Uganda: Shoebills, Endemics, Gorillas & Chimpanzees

  1. 2020
    Saturday, August 1, 2020 to Friday, August 14, 2020
    Tour Duration: 
    14 days
    Tour Price:
     $10,295 CAD, $7,465 USD
    Single Supplement:
     $875 CAD, $636 USD
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Murchison Falls National Park extension $3,050 CAD, $2,216 USD, single supplement $335 CAD, $244 USD
    Number of Persons Limit: 

• Wonderful birds including Shoebills and Albertine Rift endemics

• Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking

• Spectacular scenery from Lake Victoria and the tropical lowlands and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to the Virunga Range


Uganda! The Pearl of Africa! On our tour, you can experience “the Best of Uganda” in just 14 days! The essential birds of Uganda are Shoebill (this is the easiest country to see this amazing species), the 20-plus Albertine Rift endemics (including African Green Broadbill), and finally other birds tough to locate elsewhere, such as Green-breasted Pitta.

This Uganda birding tour focuses on the Ugandan “must-see” birds although we’ll certainly see a lot of widespread spectacular species such as Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, amazing barbets and so many others. We also expect to see other star species such as Red-faced Barbet, along with incomparable Gorillas, encounters with troops of Chimpanzees, and a host of other primates.

We’ll also see spectacular scenery, including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Virunga Volcanoes and Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. A truly marvelous and unforgettable wildlife adventure and birding extravaganza!

We also offer an optional five-day post-trip extension to Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls National Park if you would like to extend your Birding Tour Uganda experience. 




Itinerary View Short Itinerary

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. You will already start getting a good sampling of Uganda’s massive bird diversity. Overnight: Lake Victoria View Guest House, Entebbe, or similar.

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. Lake Mburo National Park 

In Lake Mburo National Park, we will take a boat trip to look for the African Finfoot. We sometimes see overwintering Malagasy Pond Heron and Papyrus Gonolek in addition to an array of kingfishers including the likes of Malachite, Giant, Pied, and the rare Shining-blue Kingfisher. In general this park gives us an excellent opportunity to see a lot of arid-country birds, which can include Blue-naped Mousebird, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Golden-breasted Bunting, and the incredibly localized Red-faced Barbet, along with a more widespread East African species, Spot-flanked Barbet. This is the only place where we’re likely to see Plains Zebra during our Uganda birding tour, and there are a lot of other mammals as well, such as Hippopotamus, African Buffalo, Defassa Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Topi, Common Eland, and many more. Overnight: Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo National Park, or similar.

Days 4 - 5. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

We head to the beautiful Mgahinga Gorilla National Park bordering on Rwanda, where the backdrop of the Virunga Volcanoes enhances the birding experience. 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: Mucha Hotel, Kisoro

Day 6. 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.  We’ll start birding the forest-covered hills as soon as we arrive, looking for the beautiful Black Bee-eater and also trying to find Grauer’s Swamp Warbler at a roadside site.  Overnight: Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija, or similar.

Day 7. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding Mubwindi Swamp

After breakfast we spend the whole day doing a strenuous 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. The walk down to the site (and back) takes a large part of the day, but this is one of the best birding days of the entire tour. Trip participants usually end up getting a constant stream of life-birds throughout the day. Overnight: Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija, or similar.

Day 8. 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: Buhoma Community Haven Lodge, Buhoma

Day 9. 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. OOvernight: Buhoma Community Haven Lodge, Buhoma

Day 10. 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: Buhoma Community Haven Lodge, Buhoma

Day 11. Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast we set off for Queen Elizabeth National Park. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the second-largest national park of Uganda, covering an area of 1978 sq. km. The park has the most incredible ecosystem, from its habitats to the animals found here. It features an impressive bird list with over 600 avian species and is said to have more bird species per square kilometer than any other protected area on the African continent. In addition, it has close to 100 mammal species.

We will take 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

Days 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.

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: Kibale Homestay, 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: Kabalega Wilderness Lodge (or similar), 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: Kabalega Wilderness Lodge (or similar), 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

Your flight can leave any time today.


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. 

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