Uganda bird watching safari
There can be few birding safari destinations on Earth where one can expect to find over 600 bird species in one park alone – Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park
is one. Uganda is arguably the best birding destination in Africa. With over 1040 bird species already recorded in the country, Uganda is the best place to go birding in Africa.
Uganda is not new to birders. Several tourists have visited the country on different birding trips and visited different bird watching destinations that include forests, wetlands, Savannah grasslands etc. Accolades for Uganda’s birding delights are rarely understated. Nigel Wheatley, for instance, in Where to Watch Birds in Africa (1995) said: “In terms of its size, Uganda is the richest country for birds in Africa.” And this immense volume and diversity occurs miraculously in a space which keen birders can cover in a relatively short visit.
Day 1 Mabamba swamp, lake Mburo national park
6:30 am birders will have their breakfast, get in the vehicle and head to mabamba swamp here bird watching brings in the rare Shoe-bill, African Jacana, African Pigmy Goose, African Purple Swamp Hen, African Water Rail, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Common Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, Squacco Heron, Swamp Flycatcher, White-faced Whistling Duck, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, Lizard Buzzard, Black Crake, Long-toed Lapwing, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Black-and-white Casqued Horn-bill, Banded Martin, Angola Swallow, Greater Swamp Warbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Slender-billed Weaver, Vieillot's Weaver, Yello-backed Weaver, Fan-tailed Widow-bird, and Common Wax-bill.
The bird watching is mostly done on makoro or dug-out canoes through the swamp. You will have a cold lunch of sandwiches.
2 pm we travel slowly to lake mburo for overnight say.
Day 2: Lake Mburo birding safari.
6:00 am you will be required to be up as you will watch several species flying around. 7 am we shall have breakfast then go on a birding and game drive following various tracks in Lake Mburo National Park which is home to Zebra, Giraffe, Topi, Eland, Impala, Buffalo, Water Buck, warthog and many more.
Grassland Pipit, Golden-breasted Bunting, Bateleur, Ruppel’s Long-tailed Starling, Common Bul-bul, Brown Parrot, Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture, Grey Horn-bill, Black-headed Oriole, White-backed Scrub Robin, White-browed Coucal, Lesser Masked Weaver, Water Thick-knee, Wood Hoopoe, Verreux’s Eagle Owl, Tawny Eagle, Senegal Lapwing, Plain-backed Pipit, Greater Honey-guide, Sooty Chat, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Red-faced Crombec, Brown-tailed, Bronze-tailed Starlings, Northern Brubru, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Little Bee-eater, Chin-spot, Grey Kestrel, Coqui Francolin, Broad-billed Roller.
You head back for lunch, rest from the afternoon heat. From 4 pm you see various birds on and around the lake.
Day 3: Birding safari extends to Bwindi Impenetrable
8 am we transfer to Bwindi forest national park also famously known for tracking the nearly extinct mountain gorillas.
Day 4: Uganda Birding safari Bwindi Forest.
Bwindi forest is the best birding safari spot in Uganda, these are the some of the common species Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Mountain Illadopsis, African Hill-Babbler, Dusky Tit, Blue-throat-ed Brown Sun-bird, Blue-headed Sun-bird, Northern Double-collared Sun-bird, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick- billed Seed-eater, Streaky Seed-eater, African Green Broad-bill, Shelly’s Crimson-wing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, African Golden Oriole, Stuhlmann’s Starling, Narrow-tailed Starling, Waller’s Starling, Strange Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver, Black-billed Weaver, Dusky Crimson-wing, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Wood-Owl, Rwenzori Night-jar, 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 Broad-bill, Western Green Tinker-bird, African Green Broad-bill, Lagdens Bush Shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Archer’s Ground Robin, Toro Olive-Green-bul, Ansorge’s Green-bul, 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, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced Apalis, Black-throat-ed Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throat-ed Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Grey-headed Sun-bird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Sooty Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, White-naped Raven, Montane Oriole, Yellow-bellied Wax-bill, Magpie Mannikin.
Day 5: Gorilla tracking Bwindi impenetrable forest.
Gorilla tracking is suggested as an optional activity. It is up to clients to choose or just stay focused on bird watching. Otherwise we continue with another day of bird watching.
Details of this experience will be shared upon notice.
Day 6: Birding safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
As we drive to Queen Elizabeth national park be on the look out for Red Chested Cuckoo, Grey capped Warbler, African Long Crested Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Black and white Manikin, Black headed wax-bill Senegal Coucal, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, etc.
Queen Elizabeth has a healthy biodiversity making it a bird watching paradise in Uganda with well over 610 species on record. For certain there has been a 300 record in a single day. Greater and Lesser Flamingo, rare Shoe-bill, Black Bee-eater, Caruthers’s Cisticola, Terek Sandpiper, Secretary Bird, and Temminck’s Courser, Harlequin, Blue, Small (Common) Button Quails, African Crake, White-winged Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Papyrus Gonolek, Amur Falcon, Ovampo Sparrow-hawk, Lowland Akalat among the special species.
Along side your Uganda birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park you will definitely see Spotted Hyena, Bush and Water Bucks, Warthogs, Giant Forest Hogs, African Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Ugandan Kobs, Side-striped Jackal, Baboons, Chimpanzees and many more.
Day 7: Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Boat trip on Kazinga Channel.
After breakfast we set out for a bird watching safari and game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park. Later in the afternoon you have an exciting boat cruise on the Kazinga channel. This is a narrow neck of water that connects Lakes George and Edward, with excellent photographic opportunities for waterside birds and abundant Hippopotamus. The birds you are likely to encounter include: African Skimmer, Striated Heron, African Spoonbill, Water Thick-knee, Three-banded Plover, Marsh, Green, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Gray-headed Gull, Plain Martin Lesser Swamp-Warbler and Yellow-billed Oxpecker.
Day 8: Uganda Birding safari to Imaramagambo Forest, transfer to Kibale Forest.
After an early breakfast, we head for Imaramagambo Forest. A few specialties at this forest include; the Yellow-bellied and Jameson’s Wattle-eyes, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed and Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Brown and Grey-chested Illadopsis, Shinning Blue Kingfisher, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Narina Trogon, Least Honey-guide, Grey Green-bul, Brown-chested Alethe, and the African Fin-foot. The trail through the forest leads past a bat cave, which is rather impressive, and if we are lucky we may come across a Python that lives in the cave and feasts on the bats.
Later in the afternoon, we drive to Kibale forest National Park. Kibale forest is a good site for a number of birds that are hard to find elsewhere including; Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’s Green-bul and Joyful Green-bul as well as White-spotted Fluff-tail, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Lesser Honey-guide, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Olive-back. Stay at Chimpanzee Guesthouse, Nature Lodges and Ndali Lodge for three nights.
Day 9: Bird watching safari in Uganda, Kibale Forest National Park (optional Chimp tracking).
After an early breakfast we drive to Kibale Forest National Park visitor center for briefing prior to chimp tracking. Kibale Forest is known for its thirteen species of primates; Monkeys like the; Black and White Colobus, Red Colubus, Red Tailed and Blue Monkeys. Others are Olive Baboon, Chimpanzee, Pottos and Bush Babies. Our tracking may last for a few to several hours and we will conduct light birding along the way.
Bird watching in the afternoon along the main road may be productive. Depending on the weather predictions, birding Bigodi wetland is also productive with riverine forest specialties. Species include: Black headed, Grosbeak, Black-necked, Vieillot’s, and Black billed Weavers, Speckled Mouse-bird, Mosque Swallow, Blue Flycatcher, Black and White Mannikin, Red-eyed Dove, White-chinned Prinia, Little Grey and Joyful Green-buls, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Lead-colored Flycatcher, Open-billed Stork, Olive-bellied Sun-bird, White-throat-ed Apalis, White-winged Warbler, Black-billed Turaco, White-spotted Fluff-tail, Alpine Swift, Collared Sun-bird, Papyrus Sun-bird, White-breasted Negro-finch, Superb Sun-bird, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Hadada Ibis, Senegal Plover, Purple-headed Starling, Toro Olive Green-bul, Black-crowned Wax-bill, Brown-backed, White-crowned Scrub-robins, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, Abdim’s Stork, Red-headed Blue-bill, Black-headed Heron, Senegal Coucal, Spectacled Weaver, Cameroon Sombre Green-bul, Red-faced Cisicola, Bocages (Grey Green) Bush Shrike, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Black and White Casqued Horn-bill, Yellow White-eye, Tambourine Dove, Dark-capped Yellow, Grey-capped Warblers, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Black and White Shrike-flycatcher.
Day 10: Birding Kibale Forest National Park – Uganda
After breakfast, we head once more into Kabale Forest looking for any species we may have missed the previous day. Our trip list needs will take us to either the Sebitoli section or the Kanyancu area. Here, we have chances of seeing the; Black-billed Turacco, Honey-guide Green-bul, Purple-headed Starling, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Green-throat-ed Sun-bird, Little Green Sun-bird, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Mountain Wagtail, Narrow-tailed Starling, Superb Sun-bird, Black and White Casqued Horn-bill, African Grey Parrot, Black Weaver, Speckled Tinker-bird, Long-crested Eagle, and many others.
Day 11: Uganda Bird watching safari to Budongo forest.
We take a long drive to Budongo, arriving late afternoon. If time allows, we may bird along the way at Busingiro section of Budongo Forest.
Stay in Masindi Hotel or Court View Hotel for three nights.
Day 12: Bird watching safari in Uganda – The Royal Mile.
A short drive from the hotel at dawn will take us to one of Uganda’s best bird watching sites, the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is so called because this has historically been a leisure spot for the traditional King.
Here the main trail in this excellent forest has been cut back a few meters along both sides which makes for particularly good viewing. Specialty birds in Budongo include; White-thighed and Black-and-white-casqued Horn-bills, 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 Bristle-bill, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Brown Illadopsis. Green-buls are ever a challenge and include Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honey-guide and Spotted, whilst other regular species are; Speckled Tinker-bird, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Green Crombec, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Buff-throat-ed 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. Other possibilities here are; Great Sparrow-hawk, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Crested Guinea-fowl, Tambourine Dove, Grey Parrot, African Emerald and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos, Yellow-bill, White-throat-ed Bee-eater, Yellow-throat-ed Tinker-bird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Dusky Tit, Western Nicator, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Forest Robin, Black-throat-ed and Black-capped Apalis, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spine-tails, Wilcock’s Honey-guide, Yellow and Grey Long-bills, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Blue-throat-ed Brown and Little Green Sun-birds, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe and Uganda Woodland Warbler, Ituri Batis.
Day 13: Birdwatching safari – Busingiro Section.
On this day, we bird in the Busingiro section of Budongo Forest. Specialties here include; Red-headed Malimbe, Sooty Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Tit Hylia, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Buff-throat-ed Apalis, Black-throated Apalis, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Green Sun-bird, Superb Sun-bird, Tambourine Dove, Golden-breasted Bunting, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, African Jacana, African Fish Eagle, Sabine’s Spine-tail, White-rumped Spine-tail, Pied Kingfisher, Angola Swallow, Purple-headed Starling, Hamerkop, White-headed Saw-wing, Cassin’s Spine-tail, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Senegal Coucal.
Day 14: Birding Safari – Murchison Falls National Park.
After breakfast, we drive northwards to Murchison Falls National Park birding through the Escarpment. Special birds include; Cliff Chat, Yellow-fronted Tinker-bird, Grey 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 Fire-finch, Black-faced Wax-bill and March Tchagra.
Stay at Red Chill Camp, Sambiya River Lodge, Para Lodge and Nile Safari Lodge for 3 nights.
Days 15-16: Uganda Birding safari at the northern bank of River Nile,Launch trip to the bottom of Falls, and birding to the top Falls.
We start birding after an early breakfast. Depending on the information available from our site guides, we may choose to take a boat along the Victoria Nile or game drive to the delta.
Special birds to look for include; Shoe-bill, Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Horn-bill, Pied Kingfishers, Red-throat-ed Bee-eaters, 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 specials include; Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinker-bird, Bar-breasted Fire-finch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Marabou Stork, Red-throat-ed Bee-eater, Silver Bird, Beautiful Sun-bird, Black-headed Gonolek, Speckle-fronted and Golden-backed Weavers, White-rumped Seed-eater, Pel’s Fishing Owl, White Crested Turaco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Carmine Bee-eater, Night jars (Pennant-winged &Standard-winged), White rumped canary etc.
Day 17: Bird watching safari in Budongo Forest, Kanyo Pabidi section
After an early breakfast, we bird through woodlands southwards toward the Kanyo Pabidi section of Budongo Forest. Birding in the forest and along Masindi Road is impressively productive. Special birds at Budongo include; Rufous-sided Broad-bill, the very rare Puvell’s Illadopsis, Red-tailed Ant-thrush, Yellow and Grey Long bills, Whistling Cisticola, Black Bishop, Red-headed and Red-billed Quelleas, Magpie Mannikin, Blue-throat-ed Roller, Yellow-billed Shrike, Pigmy Sun-bird, African Harrier Hawk, Blue Sun-bird, Olive-bellied Sun-bird, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Forest Robin, Red-headed Bristle-bill, Paradise Flycatcher, Emerald Cuckoo, Double-collared Sun-bird, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Little Green-bul, Slender-billed Green-bul, Buff-throat-ed Apalis, Icterine Green-bul, Xavier’s Green-bul, Cameroon Sombre, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo. The forest is also home to Chimpanzees.
Stay in Masindi Hotel or Court View Hotel.
Day 18: Birding safari to Entebbe – Uganda.
After an early breakfast, we embark on a long drive back to Kampala and bird along the way. Stay in Lindsay Cottages, Entebbe Travelers’ Inn or Sophie’s Motel.
Day 19: End of Uganda Hardcore Birding safari / Departure.
Transport using customized vehicle with opening roof; passengers and public liability insurance; full board accommodation; driver/birding guide and armed rangers in the parks when required; all fees for the excursions - activities as stated in the day by day program; all park entrance fees; meals as stated; return airport transfers.
Tips $10 per person per day
Activities not included on the Itinerary
Items of personal nature such as phone calls
1. Balloon safari over Murchison falls/Queen Elizabeth national park $380 per person
2. Travel by air (Extra $500 return flight to Entebbe per person)
3. Lion tracking $80
Terms and conditions
1. At the moment of booking a deposit of the 40% of the total amount is due.
2. Bookings must be made at least 60 days before the date of departure.
3. Steady Safaris Ltd reserves the right to not accept bookings made less than 60 days prior the date of departure.
4. Full payment has to be made not less than 30 days before the departing date of the tour.
5. If the full amount is not paid in due time, Steady Safaris Ltd reserves the right to treat the booking as cancelled.
6. Cancellations: 60 days prior to departure date of the tour, full refund of deposit; between 60 and 30 days, refund of 50% of deposit; less than 30 days, no refund.
7. Gorilla permits are non-refundable.
1. Travelers are supposed to reach Entebbe on the tour starting day before 8 am and leaving from the same airport at the end of the tour after 8 pm.
2. If these times can't be respected then 1 or 2 days should be calculated for the overnight in Kampala
3. Children under 12 years of age are not allowed to see chimpanzees.
4. Kibale National Park offers small walks of 1 or 2 hours followed by creative activities.
5. Gorilla trekking is not allowed to anyone under 15 years of age.
6. Prices for private safari. No extra passengers added.
7. All prices are VAT included.
8. Prices are in United States dollars
9. Gorilla permits are available booking at least 3 months before the departure date.