Avian Safaris Trip Reports
Birders Brief Testimonies
Mark has helped us learn so much about Uganda’s wildlife. Mark knows how to find the birds and animals and effectively communicate where they are to us when we are often struggling to find that great new bird he has just found for us. I am very impressed with his taxonomic knowledge of birds and mammals and his ability to effectively pass it on to us.
His cheerful enthusiasm in the field and the genuine delight he shows whenever we see a new bird or animal has made this trip great fun to be on.
I was particularly impressed with how he quickly took charge of things at the scene of an accident by helping to get an injured motorcyclist off the road and calmly dealing with some distressed and agitated people.
Nothing was too much trouble for Mark to ensure we had the best trip possible.
We will be strongly recommending Avian Safaris to our friends back in Australia.
It has certainly been well worth the wait to finally experience such a great trip with your company.
Greg and Judy – Australia – June 18, 2023
Uganda Birding Trip reports – Yes, I made it back safely. You are welcome for the laser pointers. I’m happy to be able to help you out. The trip was absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for all that you did to help organize it and helping me with the visa. Everything about the trip was fantastic. I thought the itinerary was excellent, since it allowed me to appreciate several different ecosystems and the animals found in each. The hotel choices were great too. Mark did a wonderful job as a guide also. He was very personable and knowledgeable and made it a relaxing and fun trip. He also did a fantastic job of finding birds and other wildlife and explaining the best places to look for species to me, which made it particularly fun. His skill helped me to see a wide diversity of amazing birds and a lot of other really cool mammals and reptiles and he did a great job of focusing on my interests and finding highlight species for me. I really can’t say enough good things about the job that he did – it was fantastic. I will highly recommend Avian Safaris and Mark to anyone I know who is interested in traveling to Uganda. Thank you again for putting together such a wonderful tour for me!
Cody – USA – August 2022
Yes, we have settled in well- we just got a little temperature shock arriving at 9°C here in Vienna.
Our trip was memorable, and I feel we only scratched the surface of the vast repertoire of wildlife Uganda has to offer – if almost every bird species you see is new, you can’t do them enough justice appreciating their beauty and unique features. It is tough to pick out any highlights, but I will try:
Birding-wise it has to be the “school track” in Bwindi we did on the evening of day 4 – the one going off to the right just after the meeting point for the Gorilla tracking in Ruhija, where the forest is bordering more open agricultural land. The abundance and diversity of birds in that small area is something I have never witnessed before – a true birders paradise. I would say it is a must for every visiting birder! Unbelievable, how the trees and air were brimming with birds.
Landscape-wise, one outstanding highlight was Murchison Falls – most probably because it had received some rain recently. Seeing the savannah tinted in green, backdropped by spectacular skies was unforgettable. And although the Abyssinian Ground-hornbill is an easy and common bird, I feel most birders don’t appreciate them enough – they are just so unlike anything I’ve seen in their surreal beauty – a true reminder what ancient creatures birds are and easy to see they are the descendants of dinosaurs.
Sound-wise, the dawn chorus at Kanyanchu Forest in Kibale NP was really special to me – lots of calls Tambourine Doves echoing through the forest creating a continuous pulsating background, with Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Western Black-headed Oriole, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird (and a few other species) created a unique and impressive soundscape, that sounded like music to my ears – I could listen to this for hours. Sadly, there was a road with speed bumps close by, and obviously, quite some truck drivers did not care to slow down much, so the recordings from there have some noise problems – but I hope I can extract some 5 minutes without interruption. I have listened to most of my records by now, but don’t have much time now for editing them – that will be reserved for the dark and cold winter months.
Tonny is an excellent guide – he was going at great lengths to make us feel safe and comfortable at all times. It took me some time to realize how much work he did, that was “invisible” to us, like making phone calls and organizing everything to perfection during the evenings and early mornings.
And last, but not least a big thank you for always responding so quickly and being so flexible in adjusting the itinerary – even while you were on the road guiding tours! The trip was well planned, and everything went exceptionally smooth.
Hendrik – Austria – August 2019
Uganda Birding Trip Reports – I have managed to finalise my records of what I saw during our recent Uganda trip. I lost a few species to HBW re-combinations (e.g. Jackson’s Pipit returning to the fold of African Pipit), but I gained somewhat more!
I saw/heard 444 species, with two of these each showing a couple of different races, for a total of 446 different forms. The total of 446 is not bad for a 2-week trip, but would have been much higher if we had been chasing the numbers! But we were concentrating on difficult forest birds, especially Albertine Rift endemics. We saw so many really good/difficult species, it is difficult to select the ‘best” – but think about seeing 4 small honeyguides, Green-breasted Pitta, Grauer’s Broadbill, 3 different sooty boubous, Grauer’s and White-winged Swamp Warblers, Neumann’s (Short-tailed) Warbler, 3 illadopses. Rwenzori Hill-Babbler, both ant-thrushes, 2 alethes, 2 akalats, Dusky Crimsonwing, White-collared Oliveback and Jackson’s Pipit!”
My new lifers totalled 68, quite the best I have managed in many years (never mind that most earlier trips were 3 weeks or more). Only 4 of these need to have BVD attached to them. I had already glimpsed one of these lifers and had already heard a further 8. But It was the first time I had ever come across the remaining 59 species. In addition, I glimpsed 2 additional species (H+) and heard-only a further 5.
I had already seen the remaining 371 forms, 89 of them on previous visits to Uganda. The other 282 forms were new Uganda birds for me. Of these, one sighting allowed me to remove a BVD label, one was also a first for me in Africa; 77 were races that were new to me (including 12 forming new Groups which have a high possibility of being split off at some future date); with the remaining 203 forms being races I had seen before, but outside Uganda.
Much of the credit to Avian Safaris’ team, through picking an appropriate itinerary and then locating the birds themselves. Thanks you, once again!
I shall now be sending Crammy an updated list of my remaining Ugandan potential lifers, to see whether a further Uganda trip would be worthwhile.
Stephen Eccles – UK – April 2019
I’m sitting in the restaurant at the Airport View Hotel, Entebbe reflecting on an amazing trip.
Prossy and Tony were brilliant. They worked extremely hard and they are absolutely delightful people. It was more like birding with good friends than the hired help.
I wish Avian Safaris every success. People like Prossy and Tony can only be good for business. I am hoping to bring another group to Uganda next year. If that comes to fruition I will be in touch.
Rob – Australia – November 2018
Uganda Birding Trip reports
Uganda Birding Trip Reports – Our 25 day trip throughout the magnificent country of Uganda in August 2018 was one of the best in our lifetime. We come away with many cherished experiences and memories and plenty of awesome photographs and videos! Very fortunate to have found Avian Safaris, a Ugandan tour company, to partner with and customize our trip. We are very selective and did research to verify the company was registered and well established. Crammy Wanyama, who happens to be the owner of the company, was our guide for the entire trip. We have travelled the world since 1996. Crammy is one of the best guides we have ever experienced! He and all his well-trained, local birding guides are dedicated to providing an expert, quality experience. The company website is designed with details to explain all they have to offer and give you detailed answers to assist you in planning your trip. Avian Safaris proved true to their word. When asking for specific information for our itinerary, replies to our inquiries were prompt and our special requests were always taken into consideration!
There are many highlights we could share about our adventure in Uganda. We chose Uganda, after much research, to explore what is basically some of the best the African continent has to offer: the very welcoming Ugandan people, the culture, the history, good to great accommodations, safe travel, the delicious food, the varied landscapes/scenery, the wildlife and, yes, many birds! Our group saw nearly 600 species of birds and came away with over 350 lifers! And this was only our 2nd trip to Africa (we have travelled to South Africa). Each stop on our itinerary was great. Trekking for mountain gorillas, hiking to view chimpanzees and seeing wild white rhinoceros are experiences not to be missed if you have the time to do it. Birding for the Green-breasted Pitta can be a bit challenging but worth the reward when found. This trip exceeded our expectations and we extend our appreciation to Crammy and his Avian Safaris team!
Rose And Clint Heard. San Antonio, Texas USA – August 2018
Uganda Birding Trip Reporst – We’ve just finished our 3-week birding trip to Uganda and wow what a trip!
Our journey took us from Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria west to the Mabamba Wetland and Lake Mburo NP and on to Bwindi Impenetrable NP for the Albertine Rift endemics, restricted species from the Congo forest. We then birded north to Queen Elizabeth NP, on to Kibale Forest NP and later to the Semliki Valley on the border with the Congo for the Guinea-Congo biome species. Then north-east to bird the Budongo Forest and on to Murchison Falls NP before completing the loop back to Entebbe. This route took us to the most abundant bird areas in Uganda covering a multitude of habitats from lush rainforest to wild savannahs, wetlands and swamps.
We managed 521 species of which 289 were new for us having birdied seven other African countries but all of them (apart from Morocco) further south.
There were many highlights:
Paddling through the channels of the Mabamba-Kamengo wetlands by canoe for Shoebill and finding this extraordinary iconic bird.
Being in the Kibale Forest at dawn listening to the forest come alive and watching Chimpanzees wander by as we waited at a nest for Green-breasted Pitta.
Waiting for dusk out on the savannah in Murchison Falls NP and then spotlighting for Nightjars and watching a lioness hunt Oribi. It was incredible to be out there in the wilderness watching all of the game prepare for nightfall. The game drives in Africa are incredible and none more so than here with the diversity of wildlife.
The non-avian highlight was Mountain Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable NP and then spending part of the morning just a few yards from these impressive primates and watching all of the interactions between the Silver-back male and family members as they went about their daily activities – a bucket list experience for sure and one we will never forget. We also went Chimpanzee tracking which was equally amazing.
Our guide Crammy, was the best guide we have birded with anywhere in the world and having seriously birded 37 countries we know we are not easy to please! He is a superb guide and such a nice guy.
Uganda is spectacular not just for its birds but its wildlife, and friendly people and a very high recommendation for any serious world birder.
As always, Carol will add this trip to the itineraries on her website (www.canbirdtours.com) shortly. Meanwhile, if anyone would like details of our trip including route, guide and accommodations let me know, and I will happily pass it along.
Lots of photos to follow!
It was a pleasure. 21 Days – August 5 to 25, 2017
Derek And Carol Matthews. Vancouver Canada
Uganda Birding Trip Reports – This 22 day Uganda birding and Nature trip were a customised for three. We covered a multitude of habitats Uganda the “Pearl of Africa” is gifted with. We birded inland freshwater shower lines & and rivers, woodlands, bushes and thickets, true Savanna, from Montane to mid elevation and down to lowland forests. Covering the African continent’s most important birdlife biomes – Albertine Rift Montane Forest, East Sudanian Savannah, Northern Acacia-Commiphora Bushlands and thickets, Northern Congolian Forest-Savanna Mosaic, Victoria Basin Forest-Savannah Mosaic, and Zambezian Flooded Grasslands, among others. We did well with local specialities; getting some of Africa’s most sought-after species- Shoebill, Grauer’s Broadbill, Green-breasted Pitta, Eastern Mountain Gorilla and Common Chimpanzee. Well favoured by weather, generally. Some evening showers were well appreciated for cooler mornings. The country was green which is usually the case during and after the rainy seasons, and probably best times for breeding resident species and both wildlife & scenic photography. A few parts like Lake Mburo and Ishasha the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park needed some rain, the latter happening to be the driest during the trip, most of the grass here was golden brown.
With Andre Weiss, Hans Sigg And Dominik Pfister. Winterthur, Switzerland
Uganda Birding Trip Reports
Uganda Birding Trip Reports – Uganda Wonderland
“What amazing sight will we see today?” That was our mantra as we awoke every morning of our 22-day custom birding safari with Crammy Wanyama of Avian Safaris of Entebbe.
We grew to expect something astounding, not because this was our first trip to Africa, but because Crammy put us in position to be surprised. The world of red dirt Africa whizzed by our comfortable A/C vehicle as we went from game park to game park, stopping at selected locations where dancing Gray-Crowned Cranes performed, or weaver nests galore decorated the acacia trees. We always got the best rooms at the best places, like when a herd of 25 elephants materialised right in front and below our cabin near Queen Elizabeth National Park, or where Ankola cattle with those enormous horns grazed and pesky baboons perched around and near our rock cabin (or banda).
If I had to pick a peak experience that did not involve gorillas, it would be a night drive in the savannah of Murchinson Falls Park. Shining our lights out of the raised top of our vehicle over the herds of resting Oribi (a type of antelope), hoping to catch the eye shine of the Pennant nightjars, and seeing the streamer-winged birds take off in the light of our car and flutter into the night like giant moths. Although, visiting a Crowned Eagle nest after tracking the Green Breasted Pitta comes close. The numbers alone are incredible, 2200 km over 23 days, Crammy got me onto 200 species of birds to photographs, while over 500 were seen or heard by someone (that would be Crammy – a master birder) ) on our trip including 9 species of giant hornbills, 12 species of kingfishers, and 7 sightings of the Shoebill. We encountered 57 species of mammals, with 14 species of primates, including 21 gorillas and 16 chimps, tons and tons of hippos (not that many seen really, but probably in kgs!), and a white rhino calf wallowing beside a tremendously horned, rhino mother.
Here are 600 of my favourite photos. http://rauzon.zenfolio.com/p1009494848/slideshow#h907ab7af
Thank you for sharing Uganda with us, Crammy! We plan on returning as soon as we can!
With Mark J. Rauzon And Suzanne M. Rauzon. Oakland, U.S.A
Uganda Birding Trip Reports
Uganda Birding Trip Reports – Crammy is one of the best guides I’ve ever had. Right from the start, he customised an itinerary for us that allowed us to cover every single experience I wanted in Uganda, within three weeks and budget: Gorillas, chimps, Mountains of the Moon’s botanical giants (unfortunately we only saw the Giant Lobelia), Big 5, chameleons, good birding (especially Shoebill), night drives/walks for nocturnal animals, Batwa pygmies etc. Other agencies I asked merely threw me their standard itinerary and hoped that I would bite. On tour, Crammy was accommodating and flexible, polite and informative, and a bird guide extraordinaire with great ID skills (song & sight), even when it came to raptors and waders. He uses site guides (multiplying the number of spotters), which is true eco-tourism as it brings income to the local community. His 10-seater van was comfortable and had a pop-up roof that was great for safaris. It also ensured that the four of us in the tour each enjoyed a window seat. Crammy also went the extra mile. When I was ill, he arranged for the hotel to make me citrus juice twice daily, which he claimed works wonders for him. It perked me up too. He comes highly recommended by all four of us from Singapore.
Gloria Seow. Singapore