Kidepo Valley National Park Birding Trip- 13 Days

Bateleur

Day 1 : Arrival for Birding Kidepo Valley National Park 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 cover 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 Layco Lake Victoria Hotel or Entebbe Travellers Inn

Day 2 –: Birding Mabamba Wetlands for the Shoebill and afternoon at Mpanga forest

After an early breakfast, we bird to Mabamba – Kamengo 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 with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons, classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous avian resident. 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 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. 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 the rare Weyn’s Weaver.

Overnight at Layco Lake Victoria Hotel or Entebbe Travellers Inn

Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Day 3: Birding to Murchison Falls National Park

After breakfast, we will depart for Murchison Falls National Park via Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for the White Rhino, stopping in Masindi town for lunch. 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 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 and March Tchagra.

Overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge or Red Chilli Rest Camp

Day 4 & 5: Birding Murchison Falls National Park

After an early breakfast, we will have a morning game drive. 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. After enjoying a packed lunch, we will then have an afternoon boat trip to the Lake Albert delta. Here, you will have the best chance of sighting the rare shoebills. You will also be dazzled with a variety of water birds including 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, Night jars(Pennant-winged &Standard-winged), White-rumped Canary and many more.

Overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge or Red Chilli Rest Camp

Day 6 – Bird to Kidepo Valley National Park (Stay at Apoka Lodge or Apoka Rest Camp)

Day 7,8 & 9- We spend three full days birding and game viewing Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is the least explore of all Uganda’s parks and yet proves to offer the best as far as ornithological trips are concerned. Kidepo has a record of480 species in total, making it the second-highest after Queen Elizabeth National Park of all all yhe protected areas in the country.

Martial Eagle

Being the only IBA located entirely within the Somali– Masai biome, 28 species from the Somali-Masai and Sudan–Guinea Savanna biomes are endemic to this park in the Uganda.

The Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overlooking southern Narus Valley, is a great spot to begin your birding experience. The attractive Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike, frequent the thorn trees around the camp as do a number of other widespread species such as the Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, the Ruppell's and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu.

A small permanent water hole at the edge of the camp, attracts swallows and a variety of seedeaters including the Yellow-rumped Seedeater and is visited at night by the Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephants, Buffaloes, and occasionally Lions. Clapperton's Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and the Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to the camp or along the track to Apoka lodge.

The Common Ostrich, Secretary Bird, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton's and Heuglin's Francolins, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub's Bustards, Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-crested Turaco, White-bellied Go-away bird, White-faced Scoops Owl, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Little Green Bee-eater, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, the Abyssinian Ground, Eastern Yellow and Jackson's Hornbills, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Singing Bush lark, Red-winged Lark, Ethiopian Swallow, the Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin's Wheaters, African Grey Flycatcher, Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas, Karamoja Apalis, White-bellied Tit, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes, Slate-coloured Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, Superb Starling, Red billed Oxpecker, Eastern Violet backed, Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers, Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers, the Green-winged, Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias, Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbills, Steel-blue and Strawtailed Whydahs, and the Brown-rumped Bunting, are just a few of the 480 bird species the Park boosts of. You should not afford missing taking a look at these beautiful birds.

African Lion

Kidepo's mammal list of over 80 species includes 28 species not found in any other Ugandan National park. Amongst these are such charismatic African animals as Bat-eared Fox, Carcal, Cheetah and Klipspringer. Unfortunately, Kidepo suffered the same fate as many other Ugandan parks during the 1970s and 1980S and is still recovering from years of poaching that left game herds depleted. Spotted Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant's gazelle and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and were presumed to be locally extinct. Other large mammals have shown a remarkable recovery and there are now healthy populations of Elephant, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Bohor Reedbuck, Waterbuck and Kongoni. Predators are plentiful and Spotted Hyena, Leopard and Lion are frequently seen. The Oribis are abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther's Dik Dik. The Senegal Galago and Sidestriped Jackal may be found in the rest camp at night and White-tailed Mongoose is common but more likely to be found on a night drive. The park also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna.

Day 10- Birding and visiting the Karamajong Community in Kidepo (Cultural experience)

Day 11- Birding to Gulu Stay at The Boma Hotel

Day 12- Birding to Entebbe

Stay at Laico Lake Victoria Hotel or Entebbe Traveller Inn

Day 13- Your guide transfers you to Entebbe International Airport hence the end of the tour.

Shoebill Balaeniceps rex

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 Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

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.

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

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.

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata)

Great Blue Turaco

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.

Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis)

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.

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