18 Days Uganda Birding & Primates Tour

18 Days 17 Nights
  • 18 Days Uganda Birding & Primates Tour, where every dawn brings the promise of avian wonders and encounters with our closest primate relatives


18 Days Uganda Birding & Primates Tour, where every dawn brings the promise of avian wonders and encounters with our closest primate relatives. This immersive journey seamlessly blends the thrill of birdwatching with the intrigue of primate tracking, offering an unparalleled exploration of Uganda’s rich biodiversity.

From the misty peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains to the sprawling savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park, each day unveils a new chapter in this captivating story of nature’s beauty. Traverse diverse ecosystems as you seek out over 1,000 bird species, including the iconic shoebill stork, vibrant turacos, and elusive Albertine Rift endemics.

Venture deep into the heart of the jungle to encounter habituated chimpanzees and playful troops of endangered mountain gorillas. Expert guides lead you through dense forests, sharing their knowledge of primate behavior and the delicate balance of their ecosystems.

This unforgettable journey promises not only remarkable wildlife sightings but also a deeper connection to the natural world and a renewed sense of wonder

Trip Summary

  • Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International Airport, Uganda
  • Day 2: Birding Mabamba and the Environs.
  • Day : Birding to Murchison Falls National Park Via Kaniyo Pabidi.
  • Day 4: Morning birding in the Kaniyo Pabid area and later transfer to Northern Murchison Falls
  • Day 5: Murchison Falls National Park.
  • Day 6: Transfer to Masindi via the Escarpment
  • Day 7 : Birding the Royal Mile and Busingiro.
  • Day 8: To Kibale National Park.
  • Day 9: Birding Kibale National Park.
  • Day 10: Birding to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Day 11: Bird watching and Game-drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Day 12: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park – Buhoma.
  • Day 13: Birding Buhoma
  • Day 14: Birding to Ruhija Via the Neck.
  • Day 15 and 16:
  • Day 17: To Lake Mburo National Park.
  • Day 18: Return to Entebbe onwards.

Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International Airport, Uganda

Today you will be met by our safari representative who will transfer you to Papyrus Guest House or equivalent for an overnight stay.

Day 2: Birding Mabamba and the Environs.

We start early and have brief roadside bird watching stops looking out for bird spp like the Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco, Crowned Hornbill, Eastern-grey Plantain Eater, Lizard Buzzard, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Grey Parrot among others, we shall continue to Mabamba an Important Bird Area and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Black-headed, Vieillot’s Spotted Backed and Northern Brown-throated Weavers. Within the Papyrus channels where we ride expect the Winding and the crown chestnut-brown Carruther’s Cisticola, Blue Headed Coucal, Fantailed Widowbird, Long-toed Plover, Rufous Bellied Heron, Yellow Billed Duck, Lesser Jacana, Spur Winged Goose, African Marsh Harrier and the massive giant Stork-like Shoebill the ibly bird that represents its family will be our main target for today. On our way back, we shall stop at some papyrus swamps to try and look out for rarities like the White Winged and other Swamp Warblers, Papyrus Gonolek and later to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 3: Birding to Murchison Falls National Park Via Kanio Pabidi.

We start early and head north then later west where we shall have birding stops in open, cultivated, swampy scrubby areas looking out for bird spp like the Black Winged Bishop, Red-headed Quelea, Red-collared and Yellow-Mantled Widowbirds, Brown Twinspot, Compact Weaver. Steppe, Wahlberg’s and Long-crested Eagles, Fawn Breasted and Crimson Rumped Waxbills, African Moustached Warbler, African Black Headed Oriole, White Crested Turaco, Lesser and Greater Blue Eared Starling and many more. We shall carry on to Budongo Forest Reserve depending on the energy level and weather we can do a guided walk around KanioPabidi. This is a typical Rain Forest where birding is always difficult and can be frustrating but do not lose focus, there are rewards at times of the Puvel’s Illadopsis and this is the only spot where we can find it in East Africa, Yellow Longbill, Little, Plain and White-throated Greenbuls, Blue-breasted and Chocolate Backed Kingfisher, Grey and Yellow Longbill, Western Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-Rumped and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbirds, Yellow Spotted, Yellow Billed and Hairy Breasted Barbet, Green Hylia, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush Narina Tragon. Fire-crested Alethe this is also a good place for the Western Olive Sunbird. Dinner and overnight stay at Budongo Eco-Lodge.

Day 4: Morning birding in the KaniyoPabid area and later transfer to Northern Murchison Falls

We start in the morning after breakfast bird watching in Kaniyo Pabidi then we proceed to northern Falls National Park in the afternoon via the top of the falls, much as there are many tse-tse flies at some spots, watch out for for birds like the White Crested Turaco, White Crested Helmeted Shrike and the pale yellow-eyed Rufous Chatterer among others. Key species in the morning will include the Grey and Yellow Long Bills, Broad Billed and Blue Throated Roller, Olive, Olive Bellied, Collaed, Little Green and Marico Sunbirds, Fire Crested Allethe, Puvell’s Illadopsis, Xaviers, Ictrine, Plain Sombre, Little, Honey Guide and Toro Olive Greenbulls, Narina’s Trogon, Forest Robin, Snowy Headed Robin-chat, Dusky Long-tailed, African Emerald Cuckoo, Grey and Buff Throated Apalis, Yellow-billed, Yellow-spotted and Hairy-breasted Barbets, and many more.
Dinner and overnight stay at Red Chili or Kabalega Wilderness Safari Lodge

Day 5: Murchison Falls National Park.

We set off for a morning game drive in the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park. On this bird watching/ game drive we shall look out for the Red-winged Grey and Grey Winged Warbler, Ruppell’s Griffon, Whited Backed and White-headed Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Necked Falcon, Wahlberg’s and Steppe Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Stanley’s and Black-bellied Bustard, the large crested Levaillant’s and Pied Cuckoos, Black Billed Barbet, Spotted Morning Thrush, Foxy, Rattling, Croaking, Siffling and Whistling Cisticola, Nubian Woodpecker, Swallow-tailed Red Throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, African Grey and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Northern Red and Black-winged Bishop, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Vinaceous Dove, Little Weaver Brown Babbler and White-rumped Seedeater. The mammals to look out for today include the Uganda Kob, Bohor Reedbuck, Oribi, Jackson’s Hartebeest, cape Buffalo, Elephant and Giraffe. We shall keep our eyes open for the Pattas Monkey which lives in the Northern part of this park and basically least arboreal as compared to other primate spp.

We shall return the lodge for lunch then afternoon launch cruise along the Victoria Nile where we expect to see some water birds and a big look out for the bright red-legged Rock Pratincole, Goliath and Black Heron, on lucky days we rarely spot the Pel’s Fishing-Owl, nesting Red Throated Bee-eaters and colonies of Pied Kingfishers among others. We encounter large schools of hippo and croc camps with many antelopes and at times cats which come down the Victoria Nile to cool off in the afternoons. We later get back to Red Chili or Kabalega Wilderness Safari Lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 6: Transfer to Masindi via the Escarpment

After breakfast with your packed lunch bird as we proceed to another sector of Budongo Forest driving through the rift valley escarpment where you will have good views of Lake Albert. Bird the escarpment before driving by the Busingiro Forest Centre. Bird around the vicinity and the road looking out for birds like Striped Kingfisher, Red-chested Cuckoo, Foxy Cistcola, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Cliff Chat, Green-backed Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Green-headed Sunbird, Red-winged Pytilia,  Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Eastern and Dark Chanting Goshawk, Banded Martins, The dry chipping and trilling Northern Red Bishop, Chocolate-backed Blue-breasted and Dwarf Kingfisher, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Jameson’s Wattle eye, Yellow-crested Woodpecker  among other birds. Diner and overnight stay at Masindi Hotel

Day 7 : Birding the Royal Mile and Busingiro.

After breakfast we drive to The Royal mile one of the wonderful paces for bird watching in Uganda. We shall have a few stopovers before getting to forest and lookout for some savannah bird spp like the Cabans’s Bunting, Dark Capped Yellow Warbler, Tropical Boubou, Brown Barbler, Grey Headed Olive Back, Black Bellied Fire-finch, Brown Twin-spot among others then continue to the forest looking out for some west African spp like the tense Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, the fiddly Chocolate-backed and Blue-breasted kingfisher plus the African Dwarf and Pygmy, Red-headed Malimbe is always seen rolling on big tree branches, Fire-Crested Allethe, many Greenbuls are here and expect the Slender Billed, White-throated, Yellow Whiskered, Slender Billed, Spotted, and Little Grey, Xavier’s and Ictrine Greenbuls, Forest Robin, Blue Shouldered Robin-chat, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Rufous Crowned Eremomela, Forest Flycatcher, IturiBatis, the speckle cheeked Lemon-bellied Crombec, Red Tailed Ant Thrush, Blue Throated Roller and many more. We shall in the afternoon we drive on to a different section of Budongo called Busingiro. This is the best site for the Lemon Bellied Crombec, Nahan’s Francolin and IturiBatis. Other bird spp we expect here are the Forest and Grey-headed Flycatchers, African Shrike-Flycatcher, Yellow Crested Woodpecker, Dusky Long tailed Cuckoo, Little Green Sunbird and many more. We shall be looking out for primates like the Blue, Red Tailed and Black And White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboon and at times we get to see some Chimps. From here we shall head back to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 8: To Kibale National Park.

After breakfast we shall drive south to Fortportal then to Kibale forest National Park via Hoima. We shall have our birding done enroute as the drive is a little long. We shall look out for bird spp like the Brown Snake Eagle, Chestnut Wattle-eye, small yellowish shouldered Greater Honeyguide, Lizard Buzzard, Brown Babbler, Western Nicator, White-chinned Prinia, Black Bellied Fire Finch, Heuglin’s Francolin, Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco. Honeyguide, Yellow Whiskered and Yellow Throated Greenbuls, Purple-headed Glossy Starling, Black-and-White Mannikin, Green Crombec, Olive and Little Green Sunbirds all portend for more and better tomorrow. We also began seeing plenty of what the place is famed for – primates and expect to see Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Blue, Vervet, Red-tailed Monkeys, Black-and-White Colobus and the rarer Red Colobus Monkeys.

Remember that Kibale forest is the primate capital in Uganda protecting a large block of rainforest and apart from the good bird watching, it harbours the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa and perhaps Africa as continent at large. We shall spend out night at Chimpazee Forest Lodge.

Day 9: Birding Kibale National Park.

After breakfast we head to the briefing point if tracking chimps or set out for birding. Getting inside Kibale forest is the best and only chance to see floor-dwellings such as rarely recorded and very uncommon Green Breasted Pitta and Illadopsis like the Brown Pale Breasted, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Narina Tragon, African Emerald and Red Chested Cuckoo, the pinkish breasted Afep Pigeon, Blue Breasted Kingfisher Crowned and Cassin’s Hawk-Eagles, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Stuhlmann’s Starling, the boldly whited spotted in tail Red-chested Owlet among others. Birding in forest interiors is generally slow and hard work, but with patience, the few species seen are very special and localized which is always rewarding. The forest is always filled with   hoots and whoops from Chimpanzees which can be combined with the birding this morning and many delights will befalls us once we stumbled into a group, depending on their morning mood, some on the ground, then up in the trees, devotedly feeding on fresh ripening figs.

We later head back to the starting point and take a small rest from the heat of the day as we wait for our lunch then revert to birding in the afternoon at the Bigodi wetland, this is another great site for primates and as we bird we keep our eyes open for the Yellow Spotted, Hairy Breasted and Yellow -billed Barbet, The Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco are occasionally sighted, Western Nicator, Shining Blue and Blue-breasted Kingfisher among the birds and primates like the Red Colobus, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, Red Tailed Monkeys will be clearly seen. Back to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 10: Birding to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

After breakfast we take our away to Fort Portal and then to a nearby extension of Kibale forest area near Sebitoli with easier access as we bird on the high way to Kampala and spend much of the morning and look out for the dull olive-green Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, the large light yellowish Joyful Greenbul, Grey Throated Barbet, Olive and Dusky Long Tailed Cuckoo, White-Headed Wood Hopoe, Black Billed Turaco, Western Black Headed Oriole, Afep Pigeon, and many more, after which we shall proceed for a quick buffet lunch back in Fort Portal before heading off on a paved road to Queen Elizabeth National Park bird watching into the open bush country as we transfer to Buffalo or Pumba Safari Lodge.

Day 11: Bird watching and Game-drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

We start early and take a drive through the Park with a big focus on grassland rarities of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda; we shall meander through the open scrubby savannah dominated by large Cactus Euphorbia trees. On this drive expect Red-necked Spurfowl, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warbler from damp grassland. Fawn-breasted, Common and Crimson-rumped Waxbills in little groups always show, Black Headed Gonolek, Northern Black Flycatchers, Melba Finch, White-browed Robin-chat, Black-lored and Arrow-marked Babbler. On the drive we shall Water and Bush buck, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, also encounter mammals like the Uganda Kob, on lucky days lions, leopard and Hyeanas are sighted. We head back to to the lodge or have a whole day out as we look forward Kazinga Channel to board a good-sized launch for a two-hour boat trip down the Channel to Lake Edward. It is always pleasant and easy two hours birding and game viewing, with common species, but very close and giving good photo opportunities and better looks. Mammals are prominent with masses of arms-length loafing, bathing and wallowing African Cape Buffalo and Hippos. We mostly don’t miss the Open to Yellow-billed & Saddle-billed Storks, Collared Pratincole, the extensive bare red faced African Spoonbill, Water Thick-knee, Kittlitz’s, Spur-winged & African Wattled Plovers, excellent outlooks of the chestnut shouldered African Fish-Eagle, Malachite and flocks of Pied Kingfisher, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Goliath and Grey Heron, Great, Little and Cattle Egrets, Pink-backed and Great White Pelicans among others.

After the boat trip, a late evening safari is always rewarding as it gives us chances of seeing what might have been missed in the morning look out for the Golden-breasted Bunting, Common Quill, African Crake the bet for tonight will be the Nightjars including the Pennant-winged and Square-tailed Nightjars and Black Shouldered, on good days we find Genets, Lions and Leopard. Back to the lodge for a relatively late dinner.

Day 12: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park – Buhoma.

Today, our birding tour gets us close to Rwanda as we head to the Gorilla Sanctuary in Bwindi. This is home to half the remaining population of the world’s endangered Mountain Gorillas. We have two optional routes which lead us there. One through the Southern part of Queen Elizabeth called Ishasha which is very popular for the tree climbing lions. It’s a unique encounter finding these hunters in the trees, this sector is also great for savannah birding and always provides good sightings for the African Cuckoo-hawk , African Cuckoo, the violet glossy Common Scimitarbill, Black Bellied Bustard, Red Faced Crombec, the cowl-headed Bateleur, Hooded, Rupell’s Griffon, Lappet Faced and White Backed Vulture. We shall enjoy our picnic lunch at the Ishashariver where we at times view the Black Bee-eater then continue to Bwindi. Stay at Ride 4 A Woman or Haven Lodge.

Day 13: Birding Buhoma

After breakfast we start the one main trail that runs right through this section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest from Buhoma to the Nkuringo sector. The trail is quite wide and free of traffic almost all through except on market days where you might have some pygmies crossing to trade in other communities. Birding here leads us to the skulking Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Bar Tailed Trogon, Equatorial Akalat, Elliot’s and Fine-banded Woodpeckers, White-tailed Ant-thrush, African Broadbill, Mountain Illadopsis, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Red-Faced Woodland Warbler, Cassini’s and Willcock’s Honeyguide, Short Tailed Warbler, Red-throated Alethe, Ruwenzori, Collared, Buff-throated and Grey Apalis, Black Bee-eater, the baffling Ansorge’s Greenbul, Cameroon Sombre, Cabanis’s, Little, Yellow-streaked and Red-tailed. Dusky Blue, and White-bellied Crested-Flycatcher, Banded Prinia. Brown-capped Weaver, the Warbler looking Grey-headed Sunbird and many more await us on this day. We later descend to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 14: Birding to Ruhija Via the Neck.

Drive to the highest peak of the forest- Ruhija. Several checks at the rare bird spots may produce rare species such as white starred robin, grey cuckoo shrike, strange weaver, Black Bee-eater, Purple Headed Starling, Bared Long-tailed Cuckoo, Chestnut Throated Apalis, Red Headed Love-bird, Western Bronze Naped Pigeon, Olive Thrush, Cassin’s Flycatcher and Mountain wagtail, African Black Duck, Bocage’s and Luhder’s Bush-shrike, Black Billed Turaco, the deeper rofous – Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Bronze Sunbird, Dusky Twinspot, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Mountain Buzzard, Rock Martin, the deeply fork tailed Black Saw-wing, Tropical Boubou, Northern and Pink-footed Puffback to mention a few. Stay at Gorilla Mist Camp or Trekker’s Tavern for 3 night.

Day 15 and 16: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

If tracking we shall have early breakfast then assemble at the park headquarters for briefing about this breath taking activity. Time spent tracking depends on where the gorillas spent the night and their feeding range or encounter with other groups which might be wild forcing them to move long distances so be prepared for this great Uganda-African experience. Once found you spend an hour with them, seeing these gentle giants interact is awesome and the marvelous wildlife.

Birding day at Ruhija gives us hopes of seeing the above yellow striped Western Green Tinkerbird, Fine-banded Woodpecker, the Montane Forest endemic African Green-Broadbill, Mountain Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, African Hill Babbler, Mountain Illadopsis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, the typical leaf Red-faced Woodland Warbler, it will be amazing to find the dingy dark-olive Grauer’s Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-throated Collared, Mountain Masked, Black Throated and Grey Apalis , Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Batis, Montane Sooty Boubou, Blue-headed, Purple-breasted and the Rockefeller’s looking like Regal Sunbird among others. Full board

Day 17: To Lake Mburo National Park.

After breakfast we set off towards Lake Mburo, through Rukungiri or any other optional route. The National Park is a different habitat of lakes and Acacia savannah with a correspondingly distinct fauna to other reserves and ecosystem share with Rwanda and Northern Tanzania and attracting numerous game including the Zebra, Topi, Eland, Reedbuck and Impala which is quite unusual with other Uganda parks. Plenty of more typical East African savannah birds like the Crested Francolin, Spot-flanked Barbet, Emerlad Spotted Wood-dove, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green-backed Woodpecker Black-headed Gonolek, Red Billed Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Brubru, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Greater Honeyguide, White-winged Black Tit, Brown Parrot, African Grey Hornbill the pale billed Red-faced Barbet, Tabora Cisticola and well-marked Coqui Francolin which 3 are with a very restricted range known only from remote north-eastern Tanzania, Rwanda and here in the whole region, we shall proceed and do a boat trip with a major focus on the bright red billed and red legged African Finfoot, Giant Kingfisher, White Backed Night Heron and the shy and distinctive Little Bittern. We later check in at Rwakobo Rock. FB

Day 18: Return to Entebbe onwards.

After breakfast we start on our return to birding enroute and looking out for what we might have missed. Time allowing, we wind up our Uganda biding safari at Entebbe Botanic Gardens.

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