Uganda

UGANDA –NATURAL HISTORY TOUR

15-29 August 2022 14 Nights / 15 days

Route: Entebbe – Mabamba Swamps – Lake Mburo NP – Bwindi Inpenetrable NP – Queen Elizabeth NP Kibale Forest NP – Murchison Falls NP – Entebbe

Highlights: Shoebill, Mountain Gorilla, Common Chimpanzee, 380+ of Africa’s most striking birds, Three-horned chameleons, Africa’s most impressive butterflies, tree-climbing lions and many more wonderful fauna & flora 15 DAYS UGANDA NATURAL HISTORY

Introduction :

From the beginning to the end Uganda will have you in awe!

The “Pearl of Africa’ offers vibrant colours, amazing food and welcoming folk. Uganda is a tapestry of landscapes from mountain ranges, to swamps, coffee plantations and grass plains.

The tour starts and ends in Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. An early arrival allows for birding at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. The next day proceeds to find the most iconic bird of this trip the Shoebill. We spend the morning in the Mabamba Wetlands before proceeding to Lake Mburo National Park.

The tour continues to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, 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, birds, reptiles and one of the richest mammalian assemblages in Africa.

We continue to travel north to the Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale Forest for some of the unique Guinea-Congo biome species and to 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.

Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe Today is only an arrival day.

You will be collected from the airport and transferred to the guest house where you can relax and acclimatise after your long flight.

Day 2: Mabamba Swamps and Entebbe 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’ll make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels by canoe. 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, Blueheaded 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.

We will head to the Entebbe Botanical Garden in the late afternoon for some birding and bird photography. 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 Yellowbacked Weavers, Double-toothed Barbet, Eastern Plaintain Eaters, Black-headed Gonolek, Grey Parrot, Superb Sunbird, Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco.

Day 3: Entebbe – Lake Mburo National Park

After breakfast we head to Lake Mburo National Park Lake Mburo National Park is home to 350 bird species as well as Zebra, Impala, Eland, Buffalo, Oribi, Defassa Waterbuck, Leopard, Hippo, Hyena, Topi and Reedbuck.

Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. Once covered by open savanna, Lake Mburo National Park now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.

We will do a boat cruise in the afternoon and an optional night drive after dinner.

Day 4: Lake Mburo – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park- A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Today we head to the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where we will spend the next three nights.

Bwindi is a magical forest and, as mentioned before, a biodiversity hotspot! Some of the mammal species include African Elephant, numerous bat species, at least 20 shrew species, Side-striped Jackal, Congo Clawless Otter, Honey Badger, African Civet, African Golden Cat, Bushpig, Forest Hog, Bushbuck, Yellow-backed and Black-fronted Duiker. Primates include Eastern Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, L’Hoests Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, Blue Monkey, Western black-and-white Colobus, Green Monkey, Olive Baboon plus the small nocturnal Prosimians Potto, Demidoff’s Dwarf Galago and the Spectacled Lesser Galago.

The Park is an Important Bird Area and lies within one of the world’s Endemic Bird Areas. 348 species of birds have been recorded of which 75 are of restricted-range. 23 of the 36 endemics are Albertine Rift endemics and 12 species occur only in Bwindi.

Of the 27 amphibian species 11 are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Of the 14 snake species, 9 are endemic to Bwindi. There are also 6 species of chameleon and 14 species of lizard that inhabit this forest.

The forest may also be the most important in Africa for the conservation of montane butterflies. 220 species occur here of which 8 species are Albertine Rift endemics.

We will have the afternoon at leisure. Enjoy observing birds, butterflies and primates from the decks of the rooms and main building overlooking the forest.

Day 5: Gorilla Trekking

After an early breakfast we will report to the park headquarters for briefing prior to the gorilla trekking excursion. This activity may take anywhere between 1 hour and 8 hours so a reasonable degree of fitness is required. It is a wonderful 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 “life changing” experience that you must never miss. 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 youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.

Day 6: Buhoma – Bwindi

After breakfast we will head into a different part of the forest where we will look for the many species of reptiles, mammals, birds and insects that inhabit this magical forest. We will take a relaxed hike up to the waterfalls. After our picnic lunch we will slowly head back to the lodge where we can enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Apart from birding and enjoying the scenery from the deck you could also visit the Buhoma Community village for beautiful craft shopping and interacting with the locals. The path leading to the park provides for a wonderful birding walk.

Day 7: Bwindi to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Today we head to Queen Elizabeth National 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.

Mammal species living here include Hippo, Elephant, Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Topi, Lion, Leopard, Civet, Serval, Spotted Hyena, 10 primate species to name a few. The park hosts over 600 bird species.

As we drive through the Ishasha sector we will keep an eye out for the famous tree-climbing lions.

Day 8: Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, we will have a morning game drive around the park. The fact that Queen Elizabeth National Park has a diverse range of habitats ranging from savanna to rain forest, from dense papyrus swamps and brooding crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward is a major contribution to the fact that it boasts one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game park or reserve in the world. Therefore, while on the game drive, with the massive Rwenzoris as a backdrop, we stand excellent opportunities to find many of the wildlife species that inhabit the park.

In the afternoon we will embark on a cruise along the Kazinga Channel. The Kazinga channel is about 32km long adjoining Lake Gorge to Lake Edward. It has the perfect view of the parks’ major wildlife ventures. The shores of the lake attract a large concentration of mammals, birds as well as reptiles all year around.

Day 9: 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. A plethora of spectacular butterflies occur here as well as 8 species of primates.

Day 10: Kibale National Park

Today’s optional activities include a morning Green-breasted Pitta & birding walk, afternoon Chimpanzee Trek and/or a night walk.

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, Brownchested Alethe, Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Redchested 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, Zebra Waxbill, Bronze Sunbird, etc.

For those who like to do the Chimpanzee trekking can do so in the afternoon. Other primates to keep an eye out for include Guereza Colobus, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s and Red-tailed Monkeys. Antelopes such as Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Peter’s Duikers are some of the shyer inhabitants of the forest interior.

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.

The butterflies will have you in awe and we will hopefully be lucky enough to find a Rhinoceros and Gaboon Viper.

Day 11: Kibale Forest – Murchison Falls

We leave behind the awe-inspiring Kibale Forest and head to Murchison Falls National Park. Today will mostly be a travelling day with a few birding stops en-route. We will visit the impressive Murchison Falls before checking in at our accommodation. 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.

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.

Day 12: Murchison Falls National Park

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. We will spend the whole day exploring the park in search of wildlife and impressive birds such as Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Silverbird and a number of sunbirds and woodpeckers to name a few.

Mammals are well represented here, and 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, etc.

Day 13: Murchison Falls National Park

We will spend another morning exploring this beautiful park. After lunch we will head to the Nile River and embark on an afternoon boat cruise to the bottom of the Murchison Falls. Elephants, hippos, crocodiles, buffalos and various primates are just some of the larger game that can be observed from the boat.

Day 14: Murchison Falls – Entebbe

After some early morning birding around the gardens we will embark on our journey back to Entebbe. We will make a concerted effort to find the White-crested Turaco today should we have dipped on it so far. We will do our PCR tests before checking in at our guesthouse.

Day 15: Departure Day

Please let us know if you have a late departure so that we can arrange a day room for you. The cost for the day room is not included. We would also be happy to help arrange any optional activities you might want to do on this day. The transfer to the airport is included.

Cost: USD 4,300.00 per person sharing Single Supplement: USD 430.00

Please note that the cost is based on a group size of 6 clients plus the Tour Leader. Should we not be able to fill all 6 seats a small surcharge will be added.

 

Cost Includes:

Airport transfers

All accommodation and meals as specified

All park fees and government taxes

Mabamba Swamp boat cruise

Birding & Nature Walk at Buhoma

Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Kazinga Channel boat cruise

Lake Mburo boat cruise

Bigodi Wetlands birding & primate walk

Murchison Falls game drives and boat cruise.

4×4 Safari Vehicle And Fuel

Local guide

Specialised Natural History Guide

Drinking water throughout

Rangers and Site Guides

 

Cost Excludes:

International flights and visas

Gratuities

Drinks

Medical evacuation or travel insurance

Laundry Items of a personal nature

Any Covid-related expenses

The following optional activities:

Gorilla Trekking: USD 700.00pp

Chimpanzee Trekking: USD 200.00pp

Night Drive at Lake Mburo NP: USD 30.00pp

Night Walk at Kibale NP: USD 40.00pp

Pitta & birding walk at Kibale: USD 70.00pp

 

Terms & Conditions

The costs quoted are subject to unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted

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.