AVU013 – UGANDA BIRDING SAFARI (10 DAYS)

This birding safari starts at the botanical gardens which is a beautiful site for bird watching and then you will transfer to Lake Mburo National Park; a home of wildlife like the; zebra, impala, eland and other ungulates (cloven hoofed animals) and a boat ride on the lake. Continue to Bwindi gorilla National Park which is well known for gorilla tracking but it also provides the best site for birding since its a beautiful forest were different bird species are found. Later proceed to Queen Elizabeth National Park also known as a Birding Observatory which was set up with the aim of studying both migratory and resident birds (February and March offer spectacular sightings of migrants). Since its inception in 1997 more new species have been identified, including Uganda’s first record of bar-tailed godwit.

From Queen continue to Kibale forest National Park which is not only known for chimps, but alsobirding due to the Bigodi wetland sanctuary. This is a home for the different bird species like the great blue turracco, sun birds, sparrows and other bird species. This safari will end at Murchison Fallls National Park, a park where you will be able to view birds llike; Blue-naped Moosebird, Silver bird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver and the highly localised White-rumped Seedeater. Its riverine thickets holds birds like; the Yellow-throated Leaflove, Red-winged Grey Warbler, White-crested Touraco, Double-toothed Barbet, Grey Kestrel, Heuglin’s Francolin and many others.

Tour Highlights

Day 1: Entebbe – Lake Mburo National Park
Day 2: Birding In Lake Mburo National park
Day 3 : Birding tour to Ruhija
Day 4: Birding in Bwindi Gorilla National Park
Day 5: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 6: Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 7: Transfer to Kibale Forest & Birding in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Day 8: Travel to Murchison Falls National Park
Day 9: Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
Day 10: Murchison Falls – Kampala

DETAILED SAFARI ITINERARY:

Day 1: Entebbe – Lake Mburo National Park
Your Safari guide will meet you at the airport and drive you to the Botanical gardens for a half day birding watching. You will then depart for Lake Mburo National Park. Lake Mburo National Park is an extension of the Tanzanian plans with big herds of zebra, impala, eland and other ungulates (cloven hoofed animals). More than 310 bird species have been recorded in the park. It is probably the best place in Uganda to see acacia-associated birds – mosque swallows black-bellied bustard, bare-faced go-away bird and Ruppell’s long-tailed sterling. Also of special interest to birders are the swamps: six so-called papyrus endemics occur here.

These include papyrus gonalek and the highly localized papyrus yellow warbler; the latter recorded nowhere else in Uganda. We will drive the Lakeside Track and Kigambira Loop to look for savanna and Acacia woodland species including Blue-naped Mouse bird, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Northern Black Tit, Red-headed Lovebird, Green-capped Eremomela, Ross’ Touraco and the highly sought-after Red-faced Barbet.

Accommodation: Mihingo Lodge (Luxury),

Arcadia Cottages (Mid-range),

Lake Mburo Safari Lodge or Lake View Resort Hotel (Basic),

Travel time: About: 4 Hours

Meal Plan: Full Board

Day 2: Birding In Lake Mburo National park
After breakfast, we will take a forest walk in Rubango forest. This offers a variety of habitats, conducive for birds thereby making it a very attractive place for bird watchers. There are over 40 species of birds recorded in Rubanga, 5 of which are forest specialist’. Some of the common species are the harrier hawk, green pigeon, narina trogn, Grey-backed cameroptera and double-toothed barbet. The forest, though small is a real high forest with closed canopy.

Accommodation: Mihingo Lodge (Luxury),

Arcadia Cottages (Mid-range),

Lake Mburo Safari Lodge or Lake View Resort Hotel (Basic),

Meal Plan: Full Board
Day 3: Birding tour to Ruhija
Rise very early for a day of Birding in the Ruhija area. Bird life and primate life in Bwindi is quite superb, and there is an incredible variety of flora. Bwindi is the Bird watchers haven! It holds more than 348 species of birds and supports 24 of 26 Albertine Rift Endemics that occur in Uganda; and seven red data book species. Once continuous with the forests of the Virunga Volcanoes (Dian Fossey’s stomping ground), Bwindi is now an ecological island, surrounded by cultivation on the rich volcanic soils.

In the afternoon you will depart for Buhoma Village from the other side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We will be stopping en-route to the productive sites for bird watching. We will be arriving at Buhoma in the afternoon.

Accommodation:

Gorilla Forest Camp or Mahogany Springs or Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, (Luxury),

Gorilla Mist Camp or Sliver Back Lodge (Mid-range),

Buhoma Community Bandas or Wagtail Eco Lodge (Basic).

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Travel Plan: About 6 hours

Day 4: Birding in Bwindi Gorilla Forest
In the morning you will discover the forest trails, the River Ivy trail is by far the longest in the park and will occupy you for a full day. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.

The Munyaga river trail is ideal for a short walk. Here you can see birds and primates of the forest edge. The popular waterfall trail provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colorful array of butterflies. This trail which leads to three delightful crystal clear waterfalls typifies your impression of a tropical rainforest.

The Rushura trail commands expansive views across the Western Rift Valley floor. To the west, Congo’s Park Nationale des Virungus provides a spectacular backdrop, and on a clear day Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains are visible.

The 5.2km Muzabajiro Loop trail offers breath taking views of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Western Rift Valley and the Virunga. On the way, you witness hundreds of pre-historic tree ferns. The top of the trail is a great place for a picnic lunch.

Accommodation:

Gorilla Forest Camp or Mahogany Springs or Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, (Luxury),

Gorilla Mist Camp or Sliver Back Lodge (Mid-range),

Buhoma Community Bandas or Wagtail Eco Lodge (Basic).

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Day 5: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Rise early for another short walk along the Impressive diversity of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, return to the Lodge for a luxurious breakfast were after you will depart to Queen Elizabeth National park.

We will drive to the lodge, stop for bird watching along the way. Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular park and host to a large variety and volume of wildlife. There are over 560 species of bird found here including the martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, Verreaux’s eagle owl and African skimmer but it’s most known for the shoe bill.

Accommodation: Mweya Safari Lodge (Luxury),

Kyambura Game Lodge or Katara Lodge (Mid-range),

Enganzi Lodge (Basic).

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Travel Plan: About 4 hours

Day 6: Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
An early morning game drive will provide the best opportunity to see a wealth of animals such as elephant, warthog, lion, hyena, Uganda kob, waterbuck and bushbuck. Later, a launch cruise will allow you to experience wildlife up close where hippos huff and spray mere feet away, buffalo linger in the shallows and a tremendous variety of birds grace the grasses on the river’s edge. Amongst those you will see are the malachite and pied kingfishers, great white and pink-backed pelicans and the open-billed stork.

There is also a Bird Observatory here which was set up with the aim of studying both migratory and resident birds (February and March offer spectacular sightings of migrants). Since its inception in 1997 more new species have been identified, including Uganda’s first record of bar-tailed godwit.

Accommodation: Mweya Safari Lodge (Luxury),

Kyambura Game Lodge or Katara Lodge (Mid-range),

Enganzi Lodge (Basic).

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Day 7: Transfer to Kibale Forest & Birding in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Have an early start with a packed lunch then depart for Kibale National Park. This is a large protected block of rainforest which offers a very different variety of birds to those already seen. Take a forest walk and find the fruiting trees which attract Narina’s trogon, pied hornbill, yellow-spotted, hairy-breasted and yellow-billed barbets. Kibale also has the joyful greenbul, which is rare to other Ugandan parks.

This park is rain forest, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp. Roughly 355 bird species have been recorded in Kibale Forest, including Prigogine’s ground thrush and four other species not recorded in any other national park: Nahan’s francolin, Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater and the masked apalis. Kibale Forest bird checklist is similar to that of Semliki National park, but also includes a greater variety of water and grassland species.

In case you have time in the afternoon, visit Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. This guided 4.5km circular trail through this small sanctuary is a must for birders, but can be muddy and it is advisable to wear hiking boots. Some of the birds you are likely to see are: – the great blue touraco, papyrus gonalek, various barbets, woodpeckers, blue-throated roller, grey parrot, bronze sunbird, black-crowned waxbill, grey-backed black finch, swamp flycatcher, red and snowy-headed robin-chats, grosbeak…and so the list goes on. Needless to say, birders who have the time will undoubtedly find this a worthwhile trail.

Accommodation: Ndari Lodge or Kyaninga Lodge (Luxury),

Primates Lodge (Mid-range)

Chimps Nest (Basic).

Meal Plan: Full Board

Travel Time: About 4 Hours

Day 8: Travel to Murchison Falls National Park
After a relaxed morning in the magical surrounding we will depart with a packed lunch to Murchison Falls National Park; this beautiful drive takes approximately 8 hours and will give you a good insight to the Ugandan way of life. We will continue on, taking a ferry across to the far bank to view the wildlife that come to the river to cool off.

Accommodation: Paraa Safari Lodge (Luxury),

Bwana Tembo Lodge (Mid-range),

Red Chilli Tented Camp (Basic)

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Travel time: About 8 hours

Day 9: Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
In the morning, take a boat trip downstream to the delta where abundant water birds can be viewed on the way. We will return to the lodge for lunch and have some time to relax before going out for a game drive exploring the many tracks and trails around Murchison Falls Park. The park HQ at Paraa holds some excellent species including the Blue-naped Moosebird, Silver bird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver and the highly localised White-rumped Seedeater. The riverine thickets hold Yellow-throated Leaflove, Red-winged Grey Warbler, White-crested Touraco, Double-toothed Barbet, Grey Kestrel, Heuglin’s Francolin and many others. Crossing the Victoria Nile of the ferry, one might encounter Stanley’s Bustard and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. The grasslands support Bar-breasted Fire finch, Fawn-breasted, Black-faced and Black-rumped Waxbills.

Accommodation: Paraa Safari Lodge (Luxury),

Bwana Tembo Lodge (Mid-range),

Red Chilli Tented Camp (Basic)

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Day 10: Murchison Falls – Kampala
Another early morning on the boat, for another birding day at the Delta. With a packed lunch we will depart back to Kampala. En-route to the Lodge we will drive to the top of Murchison Falls – here you will appreciate the awesome power of the Nile as it thunders through a small 8 meter gap, dropping 40metres to the bottom. Once out of the park this drive will take you approximately 5 hours. You will stop to fresh up in the hotel before your guide transfers you to Entebbe Airport for your flight back home.

Meal Plan: Full Board.

Travel Plan: About 7 hours.
END OF UGANDA BIRDING SAFARI (10 DAYS)

The Safari Package Covers:

Park Entrance fee
Launch cruise along the Nile and Kazinga Channel
Bigodi Nature walk
Community walk
Park Ranger Fees.
Relevant Government Taxes.
Full Board Accommodation (9 nights) and en-route meals as indicated in the itinerary.
Full time English speaking Driver/Guide
Ground Transportation by a 4×4 safari vehicle
Airport transfer as long as your flight is on the same day on which the safari ends.

Safari Exclusions:

Air Fares
Visa Fees
Expenses of personal nature such as; personal insurance, drinks, tips, laundry, telephone, cigarettes, accommodation & meals not indicated in the itinerary and optional activities

Extra Services:

Airport transfers Entebbe-Kampala (USD 40$), Kampala-Entebbe- (USD 30$)

Booking accommodation for you (Night before safari starts and after safari in case your flight is on the next day). We recommend the following accommodations:

Meal Plan: Bed and Breakfast

Serena Hotel, (Luxury – USD 413 for a single room; USD 437 for a double/twin room),

Sheraton Hotel (Luxury – USD 297 for a single room; USD 321 for a double/twin room),

Cassia Lodge (Mid-range – USD 105 for a single room; USD 135 for a double/twin room)

The Lodge (Budget and Mid-range -USD 50 for a single room; USD 60 for a double/twin room)