20 Days Uganda Birding Safari

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This tour will take you to the national parks that have Albertine rift endemics in Uganda. Mgahinga National Park is the smallest national Park in Uganda home to over 180 bird species including the Albertine Rift Endemics. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best birding spot is Africa with a record 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics.

The famed Mt Rwenzori also known as the “mountains of the moon” in western Uganda are home to 19 Albertine Rift endemics. Semuliki National Park is one of the richest areas for forest birds in Africa especially Central African species.

Key Species

Malachite, Purple-breasted, Regal, Scarlet-tufted Sunbirds, Rwenzori Turaco, Archer’s Robin Chat, Cape Robin, White-starred Robin, African Green Broadbill, Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Batis, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow-billed Barbet, Bar-tailed Trogon, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Waller’s Starling, Dwarf Honey-Guide, Oriole Finch, Doherty’s Bush-Shrike, Red-headed Malimbe, Grey-headed Sparrow, Dusky Twinspot, Think-billed and Streaky Seedeaters, Rwenzori Nightjar, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Toro-Olive Greenbul, Black Bee-eaters.

Habitats

This trip will take you through the following wild habitats in search of birds.

 Papyrus Swamps  Riverine Forest  Lakes
 Acacia Savanna  Moist woodland  Grassland
 Agricultural lands  Borassus Palm Savannah  Forest

Optional Activities

  • Golden Monkey Tracking ($60)
  • Gorilla Tracking($700)

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Airport pickup to Kampala

On arrival at Entebbe international airport, you will be received by your guide and transferred to your hotel in Entebbe. Depending on the time of arrival time you have an opportunity to bird the Entebbe botanical gardens as an introduction to Uganda birding for a variety of species.

Accommodation: African Roots Guest House(Budget), Tha Boma Hotel(Comfort), and Hotel No.5 (Luxury)

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2: Birding at Mabamba Swamp and Transfer to Lake Mburo

After an early breakfast, we bird to Mabamba – Kamengo Wetlands about 50km west of Entebbe area on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is one of the few remaining swamps in Uganda protected by the local communities – an extensive papyrus swamp with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons, classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous avian resident.

This charismatic species, the only representative in its family, is undoubtedly amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa and we’ll make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels by canoe.

There will of course be a good selection of classic East African water birds:

Pink-backed Pelican African Marsh-Harrier Long-toed Plover
Long-tailed Cormorant Yellow-billed Duck Blue-breasted Bee-eater
Goliath Heron African Water Rail Blue-headed Coucal
African Fish-Eagle Allen’s Gallinule Papyrus Canary
Malachite Kingfisher Swamp Flycatcher Papyrus Gonolek
White-winged Warblers Papyrus Yellow Warblers

Other areas in and around Entebbe/Kampala may produce African Open-billed Stork, Grey Kestrel, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, African Green Pigeon, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher – maybe the rare Weyn’s Weaver.

Lake Mburo National Park is 260 sq. Km and it has markedly different fauna from other reserves. It is the only national park that contains an entire lake. Situated in rolling hills and open grassy valleys, the park also consists of 4 other smaller lakes.

Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock (Budget), Acadia Lodge (Comfort), and Mihingo Lodge(Luxury)
Meal plan:  Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 3: Birding en route to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Today, after an early breakfast we will bird to the southwestern corner of Uganda for a beautiful birding experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla NP is the country’s most scenic and smallest park.

We shall have several stopovers birding in specific swampy areas and agricultural lands for unique bird species. We arrive at our lodge/hotel later that evening looking to full bird day the next day in Mgahinga gorilla national park for the Albertine rift endemics.

Accommodation: Travellers Lodge (Budget), Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge (Comfort), and Mt. Gahinga Lodge(Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 4: Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has about 180 recorded bird species, which include Albertine rift endemics. Today we traverse a variety of montane habitats along the Gorge trail seeking out the different bird species unique to this region.

Here is a list of some of the birds you will be able to see in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The Dusky Turtle Dove Handsome Francolin Rwenzori Turaco
Cape Robin-chat Kivu Ground Thrush Rwenzori Batis
Brown-crowned Tchagra Cinnamon Bracken Warbler Shelly’s Dusky Crimsonwing
Bronze Sunbird White Starred Robin Archer’s Robin-Chat
Black-headed Waxbill Greater Double collard Sunbird Olive Pigeon
Streaky Seedeater striped breasted Tit Western Green Tinkerbird
Brown Woodland Warbler White-starred Robin Malachite Sunbird

Accommodation: Travellers Lodge (Budget), Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge (Comfort), and Mt. Gahinga Lodge(Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 5: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable N.P

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the richest forest in East Africa in relation to its trees, butterflies, and birds. It is home to more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. The bird list for the park currently totals 347 species. The forest has 10 of the 26 globally threatened species in Uganda, five of which are vulnerable, and boasts of 24 of Uganda’s 25 Albertine Rift endemics.

In Ruhija the birds we hope to sight include the;

Rwenzori Batis Montane Sooty Boubou Shelley’s Crimsonwing
Collared Apalis White-starred Robin Mountain Illadopsis
Banded Prinia Strange Weaver Archer’s Robin-chat
Mountain Greenbul Purple-breasted Sunbirds Regal Sunbirds
Yellow-streaked Greenbul Blue-headed Sunbirds Northern Olive Thrush
Abyssinian Crimsonwing Black-headed Waxbill Dusky Crimsonwing
Willcock’s Honeyguide Sharpe’s Starling

We will have stopovers at Echuya forest for good birding opportunities and possible sightings of Albertine rift endemics.

Accommodation: Broadbill Forest Camp (Budget) and Bakiga Lodge (Comfort)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 6: Birding in Bwindi  – Mubwindi Swamp

Today we bird towards Mubwindi Swamp where the trail drops steeply through the dense forest and then winds through the swampy forest.

Initially, the birds on the trail are similar to those encountered before but more time spent will provide opportunities for the rare and localized African Green Broadbill now known as Grauer’s Broadbill. It prefers to nest near the Mubwindi Swamp and can be difficult to locate while on this trip but with excellent site guides there are high chances of locating it.

Other birds to look out for in this area of Bwindi impenetrable national park are;

Yellow-billed Barbet Pink-footed Puffback Oriole Finch
Black-billed Turacos Lagden’s Bush-Shrike Doherty’s Bush-Shrike
Bar-tailed Trogon Waller’s Starling Red-headed Malimbe
White-headed Hoopoe Grauer’s Rush Warbler Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher
Montane Oriole Dwarf Honey-Guide Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk
Grey-headed Sparrow Dusky Twinspot Rwenzori Nightjar

Accommodation: Broadbill Forest Camp (Budget) and Bakiga Lodge (Comfort)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 7: Birding in the Buhoma Sector of Bwindi

We leave the Ruhija Section of Bwindi to Buhoma for Gorilla tracking and more birding opportunities. On our way, we bird “The Neck” – this is an important habitat and offers a high chance to see the Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Toro-Olive Greenbul, Black Bee-eaters, Bronze-napped Pigeon, the rare Chapin’s Flycatcher, Cassin’s grey flycatcher, pink-footed puff back, Mountain wagtail, etc.

Accommodation: Buhoma Community rest Camp (Budget), Haven Lodge Buhoma (Comfort), and Mahogany Springs Lodge (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 8: Birding at Buhoma (optional Gorilla tracking)

Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has tracks that run through the forest offering excellent bird viewing points.

The bird species to look out for on these trails include;

African Golden Oriole Thick-billed Seedeater Handsome Francolin
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater African broadbill Rwenzori Batis
Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo Mountain Masked Apalis Montane Oriole
Grey-backed Camropteras Common Stonechat Black-throated Apalis
Black-throated Robin-chat Cape Wagtail White-chinned Prinia
White-bellied Robin-chat Streaky Seedeater Kivu Ground Thrush
Grey-headed Sunbirds Black Bee-Eater Blue-headed Sunbirds
Northern Double-collared Sunbirds Olive Green Camropteras Chin spot Batis

There is an option for gorilla tracking for those interested.

Accommodation: Buhoma Community rest Camp (Budget), Haven Lodge Buhoma (Comfort), and Mahogany Springs Lodge (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 9: Birding to Mount Rwenzori National Park

On this day, we start early after breakfast and carry a packed lunch and keep birding toward Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

We drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park, having many opportunities for birding stops even before reaching our destination for the night. Look out for the tree climbing lions in Ishasha, there is a possibility of sighting these while driving through Ishasha towards Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Accommodation: Sandton Hotel (Budget), Equator Snow Lodge (Comfort)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 10: Birding in Rwenzori Mountains National Park

We start early and search for the special Rwenzori birds which include;

Bamboo warbler Abyssinian Crimsonwing Dusky Crimsonwing
Rwenzori Turaco Red-faced Crimsonwing Shelley’s Crimsonwing
Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird Rwenzori Hill-Babbler Rwenzori Nightjar
Rwenzori Batis Woodhouse Antipecker Grauer’s Cuckoo-shrike
Grey Apalis Cassin’s Hawk-eagle Banded Prinia
Willcock’s Honeyguide Sooty Flycatcher Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher

Accommodation: Sandton Hotel (Budget), Equator Snow Lodge (Comfort)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 11: Birding tour to Semuliki National Park

Today morning, we bird our way to Semuliki National Park for a range of central African bird species found only here in East Africa. We will have birding stopovers en route to our accommodation for the night where we arrive later that evening ready to explore this park.

Accommodation: Rwenzori View Guest House (Budget), Nyaika Hotel (Comfort), and Semuliki Safari Lodge (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 12 & 13: Birding in Semuliki National Park

Birding in Semuliki national park, we look out for a number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa such as;

Congo Serpent Eagle Lyre-tailed Honeyguide Snowy-headed Robin-Chat
Long-tailed Hawk Blue Swallow Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat
Fire-crested Alethe White-throated Blue Swallow White-tailed Robin-Chat
Grey Ground-Thrush Swamp Palm Bulbul Abyssinian Ground-Thrush
Toro Olive Greenbul Spotted Greenbul Oberlaender’s Ground-Thrush
Western Nicator White-starred Robin Yellow-throated Nicator
Capped Wheatear Red-eyed Puffback Black-Casqued Wattled Hornbills
Common Stonechat Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin Piping Hornbills
Lowland Akalat Mountain Greenbul White-crested Hornbills
Red-throated Alethe Little Grey Greenbul Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills

Accommodation: Kibale Forest Camp (Budget), Turako Treetops (Comfort), and Papaya Lake Lodge (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 14: Chimp Tracking at Kibale Forest National Park

After early morning breakfast, your guide will lead you to Kibale National Park to enjoy a guided primate walk in search of chimpanzees and 12 other primates including l’ Hoestes, Red colobus, blue, red-tailed monkeys, brown monkeys, and gray-cheeked mangabey.

The guide will provide detailed explanations, not only on primates but on all the forest fauna and flora, and will ensure that your walk is informative and enjoyable. After lunch, you will visit the community and take a walk in Bigodi Swamp – which is the home of the great blue Turaco bird. Later return to your accommodation for dinner & overnight stay.

Accommodation: Kibale Forest Camp (Budget), Turako Treetops (Comfort), and Papaya Lake Lodge (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 15: Drive to Gulu en route to Kidepo Valley National Park

The drive from Kidepo Valley National Park to Entebbe is very long with over 10 hours yet there are possible suitable species to pick along the way, hence we consider spending a night at Gulu town

Accommodation: African Roots Guest House (Budget), Boma Hotel (Comfort)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 16, 17, and 18: Kidepo Valley National Park

Three days will be spent exploring Kidepo; activities will include bird watching, day and night game drives, cultural visit to the Karamajong communities for some cultural performances, game, and bird walks within the park as well as comfortable.

Kidepo Valley National Park is the least explored of all of Uganda’s parks and yet proves to offer the best as far as ornithological trips are concerned. Kidepo has a record of up to 480 species, making it the second-highest after Queen Elizabeth National Park of all the protected areas in the country.

Being the only IBA located entirely within the Somali– Masai biome, 28 species from the Somali-Masai and Sudan–Guinea Savanna biomes are endemic to this park in Uganda.

The Narus Valley and the Ostrich areas are fantastic spots for an exceptional birding experience.

Common Ostrich Scissor-tailed Kite White-faced Scoops-Owl
Secretary Bird Eastern Chanting Goshawk Long-tailed winged Nightjars
Pygmy Falcon Yellow-necked Francolins Little Green Bee-eater
Fox Kestrel Violet-tipped Courser Abyssinian Rollers
Stone Partridge Black-headed Lapwing Rufous-crowned Rollers
Clapperton’s Francolins Four-banded Sand Grouse Abyssinian Ground Hornbills
Heuglin’s Francolins Bruce’s Green Pigeon Eastern Yellow Hornbills
Kori Bustards Rose-ringed Parakeet Jackson’s Hornbills
White-bellied Bustards White-crested Turaco Karamoja Apalis
Hartlaub’s Bustards White-bellied Go-away bird White-bellied Tit
Slate-coloured Boubou Superb Starling Grayish Flycatcher
Fan-tailed Raven Mouse-coloured Pendu Tit Ethiopian Swallow
Red-billed Oxpecker Northern Shrikes Red-winged Lark
Black-breasted Barbets Brown-backed Woodpecker Singing Bush lark

These are just a few of the 480 bird species the Park boosts yet are very likely to be seen.

Kidepo’s mammal list of over 80 species includes 28 species not found in any other Ugandan National park. Amongst these are such charismatic African animals as Bat-eared Fox, Caracal, Cheetah, and Klipspringer. Unfortunately, Kidepo suffered the same fate as many other Ugandan parks during the 1970s and 1980S and is still recovering from years of poaching that left game herds depleted.

Spotted Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant’s gazelle, and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and were presumed to be locally extinct. Other large mammals have shown a remarkable recovery and there are now healthy populations of Elephant, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Bohor Reedbuck, Waterbuck, and Kongoni.

Predators are plentiful and Spotted Hyena, Leopard, and Lion are frequently seen. The Oribis are abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther’s Dik-Dik. The Senegal Galago and Side-striped Jackal may be found in the rest camp at night, and White-tailed Mongoose is common but more likely to be found on a night drive. The park also has vibrant and diverse reptile fauna.

Accommodation: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (Budget), Adere safari Lodge (Comfort), and Apoka Safari Lodge (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 19: Drive back to Entebbe

An early start to drive back to Entebbe with a Lunch stop in Gulu and COVID testing. Arrive in Entebbe in the evening.

Accommodation: Kaazi Beach Resort (Budget), Boma Hotel Entebbe (Comfort), and Hotel No.5 (Luxury)
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 20: Airport Transfer

After receiving your Covid test results, you will be transferred in time for your flight back home. This marks the end of your holiday in Uganda.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Inclusions

  • Transport in a 4WD Jeep/Land cruiser with a pop-up roof.
  • All fuel for the tour
  • English-speaking Ugandan Birding guide/driver.
  • Accommodation and Meals on Full Board (Breakfast Lunch and Dinner)
  • Park-entrance fees for all National parks
  • All activities described in the itinerary
  • Drinking water throughout the safari.

Exclusions

  • International airfares
  • Gorilla and Golden Monkey permit
  • Entry visa Uganda
  • Meals that are not part of your accommodation.
  • Personal (medical/travel) insurance
  • Tips and gratuities to rangers, driver/guide, porter, hotel staff, etc.
  • All expenses of personal nature e.g. drinks

The above prices are based on transportation in a safari Land Cruiser. Alternatively, a safari van is a viable and budget-friendly alternative that can be used. Take a look at our fleet of safari vehicles.

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