Day 1. Arrival and birding Entebbe
Our Uganda birding tour starts with our arrival in Entebbe. Time permitting we can do some birding around the garden city of Entebbe, away from the hustle and bustle of Kampala. Entebbe is on the shores of Africa’s greatest lake, Lake Victoria, and we may have the chance to bird the grounds of our hotel, the beautiful botanical gardens, and other sites. The town has many specials including African Hobby, striking Black-headed Gonolek, Broad-billed Roller, a plethora of weavers, and a host of others. Overnight: Boma Guest House, Entebbe, or similar. You will already start getting a good sampling of Uganda’s massive bird diversity.
Overnight: Boma Guest House, Entebbe
Day 2. Mabamba Swamp, Lake Mburo National Park
We embark on a morning boat trip on Mabamba Swamp, likely the world’s most famous site for Shoebill. We should also see a great variety of other birds on the lake, including Lesser Jacana, lapwings, several water-associated weavers, and Red-chested Sunbird (also usually near water). We might find specials such as Orange Weaver, the massive and weird Great Blue Turaco, the beautiful Ross’s Turaco, Eastern Plantain-eater, Double-toothed Barbet, and many others. In the afternoon we leave for Lake Mburo National Park. Birding and wildlife viewing here is a delightful experience and one of the highlights of a birding trip to Uganda. We look for birds such as the highly localized (a small part of Uganda and nearby Tanzania) Red-faced Barbet, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, African Finfoot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Tropical Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, and Golden-breasted Bunting. We could also encounter numerous mammals such as Eland, Zebra, Impala, Bohor Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Topi, Defassa Waterbuck, Common Duiker, Buffalo, Hippo, and many others. Overnight: Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo National Park, or similar.
Day 3. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
We head to the beautiful Mgahinga Gorilla National Park bordering on Rwanda. Here, we begin our birding of the fabled Albertine Rift, which is full of endemic birds. At Mgahinga we look specifically for birds often missed on standard Uganda birding tours. The aim of this specific tour is to maximize the number of Albertine Rift endemics seen, and Mgahinga offers the only opportunity for Ruwenzori Turaco, a must-see turaco since it is in its own genus, and extremely localized. We also search for the critically endangered Shelley’s Crimsonwing here – but sightings of this species are sadly becoming rarer. Overnight: Travellers’ Rest Hotel, Kisoro, or similar.
Day 4. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
A full day at Mgahinga, where the backdrop of the Virunga Volcanoes enhances the birding experience. Overnight: Travellers’ Rest Hotel, Kisoro, or similar.
Day 5. Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, birding Ruhija
We drive to the high altitude Ruhija section of the fabulous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, arguably Africa’s greatest forest for birds (and gorillas), looking for Albertine Rift endemics en route. This is a sprawling forest covering beautiful hills. Overnight: Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija, or similar.
Day 6. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding Mubwindi Swamp
After breakfast we spend the whole day doing a strenuous uphill walk to Mubwindi Swamp, where we look for African Green Broadbill and other species such as Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, African Hill Babbler, Mountain Illadopsis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, Mountain Masked Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Ruwenzori Apalis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Ruwenzori Batis, Bar-tailed Trogon, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds, among others, and Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, an amazingly localized in its limited habitat. Overnight: Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija, or similar.
Day 7. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding The Neck and Buhoma
We bird en route to the Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We travel via “The Neck”, a well-known birding area. On our way we are looking out for species such as Augur Buzzard, Ross’s Turaco, Cinnamon-chested and Black Bee-eaters, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Grey-throated Barbet, Red-throated Wryneck, African Grey Woodpecker, Mountain Wagtail, Red-tailed Greenbul, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Mountain Masked Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Black-and-White Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, African Blue Flycatcher, several sunbirds including Bronzy, Olive and Grey-chinned, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Baglafecht Weaver, White-breasted Nigrita, Yellow-crowned Canary, and Yellow Bishop, among others. Overnight: Engagi Lodge, Buhoma.
Day 8. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding Buhoma
After an early breakfast, we enter the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, looking for species such as Black Bee-eater, barbets and tinkerbirds (“mini-barbets), woodpeckers, African Broadbill, a host of greenbuls, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Mountain Masked Apalis, Bocage’s Bushshrike, Lühder’s Bushshrike, Pink-footed Puffback, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, starlings, sunbirds, and Black-billed and Brown-capped Weavers, among others. Overnight: Engagi Lodge, Buhoma.
Day 9. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Gorilla trekking or birding Buhoma
After breakfast we start our Gorilla trekking (optional) or continue birding (for those who opt not to do the gorilla trek) in the fabled Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We recommend you wear sturdy walking boots and carry a good rain suit and enough drinking water in a backpack. Trekking can be tough and challenging, and therefore a reasonable level of fitness is required. You will carry a picnic lunch with you, and you will be thrilled to see these rare apes (no guarantee, although rarely missed). We can spend an hour right next to these gentle giants (again, no guarantee, but probable). Overnight: Engagi Lodge, Buhoma.
Day 10. Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast we set off for Queen Elizabeth National Park, about three hours away. We’ll look out for birds like White spotted Flufftail, Yellow-billed Barbet, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed Turaco, kingfishers, Lesser Striped Swallow, cisticolas, shrikes, starlings, widowbirds, barbets, White-browed Robin-Chat, Sooty Anteater Chat, Black Cuckooshrike, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Bronze Sunbird, Olive-bellied Sunbird, Copper Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, and Red-chested Sunbird, among others. We also hope to see mammals like topi, Uganda kob, and African buffalo.
Overnight: Mweya Safari Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 11. Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is the second-largest national park of Uganda, covering an area of 1978 sq. km. This park was named after the Queen of England and is located in the western part of Uganda. It was gazetted in 1952 and opened officially by the Queen herself in 1954. The park has the most incredible ecosystem, from its habitats to the animals found here. It also features an impressive bird list and is said to have more bird species per square kilometer than any other protected area on the African continent. Indeed a birder's paradise, with over 600 avian species. With close to 100 mammal species, Queen Elizabeth National Park is also a superb territory for game drives. The Ishasha Sector is famous for its tree-climbing lions, and the Kyambura Gorge offers chimpanzee trekking.
We’ll have a cup of tea or coffee and a muffin at 6:15 a.m. in the lounge and set off with our packed breakfast for a birding safari. Lunch will be at the lodge, and in the afternoon we’ll have a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel to see a variety of wildlife, hundreds of hippos, crocodiles, and bird life from a boat for two hours.
We look for Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Striated Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Martial Eagle, Kittlitz’s Plover, Senegal Plover, Wattled Lapwing, and kingfishers and larks, among many others, during our day, and look out for mammals like Uganda kob, Bushbuck, Defassa Waterbuck, African buffalo, African elephant, warthog, and, if we’re lucky, a Leopard among other carnivores like Lion and Spotted Hyaena. A very special find indeed would be the uncommon and shy Giant Forest Hog, a Queen Elizabeth National Park mammalian specialty. Overnight: Mweya Safari Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 12. Transfer to Kibale National Park
After breakfast we drive to Kibale National Park and the Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse. We drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park, cross the Equator, and along the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains through Kasese, birding en-route and planning to arrive in time for a hot cup of tea and hopefully some new trip birds! Overnight: Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse, Kibale National Park.
Day 13. Kibale National Park
Today we bird Kibale National Park and do chimpanzee trekking! After breakfast, we bird the vicinity of Kanyanchu, looking for the spectacular Green-breasted Pitta and other species such as Yellow-billed Barbet, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed Turaco, Narina Trogon, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Sabine’s Spinetail, Chestnut Wattle-eye, and Narrow-tailed Starling, among others. Then we look for Chimpanzees nearby. We may actually also encounter a number of other primates here in addition to chimpanzees; Uganda Red Colobus, Guereza Black-and-white colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Red-tailed Monkey, and L’Hoest’s Monkey all occur in this park. What a day! Overnight: Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse, Kibale National Park.
Day 14. Transfer to Entebbe and departure
We’ll drive back to Entebbe, planning to get there in the afternoon, for an evening flight home
Optional extension to Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls National Park
Day 14. Transfer to Masindi
After an early breakfast with a packed lunch we will transfer to Masindi, birding on the way We hope to see birds like Western Banded Snake Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Striped Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Black-billed Barbet, Mocking Cliff Chat, Spotted Palm Thrush, Northern Crombec, Rattling and Foxy Cisticolas, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, and perhaps even Marsh Widowbird, among others. Overnight: Masindi Hotel, Masindi
Day 15. Birding the Royal Mile (Budongo Forest)
After an early breakfast, we will proceed to bird the Royal Mile, looking for birds like Crowned Eagle, Heuglin’s Francolin, Blue-breasted and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, African Dwarf Kingfisher, White-thighed Hornbill, Speckled and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-crested and Brown-eared Woodpeckers, Little Grey, Plain and Spotted Greenbuls, Fire-crested Alethe, Red-tailed Ant Thrush, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Whistling Cisticola, Black-throated Apalis, Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, and Purple-headed Starling, among others. In the afternoon we’ll head back to our hotel in time for dinner. Overnight: Masindi Hotel, Masindi
Day 16. Birding Murchison Falls National Park
After breakfast, and again with a packed lunch, we’ll proceed to Murchison Falls National Park. We’ll start exploring this magnificent park from the top of the falls. After a short walk around the top of the falls, we can walk down a steep path to the river’s edge and see how the waters of the majestic Nile narrow, as they are forced through a rocky cleft only seven meters wide to plunge down 35 meters in a majestic cascade. Birds we might encounter are several raptors, Rock Pratincole, Crested Francolin, White-crested Turaco, White-headed Barbet, Narina Trogon, Red-throated Bee-eater, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Silverbird, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, and a number of waxbills, finches, sunbirds, and canaries, among others. Overnight: Paraa Safari Lodge, Murchison Falls National Park
Day 17. Birding Murchison Falls National Park
After an early breakfast we will have a game drive during the morning, getting back to the lodge in time for lunch. After lunch we will enjoy a boat trip on the river Nile up to the bottom of the falls, during which it is possible to view hundreds of hippos and crocodiles as well as a large variety of bird life. Today we hope to find birds like Northern Ground Hornbill, Black-headed Lapwing, Rock Pratincole, Swallow-tailed and Red-throated Bee-eaters, Black-billed Barbet, Spotted Palm Thrush, Speckle-fronted Weaver, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, and more. Look out for mammals like the graceful Rothschild giraffe, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Uganda Kob, Oribi, Defassa Waterbuck, African buffalo, African elephant, Common Warthog, Hippo, and perhaps a Leopard or Lion. It is also possible that we might encounter the uncommon Patas Monkey here.
Overnight: Paraa Safari Lodge, Murchison Falls National Park
Day 18. Transfer to Entebbe
Today we’ll drive back to Entebbe, birding on the way. We hope to see Bateleur, Crested Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Meyer’s Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, and rollers, kingfishers, barbets, and cisticolas, among others. Overnight: Boma Guest House, Entebbe
Day 19. Departure
Today our international flights home will leave from Entebbe.
Please also note that the itinerary might change due to various factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information, road or weather conditions. The itinerary is therefore only a guide and cannot be guaranteed.