January 28, 2018 to February 16, 2018 (Maximum 6) Space Available June 15,
2018 to July 04, 2018 (Maximum 6) Space Available
From the source of the mighty river Nile on Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Ruwenzori Range, the montane forests of the Virunga volcanoes, harboring some of the last remaining Mountain Gorillas, to the extensive savannas around the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, Uganda is an equatorial country of astonishing contrasts. No other area in Africa can match its amazing diversity of habitats, and this richness is reflected in its incredible bird list of over 1050 species. Amongst these are many highly sought-after birds, such as the unique and elusive Shoebill and the numerous spectacular endemics of the Albertine Rift Valley. The huge bird list is all the more remarkable given the small size of the country (approximately of Great Britain or state of Oregon in USA), making it, arguably the richest African birding destination.
Day 1: Arrival for Uganda Birding and Wildlife Photography Tour
Arrival in the morning and later may have optional birding in afternoon at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, the Entebbe Botanical Gardens are virtually on the Equator, and covers an area of 40.7hectares. The gardens house a collection of species of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones, besides several shrubs and other plants which regenerated naturally over the years. The habitat has attracted a diverse array of birds (206 species) and monkeys. We shall look out for Orange weaver, Golden and Yellow-backed Weavers, Superb Sunbird, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Ross’s and Great blue Turacco, etc. Overnight at Entebbe Travellers Inn (Full Board) http://entebbetravellersinn.com/
Day 2: Bird Photography Tour to Mabamba for Shoebill and Mpanga forest in the Afternoon After an early breakfast, we bird to Mabamba Wetlands about 50km west of Entebbe area on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is one of the few remaining swamps in Uganda protected by the local communities - an extensive papyrus swamp, classified Ramsar Site and IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebills, most probably Africa’s most sought after bird. This charismatic species, the only representative in its family, is certainly amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa and we will make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels by boat. There will of course be a good selection of classic East African water birds: Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Goliath Heron, African Fish-Eagle, African Marsh-Harrier, Yellow-billed Duck, African Water Rail, Allen's Gallinule, and Malachite Kingfisher along with slightly more local species such as Long-toed Plover, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue-headed Coucal, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Swamp Flycatcher, White-winged & Papyrus Yellow Warblers. Overnight Entebbe Travellers Inn (Full Board) http://entebbetravellersinn.com/
Day 3 Uganda Birding Adventure to Murchison Falls National Park
After breakfast, we will depart for Murchison Falls National Park via Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for the White Rhino, lunch enroute. Murchison falls National Park is one of the most popular of our Uganda national parks. We will drive through the beautiful country side arriving in the evening. Special birds along the way may include Cliff Chat, Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird, Gray-headed Bush Shrike, Singing Cisticola, African Fin foot, Namaqua dove, Green-winged Pytilia, Red Backed Shrike, Crested Francolin, Black Headed Bush Shrike, Northern and Black-winged Red Bishops, Black-bellied Firefinch, Black-faced Waxbill, Lesser Blue-eared Starling and March Tchagra.
Overnight at Paraa Lodge (Full Board) http://www.paraalodge.com
Day 4: Whole day birding and Wildlife Photography Adventure in the park Start early for birding on a game drive, search for special of savannah biome and palearctic migrants. in the afternoon we take a launch cruise on the mighty river Nile to the bottom of the falls while viewing game at close quarters. In the lush Borassus grassland, you may be able to encounter African Lion, Leopard, African Savannah Elephant, African buffalo, Rothschild giraffe, a variety of antelope and much more game. You will be dazzled with a variety of waterfowl which may include species like the Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Hornbill, Pied Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Senegal Thick-knee, Water Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Osprey, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Vinaceous Dove and Grosbeak Weaver. Other specialties include Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Marabou Stork, Red-throated Bee-eater, Silver bird, Beautiful Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Golden-backed Weaver, White-rumped Seedeater, Pels Fishing Owl, White Crested Turacco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Carmine Bee-eater, Pennant-winged and Standard-winged Nightjars, White-rumped Canary and many more. Overnight at Paraa Lodge (Full Board) http://www.paraalodge.com
Day 5: Uganda Birdwatching Tour to Budongo Forest The tour continues to Budongo arriving.
We bird via the top of the stunning Murchison Falls and depending on the road condition we bird through the escarpment or Kanio Pabidi a section of Budongo forest. The escarpment area is well known for its panoramic view of Lake Albert and the Rift Valley, and also being an open area it has quite a number of bird species. Kanio Pabide forest section is well known for its rare bird species including the Puvell’s Illadopsis. Budongo forest is the largest natural forest area in East Africa. We can expect to find a wide range of other bird species such as the crested guineafowl, White Crested Turacco, Chestnut Crowned Eremomela, Yellow and Gray Longbills, Olive-bellied Crombec, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Little Green Sunbird, and Red-headed Blue Bill among others. There are also many other special birds with a West African origin: White-thighed Hornbill, Green-breasted Pitta, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Blue-breasted, Dwarf & Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Yellow-crested & Brown-eared Woodpeckers, Yellow Bill, Western Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted & Yellow-billed Barbets, Green Hylia, Buff-throated, Black-throated & Black-capped Apalis, Black-eared Ground-Thrush, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec, Crested & Red-headed Malimbe and also various forest starlings among others. We will also be in a prime area for a wide range of primates such as Blue & Red-tailed Monkeys and Black and white Colobus and Chimpanzees. There is also a wide variety of butterfly species in the forest. Budongo forest has recorded over 200 butterfly species among which include endemics and globally threatened. Overnight at Masindi Hotel (Full Board) www.masindihotel.com
Day 6: Whole Day Bird Watching the Royal Mile - Take bird Photographs
This is Uganda's historically known leisure spot for the traditional King, hence the name Royal Mile. Here the forest has been cut back a few meters along the sides of the main trail, which makes it a particularly good viewing area in this excellent forest. Special Bird species here include White-thighed and Black-and-white-casqued Hornbills, Yellow-spotted and Yellow billed Barbets, Western Black-headed Oriole, along with Red-tailed and Blue Monkeys. Overhead, Sabine's and sometimes Cassin's Spine tails soar over the clearings. As we walk quietly along the trail, Red-tailed Ant-Thrushes skulk in the shadows, as do Red-tailed Bristle bill, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Brown Illadopsis. Greenbuls are always a challenge and include Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honey guide and Spotted Greenbul, whilst other regular species are Speckled Tinker bird, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Green Crombec, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Buff-throated Apalis, and both White-breasted and Grey-headed Negro finches. Lower down we should see Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-spotted Fluff tails and the elusive Nahan's Francolin, believed to be one of the most handsome of all Ugandan birds. Other possibilities here are Great Sparrowhawk, Cassin's Hawk-eagle, Crested Guinea fowl, Tambourine Dove, Grey Parrot, African Emerald and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos, Yellow bill, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-throated Tinker bird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Dusky Tit, Western Nicator, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Forest Robin, Black-throated and Black-capped Apalis, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Sabine's and Cassin's Spine tails, Wilcock's Honey guide, Yellow and Grey Long bills, Jameson's Wattle-eye, Blue-throated Brown and Little Green Sunbirds, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe, the Uganda Woodland Warbler and the Ituri Batis which range-restricted to this site in the whole of East Africa. Overnight at Masindi Hotel (Full Board) www.masindihotel.com
Day 7: Birding Uganda to Kibale Forest
After breakfast, the tour continues to Kibale forest arriving in Fort Portal in the late afternoon. Kibale forest national park is the best tour destination for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa. It contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of all tropical forests in Uganda. It hosts 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee (Man’s closest relatives- sharing over 98% DNA with man). It has 1450 chimpanzees and these represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. It is also home to the rare L’hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey. Other primates that you may see include the black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked Mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and pottos. Kibale forest cover predominates in the northern and central parts of the park. Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip which stands at 1590m above sea level. The park also boasts 325 bird species, including the Green-breasted Pitta (Africa’s enigma), African pitta, Black Bee-eater, yellow-spotted Nicator, yellow rumped tinker bird, little Greenbul, black eared ground thrush, brown chested Alethe, blue breasted kingfisher, Abyssinian ground thrush, and the African Crowned Eagle. Overnight at Kibale Guest Cottages (Full Board)
Day 8: Chimpanzee Tracking and Photography in the Forest
After an early breakfast we drive to Kibale National Park visitor center for briefing before the Chimpanzee tracking experience. The activity may last from a few hours to several hours. Birding in the afternoon along the main road may be productive. Kibale National Park is a good site for a number of birds that are hard to find elsewhere including Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis's Greenbul and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Fluff tail, Dusky and Olive Long tailed Cuckoo, Lesser Honey guide, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Olive back. In the afternoon, take a swamp board walk in Bigodi wetland. This is one of Uganda's most successful community eco-tourism projects. The walk can be well paying with a variety of swamp and riverine forest specialities along with up to six primates. If the weather is good, we do a nocturnal primate walk in the evening for Pottos, Galago and Bush babies. Overnight at Kibale Guest Cottages (Full Board)
Day 9: The Search for the Green-breasted Pitta in the Morning and Transfer to Fort Portal for Birding Semuliki Forest.
Overnight at Mountains of The Moon Hotel (Full Board) http://www.mountainsofthemoon.co.ug
Day 10: Birding Semuliki Forest Early in the morning, we take on to the Kirumia trail for whole day birding experience. We look out for a number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa yet are some of the continent's most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, the Nkulengu Rail, and other species; Blue Swallow, White-throated Swallow, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Spotted Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Lowland Akalat, Red-throated Alethe, Fire-crested Alethe, Snowy-headed Robin-Chat, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Red-eyed Puffback, White-tailed Robin-Chat, Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin, Capped Wheatear, Common Stonechat, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Oberlaender's Ground-Thrush, Grey Ground-Thrush, Little Grey Greenbul, Toro Olive Greenbul, Mountain Greenbul, Yellow-throated Nicator, Western Nicator, just to mention but a few. There is a single, unconfirmed report of the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel. Overnight at Mountains of The Moon Hotel (Full Board) http://www.mountainsofthemoon.co.ug
Day 11: Birdwatching to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Afternoon Launch Cruise
The Park which is named after the Queen of England who visited it in 1954 is the second largest national park in Uganda. In terms of diversity this park ranks among the best birding destinations in Uganda with over 610 species recorded, and a one day record of 296 species. Hard-core birders might nail special birds including; Harlequin Quail, Blue Quail, Common Buttonquail, African Crake, White winged Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, Papyrus Gonolek, Amur Falcon, Ovampo Sparrowhawk, Lowland Akalat, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Caruthers's Cisticola, Terek Sandpiper, and Temminck's Courser. Mammals may include; African Elephant, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, African Lion, Uganda Kobs, Side-striped Jackal, Baboons, Chimpanzees, Bush and Water Bucks, Warthogs, Giant Forest Hogs to mention but a few. Overnight at Ihamba Lake Side Safari Lodge (Full Board) http://ihambasafarilodge.com
Day 12: Bird and other Wildlife Photography on Game Drive in the Park
After breakfast, we will have a morning game drive around the park. The fact that Queen Elizabeth national park has got a diverse eco system of savannah 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 is on the top list of World biosphere sites rating of game parks or reserves in the world. Therefore, while on the game drive, with the massive Rwenzoris as a backdrop, you will have excellent opportunities to see African Lion, Leopard, Giant forest hog, Cape buffalo, African Elephant, Deffassa waterbuck, Uganda Kob, Topi, and much more. After lunch, we will visit Lake Katwe where salt is mined and the Kasenyi landing site on the shores of Lake George. Overnight at Ihamba Lake Side Safari Lodge (Full Board) http://ihambasafarilodge.com
Day 13: Birdwatching to Bwindi National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site Today we head further South to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Depending on the season we may choose to go through the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, where there are chances of encountering the Tree-climbing Lions at Ishasha sector. Packed lunch will be arranged in advance to enjoy later as we travel. Depending on the time of arrival, we may enjoy birding on the self-guided Munyaga trail. Forest Birding at Bwindi provides some of the best bird watching in Uganda and Africa as well, having been voted as the Number One Birding spot in Africa by African Bird Club Members. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics. Overnight at Buhoma Heven Lodge (Full Board) http://www.buhomacommunity.com/
Day 14: Whole Day Birding Buhoma Main Trail Overnight at Buhoma Heven Lodge (Full Board) http://www.buhomacommunity.com/ Day 15: Birding to Buhoma via "the Neck" - A popular stretch for Albertine Rift Endemics This section of Bwindi is generally at a higher altitude (2000m to 2800m) and therefore is cooler. Temperatures range between 10 and 18 degrees centigrade. Forest birding at Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics. Specialty birds include; Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer's Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced Apalis, Black-throated Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin's Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Cassin's Grey Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Mountain Illadopsis, African Hill-Babbler, Dusky Tit, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Mackinnon's Fiscal, Sooty Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Doherty's Bush-shrike, White-naped Raven, Montane Oriole, African Golden Oriole, Stuhlmann's Starling, Narrow-tailed Starling, Waller's Starling, Strange Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver, Black-billed Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed Seedeater, Streaky Seedeater, African Green Broadbill, Shelly's Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre's Hawk-eagle, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Longtailed Cuckoo, African Wood-Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Black Bee-eater, (Western) Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Elliot's Woodpecker, African Broadbill, 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, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Grauer's Rush-warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Neumann's Warbler and Red-faced Woodland Warbler Overnight at Gorilla Mist Camp (Full Board) http://www.gorillamistcamp.com/
Day 16: Mountain Gorilla Tracking Experience
After an early breakfast, you will report to the park headquarters for briefing prior to the gorilla tracking 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 in to 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 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.
Overnight at Gorilla Mist Camp (Full Board) http://www.gorillamistcamp.com/
Day 17: Birding to Mubwindi Swamp - Highlights today are African Green Broadbill Pseudocalyptomena Graueri and Grauer's Rush Warbler Bradypterus graueri
Overnight at Gorilla Mist Camp (Full Board) http://www.gorillamistcamp.com/
Day 18 & 19- Bird and Scenery Photography Tour to Lake Mburo National Park
After breakfast, we will transfer to Lake Mburo arriving in the late evening. Lake Mburo National Park is 260 sq. km and it has markedly different fauna from other reserves. It is the only national park that contains an entire lake. Situated in rolling hills and open grassy valleys, the park also consists of 4 other smaller lakes. Lake Mburo National park is covered in extensive open and wooded acacia savannah. This park is home to the largest diversity of both plant and wildlife of all Uganda’s national parks. It is also the best place to see the gigantic eland antelope as well as well as Burchell’s zebra, topi, impala, the more uncommon Klipspringer, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, and several acacia associated birds. Activities in ake Mburo National Park, will include birding on game drive and boat on the lake in search of the African Finfoot Overnight at Rwakobo Rock (Full Board)
Day 20 Drive to Entebbe for departure via a famous Equator stop for the equator experience.
After breakfast, we transfer to Entebbe arriving in good time for your departure flight if your flight is tonight. If you are staying for the night, the guide gets you to your hotel.
Diet: Lungfishes, Catfish, Tilapia, Frogs, Reptiles, and small mammal
Habitat and feeding: Swamps, marshes, particular floating vegetation, generally muddy areas on fresh water bodies
The Shoebill is a massive bird, growing to heights of 3-1/2ft to 4-1/2ft tall.
The birds nest solitarily, laying one to three eggs in a large flat nest built amid swamp grasses or sedges, usually in remote areas. These eggs measure 80 to 90 mm high by 56 to 61 mm and weigh around 164 g. It takes 140 days of nest-attendance to get from new-laid egg to independent offspring and it takes three to four years to get from newly independent offspring to mature adult.
This species is considered to be one of the five most desirable birds in Africa by ornithologists.
Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates and the world's most endangered apes with a population of less than 800 individuals world over- none in zoos. They are found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
They share 97% DNA with human beings! They are our closest living cousins after the Chimpanzee.
They have up to 25 vocalization for communication
Mountain Gorillas are shy, social and very active during day. They live in families of 8-25 members with one leading male (The Silver Back).
Gorillas have a lifespan of 50 years in the wild. They reproduce at a very slow speed with a gestation period of approximately 8.5 months and an interval of four years to the next birth.
Diet: Mainly herbivores eating fruits, herbs, leaves, stems, roots and shoots. Sometimes ingest small insects like ants and termites.
The Goliath Heron, is the world's largest heron. It measures 120–152 cm height, 185–230 cm wingspan and weighs 4–5 kg.
The species is very aquatic, even by heron standards, inhabiting marshes around lakes, swamps, mangrove wetlands, reefs with few cool water, and sometimes river deltas within elevations from see level to to 2,100 m.
Goliath Herons generally prefer to nest on islands or islands of vegetation coinciding with the start of the rains. The birds may abandon a nesting site if the island becomes attached to the mainland. They nest fairly low in variously sedge, reeds, bushes, trees or even on rocks or large tree stumps. The nests are large, often measuring around 1 to 1.5 m in diameter. In these nests they lay pale blue eggs, averaging 72 mm by 54 mm and weighing around 108 g. The clutch size can range from 2 to 5. Incubation lasts 24 to 30 days.
Mainly prey on fish, specializing in relatively large fish. The largest fish targeted may measure 50 cm although the heron may not be able to swallow prey up to this size. Small fish are generally ignored and the average Goliath catches around 2 or 3 fish a day. Breams, Mullet, Tilapia and carp have locally been recorded as preferred species. Frogs, prawns, small mammals, lizards, snakes, insects and even carrion are also part of the diet.
Turacos are a group of African near-passerines. The Great Blue Turaco is the largest turaco and also the largest species in the diverse Cuculiformes order (which includes the cuckoos).
Generally, the Great Blue Turaco is 70–76 cm in length with a mass of 800–1,231 g. In the Bandundu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Great Blue Turaco is actively hunted for meat and feathers. The blue and yellow tail feathers are prized for making good luck talismans.
This brightly coloured medium-sized Kingfisher ranges from 20 - 23 cm, from bill tip to tail. The bird is endemic to Africa, preferring a variety of wooded habitats with some trees, especially Acacias, including around human habitation. The Woodland Kingfisher is aggressively territorial, attacking intruders including humans. It has a striking display in which the wings are spread to show the white linings.
They nest in tree holes excavated by Woodpeckers or Barbets, where they lay up to three round white eggs.