Day 1 Arrive in Entebbe and drive to Mabira Forest reserve via Mabamba Swamp
Day 2 Birding in Mabira Forest Reserve & transfer to Jinja
Day 3 Jinja to Masindi via Kampala
Day 4 Budongo Forest - Royal Mile birding all day
Day 5 Masindi to Murchison Falls NP via Kaniyo Pabidi section of Budongo Forest
Day 6 Murchison Falls NP - Delta boat cruise & north bank game drive
Day 7 Murchison Falls NP to Masindi via the Butiaba Escarpment & Busingiro
Day 8 Masindi to Kibale NP
Day 9 Kibale NP – Chimpanzee tracking & birding
Day 10 Kibale NP to Queen Elizabeth NP
Day 11 Queen Elizabeth NP: Kasenyi Track & Kazinga Channel boat cruise
Day 12 Queen Elizabeth NP to Bwindi NP via Ishasha section of QENP
Day 13 Bwindi NP - Gorilla tracking at Buhoma
Day 14 Birding all day in Buhoma
Day 15 Buhoma to Ruhija via The Neck
Day 16 Ruhija - birding Mubwindi Swamp
Day 17 Ruhija to Lake Mburo
Day 18 Lake Mburo - game drives and boat cruise
Day 19 Lake Mburo to Entebbe and departure
Day 1: Entebbe to Mabira Forest Reserves via Mabamba Swamp. This morning we depart Entebbe early and begin our Ugandan adventure in search of a very special bird. Our prime target for today is the legendary Shoebill and we will set off through small rural villages and homesteads to Mabamba, which is a large wetland connected to Lake Victoria. This extensive papyrus swamp is home to several pairs of Shoebill, Uganda’s most famous avian resident and most birders’ prime attraction to the nation. This charismatic species, the only representative of its family, is certainly amongst the most sought-after birds in the world! We will commission several motorised canoes from the nearby fishing village and search the maze of channels in an attempt to find the “King Whale-head.” Other water birds abound and we should find several species of herons, egrets and waterfowl, the ever-present African Fish Eagle, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Marsh Harrier, Long-toed Lapwing, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher and Swamp Flycatcher. If we are exceptionally fortunate we may spot Lesser Jacana, African Pygmy Goose and the rare Sitatunga, a shy swamp-dwelling antelope with splayed hooves.
Common and widespread roadside species we can expect to see today include the funky-looking Long-crested Eagle perched atop telephone poles, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, hovering Black-winged Kite, African Harrier-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, the truly impressive Great Blue Turaco, raucous Eastern Plantain-eater, seemingly awkward Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill and floppy-flighted Crowned and African Pied Hornbills, dazzling-blue Woodland Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Angola Swallow, Splendid and Rüppell’s Starlings, African Thrush, Northern Black Flycatcher, Sooty Chat, gregarious Grey-backed Fiscal, Scarlet-chested Sunbird and Pin-tailed Whydah.
We will pass through the outskirts of Kampala, the sprawling capital of Uganda, where grotesque Marabou Stork line the city’s high-rise buildings and flocks of Hooded Vulture, Yellow-billed Kite and Pied Crow soar overhead. As we head eastwards through villages and woodlands, it will become evident how birdy this country really is! We later arrive in Mabira Forest Reserve in Buikwe along Kampala – Jinja road. Dinner and Overnight at Rain Forest Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 2: Mabira Forest. Today we shall venture into Mabira Forest for an early birding adventure. This protected forest supports over 300 bird species, some of which are difficult to see elsewhere in Uganda. One of the first sites that we will visit is a small forest pond where a wonderful selection of very secretive forest birds regularly comes down to drink. Targets here include Red-tailed and the elusive Yellow-lored Bristlebills, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Forest Robin, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Brown-chested Alethe, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, and two glowing seedeaters: Black-bellied Seedcracker and Red-headed Bluebill. Some of the other specials we will search for are Grey Parrot, the highly localised Forest Wood Hoopoe, uncommon Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Grey-throated Barbet, Buff-spotted, Brown-eared and Yellow-crested Woodpeckers, Grey and Yellow Longbills, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Toro Olive Greenbul (one of nine greenbuls species found here), Western Nicator, the striking Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher (scarce but possible), Green-throated Sunbird, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Lowland Sooty Boubou, Yellow-mantled and the nomadic Weyns’s Weaver, the rare Tit-Hylia and White-breasted and Grey-headed Nigritas.
We will have our picnic lunch at the main forest Headquarters. Huge fruiting trees in this area are habituated by a variety of barbets, hornbills, honeyguides and concentrations of Great Blue Turaco. In the late afternoon, we will head to Jinja town for our overnight. Dinner and Overnight at Jinja Nile Resort (B, L, &D)
Day 3: Jinja to Masindi via Kampala. This morning we depart Jinja and begin our journey towards the town of Masindi. We may have a further opportunity this morning for a quick stop at Mabira Forest before tackling the busy road that leads to Kampala. After skirting Uganda’s frenetic capital, we drive north, birding an area of moist grasslands and swamps in search of Western Banded Snake Eagle, Green-backed Eremomela, Black Bishop and Yellow-mantled and Marsh Widowbirds.
As we approach Masindi, the countryside becomes drier and consists of fig-studded grassland. In this region we’ll stop to search for African and the less common Bruce’s Green Pigeon, White-headed and Spot-flanked Barbets, shy White-crested Turaco, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Lesser Blue-eared, Purple and Bronze-tailed Starlings, and Piapiac, a small corvid which associates with cattle and wild game. Finally, we will arrive in Masindi for a two-night stay at a renovated colonial-era hotel. Dinner and Overnight at Masindi Hotel (B, L, &D)
Day 4: Budongo Forest. Today will be our first introduction to central African forest birding, and a good portion of the day will be spent in the vast Budongo Forest Reserve, the largest natural forest area in East Africa. We will concentrate much of our attention on “The Royal Mile,” a wide forestry track considered to be the country’s premier forest birding locality. Among the numerous specials we hope to find include Blue Malkoha (a skulking forest coucal), three forest-dwelling kingfishers (Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted and African Dwarf), White-thighed Hornbill, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted and Yellow-billed Barbets and their diminutive cousins, the tinkerbirds (Speckled, Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped all being likely), Western Oriole, Green Hylia, the rarely encountered Uganda Woodland Warbler, Grey, Buff-throated, Black-throated, and the stunning Black-capped Apalises, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Green and the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec, Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Purple-headed Starling, Little Green, Grey-chinned, Collared, Olive-bellied and the aberrant Grey-headed Sunbirds and Crested and Red-headed Malimbes.
Greenbuls are abundant, and we will work slowly through any flock that we encounter looking for Little Grey, Yellow-whiskered, Slender-billed, Honeyguide, White-throated, Red-tailed and the striking Spotted Greenbul. The beautiful Nahan’s Partridge is sometimes heard, but we will require luck and patience to see this secretive and near-endemic species.
We will search the undergrowth alongside the track for the numerous understorey skulkers, which may include Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Fire-crested Alethe, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush, Red-tailed Ant (Rufous) Thrush, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Yellow-browed and Olive-green Camaropteras and Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher. Openings in the forest canopy will be carefully watched as Crowned Eagle, White-throated Bee-eater and Cassin’s, Mottled and Sabine’s Spinetails are all possible over the tall forest. Dinner and Overnight at Masindi Hotel (B, L, &D)
Day 5: Masindi to Murchison Falls National Park. This morning, we will bird Kaniyo Pabidi forest, situated within the southern sector of the Murchison Falls NP, and the only known site in East Africa for Puvel’s Illadopsis. We stand a good chance of finding this bird. Another big target for the morning is Rufous-sided Broadbill, but this species is somewhat tricky to track down. Flocks of Crested Guineafowl, sporting their “punk hairdo's” are, however, more regularly encountered. A healthy Chimpanzee population survives, and the giant Chequered Elephant-Shrew is occasionally seen.
After birding the Ironwood-dominant rainforest, we will drive further north into the woodland section of the park. Here, Vinaceous Dove, Black-billed Wood Dove, Senegal Coucal, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Whistling Cisticola, Buff-bellied Warbler, the elegant Silverbird, Western Black-headed Batis, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes, White-crested Helmetshrike, Western Violet-backed and Beautiful Sunbirds, and Fawn-breasted and Black-rumped Waxbills may be encountered.
Murchison Falls is Uganda's largest national park and famous for its big game and spectacular scenery, not least the falls for which the park was named. Later in the afternoon, after checking into our accommodations, we will make our way to the spectacular falls. The vista point at the top of Murchison Falls offers incredible views of the Victoria Nile boiling down the narrow gorge. Bare, rocky islets are favoured perches and breeding sites of Rock Pratincole. We should see good numbers of these attractive waders wheeling in the spray of the falls. Thick riverine forest in this vicinity is home to the magnificent White-crested Turaco, often considered the most beautiful member of its striking family, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Spotted Palm Thrush, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, the localised Red-winged Grey Warbler and Purple-banded Sunbird. Dinner and Overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 6: Murchison Falls National Park. We have a full day for exploration of the park. We will take a launch trip along the Victoria Nile down towards the Lake Albert Delta, where the west-flowing Victoria Nile makes an abrupt turn and becomes the north-flowing Albert Nile.
A plethora of waterbirds throng the well-wooded banks of the river and today, we have another opportunity of spotting Shoebill. This species usually stands motionless on the edge of channels waiting for a hapless lungfish and sometimes allows close approach. In the heat of the day, Shoebills may be seen soaring over the Nile, an impressive sight indeed. Other water birds abound and we hope to see African Darter, Intermediate Egret, Goliath and Purple Herons, Woolly-necked and Yellow-billed Storks, Hamerkop, Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese, Western Osprey, African Fish Eagle, Black Crake, African Swamphen, the regal Grey Crowned Crane (Uganda’s national bird), Senegal Thick-knee, Long-toed and Spur-winged Lapwings, African Jacana, Malachite and Giant Kingfishers and the dashing Wire-tailed Swallow. Burrows in the river banks represent colonies of either colourful Red-throated Bee-eater or querulous Pied Kingfisher, while elegant Red-necked Falcon frequent palm trees which line the banks. In addition to the birds, large numbers of huge Nile crocodile, Hippopotamus, African Buffalo, Tantalus Monkey and Olive Baboon are often seen at very close range, and herds of African Elephant sometimes bath en masse in the willows.
The scenic area north of the Nile holds a number of birds typical of dry savanna. We will search here for Secretarybird, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Tawny and Martial Eagles, Shikra, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Harlequin Quail, Heuglin's Francolin, Helmeted Guineafowl, flocks of Collared Pratincole, Black-headed Lapwing, Swallow-tailed and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Black Scimitarbill, Short-winged and Black-backed Cisticolas, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Shelley’s Sparrow, Bar-breasted Firefinch and Quailfinch. A few birds with their ranges centred on the Sahel reach their southern limits here, and we hope to find the stately Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and White-fronted Black Chat. Mammals are well represented here, and we should see Bushbuck, Giraffe (belonging to the endangered form known as Rothschild’s Giraffe), African Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Oribi and Defassa Waterbuck. If we are lucky we may see groups of the shy Patas Monkey, while this is one of the best places in Uganda to find Lion.
The moist, grassy woodland to the south of the Nile is very different from that of the North bank and supports a host of localised birds including Brown-backed Woodpecker, Brown Babbler, Red-winged Warbler, the unusually proportioned Purple Starling, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Black-bellied Firefinch, Cabanis’ and Brown-rumped Buntings, and if we are fortunate, Bat Hawk, African Cuckoo-Hawk, White-breasted Cuckooshrike and Red-winged Pytilia. Other species that we will search for here are African Cuckoo, African Grey Hornbill, Grey Woodpecker, Northern and Red-faced Crombecs, African Paradise Flycatcher (often of the spectacular white morph), Northern Puffback, Black-crowned and Brown-crowned Tchagras, Tropical Boubou and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu.
In the evening, we will embark on a night drive in search of one of Africa’s most sought-after birds, the Pennant-winged Nightjar. Witnessing a male Pennant-winged Nightjar fluttering up from the track, his regal pennants trailing behind him, is likely to be a highlight of the trip. Other possibilities include Spotted Thick-knee, Greyish Eagle-Owl, Northern White-faced Owl and Slender-tailed, Long-tailed and Swamp Nightjars. Nocturnal mammals which we may encounter include Leopard, Serval, White-tailed Mongoose, African Civet, Crested Porcupine, Blotched and Common Genets and Uganda Grass-Hare. Dinner and Overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 7: Murchison Falls NP to Masindi via the Butiaba Escarpment & Busingiro. After some final birding in Murchison Falls National Park, we begin our journey back to Masindi. En route we’ll make an effort to locate the rare Dusky Babbler and localised White-rumped Seedeater before arriving at the dry Butiaba Escarpment, at the head of the Albertine Rift Valley. This productive birding site may produce Namaqua Dove, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Black-billed Barbet, White-shouldered Black Tit, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Mocking Cliff Chat, Green-winged Pytilia, Foxy Cisticola, Little Weaver and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.
The dry scrub soon changes to moist rainforest as we again approach the Budongo Forest Reserve, this time at Busingiro. If time allows, we will bird a section of this forest where the elusive canopy-dwelling Ituri Batis is a possibility, and will make a concerted effort to find this and other species before continuing to Masindi where we will check into our now familiar hotel. Dinner and Overnight at Masindi Hotel (B, L, &D)
Day 8: Masindi to Kibale National Park. Today will be our longest travel day as we head south from Masindi to the expansive Kibale National Park. Our first birding stop will be in an area of rich farm bush where Red-headed Lovebird, African Yellow Warbler, Ross’s Turaco, African Blue Flycatcher, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Compact Weaver, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Brown Twinspot and the beautiful Grey-headed and White-collared Olivebacks may be found. Further on, papyrus swamps hold the stunning Papyrus Gonolek and skulking White-winged Swamp Warbler.
In the mid to late afternoon, we will reach the northern section of Kibale Forest known as Sebitole. Our target species will include Joyful Greenbul, Lowland Masked Apalis, Dusky Long-tailed and African Emerald Cuckoos (the latter fairly common and conspicuous at this site), Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Many-coloured and Lühder's Bushshrikes, Narrow-tailed and Chestnut-winged Starlings, Tiny and Blue-throated Brown Sunbirds and Dark-backed Weaver. Thereafter we will continue to Crater Safari Lodge for dinner & overnight (B, L, &D)
Day 9: Explore Kibale Forest National Park. The towering Kibale Forest has the highest primate concentration and species diversity of any reserve in East Africa. Primate highlights might include sightings of localised Central African Red Colobus, handsome L'Hoest's Monkey and the scruffy Grey-cheeked Mangabey. We will also embark on a Chimpanzee trek during the early morning hours, and our chances of finding these, our closest living relatives, are excellent! The birds are typical of medium-altitude forest, with mixed species flocks and specials such as Afep Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Blue-throated Roller, Narina Trogon, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, African Shrike-flycatcher, Scaly-breasted and Brown Illadopsis, Superb and Green-headed Sunbirds, Black-billed Turaco, Plain Greenbul, Chestnut Wattle-eye and Black-and-white Mannikin. If we are extremely fortunate we might spot the rare and globally threatened White-naped Pigeon. It is also here that we stand our best chance of finding the gorgeous Green-breasted Pitta, though we will require a good dose of luck and perseverance to find this stunning rainforest jewel! At night we may encounter Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos (more commonly known as bushbabies) and African Wood Owl. Dinner and overnight at Crater safari lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 10: Kibale NP to Queen Elizabeth NP. This morning we pay a visit to the birdy swamp forest and wetland habitat at the nearby Bigodi Wetland- “a bird sanctuary”. A number of good birds can be seen here, including Yellow-billed Barbet, rare Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, White-tailed Rufous Thrush, Honeyguide Greenbul, White-spotted Flufftail, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Grey-winged and Snowy-crowned Robin-Chats, Black-crowned Waxbill and Bocage’s Bushshrike. After lunch back at our lodge, we will bid farewell to these forests and head for the open savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After passing beautiful crater lakes and the foothills of the mighty Ruwenzori Mountains, we enter the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, formerly known as Kazinga National Park but renamed in the Queen’s honour after her visit in 1954. Our accommodations will be at Mweya Safari Lodge, situated on a peninsula between the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward and commanding a fabulous view of the animal-lined Kazinga Channel below. Birding around the lodge itself is rewarding, with resident spectacular species including Grey-headed Kingfisher, White-browed Robin-Chat, Grey-capped Warbler, Black-headed Gonolek, Brimstone Canary and Red-chested Sunbird. Dinner and overnight at Mweya safari lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 11: Queen Elizabeth NP: Kasenyi Track & Kazinga Channel boat cruise. We will spend time birding in the spectacular Crater area in the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains and the main game-viewing area along the Kasenyi track. The area can be particularly productive for raptors and species that will be the focus of our search include Rüppell's Vulture, Bateleur (one of Africa’s most spectacular raptors), Brown Snake Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Grey Kestrel. Queen Elizabeth National Park also offers a wonderful variety of grassland dominated habitats which hold Red-necked Spurfowl, Harlequin Quail, Kurrichane and the rarely encountered Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Crake, Temminck’s Courser, Senegal and Crowned Lapwings, the marsh-dwelling Black Coucal, Flappet, Rufous-naped, Red-capped and the scarce White-tailed Larks, Plain-backed Pipit, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Croaking, Red-faced, and Stout Cisticolas, Marsh Tchagra, Southern Red Bishop, flocks of Red-billed Quelea and Quailfinch while Black-lored Babbler, Greater Honeyguide and Red-billed Firefinch occur in the surrounding woodlands. A highlight of the tour is the launch trip on the Kazinga Channel, which allows a close approach to African Buffalo and Hippopotamus, as well as numerous waterbirds. Amongst many others, we hope to find African Skimmer (which sometimes flocks in large numbers here), Pink-backed and Great White Pelicans, White-breasted Cormorant, African Openbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Glossy Ibis, African Wattled Lapwing, Water Thick-knee, Grey-hooded Gull, White-winged and Gull-billed Terns, Swamp Flycatcher, Lesser Swamp Warbler and Winding Cisticola.
Mammals will also be a highlight in this area. Species we have a good chance of finding are Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Bushbuck, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog and the spectacular Giant Forest-Hog, the largest and undeniably ugliest pig on earth. Dinner and overnight at Mweya safari lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 12: Transfer from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Today we depart QENP and head for the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a bastion for gorilla conservation and a hotspot for Albertine Rift Endemics. If conditions allow, we will drive through the extensive southern Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park en route to Bwindi. A large collection of savanna bird and mammal species are likely to be seen, and we may be fortunate in sighting Ishasha’s famous tree-climbing Lions. The elusive Scaly Francolin is another species that we hope to find on this route, while along the Ishasha River, we have the opportunity to see Cassin’s Flycatcher, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, lounging Hippos and various raptors as they cruise overhead, oblivious to the international border that separates the DRC’s Virunga National Park from Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After a long drive, we will reach the headquarters of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at Buhoma, where we will be based for three nights. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to approximately 340 of the world population of 780 Mountain Gorillas. This vast reserve offers arguably some of the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species. Once part of a much larger forest that included the Virunga Volcanoes in neighbouring Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is now an ecological island within a sea of human cultivation and therefore of immense conservation importance. Buhoma lies in the valley of the Munyaga River at 5,100ft and is flanked by steep, forested hills. Excellent forest birding, not least the prospect of many rare and localised Albertine Rift endemics, makes this a true birding haven. Dinner and overnight at Buhoma lodge (B, L, &D)
Days 13 & 14: Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. From our comfortable base, those departing on an optional gorilla trekking adventure will search for a habituated family group of Mountain Gorilla. Spending an hour with these gentle giants is, without a doubt, one of the greatest wildlife experiences on Earth!
We will spend the balance of our time here birding the trails leading out from the camp. Species we will search for include Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Bar-tailed Trogon, Dusky Tit, Abyssinian (Kivu) Ground Thrush, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Equatorial Akalat, rare Grey-chested Babbler, Red-throated Alethe, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Willcocks’s Honeyguide, newly described Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Black-billed Weaver and Magpie Mannikin. High exposed perches in the open forest are favoured by African Goshawk, the dazzling Black Bee-eater, Sooty Flycatcher and forest starlings including Waller’s, Stuhlmann’s and Narrow-tailed.
One of Bwindi’s star avian attractions is the diminutive, pitta-like Neumann’s Warbler, a vocal yet very secretive bird! Other understorey birds we hope to see include displaying African Broadbill, Black-faced Prinia and the handsome Black-faced Rufous Warbler. The mid-storey and canopy support Elliot’s and Tullberg’s Woodpeckers, Cabanis’s, Kakamega and Ansorge’s Greenbuls, the enigmatic Chapin’s Flycatcher and White-browed Crombec. The rare Jameson’s Antpecker may also be seen probing under moss on dead branches or gleaning warbler-like in the canopy, while Scarce Swift forage over the forest. Birding at Buhoma is a truly magical experience! Other wildlife that we may be fortunate enough to find here includes Black-fronted and the huge Yellow-backed Duiker, Guereza Colobus, L’Hoest’s, Blue and Red-tailed Monkeys, Chimpanzee and several species of squirrels including Fire-footed Rope, Carruthers’ Mountain, Ruwenzori Sun and Red-legged Sun Squirrels. Dinner and overnight at Buhoma lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 15: Buhoma to Ruhija via The Neck. Although the distance is not great, we will spend a good portion of the day birding this route due to the superb species it provides. In scrubby areas beyond Buhoma, we will search for Red-throated Wryneck, Copper and Variable Sunbirds, Baglafecht, Black-necked and African Golden Weavers, Yellow Bishop, Village Indigobird and Black-throated Canary. Further along the road, we will pass through Kitahurira or “The Neck,” another well-known birding locality. Here we will search for species such as Black Sparrowhawk, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Cassin’s Honeybird, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, White-chinned Prinia, Mountain Wagtail, Pink-footed Puffback, the rare Tiny Sunbird and the attractive Brown-capped Weaver.
Even further up the road, cultivated areas provide feeding opportunities for many seedeaters. Our main targets here will be the highly sought-after Dusky Twinspot and Yellow-bellied and Kandt’s Waxbills. African Stonechat, Streaky and Thick-billed Seedeaters, Western Citril and Yellow-crowned Canary may also be found here. The noisy Chubb’s Cisticola will mock us from deep within the bracken, and the beautiful Doherty’s Bushshrike can be lured out from the dense vegetation. Mackinnon’s Shrikes survey the road from high, exposed perches.
Finally, we will reach the seldom-visited higher region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park known as Ruhija. The ranger station at Ruhija is situated at an altitude of 7,500 feet, and from our lodge nearby we will be able to enjoy the breathtaking views over Bwindi’s steep, forested valleys. If it is clear, we may even be able to see the distant Virunga Volcanoes that straddle the Uganda / Rwanda / DRC border. Ruhija is likely to be one of the highlights of any trip to Uganda with excellent birding in spectacular surroundings! Dinner and overnight at Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 16: Ruhija, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We will concentrate our birding on the trails to the unique Mubwindi Swamp and along the main access roads. This area is the most accessible site on Earth for the rare and localised Grauer’s Broadbill, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds. This globally threatened species is only known from two sites in the world, the other being a remote forest in eastern Congo. Carruthers’s Cisticola and the localised Grauer’s Swamp Warbler are resident in Mubwindi Swamp and if we are very fortunate we may see Red-chested Flufftail.
Today’s other target species include Mountain and Augur Buzzards, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, the furtive Handsome Francolin, African Olive Pigeon, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Western Tinkerbird, Olive Woodpecker, Thick-billed and the elusive Dwarf Honeyguide, Black Saw-wing, Grey Cuckooshrike, Olive-breasted and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Abyssinian Thrush, White-starred Robin, Archer's Ground Robin, Stripe-breasted Tit, Mountain Illadopsis, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Mountain Masked, Ruwenzori, and Chestnut-throated Apalises, Black-faced Rufous, Cinnamon Bracken, Mountain Yellow, Red-faced Woodland and Grauer’s Warblers, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Ruwenzori Batis, Mountain Sooty Boubou, the rare Lagden’s Bushshrike, Sharpe’s Starling, Mountain Oriole, Strange Weaver and Oriole Finch. Flowering trees attract the incredible Blue-headed, Regal and scarce Purple-breasted Sunbirds, all three being beautiful Albertine Rift Endemics. Dusky, Red-faced and the elusive Shelley’s Crimsonwings, amongst the most beautiful and desirable African seedeaters, are possible at Ruhija. At night we may search for Ruwenzori Nightjar and African Wood Owl, and if we are exceptionally fortunate, the rare Fraser’s Eagle-Owl may be seen. Dinner and overnight at Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 17: Ruhija to Lake Mburo National Park. After a spot of further birding at Ruhija, we will depart the montane rainforests and begin our journey to Lake Mburo to the north-east. Our long travel day will take us through the highlands, ravaged by the high human population density, before arriving at the Acacia woodlands and wetlands of Lake Mburo National Park for a two-night stay. En route, a stop at some of the remnant wetlands may yield the rare Papyrus Canary, Carruthers’s Cisticola or Little Rush Warbler before reaching the Lake Mburo area. A late afternoon drive may produce a variety of birds and mammals and we hope to see African Scops Owl. Dinner and overnight at Mihingo Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 18: Lake Mburo National Park. We will spend all of today birding in Lake Mburo National Park, a superb wetland and Acacia savanna sanctuary that hosts some very special species. Raptor watching will be a major feature of our day. Potentials include African Marsh Harrier, White-backed, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures, Brown Snake Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle. Lake Mburo’s woodlands are the northern-most example of the southern savanna system and are therefore home to several species at the edge of their range. Most sought-after of these is the elusive Red-faced Barbet, known only from remote north-eastern Tanzania, Rwanda, and here, while other specials include the aptly-named Long-tailed Cisticola and Green-capped Eremomela.
We will also search for Crested and Coqui Francolins, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Red-chested, Jacobin, Levaillant’s, and African Cuckoos, Blue-naped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Striped Kingfisher, Green Wood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Bearded and the uncommon Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, several swallows including Lesser Striped, Red-breasted, Mosque, Red-rumped and White-headed Saw-wing, Black Cuckooshrike, White-browed Scrub Robin, Trilling Cisticola, the meadowlark-like Yellow-throated Longclaw, Chinspot Batis, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Grey Penduline Tit, Arrow-marked Babbler, Brubru, Wattled Starling, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Marico Sunbird and Red-headed Weaver. A boat cruise on Lake Mburo may yield sightings of Black-crowned and the shy White-backed Night Heron, confiding African Fish Eagle, African Finfoot and Greater Swamp Warbler.
Mammals we may find include foraging groups of Banded and Dwarf Mongoose surveying the world from atop their adopted termite mounds, Plains Zebra, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Eland (the world’s largest antelope), Defassa Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Impala, Oribi, and Topi. Just outside the park, we will come across some of the world-famous long-horned Ankole cattle. Dinner and overnight at Mihingo Lodge (B, L, &D)
Day 19: Lake Mburo National Park to Entebbe and departure. After final early morning birding at Lake Mburo, we will make our way back to Entebbe. If time allows, we may visit an area of grassland en route to Entebbe where the beautiful, but vulnerable Blue Swallow might be found. A good site for hirundines, we may also encounter Angola, Barn and Grey-rumped Swallows and Banded Martin, while other avian possibilities include Quailfinch, Winding, Zitting and tiny Wing-snapping Cisticolas, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Marsh Harrier and Black-chested Snake Eagle. Patches of stunted woodland provide good cover for roosting Square-tailed Nightjar, and with luck, we may find one of these birds tucked in the leaf-litter. Once back in Entebbe, we may pay a quick visit to the extensive, 100-year-old Entebbe Botanical Gardens. A weaver-paradise, these gardens are often a good place to find the lovely Orange Weaver, while the agile African Hobby is sometimes seen perched on exposed snags.
As our amazing journey through Uganda comes to a close, we may check into a comfortable guesthouse in Entebbe to freshen up before our long flights home. Please note that the use of a day room is purely optional and if you wish to make use of one then it will be at your own expense. Later we will head to Entebbe International Airport for our final departure.
The Package Includes:
- All meals from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 19
- Bottled drinking water throughout the tour
- Accommodations as stated in the itinerary
- Ground transportation during the tour
- All boat excursions mentioned in the itinerary and
- All guiding services (including gratuities for local guides and services).
The tour fee does not include:
- ANY flights;
- Passport and visa fees;
- Airport departure taxes;
- The optional gorilla trek permit (see above);
- Any drinks;
- Special gratuities; and
- Telephone calls, laundry and other items of a personal nature.
As noted above, gratuities (drivers, hotel staff, restaurants etc.) are included on this tour. However, this does NOT include your East African Expeditions’ safari guide. If, therefore, you feel that he/they have given you excellent service, it is entirely appropriate to tip them.