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25 Days Uganda Birding Trip
This 25 Days Uganda Birding Trip is a thrilling opportunity to birding enthusiasts to explore Uganda’s avian diversity. With over 1000 bird species, Uganda is arguably the richest birding destination in Africa. The Shoe bill Stork is amongst the many special birds together with the numerous spectacular endemics of the Albertine rift Valley that are difficult to see or find elsewhere. Armed with a bird book, identifying these individual birds can be a lot of fun during the trip. Moreover, on this 25 Day Uganda Birding trip, birding shall be done alongside Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee trekking, game drives and boat cruises in the respective national parks. Such is the beauty of bird watching in Uganda!
Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International airport
On arrival at Entebbe International airport, you will be received by a representative from Jungle Escape Africa and with whom you shall drive to the hotel in Entebbe or Kampala for your overnight stay.
Day 2: Entebbe-Mabamba Wetland – Entebbe Botanical Gardens
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Nakiwogo pier to catch the ferry and cross the stretch of Lake Victoria that links with the Mabamba swamp. Mabamba is home for the most sought-after Shoebill Stork and many other birds. Get on a motorised canoe after briefing by a local guide to explore the bird haven that Mabamba Bay is. Of course, the highlight of the Mabamba birding expedition is the Shoebill Stork with other special birds including the White-winged Warbler, Yellow-barked Weaver, Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow-backed Weaver, Blue-headed Cuckoo, Brown-throated Weaver and other swamp specialities. As you continue birding on the canoe, look out for the African Jacana, Swamp Flycatcher, African Purple Swamphen, Lesser Jacana, Common Moorhen, African Pygmy Goose, White-faced Whistling Duck, Goliath Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Black Crake and the Winding Cisticola, among others. Return to the main land and drive back to the hotel for lunch. Evening birding in the botanical gardens. Expect birds like Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Diederik Cuckoos, Black and white Casqued Hornbill, African Fish Eagle and the Woodland Kingfisher.
Day 3: Entebbe – Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – Murchison Falls National Park
Set off from the hotel early morning for a birding journey to Uganda’s largest park – Murchison Falls National Park. A stop at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary shall be for Rhino tracking and looking out for some birds like the…….. Continue to the park after lunch. Check into your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Murchison Falls National Park – Albert Delta and Bottom of the falls birding boat rides
Murchison Falls National Park is not just a record holder for Uganda’s largest protected area, it is also one of the only few accessible places in Africa to find the rare Shoebill Stork. Apart from the Shoebill stork, special birds here include the secretary bird, Ground hornbill, Abyssinian Roller, Red-throated bee-eaters, Pied Kingfishers, Saddle-billed Stork, Goliath Heron, Red-throated Bee-eater, Long-toed Lapwing, Vinaceous Dove, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Osprey, Little Bittern, Red-necked Falcon, White-crested Turaco, Grey Woodpecker, Darter and Giant Kingfisher, Red-winged Blue Warbler, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, among others.
Early morning after breakfast at the lodge, we shall take a boat along the Victoria Nile to the Lake Albert Delta aiming for the Shoebill Stork and other special birds. We shall embark on the afternoon boat ride to the bottom of the falls to increase our bird sightings. With the same adventurous spirit, we shall be able to have a fascinating view of the spectacular Murchison falls base, immense concentration of animals and birds at the river banks and some in water. Return to the lodge after the boat ride.
Day 5: Full day birding and Game drives at the North of Murchison Falls National Park
The whole day birding at the Northern bank of the Victoria Nile shall aim for the Egyptian Plover, Secretary bird, bat Hawk, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Rock Pranticole, Carmine Bee-eater, Shoebill Stork, Night Jars, White-crested Turaco, among others. The animal list during game drives is expected to comprise of herds of buffaloes, elephants, Giraffes, lions, a variety of antelope species, leopards, hyenas, some primates and a lot more.
Day 6: Top of the falls and Budongo Forest Reserve
In the morning after breakfast, we shall cross for birding at the top of the falls. While here, look out for the White-fronted Black Chat, White-crested Turaco, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Brown Twinspot, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Pytilia, Bruce’s Pigeon, Giant Kingfisher and Darters. The view of the magnificent Murchison waterfalls, the enchanting birds hovering over the falls shall not only mesmerise you but drive you to yearn for more of what this park offers to its visitors. Transfer to Budongo Forest for lunch and afternoon bird watching. The afternoon birding activity shall be in the much smaller Pabidi Forest but which is nonetheless very productive considering that we can be able to spot over 20 different bird species in a 2-hours walk. Budongo Forest as a whole is one of the largest and most beautiful forests in Uganda with an extremely rich bird life that comprises of even the rare forest species like the African Dwarf Kingfisher, Grey-chinned Sunbird, Blue-throated Roller and the Velvet-mantled Drongo.
Day 7: Budongo Forest Royal Mile Whole day birding
The Royal Mile or Kabalega Drive is cited as one of, if not, the best bird watching site in Uganda. The key species include: Brown-eared Woodpecker, African dwarf and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow and Grey Longbills, Chestnut-crowned Eremomera, Olive-bellied Crombec, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Crowned Eagle, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Forest Flycatcher, Little Green Sunbird, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Cabanis Bunting, Golden-crowned Woodpecker, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Narina Trogon, Chest-capped Flycatcher, Green Sunbird, Narina Trogon, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Grey Longbill, Yellow Longbill, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Crested Malimbe, Red-headed Bluebill, Western Black-headed Oriole, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Forest Robin, the elusive Lemon-billed Crombec and the Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis and the Negrofinches. Evening return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Kibale National Park
Check out of the lodge early to embark on a drive to Kibale National Park. There is no much birding activity during the journey since birding spots are very few along the way. Evening birding at Bigodi wetland for species like……………….Bigodi wetland is another of Uganda’s bird watching spots located outside but near Kibale National Park. Besides the variety of bird species, Bigodi’s rich ecosystem makes it a spectacular spot for viewing many primates and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
Day 9: Kibale Forest Chimpanzee tracking
This day is for Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest but where flexibility between the morning or afternoon session is a possibility. Also, a full day experience (Chimpanzee habituation) is possible although its permit costs higher than regular trekking. However, a decision on the tracking preference has to be made in advance/upon purchasing the permits. Kibale National Park is known for Chimpanzees and 12 other primate species besides the prolific bird life among other wildlife species. Prior to any Chimpanzee trekking expedition, there is a general briefing that prepares all the trackers for the day on the expectations and the trekking etiquette. Chimpanzees are viewed for one hour after finding them but the time taken to find them can never be predetermined.
Day 10: Whole day birding in Kibale Forest
Start off very early for a productive birding expedition. Kibale Forest birds include; Blue-shouldered Robin chat, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Grey-winged Robin, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, Green-breasted Pitta, White-napped Pigeon, African Pitta, Red-chested Flufftail, Joyful Greenbul, Cabanis Greenbul, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher. Other specials are White-tailed Ant-thrushes, Purple-headed Glossy Starling, Toro Olive Greenbul, Buff-spotted Woodpecker and Green Crombec.
Day 11: Kibale forest – Semliki National Park
Extend to Semliki National Park for a whole day birding expedition in the forest. It’s here that the most sought-after rarities, and for which Semliki is known, can be spotted. Also, of special interest to ornithologists, are 40 Congolese bird species recorded nowhere else in Uganda apart from the Ugandan extension of the Congo’s Ituri Rain Forest. The Kirumira trail has become the most popular trail for its diversity of bird species. Some of them are; Congo Serpent Eagle, Grey-throated Rail, Nkulengu Rail, Black-throated Coucal, Spot-breasted Ibis, Long-tailed Hawk, Yellow-throated Nicator, Capuchin Babbler, Northern-bearded Scrub Robin, White-bellied Kingfisher, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Orange-tufted Sunbird, among others.
Day 12: Whole day birding in the forest
For another sure chance on the mighty Shoebill Stork, a boat ride on Lake Albert should on no account be missed on your birding expedition at Semliki National Park. The park is located on the southern shores of Lake Albert and offers a mosaic of habitats with excellent birding opportunities.
Day 13: Semliki – Queen Elizabeth National Park
Leave Semliki National Park and drive southwards to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s second largest park. A checklist of over 600 bird species in the park, the largest of any protected area in Africa, is attributable to its wide variety of habitats that ranges from Savannah and wetlands to gallery and lowland forest. A serious birder can’t imagine the one day 296 species record out of the 610 recorded in the park! Check into your lodge, have lunch and get ready for the afternoon boat cruise on Kazinga Channel. Kazinga Channel is a water way that connects Lake George and Edward and is well-known for its high diversity of bird species. Look out for the African Skimmer, African Spoonbill, Water Thick-knee, Green-backed Heron, Three-banded Plover, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Grey-headed Gull, Marsh, Yellow-billed Oxpeckers and the Lesser Swamp Warbler.
Day 14: Whole day birding in the park
For the whole day birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you are to start off very early with a drive in the open savannah to spot the savannah birds. With the different bird habitats, you will realise that even non-savannah birds can be seen on a game drive to mention the pelicans, Kingfishers, skimmers, swallows, martins, canaries, weavers, kites, storks and a lot more.
Day 15: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from Queen Elizabeth Park
Make a bird watching drive to Bwindi Gorillas Park through Ishasha, a route that gives you a chance to spot the legendary tree climbing lions. Check into your lodge on arrival. Opting out for an evening bird watching in Bwindi Forest or exploring the surrounding Bwindi communities, are possibilities.
Day 16: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
After breakfast at the lodge and briefing by the ranger guide at the park, you are destined for a life time experience in the Gorilla Sanctuary of Bwindi. Bwindi Forest is incredibly dense and is considered as one of the richest ecosystems in East Africa. It protects an estimated half of the world’s population of the endangered Mountain Gorilla, among others. Gorilla trekking is a rare and moving opportunity! Well, the time taken to locate the Gorillas vary depending on the terrain and their movements with in the forest. The viewing success rate is over 95% but the treks can range from 45 mins to even 8 hours with strict adherence to the Gorilla trekking rules and regulations. When Gorilla trekking ends early, we may embark on birding around Bwindi area or return to the lodge and rest away the day.
Day 17: Whole day birding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Buhoma sector
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park protecting a continuum of forest that ranges from montane to lowland areas, offers excellent birding opportunities making it a key destination for any birder visiting Uganda. It is a unique bird watching destination with species not recorded in other sites in East Africa including the Albertine Rift endemics with a possibility of viewing not less than 23 of Uganda’s 24 recorded Albertine Rift endemics. Bwindi forest’s list of birds has among others the
Day 18: Buhoma to Ruhija Sector
Check out of the lodge after breakfast and make a birding drive to Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Ruhija’s Mubwindi Swamp stands out to be an excellent bird watching spot in the spectacular Bwindi surroundings. Birds are in plenty and easy to spot, even some of some of the most difficult to find of the Albertine Rift endemics like the African Green Broadbill, the Regal Sunbird and Archer’s Robin chart, can be seen here.
Day 19: Whole day birding Ruhija – Mubwindi Swamp
Continuing with the above list, whole day birding at Mubwindi Swamp presents higher chances of spotting the very difficult to find species like the Fraser’s Eagle Owl and the Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird. Expect also to come across the Dwarf Honey guide, Rwenzori Apalis, Grauerr’s Scrub-Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola, African Hill Babbler, Archer’s Robin chart, Eastern Mountain Greenbul, Black-headed Waxbill, Montane Nightjar and the Handsome Francolin.
Day 20: Ruhija to Lake Bunyonyi
Early morning birding around Ruhija area and later drive to Lake Bunyonyi for some relaxation by the beautiful lake. Check into your preferred lodge and have lunch. Afternoon and evening relaxation.
Day 21: Lake Bunyonyi to Lake Mburo
Tour Lake Bunyonyi and its islands with a boat after breakfast. Later embark on the drive to Lake Mburo National Park via Kabale town and Mbarara city. Aside the prolific bird life, Lake Mburo National Park is famous for the Impalas – the only park in Uganda with Impalas, Elands – Africa’s largest antelope and the Buchell’s Zebras and several other mammal species. Evening game drive and retire to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 22: Whole day birding Lake Mburo
Embark on the whole day bird watching expedition in Uganda’s smallest savannah park. Birding sessions shall be punctuated with game drives, a nature walk and a boat ride on Lake Mburo. This park is the best, if not, the only place to see the typically savannah bird species, let alone its extensive wetland area that makes it the best place to find most of the Papyrus endemics and the African Finfoot. Key bird species are the Red-faced Barbet, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Brown-chested Plover, Green-backed Woodpecker, Ground Hornbill, White-winged Warbler, Carruthers, Papyrus Gonolek, Northern Brown-throated Weaver and the African Finfoot, among others.
Day 23: Lake Mburo – Kampala
As animals and birds welcome the light of the day with their distinct calls and songs, they are inviting you for a game walk to have a last glimpse of their habitat, but which you are free to rule out. After the walking safari or breakfast at the lodge, exit the park through Nshara gate heading to Kampala. A stop shall be made at the Equator for some photo moments, a brief Equator demonstration and lunch. Reach Kampala early evening and check into your hotel to refresh and have some rest before dinner.
Day 24: Mabira Forest birding
Whole day birding in Mabira Forest is a wind up for our birding trip through Uganda while aiming for the species that we may have missed to find in all the above places but which are resident here in Mabira. Mabira forest is less than an hour’s drive from Kampala but requires us to leave very early to avoid the heavy traffic jam. From the main road and main walk ways, access Mabira forest’s excellent trail network to look for the Superb Sunbirds, Grey-crowned Negrofinch, African Blue Flycatcher, Forest Robin and the Speckle-breasted Woodpecker. Return to your Kampala hotel arriving in the evening.
Day 25: Departure
Day for resting until time for a transfer to the airport for your flight back home.