20 Days Uganda Birding Photography Safari
Uganda Birding Photography Safari | Africa Photography Tours | Uganda Wildlife Journeys | Group Scheduled Nature Trips | Natural History and Scenery Adventures | Bird Photo Tours
Uganda Birding Photography Safari – 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 fantastic 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 critical bird list is all the more remarkable given the small size of the country (approximately of Great Britain or state of Oregon in the USA), making it, arguably the most prosperous African birding destination.
DETAILED ITINERARY OF 20 DAYS UGANDA BIRDING PHOTOGRAPHY
DAY 1 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Arrival for Uganda Birding and Wildlife Photography Tour
Arrival in the morning and later may have optional birding in the 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 Turaco, etc.
DAY 2 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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. Mabamba 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 undoubtedly amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa and we will make extraordinary 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.
DAY 3 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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 en route. Murchison Falls National Park is one of the most popular of our Uganda national parks. We will drive through the beautiful countryside arriving in the evening. Unique birds along the way may include Cliff Chat, Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird, Gray-headed Bush Shrike, Singing Cisticola, African Finfoot, 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.
DAY 4 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Whole day birding and Wildlife Photography Adventure in the park
Start early for birding on a game drive, search for particular 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 the 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 an array 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 Turaco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Carmine Bee-eater, Pennant-winged and Standard-winged Nightjars, White-rumped Canary and many more.
DAY 5 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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 some 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 Turaco, 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.
DAY 6 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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 magnificent forest. Unique 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 Spinetails soar over the clearings. As we walk quietly along the trail, Red-tailed Ant-Thrushes skulk in the shadows, as do Red-tailed Bristlebill, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Brown Illadopsis. Greenbuls are always a challenge and include Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honeyguide and Spotted Greenbul, while other regular species are Speckled Tinkerbird, 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 Guineafowl, Tambourine Dove, Grey Parrot, African Emerald and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos. Yellow bill, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, 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 Spinetails, Wilcock’s Honeyguide, 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 that is range-restricted to this site in the whole of East Africa, are also very likely.
DAY 7 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Birding Uganda to Kibale Forest National Park
After breakfast, the tour continues to Kibale forest arriving in Fort Portal in the late afternoon. Kibale forest national park is the best tourist 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 the 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 north 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.
DAY 8 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Chimpanzee Tracking and Photography in the Forest
After an early breakfast, we drive to Kibale National Park visitor centre for the 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 some birds that are hard to find elsewhere including Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’s Greenbul and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Flufftail, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Lesser Honeyguide, 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 trail can be well paying with a variety of swamp and riverine forest specialities along with up to six primates. If the weather is right, we do a nocturnal primate walk in the evening for Pottos, Galago and Bushbabies.
DAY 9 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: The Search for the Green-breasted Pitta in the Morning and Transfer to Fort Portal for Birding Semuliki Forest.
DAY 10 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Birding Semuliki National Park
Early in the morning, we take on to the Kirumia trail for whole day birding experience. We look out for some predominantly Central African species that cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa. These 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.
DAY 11 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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. Regarding 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 unique 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.
DAY 12 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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 ecosystem of Savannah to rain forest, from dense papyrus swamps and to brood crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward is a significant 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.
DAY 13 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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 localised Albertine Rift endemics.
DAY 14 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Whole Day Birding Buhoma Main Trail
DAY 15 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Birding to Buhoma via “the Neck” – A famous 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 localised 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.
DAY 16 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Mountain Gorilla Tracking Experience
After an early breakfast, you will report to the park headquarters for briefing before 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 beautiful 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 “once in a lifetime” experience that you must never miss. Each encounter is different and has its rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngster’s frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.
DAY 17 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: Birding to Mubwindi Swamp – Highlights today are African Green Broadbill Pseudocalyptomena Graueri and Grauer’s Rush Warbler Bradypterus graueri
DAY 18 – 19 Uganda Birding Photography Safari: 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. The park is 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 significant 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 Lake Mburo National Park will include birding on game drive and boat on the lake in search of the African Finfoot.
DAY 20 Uganda Birding Photography Safari:
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.