activity and connect to the starting point where you connect with your company guide, settle for your packed lunch after which you connect to Bigodi wetland sanctuary for an afternoon walk. Bigodi wetland is an eco-tourism project developed and managed by the community sheltering a count of 138 bird species which include the Great Blue Turaco. The swamp also supports the swamp dwelling sitatunga antelope but importantly features a heritage encounter to the local people and craft center that enables you to explore the local way of life. Retreat from the 2 hours walk back to the lodge for relaxation, dinner and overnight
After an early breakfast embark on the transfer to Semliki Forest National Park 52km from Fort Portal town about 1 ½ hours’ drive. The forest tract of Semuliki is an extension of West African jungle that stretch from Equatorial Guinea through Congo forming a habitat for Guinea Congo biome species that do not exist in other areas of East Africa. The encounter in Semuliki offers you chances of spotting specialties like; Congo Serpent Eagle, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Rufous-sided, Black-winged Broadbill, Black-throated Coucal, Icterine Greenbul, Nkulengu Rail, Spot-breasted Ibis, Long-tailed Hawk, Capuchin Babbler, Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Yellow-throated and Western Nicator, Black-collared Lovebird, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, White-bellied Kingfisher, Zenker’s and Lyre-tailed Honey guides, White-throated Blue Swallow, Crested Malimbe, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Blue-billed Malimbe, Chestnut Bellied and Pale-fronted Negrofinch, Fiery-breasted Bush-shrike, Piping, Black Dwarf, Red-billed Dwarf, White Crested, African Piculet among other bird species. Retreat to Fort Portal for overnight
After breakfast, you embark on the drive to Budongo Forest Reserve close to Masindi 253km about 7 hours’ drive. You enjoy the birding views en route in the swamps of Kagadi and Hoima before approaching Hoima Town for lunch from which you will proceed to Masindi. Spend the entire evening relaxing in Masindi town. You can take a guided town walk in Masindi town to explore the local market and the local life.
Budongo is a rich birder’s paradise. With over 360 bird species on the check list, Budongo is the second significant forest in Uganda after Semliki in terms Guinea – Congo forest biome. It has two endemic bird species that are found nowhere else in East Africa namely; the Illadopsis puveli and Yellow-footed flycatcher. The Royal Mile presents the best bird watching encounters and the migratory birds tend to be available from Nov. to April. Birds of Budongo include among others; Black-eared ground thrush, Blue-breasted kingfisher, Brown twinspot, Cameroon sombre greenbul, Cassin’s hawk eagle, Cassin’s spinetail, Chestnut-capped flycatcher, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Crested guineafowl, Crowned eagle, Dwarf kingfisher, Grey-headed sunbird, Ituri batis, Lemon-bellied crombec, Little green sunbird, Mountain greenbul, Pygmy crake, Sabine’s spinetail, White spotted flufftail, White-thighed hornbill, Yellow crested woodpecker and Yellow-footed flycatcher among others. Retreat from the activity and proceed to Murchison Falls National Park.
The encounter commences after breakfast and the exploration would feature savannah landscapes in the northern section, the Victoria Nile Delta, along the Nile launch cruise and top of the Murchison Falls. Murchison Falls National Park features a count of 451 species of birds and the day’s birding encounter presents to you an opportunity to explore various bird species including Silver Bird, Speckle-fronted and Golden-backed Weavers, Beautiful Sunbird, White Crested Turacco, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Pennant-winged Night jars, the Buff-bellied Warbler, White-rumped Seed Eater, Black Billed Barbet, Yellow-flanked Barbet and Bar-breasted Firefinch, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Shoebill Stork, Abyssinian and Rufaous Crowned Roller, Grey Headed and Striped Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Saddle-billed Stork, Goliath Heron, Sacred Ibis, Senegal Thick-knee, Fulvous and white Faced Whistling-Duck, Water and Spotted Thick-knee, Long-toed Lapwing, Black-headed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Red-necked Falcon, Vinaceous Dove, Osprey and Blue-breasted Bee-eater among other bird species. The northern landscapes of Murchison Falls National Park also presents ground for rich wild game viewing including four of the Big five namely the Lions, Leopards, Elephants and Buffaloes with the Rhinos thriving in the adjacent Rhino Sanctuary. Other species like Rothchild giraffes, the Jackson’s Hartebeest, the Uganda Kob, the Oribi among others may be explored. The Nile launch cruise to the bottom of the falls do not only provide an opportunity to view birds on the river bank including the Vulnerable shoebill stork but also offers views of countless Hippos and the Nile Crocodiles – the second largest Reptile in the world. The hike to the top of the world’s powerful waterfall offers you a magical adventure encounter with nature and the strength of the world’s longest river as it forces itself to pass through a less than7m ravine. At the top of the falls, various bird species may be explored.
Undertake an early private boat ride to the Delta Area to stand opportunities of exploring the rare species like the Shoebill stork. The morning boat ride is magical allowing you to explore the majestic Victoria Nile River as it empties into Lake Albert. The scenery is very amazing while the soothing fresh morning breeze gives you a touch of the true African wilderness freshness. From the boat cruise, you can take a walk in the savannah woodlands of the south and the forested river banks for more birds before retiring for overnight
After breakfast, embark on the transfer to Kidepo Valley National Park 311km about 6 – 7 hours’ drive exploring the open stretches of northern Uganda which are notoriously known for the Lord’s Resistance Army – Kony War that ended in 2006. You drive along the scattered settlements in the area before approaching Karamoja in the afternoon.
After an early breakfast, embark on the birding and wildlife exploration in the savannah landscapes of Kidepo Valley National Park. Kidepo Valley National Park features a bird check list of 463 confirmed and 26 unconfirmed species that makes it second to only queen Elizabeth national park and more than 60 of the birds listed have been recorded in no other Ugandan national park. Kidepo is famous for its birds of prey whereby of the 56 species recorded, 14 are endemic to the park and Karamoja region including; Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Pygmy Falcon. Other specials of Kidepo in relation to Uganda include; Kori bustard, fox, Ostrich, etc. Besides birds, the park presents extensive wildlife views. It has five primate species including patas monkeys. Predators also inhabit the park with 20 species available including; bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, cheetah, caracal and aardwolf which are endemic to the park. Others predators include; spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, lion, leopard, and a range of genets, mustelids, small cats and mongooses. Kidepo also contains twelve antelope species such as; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reed buck and Guenther’s dik-dik occur in no other part Uganda. The other species of antelope include; eland, Jackson’s hartebeest, common duiker, klipspringer, bushbuck, Defassa waterbuck, and bohor reed buck. Kidepo supports populations of elephant, Burchell’s zebra, warthog, bushpig, buffalo and giraffe. In the evening, you embark on the community tour to the Karimajong people at Karenna and Kapedo. Mix up with the nomads greatly known for their nomadic pastoralism. You explore their traditions, the Manyattas, the arts and crafts, the Kraal and the grazing field and traditional performances before retreating to the lodge for relaxation, dinner and overnight
After breakfast, embark on the drive to Soroti 243km about 6 – 7 hours’ drive exploring the impressive countryside en route including the distant Moroto Mountains, the savannah landscapes of Bokora Matheniko and Pain Upe game reserves before arriving in Soroti for relaxation, dinner and overnight.
Accommodation: Soroti Hotel / Akello Hotel
After breakfast, connect to Kapir Community Eco-tourism site to gain ground for the exploration of Lake Bisina and Opeta wetland system where a range of shoebill stork and the only Uganda’s endemic bird – the Fox weaver thrive in considerable numbers. Fox’s Weaver Ploceus spekeoides is the only known endemic bird species in Uganda, restricted to wooded grasslands near swamps around Lira and Soroti districts. Primarily found in and around Lakes Bisina and Opeta, it possibly extends to main Lake Kyoga system. Its preferred habitat is papyrus-fringed lakes with nearby wooded grassland, a habitat common throughout Eastern Uganda. It’s a whole day birding adventure in search of these species. Retire for overnight
Accommodation: Soroti Hotel / Akello Hotel
After a relaxed breakfast, embark on the birding transfer to Kampala. You drive along the eastern route of Mbale passing through the wetland habitat that is home to various bird species that would keep you entertained along the way. Upon arrival in Jinja, you can undertake a boat ride to explore the source of the World’s longest River – the Nile River as it set off for its 90 days journey to Mediterranean Sea. Settle for lunch in Jinja town before proceeding to Kampala for overnight
This day is dedicated for your flight departure. However, if your flight is in the evening and still interested in more birding, a short visit to Lutembe bay would be ideal. Lutembe bay was declared a Ramsar site and is a habitat to about 100 bird species with the commonly encountered ones being; Papyrus Yellow Warbler, the Greater Cormorant, Papyrus Gonolek, Gull billed Tern. In winter seasons, other bird species like; Grey-headed gull, White-winged black terns and Slender-billed gull transfer from Europe in enormous numbers to Lutembe bay which makes birding encounter in Lutembe bay quite thrilling.
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