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20 Days Uganda Birding, Primates and Culture Safari

Uganda Birding, Primates and culture

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Duration

15 days

Tour Type

4.47 by 3 reviews
  • Quality4.67
  • Location4.67
  • Amenities4
  • Services5
  • Price4

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Uganda’s wildlife tourism industry is best known for its gorillas, but the country is also home to around 11% of the world’s bird population. ~ Al Jazeera’s Paul Chaderjian reports.

Uganda, is known as Africa’s premier birding destination with the list of birds found in the country topping 1 000! Many of these birds live only in these tropical forests with rare sightings being described as “mythical” while it is believed that some of the birds living in the remote forests of Uganda may not even be classified as of yet!

In the October 2013 issue of Africa Geographic magazine we meet the Uganda Bird Guide Club and chat to them about their lives spent birding in Uganda. This beautiful country must be on any birders bucket list and this is our list of the top 10 birds to see in Uganda.

SAFARI OVERVIEW

This Safari will take us to Uganda’s most visited safaris like Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Semiliki, Jinja, Murchison Falls national Park, Bwindi. This safari is an adventure in-search of Uganda’s rare bird species, the mountain gorilla, and the famous big five animals.

 

Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity (over 1000 species within an area the size similar to that of Great Britain) can be attributed to its location between the East African savannah, West African rainforests and semi-desert of the North. Uganda offers easy access to bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach elsewhere. The country has only two endemics; but if you only take East Africa in consideration, you could count 150 species to be found only in Uganda. Migrant birds are present from November to April.

 

best time for birdwatching

From a birdlife perspective, Uganda is good all-year round, especially since the main birding interest lies in the resident birds. The climate is the main factor to take in to consideration. Uganda is a very wet country. During the wet seasons, roads and forest trails might be in poor condition and rains could interfere with birding time.

In general, the best time for birdwatching is from late May through September, when the rain is less and food is abundant. The main nesting season in Bwindi and Mgahinga (key sites for the Albertine Rift Endemics) is May and June, but from mid-April to mid-May the rains might still be too heavy. February and early March is the only time Semuliki is relatively dry, but it is uncomfortably hot in the north, including Murchison Falls NP. December and January are also good months, since the north is not too hot yet and there is less rain in the south. The best time for primate tracking and wildlife viewing in the savannah reserves is also in the dry seasons, from June to August and December to February. ~ Source: Safari Bookings

Included/Exclude

  • Bird watching
  • Chimp tracking
  • Sport fishing
  • Forest walk
It’s advisable to spend extra day(s) if need arises to enable you accomplish the above optional activities.
  • Additional Services
  • Insurance
  • Food & Drinks
  • Tickets

Tour Amenities

Tour Plan

On arrival at Entebbe Airport, your guide from INTER-TROPICAL tours will warmly welcome you and later transfer you to Hotel. BB.

You will depart for Budongo Forest Reserve which lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south of Murchison Falls National Park and protects the largest natural forest area in East Africa. It boasts an impressive bird list of over 350 species and is the best site in Uganda for a number of sought-after birds such as Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, Ituri Batis and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. This birding hot spot is also home to Uganda’s largest population of Chimpanzees. An excellent network of trails and a wide track known as “The Royal Mile” provides access to the forest.

The Royal Mile is considered by some to be the country’s premier forest birding locality. Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted and African Dwarf Kingfishers are remarkably common and this is definitely the best place in Uganda to see these three species.

Birding in the afternoon and over night at Hotel or Guest House. F/B.

This morning, you will begin your hike by leaving the park head quarters (5400ft 1,646 m), walking past typical “ wattle and mud” Buhonjo homes and gradually moving upward through elephant grass and garden plots. It takes approximately forty minutes to reach the National Park boundary (which can be a pleasant half or one day trip for someone not going further). The trail then follows the Mahoma River after about two and a half hours. After crossing the River, you will have a very steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and Podocarpus forest up to Nyabitaba Hut (8,700 ft/ 2,652) reached about an hour and a half past the Mahoma River crossing. During this part of the trip, you may be able to see Chimps and some times behind the Hut you can see Black and White Colobus and Blue monkeys and catch glimpses of the brilliantly –colored Rwenzori Turaco (a bird of the tree tops). Over night at Nyabitaba hut.

After an early morning breakfast, drive to the Royal Mile and spend the whole day birding here. In the evening, transfer to Murchison Falls National Park via Kaniyo Pabidi, have a game drive while entering and over night at Lodge or Camp.

Murchison Falls has a variety of unique habitants and lots of superb birds, which make a visit to this park a must for every birder.

Habitat: Dense woodland and open grassland Savannah, Papyrus swamps, moist woodland and grassy under storey, Borrasus Palm Forest, lakeshores and riverbanks.

Key species: Egyptian Plover, Secretary Bird, Silver Bird, Denham’s Bustard, Rock Platincoles, Wire-tailed Swallow, Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eater, and many more.

After breakfast, go for a boat trip to the foot of Murchison Falls where the Nile thunders through a small 7-metre gap, or down river to the delta where the Nile empties into Lake Albert. This is an experience not to be missed! The banks of the Nile are home to many species. You may see huge Nile Crocodiles, big Pods of Hippos and other wildlife that may come down to drink from the river, -later return to the Lodge for lunch.

Then off for an early evening drive on to the rolling plains where you can view Lions, Giraffe, and Hartebeest, Buffalo and Elephant as well as many of the other mammals of the park. For the bird watchers, these areas
support the Secretary Bird, Black Chested Snake Eagle, Tawny and Marshal Eagles Carmine and Swallow tailed Bee-Eaters, to pick just a few. This is a beautiful drive across Borassus Palm Forest and grassland savannah down to Lake Albert where the Albert Nile heads north to the Sudan.

Overnight at Lodge or Camp. F/B

Early game drives to the top of Murchison Falls where you can have a close look into the gorge where the Nile squeezes in to a 7-metre gorge dropping 40 meters. The falls are spectacular and thunderous with a beautiful rainbow displayed on sunny days. In the afternoon, drive to hoima bird watching enroute arriving in the evening and over night at lodge or Guest House.

Early morning wake up for breakfast we will drive to kibale arriving in the afternoon and after our lunch we will go for the evening bird watching where we will get a chance to see other species like the Grey-Throated Flycatcher, Masked & Black-Capped Apalis’, Chestnut-Winged Starling, Orange -Tufted & Tiny Sunbirds and a good infrastructure & a variety of interesting activities which makes this a worthwhile destination. There is a network of forest trails that radiate out from the visitor centre, allowing you to search for a number of species that shun the vicinity of the main road. Birding in the forest interior can be frustrating, how ever, as many species are very shy & difficult to see in the under growth. You will visit Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, a superb community development fringing the park. We will be able to see the fruiting trees, which attract Narina Trogon, Pied Hornbill, Yellow Spotted, Hairy Breasted and Yellow-Billed Barbets then return to lodge or Guest House in the evening. F/B.

Leave the hotel early heading north to Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve arriving at the lodge at teatime. Over 350 species have been recorded at Semliki and this is also a good area to see the extraordinary Shoebill and other wetland varieties. The key species here include the African Pygmy Goose, Red-necked Falcon, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Blue-breasted Bee-Eater, Black-billed Barbet, Piapiac, Leaf love and Black-chinned Quail-Finch. Take tea by the pool and watch as the Hamerkop dips into the water and the Weaverbirds flock nearby. The most exciting aspect is that new species are still being discovered in the reserve. You might be lucky enough to discover one. Have an afternoon boat trip on Lake Albert in search for the Shoebill and over night at Lodge or the Campsite. F/B.

Early morning Chimp tracking in the gallery forest of the Mugiri River. Leaf love is in proliferation here, despite being scarce in the rest of Uganda. In the Forest you may see: White-spotted Fluff tail, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush and Blue-breasted Kingfisher.

In the late afternoon, a game drive will reveal herds of Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Reed Buck, several monkey species as well as lots of bird opportunities: White-crested Turaco, Eastern Grey Plantain Eater, Mouse birds, Kingfishers and Bee-Eaters, to name a few. Or take a night drive if possible to see Pennant and Standard Wing Nightjars within 2 meters. Over night at lodge or the Camp site. F/B.

Spend the whole day birding in Semiliki Valley Wildlife Reserve and over night at Lodge or the Campsite. F/B.
Day Eleven: Semliki – Queen Elizabeth.

Early morning game drive ∧ if desired your coffee would be brought to your tent then leave for Queen Elizabeth National Park home of a total of 604 different bird species. There are also good chances of seeing Elephants and Hippos here.

Habitat: Low land forest, moist thickets open woodland and grassland Savannah, permanent and seasonal swamps, lakes and rivers.

Key species: African Skimmer, Black Rumped Button Quail, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Red Footed Falcon, Lesser Flamingoes, Grey Capped Warbler, White’s and Abdim’s Storks (in season), Amur Falcon, Ovampo Sparrowhawk, Wooly-necked and Saddle-billed Storks, and numerous classes of Raptors, Vultures and Plovers etc. Birding in the evening and over night at Lodge or Camp or the Institute of Ecology Cottages. Full Board.

Whole day in Queen Elizabeth National Park bird watching while on a game drive both in the morning and in the afternoon.

Its little wonder that Queen Elizabeth boasts one of the highest bio diversity ratings of any game park or reserve in the world, – from the open Savannah to Rain Forest, dense Papyrus Swamps and brooding Crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward.

There are almost 100 mammal species that include Lions, Hippos, Buffaloes, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Elephants and the elusive Giant Forest Hog in this park.

The primates include Chimps, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Blue Black faced Red Colobus, and Red tailed monkeys and Olive Baboons.

Reptiles are the amazing huge rock-Python, Puffadders, Spitting Cobras, Gabon Rippers, Green Mambas, and Turtles etc. All these are regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula and all this makes a superb safari territory. Returning to the lodge for lunch and over night at either Lodge or Camp or the Institute of Ecology Cottages. Full Board.

A boat trip along the channel on this day will give you wildlife up close: Hippos huff and spray mere feet away from the boat, Buffalo linger in the shallows and a tremendous variety of birds grace the grasses on the channel’s edge. These may include the Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Open-billed Stork, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers. There is also a Bird Observatory here, which was set up with the aim of studying both migratory and resident birds. Since its inception in 1997 more new species have been identified, including Uganda’s first record of the Bar-tailed Godwit. Have a game drive and over night at Lodge or Camp or the Institute of Ecology Cottages. Full Board.

After breakfast, have a game drive while leaving the park and continue through the lush hills birding enroute to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park best known for Gorillas, arriving in the evening.

This is a Montane Forest with patches of bamboo, montane marshes and medium altitude forests. There are about 23 Albertine Rift Endemics that can be seen here with the most exciting being the African Green Broadbill, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Short Tailed Warbler, Rwenzori Turaco, Purple Breasted Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Kivu Ground Thrush, Montane Masked Apalis, Red Faced Woodland Warbler, Olive Green Camaroptera, Handsome Francolin, Blue Headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Nightjar, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Waller’s Starling, Oriole Finch, Streaky Seed Eater, Chubb’s Cisticola, Barred Long Tailed Cuckoo and the Brown Capped Weaver. Overnight at Camp or lodge or the Community Bandas. Full Board.

Mix your love of birds with gorilla tracking on this day! This morning you will report at the park office at 7:30 am to get ready for the Gorilla tracking. Take with you lunch boxes and all the necessary gears to track the rare Mountain Gorilla, perhaps one of the most exciting wildlife experiences. There are now only 650 left in the world! The tracking may take between 2 and 6 hours with a Park Guide interpreting the flora and fauna and the lifestyle of the Gorillas. In the afternoon relax at the Camp or take a forest nature walk that will lead you to the Munyaga Waterfall and a chance to see primates such as the Grey Cheeked Mangabey Blue monkeys and others species. Spend the night at camp or Buhoma lodge or the Community Bandas. Full Board.

Spend the morning bird watching and later transfer to Ruhiija Sector birding enroute; go to Mubwindi Swamp and over night at Camp or guest House F/B.

After breakfast, depart Bwindi for Lake Mburo National Park having a game drive while entering the Park.
Lake Mburo National Park has markedly different fauna to other Parks and Reserves, and it’s the best place in the country to see the gigantic Eland Antelope, as well as Zebra, Topi, Impala, and several Acacia –associated birds. The five lakes with in the Park attract Hippos, Crocodiles, and a variety of water birds, while fringing swamps hide secretive papyrus specialists such as the Sitatunga Antelope and Red, Black and Yellow Papyrus Gonalek.

Have an evening game drive and over night at Lodge, Camp or UWA’s Tents. Full Board.

Early morning wake up for bird watching while on a game drive & get a chance to see species like the Brown Chested Plover, Red Faced Barbet, Southern Ground Hornbill, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Yellow Billed Woodpecker, African Fin foot, Black Collard Barbet etc.
Have an afternoon boat trip and later an evening game drive and over night at Camp or lodge or UWA Bandas. F/B.

After breakfast have a game drive while leaving the Park, have a stop to look at the Royal Drum makers, stand on the Equator and be in both hemispheres at once arriving in Kampala in the evening and over night at Hotel or Guest House. H/B.

After breakfast you will set off again on the southbound road to Mabamba Wetland. This is the nearest site for the Shoebill Stork, Lesser Jacana, Blue Swallow, Black-Shouldered Nightjar, Afep Pigeon, Blue Breasted Bee-Eater, Papyrus Gonolek and the White Winged Warbler. Spend the whole day birding in this wetland and the surrounding areas, have a picnic lunch there returning to Entebbe in the evening to later catch your flight home depending on departure times. H/B.

Note:

Key species and sites: Elephant, Hippo, Gorilla, Chimps, Primates Monkeys (Red tailed, Colobus, Blue, Grey Cheeked Mangabeys) Lion, Leopards, Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, Wart Hog, Uganda Kob, Deffesa Water buck. Reedbuck, Oribi, Topi, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Impala, Eland, Crocodiles, Python. We will see many other things including an astounding array of birds, an incredible diversity of flora, and scenery. Rwenzori Mountains, Western Rift Valley, Crater lakes, Rift Valley lakes, Waterfalls, short grass Savanna, high grass Savanna, Acacia Forests, Borassus Palm Forests, Papyrus Marshes, Lowland Rain Forest, woodland Savannah, Montane Rain Forest and Gallery Rain Forest. Needless to say there are always many surprises on route.

Important:

Please note the gorilla tracking in this itinerary can be done in Rwanda as well if permits/accommodation can’t be got in Uganda at the time of your booking.

Gorilla tracking is dependant on the permit availability at the time of your booking. Gorilla permits in all parks are on a very high demand and we advise that you book them as early as possible.

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4.47/5
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Quality 4.67/5
Location 4.67/5
Amenities 4/5
Services 5/5
Price 4/5

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