22 Days Classic Birding Safari

Given its small size, Uganda is home to nearly half of Africa’s total number of bird species. This is attributed to its diverse habitats, and this special birding safari will take you to many top birdwatching sites including savannah plains and tropical forests. You will also have the opportunity to spend time with gorillas and chimpanzees.

HighlightsItineraryOptions & ExtensionsPricesAccommodation & TransportTravel advice
  • Explore a variety of habitats, from savannah and wetlands to mountains and tropical forests
  • Visit a number of areas known for their Albertine endemic species
  • Go to Mabamba Swamp, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area
  • Track gorillas and chimpanzees
  • Look out for Uganda’s tree-climbing lions
Day 1: Arrive at Entebbe International Airport
Arrive at Entebbe International Airport where your guide will welcome you and drive you to your hotel.
Day 2: Birding to Mabamba swamp and to Lake Mburo National Park
Drive to Mabamba Wetland, and travel in a small boat for birdwatching, including looking for Shoebill. Travel via the equator to Lake Mburo National Park, home to abundant wildlife including zebra, eland and impala.
Day 3: Safari walk and boat cruise
Enjoy a safari walk in the park accompanied by a ranger guide. Look out for Black-bellied Bustards, Bataleur and leopards. Take a late afternoon boat cruise on Lake Mburo for birding.
Day 4: Travel to Kisoro, at the slopes of the Virunga Mountains
Travel to Kisoro, a colonial town located at the slopes of the scenic Virunga Mountains. On arrival, relax in the lodge and enjoy some birdwatching.
Day 5: Birding in Mgahinga National Park
Enjoy birding in the diverse vegetation in Mgahinga National Park, home to a variety of Albertine Rift endemics, as well as golden monkeys and the rare mountain gorillas.
Day 6: Travel to Ruhija, via Echuya Forest for birding
Drive to the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, stopping at Echuya Forest where you will spend time birding. This forest hosts over 100 bird species. Continue to Ruhija sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Day 7: Birding at Mubwindi Swamp
Spend the day birding in Mubwindi Swamp area, known for its elusive Albertine Rift endemic species.
Day 8: Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Enjoy birding in Buhoma sector through ‘the neck’, one of the areas in the Forest that offers an excellent birding experience. Spend an evening birding around the lodge.
Day 9: Gorilla tracking in Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
After an early morning briefing, head into the forest to track the gorillas. Spend one hour watching them. If time allows, go birding and take a walk around the local community.
  Day 10: Drive to Ishasha sector, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Travel to Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park, famous for its tree-climbing lions. Enjoy a game drive and explore the sector for a variety of savannah birds.
  Day 11: Birding and game drive
Go on a birding safari, then continue further north in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Look out for lions, warthogs and antelopes. Explore the different trails in the Park whilst birding.
  Day 12: Game drive at Kasenyi Plains and boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel
Head for a dawn game drive, giving you the chance to spot the early risers, such as elephants and hyenas. Enjoy a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel, a good place to see African Skimmers.
  Day 13: Tour the crater lakes on the drive to Kibale National Park
Drive through this geologically fascinating area, past crater lakes, to Kibale National Park. Go on a swamp walk in Bigodi Wetland and look out for primates, like black and white colobus monkeys and red-tailed monkeys, as well as Widow Birds and African-crowned Eagles.
  Day 14: Chimpanzee tracking and birding
Head into the forest for chimp tracking and spend an hour with these primates in Kibale National Park. Look out for Green Breasted Pitt, most commonly seen in the early morning hours. Spend an afternoon birding in the forest.
  Day 15: Birding in Kibale National Park
Spend the day birding in the forest, looking out for some of the numerous resident species, such as the Red-winged Francolin and White-headed Wood Hoopoe. Enjoy a relaxed evening at your lodge.
  Day 16: Travel to Masindi Town via Hoima
Drive passed forests, swamps and open woodland, looking out for birds. You will also get a good view of village life as you pass schools, churches, homes and local markets on the way to Masindi where you will stay the night.
  Day 17: Birding along the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest
Travel to Budongo Forest and spend the day birding in the forest and along the Royal Mile, a peaceful stretch of private road through the tropical rainforest. As well as a variety of bird species, you may also glimpse a blue monkey or, in the right season, a huge number of butterflies.
  Day 18: Drive to Murchison Falls National Park
Travel to Murchison Falls National Park, birding along the way. Check in at the lodge and drive to catch your boat cruise to the bottom of Murchison Falls. Look out for wildlife along the riverbanks, including Bee-eaters, African Jacana and the Saddle-billed Stork, Hike to the top of the Falls. At dusk, look out for Nightjars near the lodge.
  Day 19: Game drive and birding in Murchison Falls National Park
Catch a ferry across the Nile to the northern sector of the Park for a game drive. This is one of the few places in Uganda where you will see giraffe.
  Day 20: Boat cruise to the Delta. Drive to Masindi town in the afternoon
Go on a private boat trip along the Nile to the delta in search of Shoebill and other water birds. Drive to Masindi.
 

Day 21: Rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and return to Kampala
Drive to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and track the only remaining rhinos in Uganda. Travel to Kampala.
  Day 22: Birding in Entebbe Botanical Gardens and return flight home
Visit a craft village and continue to Entebbe. Go birding in Entebbe Botanical Gardens, and look out for woodland, water and open country bird species. Your guide will take you to the airport for your return flight.

NB: wildlife sightings are not guaranteed. If you have a particular bird/s that you want to see, let us know and we will tailor your itinerary to maximise your chance of spotting it.

Responsible tourism: where possible, we use locally owned accommodation with good environmental credentials.

Any of the activities below can be swapped for activities in this itinerary or you can extend this itinerary to add any of them. This may involve additional costs. We will be pleased to advise you about options and extensions.

  1. Semiliki National Park for elusive Albertine Rift endemics
  2. Night game drive in Lake Mburo National Park
  3. Kidepo Valley National Park for savannah birds and unique wilderness
  4. Eastern Uganda (Lake Opeta and Bisina wetland) for Uganda endemic Fox’s Weaver
  5. Lake Bunyonyi for small-sized birds and breathtaking scenery

Guide price

USD 6,780 per person based on a group of 6 people travelling.

Price includes:

  • 1 gorilla and 1 chimp tracking permit each
  • A private 4×4 safari vehicle (with pop-up roof) with driver/guide and fuel for this itinerary
  • Full-board, mid-range, non air-conditioned accommodation
  • All entrance and other fees for the activities included in the itinerary
  • Mineral water in transit
  • All government taxes
Price does not include:

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as bar bills, phone calls, laundry services, gifts, crafts and personal shopping
  • Tips and gratuities (normally 5–10% and around $100 for your guide).

Why do we use guide prices?
The price for every safari depends on the number of people travelling, their ages, the time of year, whether or not international flights are included, the type of transport and accommodation used and the activities undertaken.

We calculate according to the specific dates of your booking because after we publish our itineraries some things may change. For example, hotels may increase their prices, the government may introduce new taxes or some discounts may become available. Unfortunately, we also have to pass on surcharges imposed on us by, for example, airlines when fuel prices or airport taxes are unexpectedly increased.

We are happy to prepare a quotation, based on your requirements. We normally include most costs in the price so all you need to bring with you is ‘pocket money’ for items like drinks, tips and personal shopping e.g. souvenirs.

Insurance

AMREF flying doctors provide a medevac service in case of illness or injury during your safari. This costs $25pp for 31 days. We recommend this service and can include it in your package price.

Booking

Once you have selected one of our safari packages you need to send us a booking form. When we receive this we will check availability and inform you if any changes are necessary and issue an invoice for a 50% deposit plus the full cost of any tracking permits (in case of cancellation permit fees are non-refundable). Only once this payment is received can we guarantee availability and issue a booking confirmation. Full payment is required 70 days before travel.

Payments and cancellation

We charge in US Dollars. Payment is by bank transfer into our Standard Chartered USD bank account in Uganda. You can also pay by credit card although there is a 5% administration charge. For those booking from within Uganda, cash payments are possible at our office.

When we book your safari, we have to pay non-refundable deposits on your behalf, for example to hotels. Therefore, we charge cancellation fees as follows:

30% of reservation costs if you cancel more than 50 days before your arrival date

100% of reservation costs if you cancel less than 50 days before your arrival date

We strongly recommend that you include cancellation cover in your travel insurance.

Disclaimer: We enter into an agreement with you in good faith but we sometimes encounter unexpected changes in local conditions which can affect your itinerary or price. These changes are beyond our control and we are not liable for them. While we endeavour to protect you against the effects of these changes, we reserve the right to amend the agreed itinerary and price in response to them. Such changes include but are not limited to weather conditions, road conditions, supplier price increases, fuel increases, government tax increases, supplier service changes e.g. cancellation of ferry services for river crossings or national park operations (track maintenance, animal translocations). We assure you that, we will always give you as much notice as possible of changes, suggest alternative plans and keep additional charges to a minimum.

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Accommodation

To help us select the right accommodation for your safari (and in the absence of a complete national hotel classification system e.g. 1*–5*) we use four levels: high-end, mid-range, budget and backpackers. These terms can mean different things to different people but are helpful to an extent.

Air-conditioned rooms are not available in all hotels. Where AC is available, there is usually an extra charge.

Some locations have a limited choice of accommodation and so, to stay there, you must accept what is available. Where possible we prefer to work with responsible accommodation providers. This means hotels and lodges which are locally owned, employ local staff, support their community and protect the local environment.

  

 

Transport

As standard, we use a spacious 7-seater, 4×4 safari Land Cruiser, with pop-up roof, fridge and phone/camera charging facilities. This is the perfect safari vehicle.

 

Alternatively, we offer a slightly cheaper 7-seater, 4×4 safari van with a pop-up roof.

  

5 -seater versions of both Land Cruisers and vans are also available.

 

For large group tours we use small buses called Coasters. These usually seat around 28 people, including 5 jump (fold-down) seats in the aisle. They do not have a boot/trunk so luggage is carried on the back seats which reduces the seating capacity. The overhead luggage shelves are small and can only accommodate small bags. Therefore, we recommend you do not over pack.

All vehicles include a driver/guide and fuel for your itinerary. Additional activities, not included in your itinerary, may incur an additional fuel charge. Our vehicles are comprehensively insured, in good mechanical condition and have seat belts fitted.

Please let us know if you have any special travel requirements. For example, if your group has disabled members we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Flyi-in safaris

Fancy a fly-in safari, hopping from one location to another by small plane? Or save time by travelling to one of the farther destinations on your itinerary by air instead of road? Domestic flights are available to a variety of locations in Uganda so you can visit all or some of the places in your itinerary by plane, enjoying stunning aerial views of the countryside and wildlife below.

Scheduled and charter flights are available. Scheduled flights have some limitations in terms of routings and days of operation and in some cases minimum numbers are required. We will be pleased to advise you if you wish to fly.

Note: The luggage limit on small aircraft is 15kg per person, including both hand and hold luggage.  This must be in soft bags not hard suitcases.

 

 

 

 

 

See our Responsible Tourism pages for information about our approach to tourism and advice on how to travel responsibly.

For general advice please see our travel advice webpage.

Specific advice for this safari

See our information about gorilla and chimp tracking and habituation experiences in our primates section.

This safari can be done at any time of the year, however low season discounts are given for gorilla and chimp tracking in April and November.