UGANDA BIRDING and WILDLIFE TOUR
8-23 June 2023 15 Nights / 16 days
Route: Entebbe – Mabamba Swamps – Lake Mburo NP – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP – Queen Elizabeth NP – Kibale Forest – Royal Mile – Murchison Falls NP – Entebbe
Highlights: A variety of Africa’s finest scenery, many wonderful reptiles, butterflies and mammals and 500+ exciting bird species such as Shoebill, Green-breasted Pitta, Grauer’s Broadbill to name a few!
Group size: 6 participants plus 1 Tour Leader and our local guide
From the beginning to the end Uganda will have you in awe!
The “Pearl of Africa’ offers vibrant colours, amazing food and welcoming people. Uganda is a tapestry of landscapes from mountain ranges, to swamps, coffee plantations and grass plains.
This birding tour takes you to the richest birding areas in Uganda. The western part of the country is probably the richest with a vast range of bird species including the country’s twenty-five Albertine Rift endemics, restricted species from the Congo Forest, as well as a healthy number of lowland and montane forest species, aquatic species and many remarkable savanna residents.
Our tour starts and ends in Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. We will start off the tour with a bang and head to Mabamba Wetlands to find the most iconic bird of the trip, the Shoebill. From here we will head to Lake Mburo National Park where we will embark on a birding boat cruise and a game drive.
We will spend 4 nights in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, located in south-western Uganda, on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. Bwindi, covers an area of 33,000 hectares and is one of the largest areas in East Africa which still has Afromontane lowland forest extending to well within the montane forest belt. It is a biodiversity hotspot with possibly the greatest number of tree species for its altitude in East Africa, with over 200 species, 12 being known only from this forest, some 120 species of shrubs, more than 104 species of ferns and more than 1,000 flowering plants. It also hosts a rich diversity of fauna including a number of endemic butterflies, reptiles and one of the richest mammalian assemblages in Africa. Bwindi boasts a 360 bird species record with 23 out of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics.
We continue to travel north to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest and Budongo Forest for some of the unique Guinea-Congo biome species and eventually Murchison Falls National Park for more savanna residents.We will cover a multitude of habitats from lush rainforest, to wild savannas, to wetlands and swamps. The scenery is varied and arguably some of the finest in all of Africa, and the mammal experience will be just as amazing.
Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe
Upon your arrival you will be met and transferred to the guesthouse where you can spend the day relaxing and acclimatising. Today is considered an arrival day and no activities or meals have been scheduled.
The gardens here host a huge number of birds and butterflies and there are numerous comfy seats across the gardens where you can sit back and enjoy the views and sounds. Birds you can expect to see include African Grey Parrots, Meyer’s Parrots, Double-toothed Barbets, Ross’s Turaco, Woodland Kingfisher, various sunbird species, Eastern Plaintain Eaters, Black-headed Gonolek, African Thrush, Palmnut Vultures, etc.
Day 2: Mabamba Swamps and Botanical Gardens
After an early breakfast we will head to the Mabamba Wetlands about 50km west of Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is one of the few remaining swamps in Uganda protected by the local communities. This extensive papyrus swamp, with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons, is classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebills. This charismatic species, the only representative in its family, is certainly amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa and we will make a special effort today to find it. There will of course be a good selection of classic East-African water birds such as Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Goliath Heron, African Fish-Eagle, African Marsh-Harrier, Yellow-billed Duck, African Water Rail, Allen’s Gallinule, Malachite Kingfisher, Long-toed Plover, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue-headed Coucal, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Swamp Flycatcher, White-winged & Papyrus Yellow Warblers.
Other areas in and around Entebbe/Kampala may produce African Open-billed Stork, Grey Kestrel, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, African Green Pigeon, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher – maybe even the rare Weyn’s Weaver.
In the afternoon we head to the Entebbe Botanical Garden. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, Entebbe Botanical Garden is virtually on the Equator and covers an area of 40.7hectares. The habitat has attracted a diverse array of birds and monkeys. Amongst the 206 bird species we will look out for Orange Weaver, Golden and Yellow-backed Weavers, Double-toothed Barbet, Eastern Plaintain Eaters, Black-headed Gonolek, Grey Parrot, Superb Sunbird, various Cuckoo species, Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco.
In the evening the garden at our guesthouse is transformed into an open-air restaurant where we will enjoy our dinner under the star-lit African sky.
Day 3: Entebbe to Lake Mburo National Park
After breakfast we head to Lake Mburo National Park. The park features swamp-fringed lakes which provide an ideal habitat for birdlife, such as the Papyrus Gonolek and African Finfoot. Thanks to the well-established Acacia woodland this park offers the best chances to find a large number of savanna bird species and we will do a boat cruise and a wildlife birding drive in search of these species.
The park has about 313 different bird species including 8 of the 12 species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome that occur in Uganda, including the elusive Shoebill Stork and White-winged Warbler. Other species we will be looking for include Crested, Coqui, and Red-winged Francolins, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away bird, Harlequin and Blue Quails, Common Button Quail, Red-faced, White-headed and Black-billed Barbet, Greenwood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Blue-naped Mousebird, Blue-breasted and Shining-blue Kingfishers, Lilac-breasted Roller, African-grey Hornbill, Nubian, Buff-spotted, Brown-eared, and Grey Woodpeckers, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, African-wattled Plover, Rufous-naped and Flappet Lark, Rufous-chested Swallow ,Yellow-throated Longclaw, Black-winged Bishop, Trilling, Stout, Wing-snapping, Chubb’s, Carruther’s and a number of other Cisticolas, Lesser and Great Swamp Warblers, and many more.
Mammals that we might encounter include Hippo, Leopard, Eland, Topi, Bushbuck, Sitatunga, Common Duiker, Klipspringer, Oribi, Defassa Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Buffalo and Burchell’s Zebra
Day 4: Lake Mburo to Ruhija – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Today’s birding drive will take us to Ruhija, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is the Albertine Rift endemics capital of Uganda and, according to the African Birding Club, Africa’s number one birding spot. We will spend 2 nights in Ruhija (high elevation) and 2 nights at Buhoma (mid-elevation). During our time here we will keep an eye out for the following species: Grauer’s and African Broadbill, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced, Black-throated and Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-flycatcher, Ashy, Cassin’s Grey, Dusky-blue and Chapin’s Flycatcher, Chin-spot and Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-flycatcher, Pale-breasted and Mountain Illadopsis, African Hill- Babbler, Dusky Tit, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Sooty Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, White-naped Raven, Montane and African Golden Oriole, Stuhlmann’s, Narrow-tailed and Waller’s Starling, Strange, Brown-capped and Black-billed Weaver, Dusky and Shelly’s Crimson-wing, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed and Streaky Seedeater, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Wood-Owl, Red-chested Owlet, Rwenzori Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested and Black Bee-eater, (Western) Bronze-naped Pigeon, Tullberg’s and Elliot’s Woodpecker, Western Green Tinkerbird, Lagdens Bush Shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Archer’s Ground-Robin, Toro Olive-Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Kivu Ground-Thrush, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Grauer’s Rush-warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Neumann’s Warbler and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.
We will hopefully also encounter some of the primates and other mammals that occur here.We will arrive in the afternoon and depending on our ETA we may do some birding in the secondary forest and in and around the gardens. We will also keep an eye out for the localised Johnson’s three-horned Chameleon.
Day 5: Mubwindi Swamp
After breakfast we will hike down to Mubwindi Swamp in search of the rare and elusive Grauer’s Broadbill. The hike is approximately 10km there and back and the terrain is considered steep and muddy, so a moderate level of fitness is required. We will be birding along the way so the pace will be slow-going and we may be out the whole day. Porters are available for hire. Should you decide to skip this hike we can arrange an alternative birding activity for you.
Day 6: Ruhija to Bujoma via The Neck
After breakfast and some morning birding around Ruhija we will travel down towards Buhoma via “The Neck”. This afternoon we will do a birding walk in the secondary forest at Buhoma.
Day 7: Full day birding in Buhoma OR optional Gorilla Trekking
For those who would like to do Gorilla Trekking will be taken to the park’s headquarters for a briefing before the Gorilla Trekking begins. This activity may take anywhere between 1 and 8 hours, so a reasonable degree of fitness is required. It is a beautiful experience to stare into the eyes of these gentle giants. Watch them in awe as they play and go about their daily activities. It is indeed a “once in a lifetime” experience. Each encounter is different and has its rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngster frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. We advise taking a porter to help carry your backpack, which will have your lunchpack and at least 1.5 litres of water. They also help you up and down any steep or tricky terrain. Please note that the Gorilla Trekking is optional and attracts and extra cost of USD 700pp. Since there are only limited permits available, these should be booked and paid for as soon as possible to avoid any disappointment.
For those who wish to do birding instead will spend the day on a birding walk along the forest’s main birding trail where we will focus on mid-elevation rainforest specials.
Day 8: Bwindi to Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast and some morning birding around Buhoma we will continue to Queen Elizabeth National Park. We will bird through the Ishasha sector as we look out for the African Thrush, Ruppell’s Long-tailed Starling, Black-headed Gonolek, Slender-billed Weaver, Little Weaver, Black-headed Weaver, Grey-headed Sparrow, Red-headed Lovebird, Spur-winged Lapwing, African, Red-eyed and African Mourning Doves, Winding, Croaking and Zitting Cisticolas, and hundreds of other Savanna Species.
The Ishasha sector is famous for tree-climbing lions and we will definitely keep an eye out for them.
Day 9: Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast, we will have a morning wildlife and birding drive in the park. The core area of the reserve supports a wide range of Uganda’s natural habitats and landforms, including grassy plains, distinctive savanna woodlands, tropical forest, wetlands, rivers, swamps, lakes and volcanic craters. If visibility allows, we might enjoy views of the massive Rwenzoris as a backdrop.
Today’s targets include Rufous-naped, White-tailed, Red-capped and Flappet Lark, African and Jackson’s Pipit, Temminck’s Courser, Black-crowned, Senegal and Wattled Lapwings, Kittlitz’s Plover, Yellow-throated Longclaw, White-backed Vultures, Ruppell’s Griffon, Black-chinned and Black-faced Quail-finches and many more.
We will also look for Hippo, Elephant, Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Topi, Lion, Leopard, Civet, Serval and Spotted Hyena to name a few.
This afternoon we will embark on a cruise on the Kazinga Channel. This boat ride typically targets large congregations of birds and big mammals when they come down to cool off during the heat of the day. We should get good looks of African Fish Eagle, African Skimmer, Marabou Stork, Great White and Pink-backed Pelican, Great and Long-tailed Cormorant, Spoonbill, Yellow-billed, Open-billed, Marabou and Woolly-necked Storks, our first of the many Red-throated Bee-eaters and various gull, kingfisher and tern species. Mammals include Buffalo, Hippo, Elephant and various antelopes.
Day 10: Queen Elizabeth NP to Kibale National Park
Today we head to the spectacular Kibale Forest. After checking in at our guesthouse we will embark on an afternoon walk at Bigodi Wetland. The wetland is home to 200 species of birds, including highlights such as Papyrus Gonolek, Great Blue Turaco, Grey-headed Nigrita, African Grey Parrot and Hairy-breasted Barbet.
After dinner, if weather permits, we can do an optional night walk where we will look for Potto, Bush Babies, Spectacled Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos, Lord Derby’s Anomalure, African Civet, Kibale African Golden Cat, Common Genet, etc.
Day 11: Kibale National Park
Today will focus on birding in the morning for the Green-breasted Pitta followed by an optional Chimp Trekking experience in the afternoon.
A pre-dawn start is inevitable to get to the breeding site of the breath-taking Green-breasted Pitta. Other possible species to be seen may include Brown Illadopsis, Brown-capped Weaver, Brown-chested Alethe, Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, African/Rwenzori/Abyssinian Hill-Babbler, Alpine Swift, Ashy Flycatcher, Black Bee-eater, Black Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Black-and-white Mannikin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco, Black-billed Weaver, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black-headed Weaver, Black-necked Weaver, African Citril (Western Citril), Black-throated Apalis, Blue-shouldered Robinchat, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-throated Roller, African Blue Flycatcher, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Bronze Mannikin, Bronze Sunbird, etc.
We will head back to our lodge for lunch and a rest. For those who do not wish to do the optional Chimpanzee Trekking may join our guide for some leisurely road-side birding.
Day 12: Masindi
Today is mostly a travel day with some birding stops along the way as we head to the Budongo Forest.
Day 13: The Famous Royal Mile of Budongo Forest
Today we visit Budongo Forest which has a prolific birdlife with two species of birds not found elsewhere in East Africa; 10 of the 22 species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome and 93 of the 144 species Guinea–Congo Forests biome that occur in Uganda.
We bird the marvellous Royal mile and several other trails in search of Puvel’s Illadopsis, Nahan’s Francolin, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-throated Barbet, Honeyguide Greenbul, Chocolate–backed Kingfisher, White-headed Saw-wing, White Wagtail, Black-eared Ground-Thrush, Little Crake, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Lemon-bellied Crombec, African Moustached Warbler, Green-backed Eremomela, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, African Citril, African Golden-breasted Bunting, Black-crowned Waxbill, Bronze Mannikin, Black-billed Bluebill, Black-winged Red Bishop, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Fantailed Widowbird, Spectacled Weaver, Black-necked Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Compact Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Red-headed Weaver, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Purple Starling, Purple-headed Starling, Splendid Starling, Northern Puffback, Black-headed Gonolek, Tropical Boubou, Isabelline Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Western Violet-backed Sunbird and many more. With some luck we may even see some Chimpanzees and other primates that occur in these forests.
Day 14: Budongo Forest to Murchison Falls
We leave behind Budongo Forest and head to Murchison Falls National Park. Today’s drive will be a birding drive through the escarpment mainly targeting Brown Babbler, Mocking Cliff-Chat and Foxy Cisticola. Before reaching our lodge, we will stop at the top of Murchison Falls. The vista point at the top of Murchison Falls offers incredible views of the Victoria Nile rushing down the narrow gorge. Bare, rocky islets are favoured perches and breeding sites for Rock Pratincoles. The surrounding thick riverine forest is home to the magnificent White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Spotted Palm Thrush, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Purple banded Sunbird, etc.
From here we will continue on a birding wildlife drive to our lodge. The lodge offers impressive views over the majestic Nile River and sunsets here are quite something. The gardens are great for birding walks. Birds to look out for include Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Greyish Eagle Owl, White-headed and Spot-flanked Barbet, African Pygmy Kingfisher and many more.
Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest national park and is famous for its big game and spectacular scenery. The park features a range of habitats ranging from riverine woodland, wetland, savannah, tropical forest, Borassus palms and acacia trees. It is home to 76 mammal species and approximately 451 bird species.
Day 15: Murchison Falls National Park
This morning we will embark on a morning bird cruise to the Lake Albert Delta, a key area for birdwatchers. Its papyrus-lined banks are bursting with bird life, including Purple Heron, Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Shoebill,Woolly-necked and Yellow-billed Stork, Grey Crowned Crane, African Darter, Hamerkop, Spur-winged Geese, Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eater, various Kingfisher species, African Swamphen, African Jacana, Long-toed and Spur-winged Lapwings, Senegal Thick-knee, Wire-tailed Swallow, etc.
This afternoon we will do a game drive through the park. On the mammal front we should see Bushbuck, Rothschild’s Giraffe, African Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Oribi, Elephant, Leopard, Side-striped Jackal, Hyena, Lion, Defassa Waterbuck, Lelwel Hartebeest, Patas Monkey, Tantalus Monkey, Olive Baboon, Hippo, Nile Crocodile, etc.
Birds we will be looking for include Silverbird, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Striped Kingfisher, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbirds, Foxy Cisticola, Black Bishop, Northern and Black-winged Red Bishops, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Tropical Boubou, Grey-crowned and Black-crowned Tchagras, Black-billed and White-headed Barbets, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Lesser Striped Swallow, Ethiopian Swallow, Angola Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Rufous-chested Swallow, Thrush Nightingale, Pied Wheatear, Whinchat, Common Redstart, White-fronted Black Chat, Sooty Chat, Isabelline Wheatear, Common Bulbul, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Black, White-breasted, and Red-shouldered Cuckoo Shrikes, Black and Penduline Tits, Arrow-marked, Black-lored and Brown Babblers, Nubian Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Honeyguide, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Black Scimitarbill, Green Wood Hoopoe, a number of Buzzards, Barbets, Rollers, Harriers, Vultures, Eagles, Bee-eaters, Warblers, etc.
Day 16: Murchison Falls NP to Entebbe and depart
After breakfast we will head back to Entebbe with lunch packs and a few birding stops enroute. Our guide will drop us off at the airport.
Cost per person sharing: USD 5,990.00
Single Supplement: USD 510.00
The cost is based on a group of 6 participants and a Batis Birding Safaris Tour Leader
- Airport transfers
- Meals and accommodations as per above itinerary
- Vehicle, fuel and local guide
- Safe drinking water throughout the tour
- Park Fees and Government taxes
- Specialised English-speaking Bird Guide (one of the best in East Africa)
- Batis Birding Safaris Tour Leader
- Gratuities for hotels and local site guides and rangers
- Mabamba Swamp Boat Cruise
- Entrance fees to Entebbe Botanical Gardens
- Birding cruise and game drive in Lake Mburo National Park
- Full day Birding Walk to Mubwindi Swamp
- Full day Birding Walk at Buhoma
- Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise and Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Bigodi Wetlands Community Walk
- Morning Birding Walk in Kibale Forest
- Full day Birding Walk in Budongo Forest
- Private Birding Cruise to Lake Albert Delta and Game Drive in Murchison Falls NP
- International and domestic flights
- Medical evacuation or travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, mini bar, room service, phone calls, purchases, etc.
- Optional tips for the tour leader
- Optional Gorilla Tracking Permit @ USD 700.00pp (as these are limited, they need to be booked and paid for well in advance. Availability cannot be guaranteed)
- Optional Chimpanzee Tracking Permit @ USD 200.00pp (as these are limited, they need to be booked and paid for well in advance. Availability cannot be guaranteed)
- Optional Night Walk at Kibale @ USD 40.00pp (this cannot be pre-booked / pre-paid as it is weather-depending)
- Tips for luggage porters
- Porters are available to hire to assist during long walks. Please note that their fees and gratuities are not included.
- Any additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
Arrival and Departure Days:
Day 1 (08.06) is considered an arrival day and due to flights arriving at all hours of the day and night we have not booked any meals or activities for this day. Should you land in the early hours of this day, we may need to book a room for the night of the 07th at an extra cost.
Day 16 (23.06) includes breakfast and lunch. Please be sure to book your flight departing no earlier than 18:00. If your flight departs during the night, we can book a day room for you at an additional cost. If you wish to spend another night and only depart the next day, we can book another night and meals for you at an extra cost.
The vehicle is a modified Land Cruiser with a pop-up roof and 7 passenger seats. Each person will have his/her own window seat. Please note that space is limited and we kindly request that your luggage consists of a small duffle bag as these are easier to pack. Laundry services will be available throughout the tour.
Terms & Conditions
- The costs quoted are subject to unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted
- Rates are based upon group tariffs and should the tour not have sufficient registrations a small party supplement will have to be charged
- Due to unforeseen circumstances, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary at short or no notice; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as close to the original program as possible.
- You must please take out, prior to confirming the booking, comprehensive travel-, medical-, evacuation-, cancellation-, curtailment- and default insurance for the duration of your trip. Due to the remote areas through which you may travel, it is vital that all guests are covered for emergencies and other unforeseen circumstances. We will not be held responsible for guest travelling without insurance.
- The relevant cancellation policy applies should you fail to start your journey for any reason, including airline delays or missed connections. Please ensure you have adequate travel insurance for this purpose. You become liable for cancellation penalties immediately on confirmation of booking services.
- Passports must be valid (usually for at least 6 months after date of travel) and still have at least 3 blank visa (not endorsement) pages.
- All visa requirements must be fulfilled and these are your responsibility. If you have any queries about obtaining visas, please contact us.
- 50% non-refundable deposit is due on confirmation and the balance 45 days before departure.