The pearl of Africa.
Birds: 370- 400 species
Uganda is one of the richest countries in Africa for birds, with over a thousand species being recorded. This diversity results from Uganda’s position on the Equator at the crossroads of the plains of East Africa and the rain forests which dominate much of West Africa. It is a country of varied and beautiful landscapes with forests, natural lakes and the source of the Nile. Our tour takes in the premier regions for birds including the Impenetrable Forest at Bwindi. This remote region holds several Albertine Rift endemic species in Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Kivu Ground Thrush and Red-faced Woodland Warbler. It is, however, probably the best area for the rare and endangered Mountain Gorilla. Our tour also visits papyrus beds to search for the enigmatic Shoebill and other birds sharing this unique habitat, notably Papyrus Gonolek and White-winged Warbler. This trip to ‘The Pearl of Africa’ is bound to produce a long bird list as well as close sightings of primates and mammals.
Day 1: Arrival to Entebbe in Uganda and transfer to Hotel Africana BB
Day 2: An afternoon excursion to Entebbe Botanical Gardens adjacent to Lake Victoria, an area dominated by huge trees some being festooned with hanging creepers and flowers. Raptors present include Gabar Goshawk, Lizard Buzzard and African Harrier Hawk. The larger trees attract Great Blue and Ross’s Turacos, Black and White Casqued, Piping and Crowned Hornbills. Our main Â interest is the riverine trees where we have a chance of Orange-tufted, Green-throated and Red-chested Sunbirds and a range of weavers. The latter comprise Slender-billed, Orange, Northern Brown-throated, Jackson’s Golden-backed and Yellow-backed.
Day 3: Today we visit Mabamba village and its adjacent swamp, a maze of channels and lagoons. The entrance road winds its way through areas of secondary forest and agricultural land attracting Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Madagascar Bee-eater, Red-headed Lovebird, African Pied, and Crowned Hornbills, Black-necked and Weyn’s Weavers and a range of sunbirds including Green-headed, Green, Red-chested, Collared, Marico and Scarlet-chested. The road eventually ends at a papyrus reedbed adjoining Lake Victoria. From hand-paddled boats we explore a maze of channels and mud flats for the majestic Shoebill, African Marsh Harrier, African Pygmy Goose, Black Crake, Purple Swamphen, Allen’s Gallinule, African and, more rarely, Lesser Jacanas, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding and Carruther’s Cisticolas, Papyrus Gonolek and White-winged Warbler. Mammals are scarce in the swamp but should include the endearing Spot-necked Otter. Later in the day, we transfer to Mbarabara for a two-night stay. Our journey takes us through agricultural land and huge areas of papyrus reedbeds. Telegraph wires attract Lilac-breasted Rollers whilst roadside birds include Black-shouldered Kite and Long-crested Eagles.
Day 4: A full day exploring the delights of Lake Mburo National Park, an area of wetlands and acacia forests. We enter through the village of Sanga, an exceptional area for birds. Common species include African Green Pigeon, White-browed Coucal, Grey-backed Fiscal, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling and Ruppell’s Glossy Starling, and Copper Sunbirds. A small marsh may harbour Black Crake and, nearby, Brown-headed Parrot, Woodland Kingfisher and Black-lored Babblers. Grassy fields scattered with acacia trees lure Senegal and the rare Brown-chested Lapwing, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, frican Moustached Warbler, Northern Crombec and White-winged Black Tit. In the park itself an exploration of tracks and eed-lined swamps may produce Dwarf Bittern, Yellow-billed Duck, Nubian Â Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Spot-flanked and Black-collared Barbets. At Nshara Gate a large seasonal marshland has African Open bill,Sacred Ibis, Wattled Lapwing, African Water Rail, Greater Painted-snipe, Three-banded Plover and Malachite Kingfisher. Further along the track, drier areas attract Red-necked Spurfowl, Crested and Coqui Francolins, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Red-faced, Winding and Croaking Cisticolas, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Golden-breasted Buntings. As dusk falls, we have a chance of the impressive Pennant-winged Nightjar hunting for insects. We have a chance of mammals in Vervet Monkey, Burchell’s Zebra and Impala.
Day 5: Travel to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park straddling the border with Congo. Our journey takes us to Kabale and over highlands reaching almost 2500 metres. Specialties of this region include Augur Buzzard, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Black-crowned Waxbill, Thick-billed Seedeater and Chubb’s Cisticola. The last species sings in duets from exposed branches. We eventually reach Bwindi, a huge montane forest holding 23 of the 24 Albertine Rift Endemics. Three nights at Buhoma tented camp.
Days 6-7: On one morning you have the option of tracking Mountain Gorillas or birding along the main track. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is exceptionally rich in forest species restricted to the Albertine Rift covering Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Walking along forest trails is a wonderful natural experience with hundreds of colorful butterflies and areas of streams and tumbling waterfalls. Bwindi offers some of the best forest birding in Africa. The campgrounds before the main track attract Black Sawwing, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Black and White Shrike and African Blue Flycatchers, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Luhder’s Bush-shrike, Mountain Greenbul, Black-billed Weaver, Variable Sunbird and Grey-crowned Negrofinch. On the main track itself we enter the forest proper as it passes under huge trees and areas of lichen-lined trunks. Another track takes us to the waterfall trail, a reliable area for Red-throated Alethe, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher and Kivu Ground Thrushes. Other species recorded along the main track include Crested Guineafowl, Black and Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eaters, Bronze-naped Pigeon, Gabon and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, Red-fronted Antpecker, Yellow-throated, Yellow-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds, Grey-throated and Yellow-spotted Barbets, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Equatorial Akalat, White-tailed Crested-flycatcher, Sooty Flycatcher, Stuhlmann’s, Narrow-tailed and Waller’s Starlings, Slender-billed, Plain, Little, Shelley’s and Yellow Whiskered and Red-tailed Greenbuls, Green-throated Sunbird and Brown-capped Weaver. On another day we walk the Muzabajiro Loop Trail for Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Handsome Francolin, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Crowned Hornbill, Yellow-billed Barbet, African Hill Babbler, Forest Ground Thrush, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Narrow-tailed Starling, Strange Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe and White-collared Olive-back. We also have a chance of locating primates in L’Hoest’s Gentle and Red-tailed Monkeys and troops of Chimpanzees.
Day 8: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, birding en route. Our journey takes us through the southern sector of the park, a wild area of savanna and forest. At Ishasha, a remote campground, we look for Black Cuckoo-shrike, Yellowbill, Cassin’s Flycatcher and African Firefinch. The Â road passes pools with Red-billed Duck, Hottentot Teal and Greater Painted-snipe. We eventually reach the Kazinga Channel, linking Lake George and Lake Edward, and our base at Mweya Safari Lodge, an idyllic location set in its own grounds. Two night stay at Mweya.
Day 9: We have a full day exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park and the northern sector, an area of savanna, bush, river and lake habitats. The hotel gardens have Grey-headed Kingfisher, Swamp Flycatcher, Black-headed Gonolek, Grey-capped Warbler, Slender-billed Weaver and Brimstone Canary. This morning we take an early morning game drive towards the famous Kasenyi Track, winding through grassland dotted with trees and nearby crater lakes. Our main aim is to locate Lions and other mammals including Hartebeest,Water Buffalo, Ugandan Kob, Oribi, Waterbuck, Bushbuck and family groups of African Elephants. Along the road we should find reasonable numbers of Scaly Francolin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Senegal, Crowned and Wattled Lapwings, Harlequin Quail and Common Button-quail. Larks are numerous and comprise Rufous-naped, Flappet and the locailsed White-tailed Lark. Raptors we aim to locate include Lappet-faced and White-backed Vultures, Martial Eagle, Banded and Brown Snake Eagles and Bateleur. Wet grassland may hold Broad-tailed and African Moustached Warblers, Trilling and Croaking Cisticolas, Marsh Tchagra, Fawn-breasted and Crimson-rumped Waxbills. Acacia trees are home to Black-headed Batis, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike and Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrikes. In the afternoon we embark on a boat trip down the Kazinga Channel. This is an incredible area for water birds with close views of Pink-backed Pelican, Saddle-billed Stork, amerkop, African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Water Thick-knee, African Skimmer and over-summering Palearctic waders, notably Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit. After dinner we have a night drive along the airstrip searching for Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, owls and Temminck’s Coursers.
Day 10: Fort Portal is our destination and the nearby Kibale Forest. Our main birding stop is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary run by local people for the benefit of the nearby village. Bigodi comprises agricultural land, papyrus and swamp forest. Specialist birding guides take us through several habitats along trails and a marshland boardwalk. The more open areas have African Goshawk, Black and White Casqued Hornbills, Blue-throated Roller, Great Blue Turaco, Yellow-billed, Double-toothed, Grey-throated and Hairy-breasted Barbets and Red-headed Malimbe. We have good possibilities Â of locating White-spotted Flufftail, Papyrus Gonolek, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, White-winged Warbler, Blue-headed Coucal and Papyrus Canary from the boardwalk. Weedy areas lure Red-faced Cisticola, Black-crowned Waxbill and White-collared Oliveback. Overnight stay at Fort Portal.
Day 11: After breakfast we head towards Masindi along a maintained dirt road. An agricultural area close to a small village offers us the chance of Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Lesser Honeyguide, Brown-crowned and Â Black-headed Tchagras, Green-throated and Purple-banded Sunbirds. As we approach Masindi, forest patches may produce Grey Woodpecker, White Helmetshrike, Red-headed Lovebird and African Grey Parrot. Overnight at Masindi.
Day 12: A pre-dawn start in order to arrive at Budongo Forest and the Royal Mile, a pristine forest reserve. Before entering the forest, we should see groups of White-thighed Hornbills. Our main interest is locating forest species either on the forest floor or in the giant trees. We have good chances of locating Dwarf Kingfisher, Grey Apalis, Forest Robin, Red-capped Robin-chat and Red-crested Malimbe. Rarer species include Nathan’s Francolin and isolated populations of Yellow-footed Flycatcher and Puvel’s lladopsis. Later in the morning a stop at a forest section may produce the highly localised Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. As we pass through the forest, we find colonies of Yellow-backed Weaver and Viellot’s Black Weavers, Black and White Casqued Hornbills and primates including Olive Baboon. We eventually drop down into the Rift Valley with views of Lake Albert and the Congo. The habitat changes and we may locate Hamerkop, Hadada Ibis, Brown and Banded Snake Eagles, White-bellied Go-away-bird,Broad-billed Roller, Red-winged Grey Warbler and Brown-throated Wattle-eye. Reaching the Nile, we come across Pied Kingfishers, Wire-tailed Swallows and Black and White-headed Sawwings. At Paraa we take a ferry across the Victoria Nile for a three-night stay at Paara Safari Lodge.
Day 13: Today we cruise up the Victoria and Albert Nile towards Lake Albert itself, a haven for waterbirds. We should record Goliath and Purple Herons, Saddle-billed Stork, African Openbill, Long-toed Lapwing, Senegal Thick-knee and Blue-breasted Bee-eaters. Riverside banks and trees attract colourful Northern Carmine, Swallow-tailed and Madagascar Bee-eaters. At lunchtime we visit a safari camp adjacent to the river where garden birds include African Pygmy Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated Greenbul and Beautiful Sunbird. The river itself offers further opportunities to search for Shoebill and Goliath Heron. Nearby thorn savanna holds Grey Kestrel, Vinaceous Dove,Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike and Western Violet-backed Sunbirds. Seedeaters can be numerous with Black-rumped, Fawn-breasted and Black-faced Waxbills and Brown winspot present. Mammals occurring at Murchison include Giraffe, Hartebeest, Oribi, Bushbuck, Waterbuck and up to four species of mongoose. The Nile itself has healthy populations of Nile Crocodile and Hippopotamus.
Day 14: A whole day exploring the delights of Murchison with its abundant bird and mammal life. Common birds around the hotel include Ruppell’s Glossy Starling, Violet-backed Starling, African Grey Hornbill and White-bellied Go-away-birds. Travelling along dirt tracks provides us with close views of Crested and Heuglin’s Francolins, Black-bellied Bustards, Little Bee-eater, Piapiac, and Flappet Lark, whilst the taller trees attract Striped Kingfisher, Black Scimitarbill, Black-billed Barbet, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike, Bronze-tailed Starling and Speckle-fronted Weaver. Red-necked Falcons and parties of wandering Abyssinian Ground Hornbills prefer areas of palms. Stunted bushes have the attractive Silverbird and grassy areas near the river host Grey-crowned Crane, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Black-headed Lapwing, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Red-billed and Bar-breasted Firefinches. In the afternoon we cross the river to visit the top of Murchison waterfall. The main track has Sooty Chat and Yellow-mantled Widowbird, The Nile at Murchison Falls is forced into a narrow gully before plunging down into a section of the Victoria Nile. Rocky outcrops attract Rock Pratincole, African Pied Wagtail and mixed flocks of White-headed Sawwing, Horus Swift and Rufous-breasted Swallows. A nearby outlook is reliable for Palmnut Vultures and African Harrier Hawks. Several trails run through the area with Heuglin’s Robin Chat and Yellow-throated Leaflove. As dusk approaches, thousands of bats leave their daytime roost making easy pickings for Bat Hawks and Wahlberg’s Eagles. On our return to Paraa, nocturnal birds become active and include Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Plain, Long-tailed and Pennant-winged Nightjars.
Day 15: After breakfast we travel back to Kampala via Masindi. If time permits, we can visit the forest reserve of Mabira near the capital.
End of service
Tour Price: US$4,790 Single room occupancy: $575
Not included: drinks, insurance and items of a personal nature. Visa to enter Uganda.
If you wish to track gorillas, the current permit costs US$500.00 which includes entrance fees and guidance. Please advise us when you book if you wish to take this option. Permits are limited and should be purchased six months in advance of your visit.
This holiday is fully inclusive of :accommodation, meals, transport, boat trips, entrance and permit fees, guidance, tips and taxes.Luxury accommodation at Kampala, Murchison and Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Comfortable and clean at Mbarara, Masindi and Fort Portal. Tented camp accommodation at Bwindi with each unit having its own shower and flashing toilet. set in beautiful natural surroundings. Food is of an Â international standard although more African-based at Bwindi and Mbarara.Transport by minibus and 4×4 throughout. Short to medium walks in savanna habitat, occasionally in forests over undulating terrain.
Stout non-slip footwear recommended. Please note that tracking primates involves walking up steep inclines on often-muddy trails and tracks.