12-Day Essential Uganda Birding Safari

On this 12-day Essential Uganda Birding Safari, we’ll begin with a morning spent at Mabamba Swamp, where there are many other waterbirds to look for besides the amazing Shoebill such as the African Finfoot, We will then visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where visitors can monitor a family of Eastern Mountain Gorillas and take advantage of the abundant birdlife in this vast forest. With about 350 bird species found there, the location is widely regarded as one of Africa’s best places for birdwatching.

A full day in the expansive Queen Elizabeth National Park offers another taste of traditional East Africa. Mammals like African Elephant, Topi, and Kob, as well as a wide array of open-country birds like Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Tawny and Wahlberg’s Eagles, Red-necked Francolin, Harlequin quail, and Small Buttonquail, can all be found there. After that, we’ll head to Kibale Forest, where we’ll spend the morning monitoring some of the park’s chimpanzees with a ranger. Thirteen different kinds of primates, including the endangered Uganda Red Colobus and the uncommon l’Hoest’s monkey, can be found in the forest, along with various forest birds.

There should be many highlights from our two-week tour of Uganda, including the excitement of seeing some of the world’s most recognisable birds and creatures. The diverse range of habitats we will explore is expected to yield an impressive array of bird species, including numerous species with names that may be not acquainted and unfamiliar to those who haven’t birded in this region before Illadopsis, Brubru, Camaroptera, Apalis, Tchagra, Gonolek, and Greenbul, among others.

Detailed Itinerary of the 12-Day Essential Uganda Birding Safari

Day 1: Arrival for the 12-Day Essential Uganda Birding Safari

Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a Journeys Uganda representative who will transfer you to Papyrus Guest House for check-in and resting. Dinner and overnight at Papyrus Guest House.

Day 2: Birding Entebbe Botanical Gardens

We’ll get together in the afternoon for a tour of the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, a 100-acre park situated along the shores of Lake Victoria, after using the morning to recuperate from yesterday’s exhausting flights. A variety of plant species from the tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions of the world are housed in the gardens, together with native species that have spontaneously rejuvenated throughout time. This is an excellent location to learn about some of Uganda’s more common birds as well as some of its rarer species. Here, over 200 species have been identified, and there may be many monkeys as well. The species that we are most likely to encounter include the Yellow-fronted Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Hadada Ibis, Woodland Kingfisher, and Marabou Stork. The magnificent Great Blue Turaco (as well as its lesser relative, the Ross’s Turaco), the magnificent Vieillot’s, the extremely range-restricted Orange weavers, the Superb Sunbird, and the Bare-faced Go-away Bird will all be on our watch lists. Dinner and overnight at Papyrus Guest House.

Day 3: Birding Mabamba_ Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

Following an early breakfast, we’ll travel to the adjacent Mabamba Swamp, one of the few swamps in the nation to be protected by the local community. Mabamba Swamp is an Important Bird Area that stretches along the shore of Lake Victoria. After arriving at the location, we’ll board three small, neighbourhood boats and navigate the maze-like network of waterways that wind across the enormous papyrus beds. This morning, the mysterious Shoebill will be our main objective. It’s undoubtedly one of the most sought-after birds in Africa.

A good assortment of traditional East African wetland species should also be present, such as African Marsh-Harrier, African Openbill, Saddle-billed Stork, African Fish-Eagle, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, Long-tailed Cormorant, Hammerkop, African Openbill, Allen’s Gallinule, African and, with any luck, Lesser Jacanas, Long-toed and Spur-winged plovers, and Pied Kingfisher. Additionally, a nice variety of open country and water edge species are likely to be seen, possibly including the following:  Fan-tailed Widow bird, Crowned Hornbill, Angola and Rufous-chested Swallows, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Papyrus Gonolek, Slender-billed, Northern Brown-throated, and Golden-backed Weavers.

After exploring the Mabamba swamp, we will transfer to Lake Mburo National Park in western Uganda. Dinner and overnight at Rwakobo Rock.

Day 4: Lake Mburo National Park

There are many different ecosystems in this small but lovely park; we will spend time in an open country with lots of mammals, an abundance of wetlands and the lake, and some forested sections. This is the only location on our journey where we can see Burchell’s Zebra and Impala; we should also see Olive Baboons and Black-faced Vervet Monkeys. More than 300 bird species have been reported here.

Our first activity today will be a quick boat ride out onto the lake to search for African Finfoot, African Darter, Spur-winged Goose, White-backed Night-Heron (a rare bird), and Striated Heron. This is also a good location to try for Papyrus Gonolek, which is found around the lake’s edges. For species like Coqui Francolin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, and Common Quail, as well as a few migratory Brown-chested Lapwings that spend the winter in the park, it’s worth exploring the more open acacia grassland, especially along the Zebra Track.

Additional options include the African Hawk-Eagle, Water Thick-knee, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Red-headed Lovebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Woodhoopoe, Greater Honeyguide, Green-backed Woodpecker, and the restricted-range Yellow-breasted Apalis, Rufous-napped and Flappet larks, Red-faced Barbet (at its only location in Uganda), Singing, Siffling, and Tabora cisticolas, Mosque and Rufous-chested swallows, Violet-backed Starling, Holub’s Golden-Weaver, African Penduline-Tit, White-winged Black-Tit, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, and Chin-spot Batis. When twilight approaches, we’ll go birdwatching on the entrance road, searching for Verreaux’s Eagle owls, African Scopus owls, Verreaux’s Eagle owls, and Nightjars. We will provide an optional nighttime drive into the park if it can be arranged. Dinner and overnight at Rwakobo Rock

Day 5: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Taking a packed lunch with us, we’ll head further to the southwest today to reach the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We will spend half of the morning birding in Lake Mburo National Park before leaving, depending on what species we’re still searching for. We will then immediately travel to the town of Buhoma, which is located near the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We shall spend the evening birding around your lodge and later engaging in local activities by women at the lodge. Dinner and overnight at Ride for a Woman

Day 6:  Gorilla Trekking in Buhoma

After morning breakfast, you will either carry out gorilla trekking or birdwatching at Buhoma. If your are gorilla trekking, before venturing into the jungle to look for Eastern Mountain Gorillas, we’ll go to the park headquarters for a briefing. The park offers tourists the chance to interact with several habituated gorilla groups, and with planning, we will be able to see these amazing primates. But please be aware that they are only open to a certain number of guests each day, therefore reservations are required well in advance.

Staring into the eyes of these gentle giants and seeing them go about their everyday lives, eating, grooming, and playing, is a great experience—some past guests have even described it as life-changing. While certain gorilla families might be easier to access by foot than others because they are closer, others need hiking for hours to find them

Day 7: Birding Buhoma

After breakfast, we shall embark on a birding excursion in Buhoma with our picnic lunch. While birding in Buhoma, numerous species are conceivable, such as the African, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald Cuckoos; Black-billed and Ross’s Turacos; Rameron and Bronze-naped Pigeons; Black Goshawk, Crowned Eagle, Augur Buzzard, and African Emerald cuckoos, Black and cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Red-chested Owlets, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Gray-throated and Yellow-spotted Barbets, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Blue-throated Roller, Olive, Elliot, Speckle-breasted, Tullberg’s, and Thick-billed Honeyguides, African Broadbill, Rock Martin, Black Sawwing, Cuckoo shrikes of Grey and Petit, Numerous species are conceivable, such as the African, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald cuckoos; Black-billed and Ross’s turacos; Rameron and Bronze-naped pigeons; Black Goshawk, Crowned Eagle, Augur Buzzard, and African Emerald cuckoos, Black and cinnamon-chested bee-eaters, Narina and Bar-tailed trogons, Red-chested Owlets, Yellow-rumped tinkerbirds, Gray-throated and Yellow-spotted barbets, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Blue-throated Roller, Olive, Elliot, Speckle-breasted, Tullberg’s, and thick-billed honeyguides, African Broadbill, Rock Martin, Black Sawwing, Cuckooshrikes of Grey and Petit, Greenbuls of Ansorge and Cabanis Numerous species are conceivable, such as the African, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald cuckoos; Black-billed and Ross’s turacos; Rameron and Bronze-naped pigeons; Black Goshawk, Crowned Eagle, Augur Buzzard, and African Emerald cuckoos, Black and cinnamon-chested bee-eaters, Narina and Bar-tailed trogons, Red-chested Owlets, Yellow-rumped tinkerbirds, Gray-throated and Yellow-spotted barbets, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Blue-throated Roller, Olive, Elliot, Speckle-breasted, Tullberg’s, and thick-billed honeyguides, African Broadbill, Rock Martin, Black Sawwing ,Ansorge and Cabanis, Black-throated and Black-faced Apalis, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Olive Thrush, Red-throated Alethe, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Principalia, and Kivu Ground-Thrush ,Grauer’s Warbler, Olive-green Camaroptera, White-browed Crombec, White-bellied and White-starred Robin, African Hill Babbler, Pale-breasted and Mountain Illadopsis, White-tailed and African blue-flycatchers, Robin-chat Mackinnon’s Shrike, Luehder’s, Gray-green, and Many-colored bush-shrikes, Gray-headed, Western Violet-backed, Green, Green-headed, Blue-headed, Green-throated, Northern Double-collared Sunbirds, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Sharpe’s, Stuhlmann’s, Waller’s, Narrow-tailed, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Slender-billed starlings, Brown-capped, Black-billed, and Strange Weavers among others. Dinner and overnight at Ride for a woman

Day 8: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

We will go north this morning to Queen Elizabeth National Park via Ishasha, the second-largest national park in Uganda. With over 610 species documented and 296 species recorded in a single day, it is one of Uganda’s top birding locations in terms of diversity. Keep an eye out for the following birds that are considered special: White-headed Barbet, Brubru, Common Scimitar bill, Marsh Tchargra, Ovampo Sparrowhawk, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, White-winged Warbler, Small Buttonquail, Harlequin and Blue quails, Greater and Lesser flamingos, Carpenter’s Cisticola, Secretary Bird, and Temminck’s Courser. The African Elephant, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Lion, Kob, Side striped Jackal, Olive Baboon, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Warthog, and Giant Forest Hog are a few examples of creatures that fall under the category of mammals. Dinner and overnight at Buffalo Safari Lodge.

Day 9: Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park’s diverse habitats ought to yield a long list of new creatures and birds for us to enjoy. Many of the following birds should be present, along with perhaps some others that aren’t on the list: Little Bittern, Goliath Heron, Black-shouldered Kite, White-backed Vulture, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Tawny and Wahlberg’s eagles, Little Grebe, Great White and Pink-backed pelicans, Levaillant’s and Dideric cuckoos, Kittlitz’s and White-fronted plovers, Whiskered and White-winged terns, Bluespotted Wood-Dove, Senegal Lapwing, Black-necked Francolin, and Water Thick-knee Little Bee-eater, White-rumped Swift, and Black Coucal

The Yellow-throated Longclaw, the Trilling, Stout, and Croaking cisticolas, the Red-capped and Rufous-naped larks, White-winged Widowbird, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Yellow-fronted Canary, Tropical Boubou, Black-crowned Tchagra, Red Bishop, Red-faced Crombec, Northern Black-Flycatcher, Black-lored Babbler, and Golden-breasted Bunting.
We’ll go on a boat ride in the Kazinga Channel, a slender body of water that links Lake George and Lake Edward, in the late afternoon. African Spoonbill, Three-banded Plover, Marsh, Green, Wood, and Common sandpipers, Gray-headed Gull, Plain Martin, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, African Elephant, and maybe even Giant Forest Hog will all be available for us to see up close and take great pictures of. Dinner and overnight at Buffalo Safari Lodge

Day 10: Transfer to Kibale Forest National Park

To arrive in Fort Portal by late afternoon, we will go to Kibale Forest National Park following breakfast. One of Uganda’s most beautiful and diverse areas of tropical forest, the park is home to 13 different species of monkeys. Reportedly, it is the greatest place in East Africa to track chimpanzees, and it is home to about 1450 of the largest number of these endangered primates in Uganda. 325 different bird species can be found in the park, some of which are native to the Albertine Rift region: Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Purple-breasted and Blue-headed sunbirds, Dusky Crimsonwing, Black-capped, and Collared Apalises. Dinner and overnight at Guereza Canopy Lodge

Day 11: Chimp tracking and birding Kibale Forest

We’ll be spending the entire day at Kibale Forest today. We’ll begin by going on a chimpanzee tracking excursion with one of the park’s top guides. Additionally, we might come across Gray-cheeked Mangabey, Mantled Guereza (sometimes called Black-and-White Colobus), and Blue- and Copper-tailed monkeys. We might also see some of the endangered Uganda Red Colobus, which is home to the largest population in East Africa, and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey, which also makes its home in the park.

We will also later search the Kibale Forest looking out for the elusive Green-breasted Pitta and several other forest species such as White-napped Pigeon, Narina’s Trogon, Gray-throated Barbet, Honeyguide Greenbul, Black Bee-eater, Sooty Flycatcher, Great Blue and Ross’s Turacos, Yellow-billed, Spotted and Hairy-spotted Barbet, White-spotted Flufftail, Olive Long-tailed and Dusky Long-tailed cuckoos, Lesser and Least Honeyguides, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Gray Apalis, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Fire-crested Alethe, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Olive back. Dinner and overnight at Guereza Canopy Lodge.

Day 12: Transfer to Entebbe and departure

We’ll leave the park after breakfast, naturally pausing to look for any newly arrived birds. We will spend the majority of the day travelling back to Entebbe before checking into our hotel in the mid-afternoon to relax and repack before our farewell meal and departure.

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