12 Days Special Forest Birding Trip in Uganda, Experience one of Africa's top birding safaris with a 12-day special forest birding trip

12 Days Special Forest Birding Trip in Uganda

12 Days Special Forest Birding Trip in Uganda, Experience one of Africa’s top birding safaris with a 12-day special forest birding trip in Uganda. This expedition will take you to some of Uganda’s most stunning natural and wildlife destinations, including Kibale Forest National Park – the world’s primate capital, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – the theatre of African Wildlife dreams, and Lake Mburo National Park. You’ll have the opportunity to observe and record as many bird species as possible with expert birding and safari guides from Journeys Uganda. Along the way, take guided walks, hike, and immerse yourself in the local culture. The trip will conclude with a visit to Mabamba wetland before returning to Entebbe.

Day 1:  Arrival and birding at Entebbe Botanical Gardens

On arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will be welcomed by our representative and the tour guide, followed by a transfer to your hotel. Depending upon your time of arrival, we have optional birding at Entebbe. You have the opportunity to watch woodland and lakeside birds in the spectacular grounds of Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Among our earliest avian inhabitants may include the almost Lake Victoria endemic Orange Weaver, Pygmy Kingfisher, Palm-nut Vulture, Great Blue Turaco, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Ross’s Turaco, Congo Pied Hornbill, Splendid Glossy Starling, Orange and Slender-billed Weaver, Golden Backed, and others.

Look out for numerous Sunbirds including but not limited to Green-throated, Red-chested, Collared, Superb, Bronze, Mariqua and Olive-bellied Sunbirds. On your nature walk within the gardens, you will see other birds like the African Grey Parrot, Bat Hawk, Grey Woodpecker, Red-chested, Levaillant’s, Klaas’s and Diederik Cuckoo, Great Reed and Sedge Warbler, Fain-tailed Widow bird, Striped, Malachite, Giant, Woodland and Pygmy Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Green Hylia, Little Greenbul among others. Return to the hotel, Papyrus Guest house, Jet Villas or Equivalent for dinner and overnight.

Day 2: Birding To Kibale Forest and Bigodi nature Walk—Green-breasted Pitta

To avoid the rush hour, have an early morning breakfast and embark on your journey southwards to Kibale forest. You will have birding done en route for species like the Broad-billed Roller, Woolly-necked Stock, White winged Tit, Lilac-breasted Roller, Rufous Bellied Heron, Western-banded Snake Eagle, Yellow-billed Barbet, Weyns’s Weaver, the many papyrus swamps offer opportunities for Papyrus Gonolek, Lesser, Greater and White-winged Warbler. Pale-throated Greenbul, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, among others, as the drive seems a little longer. Have lunch in Fortportal Town and later in the evening transfer to the Bigodi wetland sanctuary for birding and nature walks, renown for its rich biodiversity and spectacular beauty, searching for bird species like the Great Blue Turaco, African Emerald Cuckoo, the Joyful Greenbul, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Black-crowned Waxbill, Brown-backed Scrub-robin Western Nicator, Luhdher’s Bush-shrike, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-spotted Barbet, White-spotted Flufftail, Black Bishop, Brown-Crowned Tchagra, White-breasted Nigrita, and the White-tailed Ant-thrush, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Uganda Spotted Woodpecker, Violet-backed Starling, Least Honeyguide, Lizard Buzzard among others. Primates to see include Red Tailed, Red Colobus, L’Hoest, Vervet, and Black and White Colobus Monkeys, as well as other mammals such as Sitatunga, Mongoose, Bush Bucks, Bush Pigs, and others. Later, check in for dinner and stay overnight at Guereza Canopy Lodge or Chimpanzee Forest Lodge.

Day 3: Full day Birding Kibale forest at Kanyanchu or Sebitooli-Green Breasted Pitta

Take your breakfast early in the morning and go birding. It always starts by getting into the forest before the light of the morning with expectations of finding the rare Green-breasted Pitta still displaying. After, the park will expose you to quite a number of bird species, such as the Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-spotted Flufftail, White-throated, Toro Olive, Slender-billed and Joyful Greenbul, Afep and White-naped Pigeon, Blue-shouldered and Red-caped Robin-chat, Narrow-tailed, Waller’s and Purple-headed Glossy Starling, which is common at forest edges. White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Stuhlmann’s Starling, Grey-throated Tit Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Splendid Glossy Starling, Superb, Eastern Olive Sunbird, Tiny, Green, Little-green, Green-throated and Olive-Bellied Sunbird; the small streams in the forest are well known for White-collared Oliveback, Black-bellied Seed-cracker, Mountain Wagtail, Cassin’s Flycatcher, African Black Duck among many other bird species. You will have lunch at the hotel, and after lunch, have a bird’s-eye view of the hotel grounds in the late afternoon, or drive to the Sebitoli area both forest and wetland for a chance to see Grey-headed (Grey-throated) Barbet, Black-headed, Village, and Vieillot’s Black Weavers, the majority of which are constantly constructing their nests, Grey-winged and Snowy-headed Robin-chat, Bronze, Magpy and Black-and-white Mannikin, Toro-olive Greenbul, Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-faced Cisticola and Little and Joyful Greenbul The best views of Great-blue Turaco, Yellow-billed, Double-toothed, Yellow-spotted and Hairy-breasted Barbet are available from this trail. African Shrike, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, and Vanga Flycatchers If there are not many raindrops, White-spotted Flufftail usually appears here in excellent views. Red-chested, Green-throated and Green-headed Sunbird, Green Hylia, and Black-necked Weavers among the many. You should also keep an eye out for primates like the  Red-tailed Monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Red Colobus Monkeys, Vervets, and L’hoest’s monkeys. Later, spend the night and dine back at Chimpanzee or Guereza Canopy Lodges.

Day 4: Chimpanzee Tracking—Kibale Forest National Park and Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park-Lake Munyanyange-Flamingos.

Here, tracking Chimpanzees and other primates is optional. Early in the morning, you are transferred to the park headquarters for briefing about the tracking exercise. The closest relatives of humans, chimpanzees, have complex social structures similar to those of human communities. They are able to resolve complex conflicts amicably, create and use tools, participate in complex social interactions, and communicate using a wide range of sounds and gestures. When you come across these acclimatised chimpanzees, you can observe a range of behaviours. Observing them engage in play and social interactions is worthwhile. Returning to birdwatching, the primary kind of bird we seek out here is the Green Breasted Pitta, an extremely rare bird found only in Africa’s interior forests. It is best observed from Kibale Forest, where it puts on an amazing show that any bird viewer would be proud of.

In addition, the rain forest is home to the Fraser’s (Rufous) Flycatcher Thrush, Purple-headed Glossy-Starling, Brown, Pale, and Scaly Breasted Illadopsis, African Broadbill, and the perplexing, if sighted, White-naped and Afep Pigeon, Red-capped and Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Masked Apalis, Black-billed Turaco, Elliot’s, Golden-crowned and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Red-headed Malimbe, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Green Crombec, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Sooty Flycatcher, Red-chested Owlet, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo and numerous other bird species are among the birds that may be seen in the area. Return to the lodge for lunch and later transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

En route to Queen, the journey will take you through the stunningly magnificent rolling landscapes of Uganda, where, at a distance, you will see the massive Mountains of the Moon on clear clouded days, various wildlife, and several bird species such as the Martial Eagle, Red-caped Lark, African Crake, Blue Quail, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Falcons, Common Buttonquail, African Spoonbill, and many others. On reaching the park look out at the numerous water bodies including crater lakes and a home for flamingos, together with other birds in the environs such as the Harlequin Quail, African Skimmer, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, and Grey-headed Gull, among others. After the day’s magical experience, you will check in to your hotel at Buffalo Safari Lodge or Pumba Safari Cottages.

Day 5: Birding Northern Queen Elizabeth National Park and afternoon boat ride at Kazinga Channel

This Park is Uganda’s second-largest national park. Given its diversity, with 612 species reported to date, the park has the largest birding checklist in Uganda. Very early in the morning, you will have a morning game drive, birding the vast savannah grasslands of Kasenyi Plains, searching for bird species like the massive finely barred Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, a must see bird in the park, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Grassland-moustached Warbler, Common Button and Blue Quail, Caspian Plover, Black-headed Batis, Green-winged Pytilia, Flappet, White-tailed, Red-caped and Rufous-naped Lark, Crowned, African-wattled and Senegal Lapwing, African Crake, Martial Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, African Golden-breasted and Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, African Mourning Dove, Red-necked Spurfowl, White Backed and Lappet Faced Vulture, Black Coucal,  late evening drives will give chances of the Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Black-shouldered, Square-tailed and Pennant-winged Nightjars, among others. Besides birding, you will encounter numerous animal species, such as Leopard, Hyaena, Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, antelopes, Warthogs, Water Bucks, Primates and many others. Return to the lodge for lunch.

You will go on a fantastic and thrilling boat ride in the Kazinga Channel in the afternoon to look for water birds that roost between Lake George and Lake Edward. This natural waterway links Lakes George and Edward and offers great vantage points for photographing ducks, and Hippos, Crocodiles and Monitor lizards. While birdwatching from the boat, we can spot a variety of resident birds and wintertime visitors, such as the, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Wire-tailed Swallow, African Skimmer, Three-banded Plover, African Spoonbill, Terek Sandpiper and Marsh, Striated Heron, Green, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Plain Martin, Grey-headed Gull, White-winged (Black), and Whiskered Tern. Other birds include the Water Thick-knee, Yellow-billed Stork, Goliath Heron, and Yellow-billed Oxpecker, among others. Return to the hotel or lodge for dinner and over night. (Buffalo Safari lodge or Pumba Safari Cottages).

Day 6: Birding Southern Queen Elizabeth National Park via Ishasha to Buhoma

After the early morning breakfast, along with your packed lunch, you will drive heading to the southern part of the park towards Ishasha sector, to start our birdwatching expedition. Even a leopard might be spotted in the seasonally open Ishasha area, which provides higher chances to view tree-climbing lions. In our quest to find uncommon Savannah birds, we will be stopping at various locations. Some of the bird species to be on the lookout for are the Speckled and Blue-naped Mousebird, Ovambo Sparrow-Hawk, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Cuckoo-Hawk, African Yellow Warbler, Wattled and Violet-backed Starling, Black-chested, Western Banded and Brown Snake Eagle, Spectacled and Holub’s Golden Weaver, Black Cuckoo, Lesser and Greater Honeyguide, African (Grassland) and Plain-backed Pipit, Marsh Tchagra, Stout, and Short-winged Cisticola. You can choose to stay at Buhoma Haven Lodge or Ride for a woman for dinner and over night.

Day 7: Optional Gorilla Trekking and Birding Bwindi – Buhoma

If we decide to track, we will begin our day early with breakfast, and then meet at the park headquarters for an overview of this amazing pastime. The gorillas’ feeding area, sleeping quarters, and interactions with other groups all affect how much time is spent tracking. Prepare yourself for a full day of activity, since the gorillas may need to travel long distances for these interactions. You will never forget your incredible African wildlife encounter as the gentle giants converse with one another after spending an hour with them. When birding the lower elevations of Bwindi, the Buhoma side consistently produces species of interest, including the Neumann’s and Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Red-Throated Alethe, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, African Broadbill,  Northern Double-collard, Green, Western Olive, Little-green and Grey-headed Sunbird, Thick-billed, Cassin’s, and Scaly-Throated Honeyguide, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Western Bar-tailed Trogon, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Jameson’s Antpecker, Red-tailed Bristlebill, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Many-coloured and Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Kakamega Greenbul, Fine-banded Woodpecker and Pink Footed Puffback, among others. Return to the hotel for dinner and over night.

Day 8: Birding Ruhija Via the Neck: Barred Long-Tailed Cuckoo and Black Bee-eater

Have your early morning break fast and in order to capture anything that might have been missed on the bird walk as we covered the main route, we either leave early and drive straight to the “Neck” or take a quick stroll on the self-guided Buhoma trail. We will spend most of the day on this route to take advantage of the excellent birding, even though it is only a 52-kilometer drive to our destination. We begin our journey out of Buhoma in a region that is home to the Ross’s Turaco, African Wood-Owl, and Pale-cheeked Greenbul.

Expect the following as we move forward: Baglafecht, Black-necked and Holub’s Golden Weavers; Black and the Yellow Bishop, Black-throated Seed-eater; Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, White-headed Saw-wing, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Singing Cisticola, Red-throated Wryneck, and many Sunbirds: Copper, Green-headed, Bronzy, Collared, and Variable, respectively. We search for Ansorge’s Greenbul, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Dwarf, Scaly-throated, and Willcock’s Honeyguide as soon as we enter the forest.” Kitahurira”, often known as “The Neck,” is another popular birdwatching location that we will pass farther down the road. Mountain Wagtail, Cassin’s Flycatcher, African Black Duck, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Pink-footed and Northern Puffback, and the uncommon Tiny Sunbird are among the species we will look for here.

We will move on to the cultivated areas where we should see a variety of seedeaters, including African Stonechat, Dusky Twinspot, Yellow-crowned Canary, and Black-crowned and Yellow-bellied Waxbills. We should also be able to spot Chubb’s Cisticola, Black and White Mannikin, the magnificent Doherty’s Bush-shrike, which emerges from the dense vegetation, Mackinnon’s Shrike, which surveys the road from high, exposed perches, and many more species. Dinner at Bakiga Lodge or Gorilla mist camp and spending the night there.

Day 9: Birding Ruhija African Green Broadbill and Other Special Albertine Rift Endemics

We are at the pinnacle of birding in Uganda and all of Africa, so today is going to be even more wonderful. We will spend the entire day walking to the Mubwindi swamp or using the new trail, which is optional but has proven to be dependable for African-green Broadbills. Compared to what we saw on the bottom side of Buhoma, the vegetation is very different today, featuring large lobelia and a lot of bracken, Western Green Tinkerbird, Barred and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black-billed Turaco, Cardinal, Olive and Fine-banded Woodpecker, Dwarf Honeyguide, Slender-billed, Yellow-streaked and Eastern Mountain Greenbul.

The birds that are recently renamed like the former Grey-chested Illadopsis or Babbler – Grey-chested Kakamega can easily be sighted here, the wing-waving Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Stripe-breasted Tit, Mountain Illadopsis, and Yellow-whiskered Greenbul. Proceed and lookout for the Chestnut-throated, Black-faced and Rwenzori Apalis, Rwenzori Hill Babbler—all of which are chatty and energetic—as well as the Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, Albertine Sooty (Mountain Black) Boubou, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, the shy and difficult to observe Doherty’s and Lagden’s Bush-shrike, and Strange Weaver, the remarkable Oriole Finch. Once-flowering scan for the magnificent Albertine Rift endemics, the Blue-headed and middle canopy Regal Sunbird, and the well-known Purple-breasted Sunbird, can be found in the symphonia trees. Sharpe’s, Slender-billed, Narrow-tailed, Chestnut-winged, and Wallers Starling, Archer’s Robin-chat, and Dusky Crimsonwing—some of the most spectacular and sought-after African seedeaters—will also be possible. later in the night we go to the hiding places at night to look for African Wood-Owl and Rwenzori Nightjar. Dinner and lodging at Ruhija’s Bakiga Lodge or Gorilla Mist Camp.

Day 10: Early Birding as we Transfer to Lake Mburo and Boat trip—Handsome Francolin

Following the early breakfast, you will depart for Lake Mburo National Park, stopping occasionally to make up for anything we could have missed during our walk and stay at Ruhija and its environs before leaving. We look for a variety of wildlife as we leave the forest, including the Handsome Francolin, Dusky Twinspot, White-necked Raven, Yellow Bishop, African Stonechat, Yellow-crowned Canary, Kandt’s (Black-headed) and Crowned Waxbill, and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. The swamps ahead of us offer great opportunities for the White-winged Warbler, Caruther’s Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Canary, and Yellow Warbler among other birds.

Later on, we enter Lake Mburo National Park, which is a completely different environment from the lakes we have not been to and the Acacia savannahs, with wildlife that is similarly different from that of the other reserves we have visited. Beautiful Zebras, Rothschild’s Giraffes, Topis, Cape Buffalos, Giant Elands, Bush and Water Bucks, and the graceful Impalas are also found in the park. The localised Coqui Francolin, Black-headed Gonolek, Crested Francolin, Red-faced, Crested, Collared, White-headed and Spot-flanked Barbet, White-winged Black Tit, Orange (Sulphur)-breasted Bush-shrike, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Great Blue-eared Starling, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Red-headed Lovebird, Common Scimitarbill, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Green Wood-hoopoe, Brubru, Golden-tailed, Nubian, Bearded, and Green-backed Woodpecker, Green-capped Eremomela, Yellow-breasted Apalis are just a few of the more common East African savannah bird species that are sure to occupy your time and provide a respite from the stress of the forest. There is an infinite list. Later, you will be going to board the boat with the intention of searching for water birds such as the Giant Kingfisher, African Finfoot, Rufous-bellied Heron, Papyrus Gonolek, Greater and Lesser Swamp Warbler, and Black-crowned and White-backed Night- Heron, African Fish Eagle, Striated Heron, Lesser-masked and Little Weaver among others.

Day 11: Full day of birding in Lake Mburo National Park- (Coqui Francolin, Red-Faced Barbet and   Tabora Cositicola)

After breakfast, we start early in our search for special Savannah birds. We look out for the Green-capped Eremomela, African Penduline-Tit Yellow-bellied Apalis, White-Winged Black-Tit, Buff Bellied Warbler, Green-wood Hoopoe, the Black-collared, Red-Faced and Crested Barbet, Tabora Cisticola, Coqui Francolin, and Thick-billed Cuckoo, Bronze-winged Courser, which are among the special bird species to look out for in Lake Mburo National Park.

Other birds include the Red-headed Weaver, Brubru, Orange (Sulphur)-breasted Bush-shrike, Bearded, Green-backed, Nubian and Speckle-breasted (Uganda Spotted) Woodpecker, African Black-Headed Oriole, Green-winged Pytilia, Pearl-spotted Owlet and Black-faced Waxbill among others. You will return to the lodge for lunch.

In the afternoon, you will go on a game drive and bird-watching excursion where you will see spectacular Zebras, Buffaloes, Topis, Impalas, Elands, and other animals. This is also a great day to see Barbets, such as the Crested, Double-toothed, Spot-flanked, Black-collared, White-headed and unique Red-faced Barbet, Coqui and Crested Francolin, Red-naked and Scaly Spurfowl, Bearded, Uganda Spotted, Golden-tailed, and Green-backed Woodpeckers. Additionally, we may see Nightjars, such as Freckled, Square-tailed, and Pennant-winged, among various others. Dinner and over night at Rwakobo and Eagles Nest.

Day 12: Early Birding to Entebbe via Mabamba wetland

Early in the morning, you will drive out of Lake Mburo National Park. As you exit, there are chances of Brown-chested Plovers, Green-winged Pytilia, Lilac-breasted Roller, and Slaty-coloured Boubou. A few stops along the mashes might produce Rufous-bellied Heron, Blue-Headed Coucal, Saddle-billed, and Woolly-necked Stork, among others.

You will drive to Mabamba wetland via Mpigi towards Entebbe, an Important Birding Area, where you will be paddled in a canoe through the swamp looking for the expansive Shoebill Stork and other birds that inhabit the wetland, like the White-winged Scrub Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Carruthers’ and Winding Cisticola, Saddle-billed Stork, African pygmy and Spur-winged Goose, Lesser and African Jacana, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Purple and Goliath Herons, Yellow-billed Egrets, White-faced Whistling and Yellow-billed Ducks, African Fish Eagle, Black Crake, Long-toed Lapwing, Gull-billed and White-Winged Terns. Depending on the time of visit, the following birds may be seen: the seasonal Intra-African Migrating Blue Swallow, Cape Wagtail, Swamp Flycatcher, Winding Cisticola, Red-chested Sunbird, Fan-tailed Windowbird, Madagascar Bee-Eater, and Grey-rumped Swallow, among others.

Return to the hotel or Entebbe International Airport For Your Flight.

End of Safari.