21 Days Uganda to Rwanda Bird and Wildlife Photography Tour
Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour | Birdwatching Holiday Safaris | Bird Mountain Gorilla Tours Adventures | Expeditions | Wildlife Game Viewing
DAY 1 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Arrival for Rwanda and Uganda Bird watching Safari
On arrival, Avian Safaris’ bird guide picks you up from the airport. Depending on the time of entry, we bird Entebbe botanical gardens.
DAY 2 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birding Tour to L. Mburo National Park via Mabamba Swamps for the Shoebill
Early in the morning, we bird Via Mabamba Swamps for the elusive Shoebill, Some papyrus endemics, the African and Lesser Jacanas, the White-faced and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Carruther’s Cisticola, The Black-Chested, Brown and Western Banded Snake-Eagles, several Gull and Heron Species and other water birds species to L. Mburo National Park for our night. We have a short stop at the Equator for an informative talk, photography and the equator experience.
DAY 3 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birdwatching Tour to Rwanda from Uganda
We have an early morning breakfast and packed lunch, go for a Game drive, heading along the lakeshore towards the Kigambira Loop. We check for some papyrus specialities before heading toward Rwanda. We scan for Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Black-headed Gonolek, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Red-faced Barbet, Rufous-bellied Heron, White-winged Tit, White-headed Barbet, Coqui, and the Red-winged Francolins, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away bird, Harlequin and Blue Quails, Common Button Quail, Greenwood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Blue-napped Mousebird, Blue-breasted and Shining-blue Kingfishers, Lilac-breasted Roller, African-grey Hornbill, the Nubian, Buff-spotted, Brown-eared, and the Grey Woodpeckers, Trilling, Stout, Tabora and Wing-snapping Cisticolas, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-bellied Bustard, among others. Expect a big game, also.
DAY 4 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birding Nyungwe Forest National Park of Rwanda – Avian Safaris
Nyungwe forest is situated in southwest Rwanda between Lake Kivu and the international border with Burundi. Nyungwe is divided north-south by a line of mountains that reach 2,600–2,900 m and which form part of the Congo–Nile watershed. As a result, Nyungwe is composed of two areas differing in pedology, vegetation, water flow and biodiversity.
This beautiful birding area lies west of Butare, with the Butare to Cyangugu road passing straight through the middle, providing excellent roadside birding. A total of 275 species have been recorded in Nyungwe, reflecting the wide habitat diversity and altitudinal range. These include all the 25 species of the Albertine Rift mountains Endemic Bird Area that occur in Rwanda, Chapin’s Flycatcher and Rockefellers’ Sunbird (both globally threatened, restricted-range and biome-restricted). Also, 11 of the 23 species of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome and 71 of the 74 species of this biome of Afrotropical Highlands that occur in Rwanda have been recorded at this site. Generally, Nyungwe is undoubtedly the most important forest for the conservation of montane birds in the region.
We have an early morning breakfast then set out to Uwinka for the Albertine Rift endemic birds search. Among the many we look out for, include; Kivu Ground-Thrush, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher, Red-chested, SunbirdRegal Sunbird, Rockefeller’s Sunbird, Miombo Rock-Thrush, Mountain Masked Apalis, Black-faced Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Collared Apalis, Grauer’s Warbler, few Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Ruwenzori Turaco, Great Blue Turaco, Handsome Francolin, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Olive Woodpecker, Mountain Greenbul, Rwenzori Hill-babbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Northern Puffback, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Dusky Crimsonwing, Thick-billed Seedeater, Streaky Seedeater, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Variable Sunbird, Waller’s Starling, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, just to mention but a few.
DAY 5 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Another Day Birdwatching Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda
We look for species probably missed the previous day, we hope to tick off Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Batis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Sharpe’s Starling, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Dusky Tit, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Siffling Cisticola, Bronze Mannikin, Golden-breasted Bunting, Neumann’s Warbler, Red-throated Alethe, Mountain Wagtail, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Equatorial Akalat, Black Cuckoo, Kungwe Apalis, White-bellied Robin-chat, and many more. We try our luck and listen out at nightfall for the Rwenzori Nightjar (a nocturnal species), Albertine Owlet and Red-chested Owlet.
DAY 6 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Rwanda Bird Watching Tour to Akagera National Park
Today we bird to Akagera National Park. Akagera boosts a rich bird Checklist of over 525 species; this reflects the extensive diversity of habitat. Forty-four species of raptor, Papyrus Gonolek, Shoebill Stork and a good number of Palearctic migrants, amongst which Lesser Kestrel, Great Snipe and Black-winged have been recorded. The park represents the northern limit of distribution of some Zambezian biome species, including Sauza’s Shrike, Arnot’s Chat, and Long-tailed Cisticola. One species of Guinea-Congo Forests biome, seven of the Afrotropical Highlands biome, and nine of the eleven species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome that occur in Rwanda have been recorded at this site.
The park also has a health mammal list of over 50 species among which include the African Elephant which was introduced to the park in 1975.
On the way, we hope to pocket African Palm Swift, Little Swift, Mottled Swift, Black-headed Waxbill, Black-crowned Waxbill, Red-collared Mountain Babbler, Archer’s Robin-chat, Collared Apalis, Crowned Eagle, Slender-billed Starling, Grauer’s Scrub-Warbler, Common Bulbul, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, and many more.
DAY 7 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Whole Day Birding Akagera National Park – Rwanda Birding Safaris
Today we look for the species listed in the over 500 species checklist known to Akagera, species will include; White-crowned Black Chat, Familiar Chat, Black-winged Bishop and Arrow-marked Babbler, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Shoebill, African Open-billed Stork, Egyptian Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, Spur-winged Plover, Black Crake, Long-tailed Cormorant, Great Cormorants, Goliath Heron, African Marsh Harrier, Bateleur, Red-faced Barbet, Long-tailed, Trilling, Tabora, Rattling and Winding Cisticolas, Miombo Wren-Warbler, Green-capped Eremomela, Red-faced Crombec, Rueppell’s Long-tailed Starling, Amethyst Starling, Senegal Lapwing, Water Dikkop, Brubru, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Brown Parrot, Red-necked Spurfowl, Broad-tailed Warbler, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Sooty Chat, White-winged Black Tit, Flappet Lark, Souza’s Shrike, Crested Barbet and many more. Other wildlife may include; Giraffe, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Reedbuck, Waterbuck, Warthog, and Impala, to mention but a few.
DAY 8 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birding to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda- Rwanda and Uganda Birding Safari
This morning we leave Rwanda for Buhoma in Bwindi National Park. Bwindi impenetrable forest is a magical place of mists, hanging mosses and luxuriant vegetation, an actual rainforest at the junction of the plain and mountain forests, spreading across valleys and over a range of steep ridges forming Albertine Rift Valley’s eastern edge. It is one of the most biologically rich forests in Africa.
Africa’s number one birding spot boasts of a 360 bird species record with 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics among which include the globally threatened Grauer’s Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimsonwing along with the endangered Mountain Gorillas.
DAY 9 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Mountain Gorilla Tracking and Birding in Bwindi – Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Tour
This is usually a big day, we anticipate the big one! Mountain gorilla trekking is such a highlight even on birding tours. After breakfast, we go to the information office for a proper briefing on how to behave amidst Mountain Gorillas and family allocation.
This activity may take anywhere between an hour to eight, 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 will linger. 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 young frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.
When done with gorilla tracking activity, there is a high chance that you will be happy to go out for a more restricted range and Albertine Rift endemics. In this case, we will do a leisurely walk to the community secondary forest. We will look for Barred and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos, Grauer’s Warbler, Black-tailed oriole, the very skittish Luhder’s Bush-shrike while they make their way through the vines, and Gray Cuckoo-shrikes.
Mountain Gorilla at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
DAY 10 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birding to Queen Elizabeth National Park
After over a week of montane forest birding, we will have to leave these fantastic locations and head to the Great East African rift valley. We shall bird through Ishasha which is the southern section of Queen Elizabeth National Park and have a wonderful time working on our woodland and open country birds again. On sunny days, the sky here is excellent for observing some raptors many of which may have been seen earlier. Most likely to be new should include Gabar Goshawk, White-headed and Lappet-faced Vulture, Rufous-breasted Sparrow-hawk and Banded Snake-Eagle.
This stretch usually offers Impressive views of Wing-snapping, Croaking and Stout Cisticolas, flocks of White-winged Widowbird, White-headed Barbet, Pin-tailed Whydah, Moustached Grass-Warbler, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Greater-painted Snipe, Malagasy Pond-Heron, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Scaly and Red-necked Francolins.
Generally, at this time of the trip, the desire to see the big game will be high, and we will be having good chances for African Bush Elephants, Leopards and Lions in the trees.
DAY 11 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Uganda Birdwatching Tour of Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park tends to start with a lovely sunrise, if we have a clear day, we should expect it. The Kasenyi side is most prefered in this section of the park; this is because it offers excellent lekking grounds for the Kob. Game viewers drive there first thing in the morning and birders too, love it a lot for its open grasslands and sparsely distributed thickets that provide perfect microhabitats for quite shy birds. It also offers the best chances for birds like Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Rufous-napped, White-tailed, Red-capped and Flappet Lark, African and Jackson’s Pipit. These four larks mentioned, are a significant target when starting this morning’s drive. We should see Temminck’s Courser, Black-crowned, Senegal and Wattled Lapwings, Kittlitz’s Plover, Yellow-throated Longclaw, White-backed Vultures, Ruppell’s Griffon and others soaring the sky, Black-chinned and Black-faced Quail-finches, and also observe Kob lekking ground activity. Keeping up with the game birding tradition, we will scan openings, thickets and Euphorbia Candelabrums for Lions. Euphorbia Candelabrum is a cactus-like plant that dominates this part of the park.
After lunch, we shall do an afternoon boat ride on the Kazinga channel. This 40 km natural channel connects two major lakes in this park; Lake George and Lake Edward. Because of the significant wildlife activity at the banks of the channel, we only cover less than a 4km distance, and this takes us to lake Edward for a turning point.
This boat ride typically targets congregations of birds and big mammals when they come down to cool off during the heat of the day. We should get good looks at fishing African Spoonbill, a few African Skimmer, Gull-billed and White-winged Terns, a few shower birds depending on the season and these should include Curlew Sandpipers, Common, Marsh and Wood Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Ruff, Little Stint, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Three-banded Plover, and Common Snipe. Other good birds to expect to see include four Gulls; Lesser Black-backed, Heuglin’s, Slender-billed and Grey-hooded Gull, both Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Yellow-billed, Marabou and Woolly-necked Storks, our first of the many Red-throated Bee-eaters and many more. If we choose to go out for a short evening drive, we will have chances for Square-tailed and Black-shouldered Nightjars.
DAY 12 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Bird Watching Tour to Kibale Forest
We will leave Queen Elizabeth National Park keeping an eye in the bushes looking for Black-headed Batis, and Black-crowned Tchagra while we enjoy a very scenic and photogenic drive along the Mountains of the Moon.
We will leave for the Bigodi Sanctuary Wetland, shortly after arriving at our accommodation. The sanctuary is a community-based initiative and one of the most successful few in the country. With our site guide from the community, we should go around and through the papyrus looking for White-spotted Flufftail, Hairy-breasted, Yellow-spotted and Yellow-billed Barbet, Black-and-White Shrike-Flycatcher, Joyful Greenbul, Blue-throated Roller, White-collared Oliveback, Spurb Sunbird and a Shinning Blue Kingfisher.
The walk also being famous for primates, we should see Uganda Red Colobus which are threatened in this region for being preyed on by Common Chimpanzee (remember to learn from our guide, why?). The Uganda Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Mantled Guereza, L’Hoest’s and Blue Monkey are also very likely to show up.
DAY 13 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Kibale Forest Chimp Tracking – Uganda Trekking Tours
Kibale National Park is the best travel destination for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa and can best be defined as the loveliest and most varied of all tropical rain forests in Uganda. It is christened the primate capital of the world because it hosts 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee (Man’s closest relatives- sharing over 98% DNA). It has 1450 chimpanzees, and these represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate species.
In this forest, we will look for the Chimps and also do an early start for the Green-breasted Pitta. This Pitta is one of Africa’s most difficult birds to find! The time we should spend in the forest looking for the Pitta, we will also look for White-throated Greenbul, Crowned Eagle, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Brown-chested and Fire-crested Alethe, Crested Guineafowl, Western Black-headed Oriole, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-throated Roller, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Blue Malkhoa, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Western Nicator, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Bronze-napped Pigeon, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Lesser Honeyguide, Red-chested Owlet and African Wood-owl among others.
DAY 14 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birding to Masindi
Today, we do the longest drive of the trip; Masindi is seven birding-drive hours away from Fort Portal. Depending on what will be missing from our list, we may decide to spend a few minutes birding the wetlands around Fort Portal town for Northern Masked Weaver, White-collared Oliveback, Highland Rush Warbler and White-collared Oliveback.
The few stops we should do along the way, are for a lunch stop and adding some very likely birds like Yellow-shouldered and Red-collared Widowbird, Brown Twinspot, Red-backed and Brown-backed Scrub-Robin.
DAY 15 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birdwatching at the Royal Mile of Budongo Forest
We set off early today for birding Uganda’s most birdy spots, which is located in the country’s most significant forest reserve. The Royal mile which is named in memory of Omukama (King) Kabalega who ruled the Bunyoro Kingdom from 1870 to 1899 offers pleasant field hours to many birdwatchers from all over the world. The is a big road in the middle of the forest with a beautiful canopy cover. The sides of the road are well maintained with openings extending up to 7 meters; this is very brilliant for undergrowth birding.
Frequently things work out very well before and after getting into the forest here. The forest edges which we regularly explore, usually show African and Black-bellied Firefinches, Grey-headed Oliveback, Compact Weaver, Wahlberg’s Eagle and White-thighed Hornbill, making them our last species of Hornbill.
The interior should show us African Dwarf, Chocolate-backed in the forest canopy and Shining Blue Kingfishers, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Rufus-crowned Eremomela, Ituri Batis, Forest Flycatcher, Cassin’s Honeyguide, Nahan’s Francolin, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Spotted Greenbul, Fire-crested Alethe, Lemon-bellied Crombec,
DAY 16 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Birding Tour of Budongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi
Day 17: Birding to Murchison Falls National Park
The tour continues to Uganda’s largest national park, which is also at the lowest elevation among all other parks. While and after leaving Masindi town, we will scan the trees for Purple Starling. When we approach the escarpment’s thickets and wooded acacias, we will look for birds typical to this habitat. Northern Red Bishop, Beautiful Sunbird, White-fronted Black-Chat, Bronze-tailed, Violet-backed, and Lesser Blue-eared Starlings Whistling and Foxy Cisticola, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Black-faced Waxbill, Cliff Chat, Spot-flanked, Martial Eagle, Black-billed Barbet and hopefully acceptable looks at the shy Dusky Babblers.
As we continue with our drive, we will stop and scan spots for Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Shelley’s Rufous Sparrow, Cut-throat, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Swallow-tailed and Red-throated Bee-eater, Northern Crombec, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Dark-chanting Goshawk, the very localized White-rumped Seed-eaters and many more.
DAY 18 & 19 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Murchison Falls National Park Bird Watching Tour
In this park, we will aim at finding some specialities of the Southern Sudan stretch and new lovely mammals that show up during an African safari.
We drive into the open Savannah of Uganda’s biggest National Park, covering the section north of the river Nile. We should find Speckle-fronted Weaver, Red-necked Falcon, Red-headed, Cardinal and Red-billed Queleas, Denham’s Bustard, Black-headed Lapwing, Spotted Thick-knee, and the critically endangered and uncommon White-headed Vulture. Swallow-tailed and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Banded Martin, Scarce Swift, Senegal Coucal, Tawny Eagle, Heuglin’s Francolin, Pale and Gambaga Flycatcher, Senegal Thick-knee and seasonal migrants. Our mammal list will aim for African Lions, the graceful Rothschild Giraffe, Lelwel’s Hartebeest, Oribi, Side-striped Jackal, and the shy Bohor Reedbuck.
After a proper lunch by the banks of the mighty river Nile, we take a three hours boat ride to the bottom of Murchison Falls, an enjoyable on the Victoria Nile that can find Giant Kingfisher, White-crested Turaco and Rock Pratincole at the bottom. We will also do a boat ride to the Delta and also an evening game drive.
DAY 20 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour: Murchison Falls NP to Entebbe for the last night
After a very proper breakfast, we cross to the southern bank of the Nile to continue with our birding to Entebbe via the top of the Murchison Falls. These very dramatic falls are arguably the world’s most powerful. The bottom of the falls is great but the top is quite something! This is where the world’s longest river squeezes through a very narrow cleft of about eight feet and drops for a straight forty feet down! We never plan to miss this adventure on any of our tours that get to this part of the country.
Today’s drive has the potential of adding good birds to our list, I will list a few of them; Brown-backed Woodpecker, Black and Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, White Helmet-shrike, Yellow-billed Shrike, Red-winged and Orange-winged Pytilias, Bat-hawk, Beaudouin’s, Short-toed and Brown Snake-Eagles, Abdim’s Stork, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Green-backed Eremommela, Bar-breasted Firefinch, White-shouldered Black-Tit, White-browed Sparrow-weaver, Singing Cisticola several other residents and migrants depending in the season.
DAY 21 Uganda Rwanda Birding Tour – Departure