18-day Classic Uganda Birding Safari

This 18-day Classic Uganda Birding Safari lets you explore Uganda’s top birding destinations. Uganda supports around 1000 species, which has earned this country its well-deserved reputation as a “birder’s Paradise” despite its tiny size and lack of an ocean coastline. These figures demonstrate the enormous diversity of ecosystems in Uganda, which is one of the amazing aspects of the country—how quickly the landscape and habitats change. Papyrus swamps surrounding Lake Victoria, the Albertine Rift’s cloud-forest-covered highlands, lower-elevation Congolese rainforests, and a variety of woodland and classic “African” savannas, such as thorn, grassland, Guinea, and even palm savannas, are all explored on this journey. We’ll search for the amazing Shoebill, one of the most magnificent African birds

Numerous animal encounters are advertised as “something that will change your life”; trekking and spending an hour or so with gorillas is one of those experiences that truly lives up to the hype. Additionally, we’ll spot two of Africa’s most elusive and sought-after birds: the Green-breasted Pitta in Kibale National Park and the African Green, also known as Grauer’s Broadbill, in Bwindi National Park.

Detailed Itinerary of the 18-day Classic Uganda Birding Safari

Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe and Birding in Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Upon arrival in Entebbe, you will be welcomed by a Journeys Uganda representative, who will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Entebbe, which is around 40 km away and located on the beaches of Lake Victoria, is a considerably more laid-back place than Kampala, the capital city. It’s also very “birdy,” with amazing species like the Ross’s Turaco, African Grey Parrot, and Woodland Kingfisher dispersed across the area. If time permits, we will spend the day in the exquisitely designed Entebbe Botanical Gardens, directly beside the lake. Our first birds here may be striking Orange Weaver and Red-chested Sunbird, Klaas’ and Diederick Cuckoos, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Ross’s and Great Blue Turacos, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Great Reed Warbler, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Bishop, Malachite Pygmy, Striped, and Giant Kingfishers, Collared, Red-chested, Olive-bellied, and Green-headed Sunbirds, among many other common species. It’s an ideal way to start the trip with simple birding in a public setting. Dinner and overnight at Papyrus Guest House

Giant Kingfisher

 

Day 2: Birding Mabamba Swamps and Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

After breakfast, we will transfer to Mabamba wetland. Finding Uganda’s most popular bird, the elusive Shoebill, is our first significant task for the journey. We travel to the marsh’s edge, where we climb into small boats to navigate its narrow canals. Hopefully, we will be able to see this beast that resembles a primitive creature either soaring overhead or standing in the marsh. Contrary to popular belief, the Shoebill is not restricted to papyrus; instead, it can be found in the low vegetation that occurs between papyrus groves. We anticipate rewarding views of Lesser Jacana and Yellow-billed Duck in these open spaces. In addition, we will bird the dense stands of papyrus, keeping an eye out for Blue-chested Bee-eater, Swamp Flycatchers, Papyrus Gonolek, Greater Swamp-Warblers, Grey Herons, the threatened Pallid Harrier, Squacco Heron and Purple and Allen’s Gallinule, among others. The remainder of the day will be spent travelling to Lake Mburo National Park and birdwatching in some productive wetlands along the route.

Day 3: Birding Lake Mburo National Park and transfer to the Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

We will spend the morning touring Mburo National Park’s open savanna and wetland ecosystems. Numerous species are extremely restricted to Uganda and are found nowhere else. The Red-faced Barbet is our primary target bird. Tabora Cisticola, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Green-capped Eremomela, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Spot-flanked Barbet, Black-bellied Bustard, Lilarc-breasted Roller, Coqui Francolin, White-headed Vulture and Grey Penduline Tit are among the other species that will be targeted. A great animal park, Lake Mburo offers typical safari fare like warthog, eland, common zebra, and impalas. We’re going to take a boat ride to look for the rare and elusive African Finfoot, which is the African relative of the neotropical Sungrebe. We could even spot a White-backed Night Heron there. After lunch, we make our way up into the foggy mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Dinner and overnight at Gorilla Mist Camp

Red-faced Barbet

 

Day 4: Gorilla trekking (optional) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

One of the greatest opportunities to witness natural history in the world awaits those who choose to go gorilla tracking this morning. These gentle creatures watch you as much as you watch them. The wildlife authorities restricts the experience to one group with each gorilla family, so it is a personalised one. We arrange for our group to be assigned to a gorilla family to spend the day with. The majority of people are quite happy that they did it and wish to do it again, despite the fact that tracking permits are pricey. Very few people are unhappy with this experience.

For just $20 per day, they also provide porters to assist with carrying all of your equipment, so this is well within the reach of most of our clients physically. Those who choose not to track gorillas will go birdwatching this morning. After getting back together in the afternoon, the party will have a stroll down a wide path while searching for numerous highland species, such as Grauer’s Warbler, Collared Apalis, Grey Cuckooshrike, and Black-billed Turaco. Dinner and overnight at Gorilla Mist Camp

Day 5: Birding Ruhija

After breakfast with a packed lunch, We have an entire day to explore Bwindi’s avian marvels, which is frequently rated as the tour’s favourite location. Many remarks on Albertine Rift species frequently omit an explanation of what this means. This region is highly intriguing due to the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the geologically Great East African Rift System. To the east lies the Tanzanian Craton’s higher plateau, with Lake Victoria, while to the west lies a mountain range that includes the Ruwenzoris. This has led to the occurrence of numerous endemic and restricted-range bird, mammal, and reptile species.

We’ll head downhill in the morning to the marshy area that is home to the mysterious African Green Broadbill, albeit it will take some luck to locate this tiny jewel. When exploring forest roadsides and pathways, endemic species like Archer’s Robin-Chat, sly Red-crested Alethe, and Ruwenzori (Collared) Apalis are likely to be encountered. We might manage to entice the magnificent yet elusive Doherty’s Bushshrike out of a thicket, or we might come upon a group of chattering White-headed Woodhoopoes. Great Blue Turacos laugh merrily through the valleys, and Black-and-White-Casqued Hornbills may be nearby if we hear their honking sounds. In Bwindi, some of the more frequent species are Mountain Sooty Boubou and Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher.

The following birds have also been observed: Black-faced Apalis, White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed, and Regal Sunbirds, Dusky Crimson-wing, Strange Weaver, Red-faced Woodland, Neumann’s, and Grauer’s Warblers. We hope to see rare gems like the Dusky Twnspot, White-bellied Robin-Chat, and Kivu Ground-Thrush. The canopy is home to a variety of primates, such as Blue and L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Guereza Colobus, and Chimpanzees.

African Green Broadbill

Day 6: Ruhija to Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

We travel to the lower-lying Buhoma region of Bwindi NP to the west after breakfast. We’ll travel via “The Neck,” a slender stretch of forest that links the national park’s northern and southern regions. This forest system consists of several Albertine Rift species with restricted ranges and the eastern extension of the massive Congo forests. This forest, which stretches into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is much safer and easier to explore, which makes it the ideal place for birders to see a variety of species that would otherwise be very challenging to see.

This is our first opportunity to see some of the specialities of the lower elevation rainforest, such as the abundant and challenging-to-identify greenbuls, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Black Bee-eater, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, and Tiny Sunbird. We will reach Buhoma around the afternoon and stay there for two nights at Ride for a Woman Lodge

Day 7: Full day of birding in Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Ruhija part, which is higher, has a distinct character from this mid-elevation area of the national park. Bar-tailed Trogon, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Black-billed Weaver, Sooty Flycatcher, Willard’s Sooty Boubou and numerous species of starlings, sunbirds, and greenbuls are just a few of the birds we hope to see on our full day of birding the park’s trail system.

Bar-tailed Trogon

Day 8: Buhoma to Queen Elizabeth National Park

The habitat quickly changes as we move north from montane forest to more open savanna, but not the same as in Mburo NP. It resembles the flat-topped tree savannas that are common in Kenya and Tanzania, but it also has savannas dominated by candaleras, which are euphorbias that resemble cacti. Seeing trees that resemble cacti surrounded by verdant meadows is an odd sight. We’ll travel via Queen Elizabeth’s Ishasha neighbourhood, which is well-known for its lions that climb trees.

A variety of species can be found there as well, such as the Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher, Red-necked Francolin, Blue-throated Roller, and Sooty Chat. We will reach our opulent lodge, Buffalo Safari Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 9: Full day in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Mammals and birds both find refuge in Queen Elizabeth NP. It is a magnet for waterbirds, a large variety of which can be viewed in a short amount of time. It provides an opportunity to view traditional African megafaunas, such as Hippos and Elephants, but it also contains Buffalo, Kopi (which replace Impala), and numerous Waterbuck and Bushbuck. African Wattled Lapwing, Temminck’s Courser, Martial Eagle, African Crake, Flappet Lark, and Moustached Grass Warbler are just a few of the birds we hope to spot during our lengthy “game drive” over the euphorbia-studded savanna of the park this morning.

Our afternoon excursion will involve a boat ride across the Kazinga Channel. Among the best photography and birdwatching trips in Africa is this one. Big animals and waterbirds are generally found in large numbers nearby. By the boat, we usually spot the shy African Jacanas trotting over lily pads, the royal Grey Crowned-Crane, and the peculiar Hamerkop. African Skimmers, Gull-billed Terns, Gray-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and other species can occasionally be seen in huge flocks.

Day 10: Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kibale National Park

We travel the lengthy route to Kibale after breakfast, where we spend the night. There is great open country and waterbird birdwatching along the route. If time permits, we will spend the afternoon at the community-managed Bigodi Swamp, a great spot to look for birds such as Speckled Tinkerbird, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, White-spotted Flufftail, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, and Western Nicator, as well as primates such as Grey-cheeked Mangabey and Central African Red Colobus. Papyrus patches provide a habitat for the extremely reserved White-winged Swamp Warbler. You will transfer to Chimpanzee Forest Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 11: Optional Chimpanzee tracking and birding Kibale Forest

We get up early in the morning to search for the Green-breasted Pitta, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds. Those who choose this option will participate in an official park chimp tracking session later in the morning. Kibale is also known for its chimpanzees. The chimpanzee tracking is done on flatter terrain than the gorilla tracking, but we still deviate from the path to follow the chimps since they move much more gracefully than we do, dodging over logs and around vines. It is enjoyable and we will feel accomplished when we eventually locate the monkey troop sleeping or eating in the trees. Chimpanzees are known to leave frightening wails and screams in the bush, even for people who don’t monitor them. The forest edge is home to the Black-bellied Seed cracker, and the canopy is home to a variety of black and vermilion Malimbes, as well as the elegant Black-collared Apalis, Grey-throated, Yellow-spotted, and Yellow-billed Barbets, and the striking Great Blue Turaco, which is drawn to fruiting figs. Dinner and overnight at Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Green-breasted Pitta

 

Day 12: Transfer from Kibale Forest National Park to Masindi

Travelling to Masindi, the entry point of Budongo, is the longest day of the journey. Numerous clients truly appreciate this journey because it avoids major roads and goes through rural Uganda, giving you a true sense of the local way of life. We will be birding at various sites along the way. We could have time to search for Grey-headed Oliveback and White-crested Turaco, among others, in the forests south of the town if we get there in time.

Day 13: Birding Budongo Forest

We have an entire day to discover the wonders of the magnificent Budongo Forest, which is the world’s most easily accessible lowland rainforest and covers a vast expanse of lowland rainforest. We visit the magnificent Royal Mile, a public road with very little traffic. The forest authorities have removed the shrub growth for 20 feet on either side of the road, providing excellent views of both understory bird species and canopy views that are superior to those of most lowland rainforests. Species in the canopy that are typically hidden by undergrowth and mid-canopy trees are visible.

For Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, this forest is the best location in Uganda. We will also look for the magnificent African Dwarf Kingfisher and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. There are many illadopsis species, alethes in the forest, and a variety of greenbuls, which is astounding. However, there are many more vibrant species, such as the Black Bee-eater and White-thighed Hornbill.

Day 14: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park, birding Butiaba escarpment

We make a stop at the Butiaba escarpment on the way to Murchison Falls NP. Despite being close to the Budongo rainforest, it features entirely distinct arid savanna landscapes and wildlife, including Brown Babbler, Foxy Cisticola, and Mocking Cliff-Chat. Travelling across a vast area of undeveloped land with an open palm savanna that is unlike any other in East Africa, we can come across birds such as the unusual Piapiac, Senegal Lapwing, White-rumped Seedeater, and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. It is late afternoon when we get to the Nile’s edge. You will be transferred to Hornbill Wilderness Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 15-16: Birding Murchison Falls National Park

We look for Silverbirds, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, and the extremely common White-rumped Seedeater during our entire day of exploration in Murchison Falls National Park. White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Heuglin’s Francolin, and numerous other species can be found in the riverine thickets. We take a boat to the foot of the Murchison Falls in the afternoon, where the Victoria Nile dramatically narrows before plunging over the escarpment with unimaginable force. It is quite good for birdwatching in addition to being visually stunning, and we anticipate getting up close to the typically extremely challenging Rock Pratincole.

The following day, we take a different boat ride downstream to the point where the Victoria Nile enters Lake Albert, creating a delta that is home to papyrus swamps and tributaries. In case we missed it earlier, this variety of habitats is excellent for many other waterbirds and arboreal species, such as Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Pale Fishing Owl, African Darter, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, and Giant Kingfishers. You will transfer back to your lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 17: Birding at Kaniyo Pabidi and transfer to Entebbe

We might stop early this morning in Kaniyo Pabidi to trace any chimpanzees that we might have missed on our tour. Additionally, this is the best location in East Africa to find the native Puvel’s Illadopsis. We return to Entebbe, where we spend the last night, after lunch in Masindi. Dinner and overnight at Papyrus Guest House

Day 18: Departure

You will transferred to Entebbe International Airport for departure.

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