18 Days Classic Birding Tour

This 18 Days Classic Birding Tour will take you from the Swamps of Mabamba to look for the Shoebill, to the devil’s cauldron in Murchison falls National Park. From here, you will go west to the home of our closely related cousins, the Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, then south to the home of the tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

This shall be followed by penetrating the impenetrable forest of Bwindi that is home to the Mountain Gorilla and the Albertine rift endemics, which shall be climaxed by the low savannah plains of Lake Mburo National Park where special species like the Tabora Cisticola, and the Red-faced Barbet can be seen.

Highlights of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour

Detailed 18 Days Classic Birding Tour

Day 1: Arrival

Arrive at Entebbe Airport and transfer to Entebbe Travellers’ Inn for the night.

Day 2 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Birding Mabamba Swamp and afternoon transfer to Murchison Falls National Park

After an early breakfast, we drive to Mabamba Swamp, 50 km west of Kampala. Stop En route at Mpigi Swamp for papyrus rarities. Look out for; the White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow-backed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Blue-headed Coucal, and other swamp specialties.

We continue to the Mabamba Wetland. At the Swamp, most of the birding is done on a canoe, paddled by our local site guides. Watch out for the Shoebill both in the sky and down in the marsh. Also, watch out for the; Swamp Flycatcher, African Purple Swamp Hen, African Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, African Pigmy Goose, White-faced Whistling Duck, Squacco Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, and Black Crake.

In the afternoon, we bird to Murchison Falls NP. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest National Park (3893sq.km) and it protects a huge chunk of untamed savannah bisected by the mighty River Nile. Today it is part of the even much larger Murchison Falls Protected Area (5072sq.km) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu Wildlife Reserves.

It is named for the dramatic Murchison Falls whereby the World’s longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43 m below.

It is one of Uganda’s oldest conservation areas; it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 to protect a savannah that Winston Churchill described in 1907 as ‘Kew Gardens and the Zoo combined on an unlimited scale.

The park has 76 mammal species including the lion, elephant, leopard, hippopotamus, Rothschild giraffe, Cape buffalo, hartebeest, oribi, warthog, and the Uganda Kob. The park also hosts 360 bird species including the rare Shoebill Stork.

Stay at Paraa Safari Lodge

Day 3 – 4: Birding, Game Drives, and Afternoon Launch Trip

After breakfast, we have a game drive to the rolling plains where you will have chances of viewing Hartebeest, Lions, Buffalo, Primates, Mongoose, Giraffe, and Elephants. After lunch, we will have an afternoon launch cruise where you have chances to view huge Nile Crocodiles, big Pods of Hippos, and other wildlife.

You will also be able to see a wide variety of water birds like the Shoebill, Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Hornbill, Pied Kingfishers, and many more. Nights at Paraa Safari Lodge.

Day 5 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Transfer to Masindi

En route to Masindi, we will pass through lots of wild countries with an open palm savanna, unlike any other in East Africa, and along the way, we may find birds like the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Senegal Lapwing, White-rumped Seedeater, and the weird Piapiac. We will stop at the Butiaba escarpment.

Although it’s not far from the Budongo rainforest, it holds completely different arid savanna landscapes, and species like Mocking Cliff-Chat, Foxy Cisticola, and Brown Babbler.

Stay at Masindi Hotel

Day 6: Birding in Budongo Forest-Royal Mile and Busingiro Section

We bird Budongo’s famous Royal Mile in the early morning. It is a wide forestry track considered by many to be the country’s premier forest birding locality. This is the best place in Uganda for Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. There are many confusing forest Greenbuls to test us including Spotted, Xavier’s, White-throated, Red-tailed, and Honeyguide Greenbuls. Canopy flocks support the Yellow-mantled Weaver, Rufous Thrush, and Uganda Woodland Warbler.

The undergrowth along the track holds numerous skulkers including Scaly-breasted, Brown and Pale-breasted Illadopses, Fire-crested Alethe, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Yellow Long-bill, and Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher.

We will keep an eye on any openings in the forest canopy such as Cassin’s and Crowned Hawk Eagles, Cassin’s and Sabine’s Spine-tails, and White-throated Bee-eaters are all possible. The area around the Park Headquarters is the only site in East Africa for the elusive canopy dwelling Ituri Batis.

Stay at Masindi Hotel

Day 7 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Transfer to Kibale National Park

After breakfast, we will drive to Kibale forest arriving in Fort Portal in the late afternoon. Kibale forest national park is the best safari destination for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa. It contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of all tropical forests in Uganda. It hosts 13 species of primates including the Chimpanzee. It has 1450 chimpanzees, and these represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. It is also home to the rare L’hoest’s Monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened Red Colobus Monkey.

Other primates that you may see include the Black and White Colobus, Blue Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkey, Olive Baboon, Bushbaby, and Pottos. Kibale forest cover predominates in the Northern and Central parts of the park. Kibale is highest at the park’s Northern tip which stands at 1590m above sea level. The park also boasts 325 bird species, including 6 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region.

They include the Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird, and Red-faced Woodland Warbler. If you are lucky, you may also see the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Black Bee-eater, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Black-eared Ground-Thrush, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, and the Crowned Eagle.

Overnight at Ndali Lodge.

Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking in the forest – Uganda

After an early breakfast, we drive to the Kibale National Park visitor center for briefing and chimp tracking. The activity may last from a few hours to several hours. Kibale forest is home to 13 primates of Uganda.

Birding in the afternoon along the main road may be productive. Depending on the weather predictions, birding Bigodi wetland is also productive with riverine forest birds. Kibale National Park is a good site for several birds that are hard to find elsewhere including; the Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’s Greenbul and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Flufftail, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos, Lesser Honeyguide, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Oliveback.

Stay at Ndali Lodge

Day 9 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, we drive to Queen Elizabeth national park. The Park which is named after the Queen of England who visited it in 1954 is the second largest national park in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth national park boasts the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world. This is evidenced by the presence of open savannah, rainforest, dense papyrus swamps, brooding crater lakes, and the vast Lake Edward.

Queen Elizabeth National Park has almost 100 mammal species and a remarkable 612 bird species hence making it a superb safari territory, with elephants, a profusion of hippos, the elusive Giant Forest hog, and handsome Uganda Kob all regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula – which also boasts a marvelous waterfront setting in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Stay at Enganzi Lodge.

Day 10: Game drive and afternoon boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel

There will be a morning game drive searching for; Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Waterbucks, Warthogs, and many more. After lunch, you have an exotic and exciting launch trip on the Kazinga Channel. The launch trip is one of the most exciting water activities in Uganda.

The Kazinga channel is a narrow neck of water that connects Lakes George and Edward, with excellent photographic opportunities for waterside birds and abundant Hippopotamus, huge families of buffalos, and elephants. And you are likely to encounter some bird species as well.

Stay at Enganzi Lodge.

Day 11 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Travel to Bwindi Forest National Park

You start early after breakfast, we will also drive through the Ishasha section where, if lucky, you may be able to view tree-climbing lions and continue to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to approximately half of the world’s endangered population of Mountain Gorillas.

This vast reserve offers arguably the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species. Once part of a much larger forest that included the Virunga Volcanoes in neighboring Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is now an ecological island within a sea of human cultivation and therefore of big conservation importance.

Forest birding in Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda. It is home to 23 highly localized Albertine Rift Endemics. Special birds include; Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-throated Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white-Shrike-flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed Seed-eater, Streaky Seedeater, African Green Broadbill, Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Wood Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, 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 Broadbill, Western Green Tinkerbird, African Green Broadbill, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo Shrike, Grey Cuckoo Shrike, Archer’s Ground Robin, Toro Olive Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, 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 to mention but a few.

Stay at Buhoma Community Rest Camp.

Day 12: Gorilla Tracking

After breakfast, we shall assemble at the Park Offices for the briefing before this historic event. Gorilla tracking is a very captivating activity; It might take 1-8 hours and involves walking in the wilderness in search of these gentle giants. Gorilla Tracking can be a challenging activity, therefore ensure physical fitness. Eight people are permitted per group per day. On occasions, the Gorillas prove elusive but often can be found within an hour by the tracker guides.

It is a wonderful experience to stare into the eyes of these gentle giants; watch them in awe as they play and go about their daily activities. Gorilla Tracking is indeed a “once in a lifetime” experience that you must never miss. Each encounter with the gorillas is different and has its rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming, and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.

Overnight at Buhoma Community Rest Camp.

Day 13 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Buhoma Village walk

After Breakfast, we have a village walk around the Buhoma Community. We will visit the Batwa and you will observe their ways of living. The Batwa were given land upon relocation from the forest and most of their basic needs are taken care of. The money they receive out of the village walk is, therefore, used to buy clothes and food. They also use the money from the sale of crafts for recreational purposes, reading, and buying alcohol.

You will also observe how they go about the process of juice making. We will also visit the traditional healer and you will observe how he treats ailments using tree bark, leaves, and some animal material. He dresses in goat and cow skin to preserve the way traditional healers used to dress. You will also be taken through tea plantations and 10 sites that describe the way of life of the Buhoma Community.

Stay at Buhoma Community Rest Camp

Day 14: Transfer to Ruhija

After breakfast, we head to the Ruhija sector of Bwindi National Park. Along the way, we’ll pass through “The Neck”, a narrow strip of forest that connects the southern and northern portions of the national park. This forest system is the eastern extension of the vast Congo forests combined with a series of restricted-range species of the Albertine Rift.

This forest which extends into DR Congo, is far more accessible and very safe to visit, making this the perfect area for birders to see a range of species that are otherwise logistically very difficult to see. Here we have a chance to find some specialties, which include Cassin’s Flycatcher, Black Bee-eater, African Black Duck, White-browed Crombec, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, and many more.

Stay at Gorilla Mist Camp

Day 15: Birding Mubwindi Swamp

We spend the entire day birding the Mubwindi Swamp area. The 4 km trail to Mubwindi Swamp is the best place for some of the most difficult to find of all rift endemics. This includes Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill, the beautiful Regal Sunbird, and Archer’s Robin-Chat. Mubwindi Swamp is also home to Dwarf Honeyguide, Stripe-breasted Tit, and Ruwenzori Apalis.

African Hill Babbler (sometimes treated as a separate species from Ruwenzori Hill Babbler), the rare and localized Grauer’s Scrub-Warbler. Some of the many species we have a chance of seeing here include the Black Goshawk, Augur Buzzard, Crowned Hawk-Eagle, and Handsome Francolin. Olive (Rameron) Pigeon, Bronze-winged Pigeon, Black-billed, Ruwenzori, Ross’s Turaco, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald Cuckoos. Red-chested Owlet, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller.

White-headed Woodhoopoe, Grey-throated, Double-toothed, and Yellow-spotted Barbets, Western and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Thick-billed, and Dwarf Honeyguides. Rufous-necked Wryneck, Tullberg’s, Speckle-breasted, Elliot’s, Olive Woodpeckers, African Broadbill, Rock Martin, Black Saw-wing. Gray and Petit’s Cuckoo-Shrike, Ansorge’s, Kakamega and Cabanis’ Greenbuls, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Olive and Mountain Thrushes, Red-throated Alethe, Chubb’s Cisticola.

Banded Prinia, Ruwenzori, Black-throated, and Black-faced Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera, Grauer’s Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken-Warblers, Mountain Yellow Warbler, and Black-faced Rufous Warblers. White-browed Crombec, Short-tailed Warbler, Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Sooty Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher. White-starred Robin, White-bellied and Archer’s Robin-Chats, Rwenzori Batis, White-tailed, and African Blue-Flycatchers, Pale-breasted, Mountain, and Gray-chested Illadopsis. Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Gray-headed, Western Violet-backed, Green, Green-headed, Blue-headed, Green-throated, Stuhlmann’s, Northern Double-collared, and Regal Sunbirds, Mackinnon’s Shrike. Lühder’s, Gray-green, Many-coloured, and Lagden’s Bush-shrikes, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Slender-billed, Waller’s, Narrow-tailed, Stuhlmann’s, and Sharpe’s Starlings. Black-billed, Strange, and Brown-capped Weavers, Jameson’s Ant-pecker, and Red-faced and Dusky Crimson-wings.

Stay at Gorilla Mist Camp

Day 16: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo national park is a gem of a park. Though the park is just 370 sq. km in size, its landscapes are varied and even a short drive is alive with interest and color. You will pass gallery forests, open savannah, acacia woodland, rocky kopjes, seasonal and permanent swamps, and open water as you search for the wealth of wildlife they support.

A variety of vegetative habitats surround the open water of Lake Mburo. The lake’s western side is dominated by a grassy escarpment rising above a shoreline fringed with acacia forest and the closed canopy of Rubanga Forest. To the north and east, grassy valley floors are made seasonally lush and soggy by rain and drain between undulating hills.

These seep through expanses of wetland into the lake. Rock Kopjes are found along the eastern margins of the park. These varied habitats support an impressive variety of wildlife including 68 mammal species. These include some rarities.

Lake Mburo national park is the only park in Uganda to contain Impala and the only one in the rift region to host Burchell’s Zebra and Eland. In Uganda, Topi is only found in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks. Common wildlife species include warthog, buffalo, oribi, Deffassa Waterbuck, and reedbuck. Leopards and hyenas are also present while hippos and crocodiles are found in the lake.

Common conspicuous birds we will encounter on our journey to Lake Mburo include; Crested Francolin, Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Blue-napped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood hoopoe, Common Scimitar Bill, African Grey Hornbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Northern Black Tit, Chin-spot Batis, Greate Blue-eared Starling, and Marico Sunbird. The woodland near Rwonyo also supports many of these widespread species.

Stay at Mantana tented camp

Day 17 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Whole day Birding and game drive in the park

After breakfast, we will have a morning game drive in the park looking for mammals including Zebras, Impalas, Elands, Topi, and Buffaloes. In the afternoon, we will have a boat trip looking for bird specialties and other mammals in the park.

Stay at Mantana Tented Camp.

Day 18 of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour: Transfer to Entebbe for departure

End of 18 Days Classic Birding Tour

Africa Gorilla Tours

Africa Gorilla Tours

18 Day Classic Birding Tour

Package Include:

  • Park fees (For non-residents)
  • Gorilla permits (One per person, non-resident).
  • Chimp permits (One per person, non-resident)
  • All activities (Unless labelled as optional).
  • All accommodation (Unless listed as upgrade).
  • All transportation (Unless labelled as optional).
  • Meals (As specified in the day-by-day section).
  • Drinking water (On all days)

Package Exclude:

  • International flights (From/to home).
  • Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour
  • Tips (Tips)
  • Personal items (Souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)
  • Government imposed increase of taxes and/or park fees.