203: Birding Extravaganza

Ref: 203, 22 days

203: Birding Extravaganza

$8370 per person

This extensive birding safari intends to cover a range of Uganda’s precious habitats. You will go birding in a number of the country’s most important bird areas.

From the famous Mabamba swamp all through to the rich forests of the south western corner of the country and across to the River Nile, you will be searching for the highly sought after birds of the region including the Albertine Rift endemics, water birds like the graceful Shoebill and the great checklist of the wild savannah. We’ll look forward to a satisfying number of species on this tour and good photo moments. You will also have the opportunity to spend time with gorillas and chimpanzees, see a host of mammals and enjoy the panoramic scenic views of the landscape.

 

Highlights

  • Explore the country’s most Important Bird Areas
  • Cover a multitude of habitats for the region’s sought after birds
  • Boat rides to see birds in open water, swamp and riverine habitats
  • Amazing moments with the gorillas and chimpanzees
  • Excellent game drives and photography opportunities

 

Overview

Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International Airport

Day 2: Birding to Mabamba swamp and to Lake Mburo National Park

Day 3: Game drive – birding and boat cruise

Day 4: Travel to Kisoro

Day 5: Birding in Mgahinga National Park

Day 6: Travel to Ruhija, via Echuya Forest for birding

Day 7: Birding at Mubwindi Swamp

Day 8: Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Day 9: Gorilla tracking in Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Day 10: Drive to Ishasha sector, Queen Elizabeth National Park

Day 11: Birding and game drive

Day 12: Game drive at Kasenyi Plains and boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel

Day 13: Tour the crater lakes on the drive to Kibale National Park

Day 14: Chimpanzee tracking and birding

Day 15: Birding in Kibale National Park

Day 16: Travel to Masindi Town

Day 17: Birding along the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest

Day 18: Drive to Murchison Falls National Park

Day 19: Game drive and birding in Murchison Falls National Park

Day 20: Boat cruise to the Delta. Evening game drive

Day 21: Rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and return to Kampala

Day 22: Birding in Entebbe Botanical Gardens and return flight home

 

When is the best time of year to visit Uganda?

Although Ugandan seasons have become less predictable in recent years, peak seasons usually coincide with dry seasons. When choosing your dates consider:

  • Uganda is an all-year round destination with a pleasant climate and temperatures averaging in the mid 20s0C. The huge variety in altitude means temperatures vary around the country (but this also means increased biodiversity J)
  • Flight prices often increase in European holiday seasons
  • There are fewer tourists in low seasons so you can have the place to yourselves!
  • Many hotels offer all-year prices so the price of your visit may not change much between seasons
  • Most major roads going from the capital, Kampala, up-country are tarmac. Conditions on murram roads may worsen slightly in rainy season
  • Rainy season can be good for birding as there is more food (bugs) available
  • If you are targeting certain birds, ask our advice on breeding, migration seasons
  • If you plan to climb the Rwenzori mountains, ask our advice about the best times
  • Hiking may be better in dry seasons.

 

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Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International Airport
Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will be met by your guide who will take you to your accommodation, a short drive away. Your guide will remain with you throughout your visit.
Accommodation: Boma Hotel – Entebbe Meal plan: D
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Day 2: Birding to Mabamba swamp and to Lake Mburo National Park
Today, you make an early start, driving to Mabamba, an extensive wetland on the shores of Lake Victoria and one of the best IBA’s to see the elusive Shoebill. It’s also one of the successful community initiatives. You will take a local fishing boat through small channels for the opportunity to see the iconic bird. While looking for the Shoebill, we hope to also see some more African water birds like Yellow-billed Duck, African Jacana, Papyrus Gonolek, Long-toed Lapwing, also chances of the Blue-checked Bee-eater and African Marsh Harrier. Later, you continue via the Equator to Lake Mburo National Park, home to 350+ bird species and abundant wildlife. Along the way, keep your eyes on the look for birds like; the Augur Buzzard, Black-breasted Snake Eagle and Long Crested Eagle.
Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock - Lake Mburo National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 3: Game drive - birding and boat cruise
As you explore this amazing park today, we’ll look for birds including; Red-Faced Barbet a highlight of this destination, the Crested Barbet, Black Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Black-Tit, African Pipit, Chin-spot Batis, Red-necked Spurfowl, Bataleur, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser. You will also not miss the animals such as Impala, zebras, buffalos, eland and giraffe. During your boat trip, we’ll look forward to chances of the rare African Finfoot, the Black Crake, Saddle-billed Stork and the African Wattled Lapwing, White-backed Night-Heron, Grey-capped Warbler and good views of hippos and may be other animals on the shoreline.
Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock - Lake Mburo National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 4: Travel to Kisoro
Enjoy a scenic drive approx. 5 hours through the beautiful Ugandan countryside to Kisoro, near Mgahinga National Park and the Virunga volcanoes. Spend the rest of the day birding locally.
Accommodation: Travellers Rest Hotel – Kisoro Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 5: Birding in Mgahinga National Park
Today you spend the day birding through the diverse montane habitat of Mgahinga National Park. This park has a record of 115+ species with 14 of the 24 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as golden monkeys and the rare mountain gorillas. We’ll hope to have views of Cinnamon Bracken Warbler and Archer’s Robin-Chat, Archer’s Robin-chat, Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Mountain Yellow Warblers and the much sought after Shelley’s Crimson-wing among many other.
Accommodation: Travellers Rest Inn Hotel – Kisoro. Meal plan: B, L, D
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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 do a little birding. This bamboo forest is good habitat to over 100 bird species. You’ll then continue to the Ruhija sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Accommodation: Gorilla Mist Camp – Bwindi Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 7: Birding at Mubwindi Swamp
Bwindi Impenetrable forest is well known as one of the special birding spots in western Uganda and boasts of 360+ species with 23 of 24 Albertine Rift endemics. You’ll spend the best part of the day birding in Mubwindi swamp area, famous for the elusive endemic species such as Black-headed Oriole, White-headed Flycatcher, Dwarf Honeyguide, Mountain Buzzard, Narina Trogon and Black-billed Turaco. The marshes and undergrowth may present birds including; Dusky Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Illadopsis and Purple-breasted Sunbird.
Accommodation: Gorilla Mist Camp – Bwindi Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 8: Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
As you leave for Buhoma sector, one of the areas in this rainforest that offers an excellent birding experience, we look for species like; the Black Bee-Eater, Brown-caped Weaver, Dusky Tit, the Yellow-spotted Barbets, the African Shrike-flycatchers, Brown-throated and Chestnut Wattle-eyes, Common Stonechat, Alethe to mention but a few of the forest species along the way. In Buhoma there will be evening birding around the lodge.
Accommodation: Engagi Lodge – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 9: Gorilla tracking in Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The big day is here! After an early morning briefing, head into the forest to track the gorillas with your ranger guides. Once you find them, you will spend a magical hour with them in their beautiful natural habitat. A thrilling moment in the wilderness! Afterwards, if time allows, take a leisurely birding walk around the community.
Accommodation: Engagi Lodge – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 10: Drive to Ishasha sector, Queen Elizabeth National Park
After your breakfast, you drive northwards to Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth, a famous area of her tree-climbing lions. We’ll look forward to working on the woodland and open grassland list, looking for birds like; Croaking Cisticolas, White-headed Barbet, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike and White-winged Widowbird, Red-necked Francolins among many others as you enjoy your game drive. The endless plains also have many fig trees in which the tree-climbing lions hide, we’ll hope to see them.
Accommodation: Ishasha Jungle Lodge – Ishasha Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 11: Birding and game drive
This morning you will have more of Ishasha discoveries as you go on another game drive. We’ll look for more savannah birds and enjoy game viewing before you transfer further north of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Have a relaxed evening at the lodge.
Accommodation: Ihamba Safari Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 12: Game drive at Kasenyi Plains and boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel
Kasenyi plains is the most preferred section of Queen Elizabeth, it is a mating ground for Kobs. It hosts a range of wildlife and birds in the grassland and sparsely distributed thickets. We’ll look for birds including; Flappet Lark, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Jackson’s Pipit, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Wattled Lapwing and some birds of prey in the sky. As you take on different tracks, we’ll keep watch for more birds and chances of seeing lions, Kob, elephants, warthogs, buffalos and leopards. In the afternoon, you get on board for a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, one of the major highlights of Queen Elizabeth national park. There is always a lot of activity along the banks of the channel with congregations of birds and game cooling off. You will keep watch for African Skimmer, Common Sandpiper, the amazing African Spoonbill, Three-banded Plover, Pink-backed Pelican and Long-tailed Cormorants to mention but a few.
Accommodation: Ihamba Safari Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 13: Tour the crater lakes on the drive to Kibale National Park
 Leaving Queen Elizabeth, travel to Kibale national park. The route is scenic as you drive through the beautiful and geologically fascinating area, past crater lakes, to Kibale National Park. We’ll keep our eyes in the bushes for birds and enjoying the views of the Rwenzori mountains at a distance. This afternoon, you will go on a swamp walk in Bigodi Wetland, with your site guide. Look out for White Shrike-Flycatcher, Blue-throated Roller, Shinning Blue Kingfisher, White-collared Oliveback, White-spotted Flufftail, Joyful Greenbul, Spurb Sunbird as well some primates, like black and white colobus monkeys and red-tailed monkeys.
Accommodation: Kibale Guest Cottages - Kibale National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 14: Chimpanzee tracking and birding
Head into Kibale forest for chimpanzee tracking. After your briefing at 07:30 with your ranger guide, you start the forest trek in search of chimpanzees. Once you find them, you will spend an hour with these primates in Kibale forest, observing them as they go about their daily activities. Later, we have the chance to continue birding for more residents of this forest.
Accommodation: Kibale Guest Cottages - Kibale National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 15: Birding in Kibale National Park
Spend the day birding in the forest. We’ll make an early start for birding in pursuit of the rare Green Breasted Pitta, along with birds including; African Green-pigeon, Black-crowned Tchagra, African Wood Owl, African Blue Flycatcher, Black Cuckoo Shrike, Black Necked Weaver, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Brown-throated Apalis, Red-winged Francolin and White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco, Abyssinian Hill-Babbler and Alpine Swift.
Accommodation: Kibale Guest Cottages - Kibale National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 16: Travel to Masindi town
 The drive this morning is approx. 6 hours. Along the way, you will have some stops birding as you will drive past swamps, farm land and forested areas. The likely birds you may see as you travel include the Yellow collard Widowbird and weavers.
Accommodation: Kolping Hotel - Masindi Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 17: Birding along the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest
Drive to Budongo Forest approx. 1 hour away and spend the day birding in the forest and along the Royal Mile, a peaceful stretch of a private road through the tropical rainforest. The forest edges and interior impressively present birds including; Compact Weaver, Ituri Batis, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Grey-headed Oliveback, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Shining Blue Kingfishers, Nahan’s Francolin, Rufus-crowned Eremomela, Cassin’s Honeyguide, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Grey-headed Oliveback, Compact Weaver, Spotted Greenbul, African Dwarf, Fire-crested Alethe and Chocolate-backed. You may also glimpse a blue monkey.
Accommodation: Kolping Hotel - Masindi Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 18: Drive to Murchison Falls National Park
Travel to Murchison Falls National Park, birding along the way. You’ll visit the top of the powerful Murchison falls. The views of the falls are spectacular as the water squeezes through a very narrow cleft. Check in at your lodge have lunch and get ready for your boat cruise on River Nile towards the bottom of Murchison Falls. The birds we hope to see along the riverbanks include; Bee-eaters, Giant Kingfisher, Rock Pratincole, African Jacana and the Saddle-billed Stork.
Accommodation: Pakuba Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park. Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 19: Game drive and birding in Murchison Falls National Park
We have much of the day to explore this vast national park, utilizing the best hours birding. The aim will among many include; Senegal Coucal, Denham’s Bustard, Black-headed Lapwing, Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Speckle-fronted Weaver, White-headed Vulture, Red-billed Quelea, Tawny Eagle, Heuglin’s Francolin, Red-necked Falcon, Spotted Thick-knee, and Swallow-tailed Martin, Pale Flycatcher, Senegal Thick-knee and some of the seasonal migrants, definitely not missing mammals including; the graceful Rothschild Giraffe, Hartebeest, Side-striped Jackal, the Oribi and Bohor Reedbuck also aiming for lions and leopards.
Accommodation: Pakuba Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 20: Boat cruise to the Delta. Evening game drive
 This morning will start with an amazing 4-5-hour boat trip along the Nile to the delta. The target will be the riverine forest, thickets and banks for the Shoebill, Little Bittern, Saddle-billed Stork, the Giant Kingfisher, White-backed Heron that may come around. You will also have the chances of coming eye to eye with the Nile Crocodiles, schools of hippopotamus and other mammals at the banks. You’ll have time to rest and relax as you have your lunch and in the evening, head out for a game drive. We’ll hope to encounter birds as they return to their roosts, mammals and enjoy photogenic moments of the plains. At dusk, we’ll try the chances for nightjars like the Pennant-winged Nightjar.
Accommodation: Pakuba Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park. Meal plan: B, L, D
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Day 21: Rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and return to Kampala
Leaving Murchison falls, you drive approx. 3 hours to Ziwa, a successful conservation project that has seen the return of the southern white rhinos into Uganda at its 70 kms² sanctuary. You will track the rhinos accompanied by an experienced guide and also find some of its 300+ birds species as you enjoy your nature walk. After lunch, you travel to Kampala, another 3 hours.
Accommodation: Cassia Lodge – Kampala Meal plan: B, L, D
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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 for woodland, water and open country bird species. Your guide will take you to the airport in time for your return flight.  
Meal plan: B, L, D
Please note: all timings and routings are approximate and subject to change at short notice.

Guide price: from USD 8370 per person, based on 2 adults, sharing a double room in mid-range accommodation and travelling in a safari Land Cruiser.

 

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 would be 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.

Price includes

1 gorilla and chimp tracking permit each

Full-board, non-air-conditioned accommodation

Private safari vehicle with a driver and fuel for this itinerary

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: alcohol, laundry services and souvenirs

Tips (normally 5–10% and around $10 per day for your guide).