This itinerary is designed to take you to Uganda’s birding and wildlife hot spots in just a period of two weeks. The trip is well packaged to include the variety of habitats attracting the different bird and wildlife species specialized for the different habitats. It starts with the pre-historic Shoebill at Mabamba Wetland, takes you to the spectacular landscapes of savannah plains that include; Murchison falls National Park giving you a spectacular view of the Murchison falls while on boat cruise to the bottom of the falls. More opportunities to experience other savannah plains in this trip include; Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Park that will further marvel you with spectacular wildlife and birds such as: Zebras, herds of elephants and different species of antelopes. The forests such as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale and Budongo forests will further build your bird checklist to include the Albertine Rift Endemics and other bird species.
Accommodation: Accommodation ranges from Mid-range to Luxury depending on what you choose.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival at Entebbe International Airport and you will be picked by our well-trained guide and transfer to Hotel for the night. Early arrival will give you a chance to do a nature walk in the Botanical Gardens in Entebbe. Spend the night at Acacia Beach Hotel
Day 2: Birding Mabamba Swamp and afternoon transfer to Murchison Falls National Park
After an early breakfast, we drive to Mabamba Swamp, 50 km west of Kampala. Mabamba wetland is an Important Bird and Biodiversity area as well as a wetland of international importance located on the shores of Lake Victoria. It is habitat to over 300 species of birds and varied wildlife. We shall stop en route at Mpigi Swamp for papyrus rarities such as the; White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Black-headed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Blue-headed Coucal, and other swamp specialties.
We continue to the Mabamba Wetland. At the Swamp, most of the birding is done on a canoe, paddled by our local site guides. Here we watch out for the Shoebill both in the sky and down in the marsh. Also watch out for the Swamp Flycatcher, Purple Swamphen, African Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, African Pigmy Goose, White-faced Whistling Duck, Common Squacco Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, Black Crake and others.
In the afternoon, we bird all the way to Murchison Falls National Park.
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest National Park (3893sq.km) and it protects a huge chunk of untamed savannah bisected by the Nile River. Today it forms part of the even much larger Murchison Falls Conservation Area (5072sq.km) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves. It is named after the dramatic Murchison falls where the World’s longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge in a frothing pool 43 m below. It is one of Uganda’s oldest conservation areas; it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 to protect a savannah that Winston Churchill described in 1907 as ‘Kew Gardens and the Zoo combined on an unlimited scale. The park has 76 mammal species including; the lion, elephant, leopard, hippopotamus, Rothschild giraffe, Cape Buffalo, hartebeest, Oribi, warthog, and the Uganda Kob. The park also hosts over 360 bird species including the rare Shoebill.
Stay at Paraa Safari Lodge
Day 3: Birding, Game Drive and Afternoon Launch Trip
After breakfast, we have a game drive to the rolling plains where you will have chances of viewing Hartebeest, Lions, Buffalo, Primates, mongoose, Giraffe and Elephants. After lunch, we will have an afternoon launch cruise where you have chances to view the huge Nile Crocodiles basking on the sandy river edges, big Pods of Hippos, and other wildlife. The cruise to the bottom of the falls offers you great opportunities and views of the falls as well as water birds such as; Egyptian Geese, Water Thicknee, Giant Kingfisher, African Darter and others.
Stay at Paraa Safari Lodge
Day 4: Birding to Masindi
After Breakfast, we transfer to Masindi. Depending on the road condition, we shall drive through the escarpment while stopping enroute for specialties such as; the Foxy Cisticola, Cut-throat Finch and others. Birding on the way, we are likely to see; African Dwarf Kingfisher, African Crowned Eagle, Olive Camaroptera, Yellow and Grey Longbills, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Red-tailed Ant-thrush, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Ituri Batis, Nahan’s Francolin, Bat Hawk, African Wood Owl, White-faced Wood Owl, White-crested Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Grey Parrots, Piping Hornbill, White-thighed Hornbill, Black-shouldered Nightjar.
Stay at Masindi Hotel
Day 5: Birding in Budongo Forest-Royal Mile and Busingiro Section
The Royal Mile is Uganda’s premier forest birding locality also a historical site where the kings of Bunyoro Kingdom carried out their hunting. It is a wide forest track where you are sheltered by canopies of tall trees giving you undistracted time as you listen and look for the skulkers, mid storey and high canopy species. This is the best place in Uganda for Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. There are many confusing forest Greenbuls to test us including; Spotted, Xavier’s, White-throated, Red-tailed and Honeyguide Greenbuls. Canopy flocks support Yellow-mantled Weaver, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush and Uganda Woodland Warbler. The undergrowth along the track holds numerous skulkers including; Scaly-breasted, Brown and Pale-breasted Illadopses, Fire-crested Alethe, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Rufous Flycatcher-thrush, Red-tailed Ant-thrush, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Yellow Long-bill, and Grey-throated Tit-flycatcher. We will keep an eye on any openings in the forest canopy such as; Cassin’s and Crowned Hawk Eagles, Cassin’s and Sabine’s Spinetails, and White-throated Bee-eaters. The area around the park Headquarters is the only site in East Africa for the elusive canopy dwelling Ituri Batis.
Stay at Masindi Hotel
Day 6: Transfer to Kibale National Park.
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 about 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; Guereza 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, Gree- breasted Pitta, Black Bee eater, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinker bird, little Greenbul, Black-eared Ground Thrush, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground thrush, and the Crowned Eagle.
Stay at Chimpanzee Guest House
Day7: Chimpanzee tracking in the forest
After an early breakfast we drive to Kibale National Park visitor’s center for briefing and chimp tracking. Kibale forest is home to 13 primates of Uganda among which is the Chimpanzee. Chimpanzee tracking, “a once in a life experience” may last from a few hours to several hours.
Birding in the afternoon along the main road may be productive. Depending on the weather predictions, birding around Bigodi wetland is also productive with riverine forest birds. Kibale National Park 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 Fluff tail, Dusky and Olive Long tailed Cuckoo, Lesser Honey guide, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Olive back.
Stay at Chimpanzee Guest House.
Day 8: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After breakfast, we drive to Queen Elizabeth national park. The Park which is named after the Queen of England who visited it in 1954 is the second largest national park in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world. This is evidenced by the presence of open savannah, rainforest, dense papyrus swamps and brooding crater lakes, and the vast Lake Edward. Queen Elizabeth National Park has almost 100 mammal species and a remarkable 612 bird species hence making it a superb safari territory, with elephant, a profusion of hippos, the elusive Giant Forest hog and handsome Uganda Kob all regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula – which also boasts a marvelous waterfront setting in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Stay at Enganzi Lodge.
DAY 9: Game drive and afternoon boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel.
There will be a morning game drive searching for Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Uganda kobs, Waterbucks, Warthogs and many more. After lunch, you have an exotic and exciting launch trip on the Kazinga Channel. The launch trip is one of the most exciting water activities in Uganda. The Kazinga channel is a narrow neck of water that connects Lakes George and Edward, with excellent photographic opportunities for waterside birds and abundant Hippopotamus, huge families of buffalos, and elephants. And you are likely to encounter some bird species such as; Greater Painted Snipe, Heuglin’s Gull, flocks of African Skimmers skimming in water and many other species.
Stay at Enganzi Lodge.
Day 10, 11th July: Birding to Bwindi Forest National Park
You start early after breakfast, We will also drive through the Ishasha sector where, if lucky, you may be able to view tree climbing lions and continue to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to more than half of the world endangered population of Mountain Gorillas. This vast reserve offers arguably the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species. Once part of a much larger forest that included the Virunga Volcanoes in neighboring Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is now an ecological island within a sea of human cultivation and therefore of big conservation importance.
Forest birding in Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda. Special birds include; Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced 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, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed Seed-eater, 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-napped 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 to mention but a few.
Stay at Ride for a Woman Hotel.
Day 11 & 12: Gorilla Tracking and Birding Main trail
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. Eight people are permitted per group per day. On occasions the Gorillas prove elusive but often can be found within an hour by the tracker guides. It is a wonderful experience to stare in to the eyes of these gentle giants; watch them in awe as they play, groom and go about their daily activities. 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 swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. After tracking, everybody is a winner and is rewarded with a certificate to keep with for memories.
Stay at Ride for a Woman Hotel.
Day 13: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is a gem of a park despite its size at just 370 sq km in size, with varied landscapes and even a short drive is alive with interest and color. You will pass gallery forests, open savannah and acacia woodland, rocky kopjes, seasonal and permanent swamps, and open water as you search for the wealth of wildlife they support. A variety of vegetative habitats surround the open water of Lake Mburo. The lake’s western side is dominated by a grassy escarpment rising above a shoreline fringed with acacia forest and the closed canopy Rubanga forest. To the north and east, grassy valley floors, made seasonally lush and soggy by rain, drain between undulating hills. These seep through expanses of wetland into the lake. Rock kopjes are found along the eastern margins of the park. These varied habitats support an impressive variety of wildlife including 68 mammal species and over 310 species of birds. Lake Mburo is the only park in Uganda to contain Impala and the only one in the rift region to host Burchell’s Zebra and Eland. In Uganda, topi are only found in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks. Common wildlife species include; warthog, buffalo, oribi, Deffassa Waterbuck and Reedbuck. Leopard and hyena are also present while hippos and crocodiles are found in the lake.
Common conspicuous birds we will encounter on our journey to Lake Mburo include; Crested Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, African Grey Hornbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Tabora Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Northern Black Flycatcher, White-winged Tit, Brubru, Chin-spot Batis, Great Blue-eared Starling, and Marico Sunbird. The woodland in the immediate vicinity of Rwonyo also supports many of these widespread species.
Stay at Rwaboko Rock Lodge
Day 15: Morning game drive in the Park and Boat Cruise on the lake
After breakfast, we will have a morning game drive and a boat trip looking for bird specialties and other mammals like; Zebras, Impalas, Elands, Topi and Buffaloes in the Park.
Day 15: Transfer to Entebbe for departure.
After breakfast we will drive to Entebbe Airport for departure while birding enroute.