This 15-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari by Journeys Uganda takes you through unique and rewarding birding habitats in Uganda.

12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari

This 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari by Journeys Uganda takes you through unique and rewarding birding habitats in Uganda. In terms of birdwatching, northeastern Uganda is even less renowned and seldom visited. This journey will primarily travel into the drier, dry regions that border Kenya, which makes it significantly different from the more conventional excursions that concentrate on birds, gorillas, and chimpanzees.
As with most trips, we’ll begin by searching the mysterious Shoebill in the Mabamba Swamp and then head to the Mabira Forest to see a variety of unique species found in the Guinea-Congo Forest habitat. Then, for Jackson’s Spurfowl, there are the afro-montane forests of Mount Elgon. These lead to the vast savannahs of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve for the Fox’s Weaver experience and Kidepo Valley National Park, which are home to numerous important large mammal species in Africa.

Few travellers interested in wildlife and birds have yet to explore this more untamed region of Uganda. Along with an abundance of birds and mammals, it delivers breathtaking scenery and interactions.

Detailed itinerary of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari.

Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe and Birding Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in Entebbe for Check-in. Yow will later embark on a birding excursion at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Located not too far from our accommodation. The magnificent Orange Weaver is our main objective here; tiny, loose breeding colonies are typically found in the trees around Lake Victoria’s border. The Black and White Casqued Hornbill, Bat Hawk, Grey Parrot, Eastern Plantain-eater, Scarce Orange-tufted Sunbird, and Woodland Kingfisher are among the other notable species found in the botanical gardens. We’ll be keeping an eye out for Pied Crows, Hooded Vultures, and Yellow-billed Kites above us. We’ll also undoubtedly spot the hideous-looking Marabou Stork. We may also come across Guereza, a distinctive black-and-white primate with a long, bushy tail, in a tiny area of surviving forest. Dinner and overnight at Papyrus Guest House.

Day 2: Birding Mabamba Swamp and transfer to Mabira Forest

On day 2 of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari, we set out on our quest to find a very unusual bird when we arrived in Uganda. We will travel through little rural communities and homesteads to Mabamba, a sizable wetland connected to Lake Victoria, our main aim for the day—the fabled Shoebill. Many pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous bird residents and the main draw for most birdwatchers, reside in this vast papyrus swamp. Being the lone member of its family, this captivating species is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after birds in the entire globe. To identify this unique species, we’ll charter a boat from the adjacent fishing village and comb the network of channels.

Mabamba Shoebill

Many herons, egrets, and waterfowl should be present, along with the ubiquitous African Fish Eagle, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Marsh Harrier, African Swamphen, Long-toed Lapwing, African and the cunning Lesser Jacanas, Malachite Kingfisher, and African Pygmy Goose. Many other water birds are also abundant. The charming Blue-headed Coucal, Grey-capped Warbler, Greater and White-winged Swamp Warblers, the exceptional Papyrus Gonolek, and the erratic and restless Weyns’s Weaver can all be found on the papyrus. If we are very lucky, we might also spot the endangered Sitatunga, a timid antelope that lives in swamps.

We will next go birdwatching in the nearby agricultural bush, papyrus wetlands, and grasslands. The quirky-looking Long-crested Eagle perched atop phone poles, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, hovering Black-winged Kite, African Harrier-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, the genuinely impressive Great Blue Turaco, boisterous Eastern Plantain-eater, the seemingly awkward Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill and floppy-flighted Cropped and African Pied Hornbills, dazzling-blue Woodland Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Brown-throated Whitley-eye, Angola and the endangered Blue Swallows, Splendid and Rüppell’s Starlings, African Thrush,  Scarlet-chested, Superb and Red-chested Sunbirds,  Pin-tailed Whydah, Northern Black Flycatcher, Sooty Chat, and Grey-backed Fiscal. You will be transferred to Red Forest Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 3: Birding Mabira Forest

To bird the neighbouring Mabira Forest, we plan to arrive in Jinja with enough time to avoid the worst of the Kampala traffic on this day of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari. In this protected forest, more than 300 bird species can be found, some of which are extremely rare to view in other parts of Uganda. A delightful assortment of highly reticent forest birds frequently congregates at a little forest pond, one of the first locations we will visit, to take a drink. Red-tailed and the elusive Yellow-lored Bristle bills, Forest Robin, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Brown-chested Alethe, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, and two luminous seedeaters, Black-bellied Seed cracker and Red-headed Bluebill, are among the targets here.

Red-tailed Bristlebill

The Grey Parrot, the extremely localised Forest Wood Hoopoe, the rare Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Grey-throated Barbara, Buff-spotted, Brown-eared, and Yellow-crested Woodpeckers, Grey and Yellow Longbills, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Toro Olive Greenbul (one of nine greenbuls species found here), Western Nicator, the striking Jameson’s Wattle-eye, and others are some of the other specials we will look for, Yellow-mantled and the nomadic Weyns’s Weaver, Green-throated Sunbird, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Lowland Sooty Boubou, White-breasted and Grey-headed Nigritas, and the rare Tit-Hylia. Dinner and overnight at Red Forest Lodge.

Day 4: Mabira Forest to Mountain Elgon National Park

On day 4 of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari, we’ll spend an additional morning in the Mabira area looking for some of the more difficult species, such as the Black-bellied Seed cracker, Nahan’s Patridge, Purple-crested Alethe, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Yellow-lored Bristlebill, and Forest Wood Hoopoe. We will then transfer to Mount Elgon National Park in eastern Uganda. You will be transferred to Lakam Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 5: Birding Mount Elgon National Park

As we enter the park’s montane forests, we should prepare for chilly weather due to the area’s high elevation. The birds are of higher quality here for similar reasons—species that are adapted to high altitudes. We will explore a few of the well-traveled paths in pursuit of the following species: Moustached Tinkerbird, White-starred Robin, Cape Robin-Chat, Little Rock Thrush, African Hill Babbler, African Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Wade-eye, Black-collared Apalis, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Jackson’s Spurfowl, and White-starred Robin.

Jackson’s Spurfowl

We will also visit Sipi Falls for the magnificent views and look out for the Nyanza Swift. After a tiresome day, you will be transferred back to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Transfer to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

Despite being a less popular destination for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers, this park is undoubtedly one of Uganda’s most amazing protected areas. A very friendly environment has been established for dry country birds and various sought-after mammals, including the attractive Roan, virgin grassland and forested habitats. We will encounter several cisticola species, including the Fox’s Weaver, which is the only endemic bird of Uganda, the magnificent Secretary Bird, the Foxy Lark, the Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Stone Partridge, Yellow-spotted Bush Sparrow, Jackson’s Hornbill, and the highly sought-after East African endemic, Karamoja Apalis, as we pass Red Acacias, Desert Date, and various species of bushwillows. Dinner and overnight at UWA Bandas.

Day 7: Birding to Moroto

Driving through villages and settlements is part of this stretch. It’s all dry country by Ugandan standards and usually the best spot to find Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs and Steel-blue Whydahs. Along with several other birds that inhabit this region, we will also be searching for the Rufous Chatterer, d’Arnaud’s Barbet, Purple Grenadier, a very rare species of Orange-winged Francolin, and Shinning Sunbird. Dinner and overnight at Karatunga Safari Camp

Day 8: Birding Mount Moroto and Matheniko-Bokora Wildlife Reserve

Situated at the foot of Mount Moroto, the town is encircled by distinct thicket environments that draw a variety of Ugandan birds from the east and northeast. In order to bird the Matheniko-Bokora Wildlife Reserve and find several species with restricted ranges. On this day of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari, we will base ourselves here and make loops around the mountain. These include Abyssinian Ground, Eastern Yellow, and Jackson’s Hornbills; Abyssinian and Purple Rollers; Hunter’s Sunbird; Purple Grenadier; Shining Sunbird; Red and Yellow Barbet; White-bellied Go-away bird; Northern White-faced Owl; Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars; and Abyssinian and Purple Rollers.

We will be looking for Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Singing Bush Lark, Red-winged Lark, Ethiopian Swallow, Superb Starlings, Fan-tailed Raven, Slate-colored Boubou, Yellow-billed Shrike, Straw-colored Whydah, Grey-capped and Speckle-fronted Weavers, Black-bellied and Black-faced Waxbills, Black Bishop and Brown-rumped Bunting, Red-billed Oxpecker, Eastern Violet-backed, Shining, and Beautiful Sunbirds, Shelley’s Rufous and Chestnut Sparrows, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, White-browed and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weavers, African Grey Flycatcher, Foxy and Red-pate Cisticolas, White-bellied Tit,  while scanning the scrub and strolling through the dry, prickly acacia country. Dinner and overnight at Karatunga Safari Camp

Day 9–11: Moroto to Kidepo Valley National Park

On these days of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari, we’ll be spending our time birdwatching in the park and, for an additional fee, going on night drives. Despite being the least visited park in Uganda, it has already been found to contain over 480 species, which ranks it second in the nation after Queen Elizabeth National Park.

With 28 species that are unique to this park from the Sudan-Guinea Savanna and Somali-Masai biomes, this Important Birding Area is fully contained within the former biome. Several important species, including Common Ostrich, Pygmy Falcon, Heuglin’s and Yellow-necked Spurfowls, Clapperton’s, White-bellied, and Hartlaub’s Bustards, are among the many noteworthy species that we hope to see during our exceptional birding experience in the Narus and Kidepo Valleys.

Hartlaub’s Bustard

The White-winged Widowbird, White-bellied Canary, Reichard’s and Reichenow’s Seedeaters, Augur Buzzard, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Lynes’s Cisticola, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Common Reed and Lesser Swamp Warblers, Gambaga Flycatcher, Greyish Eagle-Owl, Pennant-winged and Freckled Nightjars, and many more birds can be found in the various habitats here. The Yellow-billed Shrike, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Boran Cisticola, Black-backed Cisticola, White-crested Turaco, Black-headed Lapwing, Mocking Cliff Chat, Sooty Chat, Mottled Swift, White-fronted Black Chat, and Woodpecker with a brown back Brown-rumped Bunting, Hemprich’s Hornbill, White-headed Vulture, and Green-backed Eremomela are also residents of Kidepo.

Numerous mammals can be seen, and we’re likely to see megafauna, including the African elephant, African buffalo, northern giraffe, northern bushbuck, cheetah, hartebeest, waterbuck, and kob. Hopefully, we’ll spot lions, and on rare occasions, night drives will reveal leopards, who are known to hunt Crested Porcupines in this area. Dinner and overnights will be at Savannah Lodge

Day 12: Transfer to Entebbe and departure.

After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Entebbe for departure while birding along the way. That is the end of the 12-day Eastern Uganda Birding Safari

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