19 Days of Classic Uganda Full Birding and Wildlife Safari

Day 1 arrival. This is an optional day for birding depending on the time of arrival for the birding safari. Some may choose to rest and shed off the jet lag. While others go birding in Entebbe botanical gardens or Uganda wildlife education center in Entebbe. Those two places are habitats of a large array of about 250 bird species. Among others, we shall try our luck for; Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Saddle-Billed Stork, Golden-Backed Weaver, Yellow-Backed Weaver, Orange Weaver, African Palm-Swift, Winding Cisticola, Splendid Glossy-Starling, Northern Brown-Throated Weaver, Slender-Billed Weaver, Scaly Francolin, Green-Backed Heron, Tawny-Franked Prinia, Black And White-Casqued Hornbill, Back Kite, Yellow-Fronted Tinkerbird, Saddle-Billed Stork, Open-Billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Grey-Caped Warbler, Pied Crow, Little Egret, Black-Headed Heron, Cattle Egret, Spotted-Backed Weaver, Black And White-Manikin, Bronzy Manikin, Red-Cheeked Cordon-Bleu etc. Stay at Lake Victoria View Guesthouse B&B

Day 2 : bird mabamba and transfer to lake mburo national park in the afternoon, stopover at Kayabwe-Uganda equator.

Birding Mabamba swamp situated west Entebbe. This morning, we have an early breakfast, and go birding to Mabamba. One of a few remaining productive wetland in Uganda protected by the local communities. extensive papyrus swamps with labyrinth’s channels and lagoons, classified as an important bird area (IBA), it’s a home of multiple Shoebills-Uganda’s most famous avian resident and the only representative in its family, is the amongst most sought after birds in Africa! Its only traced by canoeing through the channels by the wooden boat. other likes of Mabamba include; Papyrus Gonolek, Blue-Breasted Bee-Eater, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, White-Winged Black Tern, Grey-Headed Gull, African Skimmers, Little Egret, Long-Toed Lapwing, Spur-Winged Lapwing, African Fish-Eagle, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, Common Squacco Heron, Striated Heron, Blue-Headed Coucal, Malachite Kingfisher, Black Crake, Hamerkop, African Marsh-Harrier, Yellow-Billed Duck, Hadada Ibis, White-Browed Scrub-Robin, Swamp Flycatcher, Vanga Flycatcher, Weyn’s Weaver, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, Sedge Warbler, Wood Sandpiper, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Wagtail, Rufous-Napped Lark, Green Backed Heron, African Snip, Croaking Cisticola, White-Faced Whistling Duck, Spur-Winged Goose, Black-Crowned Waxbill, Scarce Swift, Bern Swallow, African-Dusky Flycatcher, African Yellow Warbler, Collard-Sunbird. Overnight at eagle’s nest camp or rwakobo rock camp 2nights HB

Day 3: morning game drive and afternoon boat cruise lake mburo national park.

While in the park we shall look out for mammals like the Zebra, Eland, Topi, Impala, Cape Buffalo, Warthog etc, today we target the boat ride along lake Mburo where we hardly miss the African Finfoot, White Backed and Black Crowned Night Heron, Giant Kingfisher. A night drive always produces good views of the Black Shouldered, northern Tanzania Fiery Necked Nightjar, nocturnal mammals and Bush Babies and many others.

Day 4 transfer birding to Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Morning after breakfast we transfer birding to Bwindi, lunch break in Ntungamo. Bwindi is situated in southwestern Uganda, famous of its habitat of about 408 mountain gorilla’s “half of world’s population!” Including several habituated groups which can be tracked and home of about 350 species of birds including 23 Albertine rift endemics! And at least 14 species recorded nowhere else in Uganda! Opportunities abound to discover the local Bakiga and Batwa pygmy cultures through their performances, workshops and village walks. It lies at a relatively higher altitude and temperature here is cooler ranging from 10 to 18°C. stay in ruhija-broadbill forest camp 2nights FB

Day 5 birding Bwindi forest to mubwindi swamp- ruhija sector.

This morning we bird to the No.1 African birding spot according to the African Bird Club. The elevation is higher than where we have done birding before, so there are exceptional bird species and most of high altitude. This is the birding spot where we find the African Green Broadbill and the sight to look out for the Grauer’s and Grauer’s Rush Warbler, most Albertine Rift Endemics here inlude the Handsome Francolin, Blue Headed, Blue Throated, Purple Breasted and Blue Throated Brown Sunbird, Red Throated Alethe, Mountain Illadopsis, Collard and Mountain Masked Apalis, Yellow Eyed Black Flycatcher plus more. Other high altitude bird species here will be the Bar Tailed and Narina Tragon, White Tailed Crested Flycatcher, Abyssinian Hill Babbler, Stripe Breasted Tit and others.

Day 6 gorilla tracking (experience an unfathomable connection during a magical hour in the company of mountain gorillas!) and later transfer birding to Buhoma sector through the neck this evening.

For those willing to do the trekking, after breakfast, we shall assemble at the park offices for briefing prior to this historic event. Gorilla tracking is a captivating pursuit; it involves walking in the wilderness in search of these great apes. The exhilaration attached to first setting an eye on a wild mountain gorilla is difficult to describe. They’re enormous animals, yet despite their fearsome appearance, gorillas are remarkably peaceable creatures. More impressive even than the gorilla’s size bearing is their unfathomable attitude to people, which differs greatly from that of any other wild animal that you’ve ever encountered! Anthropomorphic as it might sound, almost everybody who visits the gorilla experiences an almost mystical sense of recognition. Often one of the gentle giants will break off from the business on chomping on bamboos to study human visitor, soft brown eyes staring deeply into theirs as if seeking a connection-a spine-tingling wildlife experience without peer. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngster’s frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully display. This once in a lifetime experience is not to miss! Transfer birding through the neck to Buhoma. Stay at haven community camp or silverback safari lodge 2nights FB

Day 7 whole day birding Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park.

We try our luck for Cabanis’s Greenbul, Narrow-Tailed Starling, Grey-Winged Robin Chart, Eliots Woodpecker, Northern Double-Collard Sunbird, Black-Billed Weaver, Bocage’s Bushshrike, Pink-Footed Puffback, Petit’s Cukooshrike, White-Bellied Nigrafinch, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, African Broadbill, Buff-Throated Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Yellow Bill, Black-Faced Rufous Warbler, Little Grey Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, Short-Tailed Warbler, Red-Headed Malimbe, White Browed Crombec, Mountain Black Boubou, Jameson’s Anti-Pecker etc

Day 8 transfer birding to queen Elizabeth national park (find the lions of Ishasha sheltering from the fierce rift valley sun on the boughs of ancient fig trees!).

Early after breakfast we depart birding to queen Elizabeth national park through kanungu area where chances abound to trace for rarity of Rufous-Breasted Wryneck in this area, continue birding to the southern sector of queen Elizabeth where we can’t miss the likes of Whinchats, Greater Scimitarbill, Black Kit, Superb Sunbird, still on a way in ishasha area Little Button, Blue, Common, Harlequin Quails skulk in short grasses along the way. A couple of mammals like Cape Buffalo, Lions, Elephants, Uganda Kobs, Waterbacks etc thrill in this area. Saty at bush lodge or enganzi safari lodge 2nights FB

Day 9 birding in QENP, afternoon launch cruise at kazinga channel

Queen Elizabeth national park is the second largest after Murchison falls national park with 95 mammal species the highest for any Ugandan national park! and about 610 bird species a truly remarkable figure for a reserve that is relatively smaller by continental standards. The park’s excellent biodiversity ranks it as one of the best birding sites in Uganda with the one-day record of about 300 species! The likes in this park include; Broad Tailed Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Amur Falcon, African Skimmer, Striated Heron, African Spoonbill, Water Thick-Knee, Three-banded Plover, Marsh, Green, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Gray-headed Gull, Plain Martin, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, White-Winged Warbler, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Secretarybird, Caruther’s Cisticola, African Skimmers, Black-Headed Gonolek, Papyrus Gonolek, Red-Faced Cisticola, Red-Chested Cukoo, Northern Puffback, Tropica Boubou, Diederik, Klaas’s, African-Emerald Cukoos, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, African-Wood Owl, Black-Shouldered Night-Jar, Yellow-Throated Long-Claw, East-African Swee, Common Waxbill, Crimson-Rumped Waxbill, Fawn-Brested Waxbill, Zebra Waxbill and Yellow-billed Ox-pecker etc. mammals include; Olive Baboon, Valvet Monkey, Tantalus Monkey, in the kyambura gorge we find the Chimps, Blue and Red Tailed Monkey etc.

Day 10 birding at nzuguto and transfer birding to fort portal town in the afternoon

In the morning after breakfast, checkout and drive a short distance to crater region of nzuguto, this time we stroll birding along the way to nzuguto wetland where we hardly miss; Red-Faced Cisticola, Vanga Flycatcher, Red-Eyed Dove, Black Bishop, Red-Headed Bluebill, Rare White-Collard Oliveback, African Green Pigeon, Long Crested Eagle, Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Eastern Grey Plantain Eater, Shinning Blue Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, White-Chinned Prinia, Grey-Capped Warbler, Speckled Mousebird, Double-Toothed Barbet, Black Kite, Yellow-Billed Kite, Black-Capped Waxbill, East African Swee, Fan-Tailed Widowbird, Uganda-Spotted Woodpecker, Common Moorhen, African Fish Eagle, Hamerkop, Tawny-Franked Prinia, etc. lunch break at dave the cave and transfer onwards to fort portal town. Stay at mount Rwenzori view guesthouse 2nightsB&B

Day 11. whole day birding in Semliki valley national park, Uganda’s most exciting birding destination! Semliki is of particular interest to birdwatchers

435 bird species have been recorded, including a high proportion of forest birds and about 45 species seen nowhere else in Uganda including rarity of the smallest African piculet. For amateur birders, Semliki is not only certain to throw up a clutch of “lifers”- it also offers a faint but real possibility of a brand-new East African record like Congo Serpent-Eagle, Grey-Throated Rail, and Black-Throated Coucal. Only 53 mammal species occur and 11 species seen nowhere else in Uganda including Pygmy Antelope, Two Types of Flying Squirrels and Six Types of Bats. Other interesting birds here are; Orange-Checked Waxbill, White-Crowned Hornbill, Western Bronze-Napped Pigeon, Swamp Bulbul, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Crested Malimbe, Blue-Breasted Kingfisher, Yellow-Crested Woodpecker, Brown-Eared Woodpecker, Red-Billed Dwarf Hornbill, Yellow-Throated Nicator etc.

Day 12 morning birding nyakasura hills and transfer birding to kibale chimpanzee forest in the afternoon

In the morning after breakfast, checkout and drive for a short distance to the spectacular hills of Nyakasura, one of the beautiful sceneries in fort portal. Try our luck for Sharp’s Babbler, Brown Babbler, White-Backed Duck, Great-Crested and Little Grebe etc afternoon transfer birding to kibale forest. stay at chimpanzee forest camp 2nights FB

Day 13 morning birding, afternoon optional chimp tracking (seek out chimpanzees, your closest relatives in the shadowy depths of the kibale forest!).

Wake up early and start birding along the roadside from the hotel to Bigodi sanctuary or wake up early at 5:00am and prepare ourselves for the most sought bird the Green-breasted Pitta! Thereafter we continue normal birding getting out from the forest to our hotel for lunch break. In the afternoon drive to the park visitor center for briefing and Chimp tracking. Kibale is a home of 13 primates and about 375 bird species. Primates include; L’Hoest’s Monkey, Red Colobus Monkey, Bush Baby, Olive Baboon, Red-Tailed Monkey, Grey-Cheeked Mangabey, Black And White Colobus, Blue Monkey, Chimpanzee etc. and a long list of sought bird species like; Afep Pigeon, Red-Winged Francolin, Narina Trogon, Bar-Tailed Trogon, Black-Billed Turaco, Black Bee-Eater, White-Headed Wood-Hoopoe, Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird, African Pitta, Velvet Mantled Drongo, Petit’s Cukoo Shrike, African Broad Bill, Wilcock’s Honeyguide, White-Spotted Flufftail, Western Nicator, White-Tailed Anti-Thrush etc.

Day 14 transfer birding to Masindi town via Hoima. After breakfast, checkout and depart for Masindi.

This being quite a long journey, it will take big percentage of our time this day traveling, but we shall be having several strategic stops to stretch our legs and have a look at birds. Lunch break in Hoima town. Stay at Masindi hotel 2nights FB.

Day 15 birding at the royal mile and busingiro forests.

Today we have a birding excursion to the above two unique sites within the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. We shall start early and head to the Royal Mile where many ceremonies of the Bunyoro kingdom took place before this was a conservation area. Enroute we shall have some birding stopovers to look out for bird species like the Singing Cisiticola, Cabanis’s Bunting, Dark Capped Yellow Warbler, Grey Headed Olive Back, Brown Twinspot, Black Bellied Fire Finch and more then carry on to the Mile. Birding here is excellent with an open interior and gives us unique bird species like the Ituri Batis. Lemon Bellied Crombec, Firest Warbler, Dusky Longtailed Cuckoo, Dwarf, Blue Breasted, Pygmy and Chocolate Backed Kingfisher, Western Black Headed Oriole, Red Headed Malimbe, Blue Throated Roller, White Spotted Greenbul, Rufous Crowned Eremomela, Chectnut Capped and Forest Flycatcher, Yellow Crested Woodpecker, Yellow Longbill, African Crowned-Eagle, Forest Flycatcher, Yellow-Browed Camaroptera, Grey-Backed Camaroptera, Yellow-Mantled Weaver, Red-Headed Bluebill, Sabines Spinetail, Casin’s Spinetail, Red-Tailed Anti-Thrush, Cameron Sombre, Slender Billed, Wilcock’s Honeyguides, Jameson’s Wattle-Eye, Blue-Throated Brown Sunbird, Little-Green Sunbird, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush and many more. we drive to Busingiro looking out for bird species which might have been missed at the mile then later back to Masindi for dinner and overnight stay

Day 16 morning birding kanyiyo pabidi as we connect with Murchison falls national park onward.

Pabidi is part of the budongo forest reserve and an area of enormous diversity of flora and fauna. The forest is crisscrossed with maintained networks of trails making it perfect to explore the forest and giving the best sights for the rare, shy and secretive bird; Puvel’s Illadopsis, and many other interesting species like; Grey and Yellow Lobgbill, Chocolate-Backed, Blue-Breasted, Dwarf and Pygmy Kingfisher, We also have good views of the Shaggy-Crested Guineafawl, Fire Crested Alethe, Narina Tragon Yellow Billed, Grey Throated and Yellow Spotted Barbet, Rufous Sided Broadbill, Lemon Bellied Crombec, Dusky Longtailed Cuckoo, , Western Black Headed Oriole, Red Headed Malimbe, Blue Throated Roller, White Spotted Greenbul, Rufous Crowned Eremomela, Chestnut Capped and Forest Flycatcher, Yellow Crested Woodpecker etc. later enter Murchison falls national park Southwards through the woodlands. Stay at fort Murchison or heritage safari lodge 2nights B&B.

Day 17 birding northern bank of river Nile, boat cruise to bottom of the falls and birding to the top of the falls! (busy day).

Murchison falls national park with its spectacular water falls, prolific game and clutch of outstanding lodges is universally regarded as one of East Africa’s most compelling national parks. It lies at the core of the greater Murchison Falls Conservation Area, and famous of its world’s powerful falls being transformed into an explosive froth of thunderous falls as it funnels through a narrow cleft (just 6m wide!) in the Rift Valley Escarpment-is easily the most impressive site of its type in Africa. We start early morning game drive northern bank of river Nile, we look out for both birds and game from the hotel to the Nile. Specialties to look at in Murchison are among others; the Red-Winged Grey Warbler, Red Chested Cuckoo, Banded Snake Eagle, Black Billed Wood-Dove, Short Toed Snake Eagle, Black Cheeked Waxbill, Black Headed And Vitelline Masked Weaver, Heuglin’s Robin-Chat, Black Headed Gonolek, Spot Flanked Barbet, Sulphur Breasted Bush-Shrike, Black Billed Barbet, Spotted Flycatcher, Beautiful Sunbird, Grey Headed, Striped And Woodland Kingfisher, Red Shouldered Cuckooshrike, Beautiful Sunbird, Foxy, Whistling, Croaking, Singing, Rattling, Zitting And Siffling Cisiticola, Abyssanian Ground Hornbill, Black Bellied And Stanley’s Bustard, White Fornted Black Chat, Sooty Chat, Yellow Billed, Wood Chat And Grey Backed Shrike, Abyssinian And Rufous Crowned Roller, Spotted Morning Thrush, African Quail Finch, Vitteline Masked Weaver, Black Billed Barbet, Swallow Tailed, Northern Carmine, Little And The Seasonal Eurosian, Blue Cheeked And Olive Bee-Eater. White-Browed and Chestnut Crowned Sparrow-Weavers, White Headed Buffalo Weaver, Speckle Fronted Weaver, Rufous Sparrow, Superb Starling etc. mammals like Jackson’s heartbeats, Rothschild’s giraffe, elephant, warthogs etc. can’t be missed out! Have our lunch break at the Nileside as we wait for the boat to take you along the Nile birding up to the bottom of the falls, thereafter you take a hike birding to the top of the falls, rest a bit and continue normal birding back to the hotel for refreshment, dinner and overnight stay!

Day 18 birding to Entebbe,

quite long journey but with strategic stopovers to stretch legs and look at birds like African Moustached Warbler, Greater Blue-Eared Starling, Abyssinian Roller, Common Bulbul, Red-Eyed Dove, chances abound for rarity of Short-Toed Snake Eagle and Hartlaubs’s Marsh Widowbird, Turacos Like Great Blue and Ross’s Turaco are rarely missed etc. stay at Entebbe traveler’s inn gh.

Day 19 end! Your departure back home

Day 20 Reach home.

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Birding in Uganda