18 Days Uganda Birding safari and Gorilla Trekking Safari
Uganda has established itself as the only nation on the continent where gorilla tracking can be combined with great birding. Entebbe is where your 18 Days Uganda Birding safari and Gorilla Trekking Safari will start.The famed Mabamba wetland, home to the magnificent Shoebill and other important wetland bird species, will be a part of the safari
Mountain gorillas and rare birds of the Albertine Rift may be found at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a popular birding destination. We will go to Kibale National Park for chimpanzee trekking and rare forest bird species.Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure to see incredible wildlife in its natural environments and take home lifelong memories.This itinerary provides a rewarding opportunity to see birds in a variety of environments, including forests, savannahs, wetlands, mountains, and farmlands
Detailed 18 Days Uganda Birding safari and Gorilla Trekking Safari
Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe for Uganda Birding safari and Gorilla trekking
Entebbe, located on the banks of Lake Victoria and around 40 kilometres away from the chaotic metropolis of Kampala, is a considerably more tranquil place. It’s also tremendously “birdy,” with magnificent bird species like the African Grey Parrot, Ross’s Turaco, african pied wagtail, and Woodland Kingfisher all over the place.
If time permits, we’ll pay a visit to the exquisitely designed Entebbe botanical gardens, which are situated right on the lake’s edge. Our first birds may be the Orange Weaver and Red-chested Sunbird in addition to a plethora of more widespread species; this is the ideal start to the trip since birding is simple and open here.
Day 2: Entebbe to Lake Mburo National Park
En route to Lake Mburo National Park, we make a detour at Mabamba wetland, a RAMSAR site and notable birding location. It is home to over 500 bird species and is an important habitat for the renowned Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rex). Several endangered species, such as the Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea), Papyrus Yellow Warbler (Chloropeta gracilirostris), and White-winged Warbler, find sanctuary in the swamp (Bradypterus carpalis).
The Shoebill, Uganda’s most recognisable bird, is the focus of our first significant task of the journey. In order to enter the shallow canals of a swamp, we drive to its edge and board tiny boats. Hopefully, we will see this beast with a primitive appearance standing in the swamp or swooping above.
Contrary to popular belief, the shoebill is not restricted to papyrus groves and may instead be found in the low vegetation that lies between them. The Lesser Jacana and the Yellow-billed Duck Several sightings are anticipated in these open places.
We will also bird the dense papyrus stands, keeping an eye out for Greater Swamp-Warblers, Papyrus gonolek, Blue-chested Bee-eaters, Malachite kingfisher and Swamp Flycatchers as they traverse the narrow canals between the papyrus stands. The remainder of the day will be spent travelling to Lake Mburo National Park while birding some rich wetlands along the way.
Day 3: Lake Mburo National Park to Ruhija in Bwindi National Park
The wide savanna and marsh habitats of Lake Mburo National Park will be explored in the morning. These habitats mirror the classic savanna settings of Kenya’s Masai Mara, but with a lot more prickly acacia thickets. In Uganda, quite a few species are very specialised and are found nowhere else.
The red-faced barbet, which has a limited range in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania to the west of Lake Victoria, will be our main avian target. Other species to look for are Tabora Cisticola, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Green-capped Eremomela, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, african scops owl, african stonechat, African grey hornbill, African wood owl, and Spot-flanked Barbet.
In such a little park, there are surprisingly many raptors. African Marsh Harrier, Black-chested, Brown, and Banded Snake Eagles, Bateleur, African Harrier Hawk, Shikra, Gabar, and Dark Chanting Goshawks, Lizard and Augur Buzzards, African Fish eagle, Tawny eagle, Steppe eagle, African Hawk eagle, Long-crested eagle, Martial Eagle, and Grey Kestrel are among the 35 species recorded.
The well-known Uganda safari animals, including warthogs, elands, common zebras, and impalas, may be seen at Lake Mburo, which is also a great park for mammals. The birding is not limited to safari vehicles; we will also use a boat to look for the uncommon and elusive African Finfoot and maybe even a White-backed Night-Heron, which is the neotropical Sungrebe’s African relative. Other birds that may be seen on the lake and shores include african darter, african spoonbill, african fish eagle and more.
We go into Bwindi National Park’s foggy slopes in the late afternoon, where the thick cloud forest offers a stark contrast to the savanna of Mburo. We will be birding along the way.
Day 4: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (optional; additional fee)
Those who decide to go Mountain gorilla trekking will be treated to one of the best natural history experiences in the world. Gorilla trekking safaris are one of the most popular trips to Uganda and offer travelers the chance to get up close and personal with Mountain Gorillas
These intelligent creatures not only observe you; they also watch them. We arrange things so that each gorilla family we spend the day with belongs to a certain member of our group, and the wildlife authority only allows one group to interact with each gorilla family at a time, making the experience more intimate. Although the tracking permits are pricey, very few customers are dissatisfied with the process, and the great majority wiThose who choose not to track gorillas this morning will go bird watching. Afternoon: The party will reconvene and take a leisurely stroll along a wide route in search of highland species including the Collared Apalis, Grauer’s Warbler, Gray Cuckooshrike, Black-billed Turaco, and many more.shes they had done it sooner.
It is difficult to overstate how amazing this is; therefore, you should definitely do this unless you have a strong aversion to a modest stroll lasting anything from half an hour to four hours. The great majority of our customers can physically do this; they even provide porters for $20 per day to assist you in carrying all your things.
Day 5: Whole day birdwatching in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The avian marvels of Bwindi, which often rates as the most beloved location on the whole trip, are our focus for the entire day.
The Albertine rift endemic bird species are often discussed without providing any clarification. A large number of endemic and restricted-range bird, mammal, and reptile species have developed in this region as a result of the Albertine Rift, which is the western branch of the geologically very recent Great East African Rift System. To the east is the higher plateau of the Tanzanian Craton, which is bordered by Lake Victoria.
There are several mixed-species flocks in these mountains, which also have a lovely environment and a fantastically pleasant temperature.
For this early morning birding activity, we’ll go down the valley in search of the marshy environment that is home to the elusive African Green Broadbill. We hope to find Albertine rift endemic species like the Ruwenzori (collared) Apalis, the sneaky Red-crested Alethe, and the Archer’s Robin-Chat while working along forest roadsides and paths.
We may be able to coax the magnificent but elusive Doherty’s Bushshrike out of a thicket or come across a flock of chattering White-headed Woodpeckers. The valleys are filled with the amusing echoes of Great Blue Turacos, while neighbouring Black-and-White Cascading Hornbills may be heard making honking noises.
Mountain Sooty Boubou, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Red-faced Woodland, Neumann’s, and Grauer’s Warblers, Black-faced Apalis, White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed, and Regal Sunbirds, Stripe-breasted Tit, Dusky Crimson-wing, and Strange Weaver are some of the more prevalent species in Kivu Ground-Thrush, while White-bellied Robin-Chat and Dusky Twinspot are rare treasures we’ll be hoping to witness.
The canopy is home to many primates, including chimpanzees, guerza colobus monkeys, blue and l’Hoest monkeys, and chimpanzees. Since it is a whole day birdwatching activity we will go with our packed lunches arranged by the safari lodge.
We will return to our accommodation for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Ruhija to Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
After breakfast, we go to Bwindi National Park’s lower-lying Buhoma area in the west. We’ll go through “The Neck” along the route, a brief section of forest that links the park’s southern and northern halves.
This forest system is made up of a few Albertine Rift species with limited ranges and the eastern extension of the enormous Congo forests.
This location is ideal for birders to see a variety of species that are normally logistically extremely tough to observe since it is much more accessible and highly safe to enter this forest, which stretches into the DR Congo.
The Cassin’s Flycatcher, Black Bee-eater, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Tiny Sunbird, and a large number of indistinguishable greenbuls are among the peculiarities of lower elevation rainforest that we get our first opportunity to see here.
We will arrive at Buhoma in the afternoon for a two-night stay.
Day 7: Buhoma Birding and Optional Mountain Gorilla tracking
The national park’s mid-elevation portion has a significantly different feel from the upper Ruhija area. Bar-tailed Trogon, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Black-billed Weaver, African broadbill, Sooty Flycatcher, and several kinds of starlings, sunbirds, and greenbuls are some of the species we want to see throughout our full day of birding on the park’s trail system.
One of the best places to see the newly described Willard’s Sooty Boubou, which differs from the more widespread and frequently seen Mountain Sooty Boubou in having pale blue eyes.
For those who opt for Mountain Gorilla tracking: It may take one to eight hours to go for the ultimate Uganda Gorilla trekking experience, which entails wandering through the bush in pursuit of these gentle giants. Make sure you are physically fit since gorilla tracking may be a difficult exercise. Each group is limited to eight members per day.
The gorillas might be difficult to locate on occasion, but the tracker guides can usually locate them within an hour. Staring into these gentle giants’ eyes and admiring them as they play and go about their everyday lives is a lovely experience.
You should never miss the opportunity to go on a Gorilla safari expedition since it really is a “once in a lifetime” event. Although every gorilla experience is unique and has its own benefits, you are sure to love the up-close view of adults eating, grooming, and relaxing as the young playfully romp and swing from vines.
Day 8: Buhoma to Queen Elizabeth National Park
As we travel north, the landscape rapidly changes from montane forest to a more open savanna. This savanna is different from the one in Lake Mburo National Park in that it resembles the flat-topped tree savannas of Kenya and Tanzania and is dominated by candaleras, which are euphorbias that resemble cacti. Seeing cactus-like trees surrounded by luxuriant meadows is an odd sight.
We will go via Queen Elizabeth’s Ishasha sector, which is renowned for its tree-climbing lions.
Ishasha is also abundant in birds, including the Blue-throated Roller, the Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher, the Red-necked Francolin, and many more. We will get to our opulent lodge, which is situated on a peninsula between Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel, by late afternoon.
Birds like the Northern Black Flycatcher, Black-headed Gonolek, Red-chested Sunbird, and Slender-billed Weaver are abundant in the lodge gardens.
Day 9: Whole day at Queen Elizabeth National Park birding
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a sanctuary for both mammals and birds. While it provides the chance to observe traditional African megafauna like Hippos and Elephants, it also contains Buffalo, Uganda Kob (which replaces Impala for this area), and numerous Waterbuck and Bushbuck. It also attracts waterbirds, allowing for quick viewing of a broad variety of species.
To find species such as the African Wattled Lapwing, Temminck’s Courser, Martial Eagle, African Crake, Flappet Lark, and Moustached Grass Warbler, we will spend the morning going on a long “game drive” across the euphorbia-filled savanna of the park. We’ll go on a boat cruise of the Kazinga Channel in the afternoon.
The birding and photography experiences on this trip are among the best in Africa. Large numbers of large animals and waterbirds are often present nearby. The majestic Gray Crowned Crane, pink-backed pelican, African fish eagle, the mysterious Hamerkop, and the delicate African Jacana are often seen gliding across lily pads adjacent to the boat. Birds like the African Skimmer, Gull-billed Tern, Gray-headed, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls may congregate in big groups.
Day 10: Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kibale National Park
We’ll be spending the night in Kibale, so we’ll be leaving right after breakfast and travelling the long way there. The trip offers good waterbird viewing and open countryside.
If time permits, we’ll spend the afternoon at the Bigodi Swamp, which is managed by the locals and is a great place to look for animals like the Gray-cheeked Mangabey and Central African Red Colobus as well as birds like the Speckled Tinkerbird, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, White-spotted Flufftail, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Bocage’s Bushshrike, and Western Nicator. Papyrus patches provide cover for the reticent White-winged Swamp Warbler.
Day 11: Whole day birding in Kibale National Park; optional chimp tracking
We get up long before dawn in order to search for the Green-breasted pitta, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds. This “mega” is now accessible, although discovering it still requires a significant amount of luck.
Chimpanzees are another popular attraction in Kibale, and participants in this activity will attend a scheduled park chimp tracking session later in the morning.
The chimp tracking is done on flatter terrain than the gorilla tracking, but we go off the path to follow the chimpanzees since they move much more effortlessly than we do while attempting to avoid vines and logs. However, it is entertaining, and we will feel successful if we locate the chimp party sleeping or eating in the trees.
Even people who do not go for the chimpanzees trekking are certain to hear their eerie wails and cries in the forest. The Forest Robin is often found in large flocks of other birds, such as Illadopses and Alethes. The black-collared apallis and different vermilion and black malimbes may be found in the canopy, while the black-bellied seedcracker lives at the edge of the forest. Gray-throated, Yellow-spotted, African grey parrot, African green pigeon, and Yellow-billed Barbets construct their nests in dead snags, while the enormous Great Blue Turaco, which looks like a cartoon bird, is drawn to ripening figs.
Day 12: Kibale to Masindi
The trip’s longest driving day ends with a trip to Masindi, the point of entry for Budongo. Many guests particularly appreciate this trip since it is not along major highways and travels into rural Uganda, where you get a genuine feel for what life is like here. We will be birding along the route at many spots.
If we arrive on time, we could have enough time to search for white-crested turaco and grey-headed oliveback in the forests south of the town.
Day 13: Budongo Forest Birding Spot
As the largest tract of lowland rainforest in the world and the most easily accessible Congo rainforest anywhere, the spectacular Budongo Forest is ours to explore for the whole day.
We spent some time at the incredible Royal Mile, a public road that receives very little traffic. The forest authorities have cleared the shrub growth for 20 feet on either side of the road, providing excellent views of both undergrowth bird species and improving canopy views compared to most lowland rainforests. Species of the canopy that are typically hidden by undergrowth and mid-canopy trees are visible and observable.
For Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, this forest is the greatest habitat in Uganda. Additionally, we’ll look for the magnificent African Dwarf and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers.
The variety of greenbuls in this area is truly astounding, and the forest is teeming with illadopses and alethes. But there are many more colourful species of birds, such as the white-thighed hornbill and the black bee-eater, for those who don’t like cryptic birds.
Day 14: Masindi to Murchison Falls National Park
We stop at the Butiaba escarpment on the way to Murchison Falls National Park. Despite being close to the Budongo rainforest, it has quite contrasting desert savanna landscapes and has species such as the mocking cliff-chat, foxy cisticola, and brown babbler.
The wide palm savanna we travel through is unlike any other in East Africa. Along the trip, we could see birds like the unusual Piapiac, the Senegal Lapwing, the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, and the White-rumped Seedeater.
In the late afternoon, we arrive at the Nile’s edge. The lodge is situated along the White (or Albert) Nile, which originates in Lake Albert and travels through Khartoum before joining the Blue Nile and flowing to the Mediterranean.
The Victoria Nile, which connects Lake Victoria, plunges magnificently over Murchison Falls, and empties into the northern side of Lake Albert, is the other section of the Nile in the park.
We stay two nights at Murchison Falls National Park.
Day 15 and Day 16: Murchison Falls National Park
We spend the whole day touring Murchison Falls National Park in search of the indigenous White-rumped Seedeater, Silverbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, and Black-headed Gonolek.
White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Heuglin’s Francolin, African palm swift among many others, may be found in the riverine thickets. We board a boat in the late afternoon to go to the bottom of the Murchison Falls, where the Victoria Nile constricts and thunderously roars over the precipice. It is not only aesthetically stunning, but it is also excellent for birding, and we anticipate getting very close to the often highly elusive Rock Pratincole.
The next day, we take a separate boat trip downstream to the Victoria Nile’s true delta, which includes tributaries and papyrus wetlands, where it joins Lake Albert. For the Shoebill, in case we missed it previously, as well as many other waterbirds and arboreal species like Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, this variety of habitats is fantastic.
Day 17: From the Murchison Falls National Park to Kampala
In the event that we are unable to locate any chimpanzees elsewhere on our journey this morning, we could make an early stopover at Kaniyo Pabidi to track them. Additionally, this is the ideal location in East Africa to search for the native Puvel’s Illadopsis. We return to Kampala after lunch in Masindi to spend our last night there.
Day 18: Lake Victoria
We may attempt to fit in one more forest birding trip just a bit east of Kampala, depending on departure airline arrangements. Although it is doubtful that we will discover many new species today, it will be a wonderful chance to have a closer look at some of the skulkers that may have caused problems earlier in the trip.
International departures from Entebbe International Airport mark the end of the trip in the late afternoon or early evening.