12 days adventure through Mabamba Wetlands, Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo Forest, Kibale Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mubwindi Swamp etc. This trip is designed for those interested in looking for forest birds.
Day 1: Mabamba Wetland
Begin early, head to Mabamba Swamp, 15km west of Entebbe and extends across the northern shore of the Lake Victoria and marked as one of the best ornithological sites associated with excellent water- associated bird species and the best place to see the most popular shoe bill. Look out for pygmy goose, lesser jacana, Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow-backed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Blue-headed caucal, and other swamp specialties. At the swamp, most of the birding is on a canoe, paddled by our local site guides. It is truly a life-changing moment looking at this bizarre bird as it preens, showing off its huge grinning, and wooden-looking, clog-like bill. You may also have marvelous views of it as it soars on broad wings. Watch out for the Swamp Flycatcher, African Purple Swamp-hen, African Water Rail, Common Moorhen, White-faced Whistling-duck, Squacco, Rufous-bellied and Purple Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, Black Crake, African Marsh Harrier, Hamerkop, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Common Waxbill, Yellow-billed Duck, Blue-headed Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Intermediate Egret, to mention a few. Dine and sleep at The Lodge/ Sophie’s Motel.
Day 2: Game Drive and Launch Cruise
Head off to Murchison Falls National Park starting in Kampala via Bombo road which should take you about 5 hours. On your way, you will see the legendary Luwero triangle, today which has turned out into a small town with a trading center known for its agonizing history of the Baganda massacre. Continue and branch off at Masindi Hotel for lunch. You will pass through Budongo forest and Kaniyo Pabidi. When you reach the park, drive directly to the Top of the falls, such a pretty site for relaxing and adventure. Camp or lodge at Sambiya Lodge/ Red Chili/ Paraa Safari Lodge.
Day 3: Wildlife Safari at Murchison Falls
Go for an early game view drive on the North of the Nile. Lions, buffaloes, waterbuck, Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi and baboons are some of the animals you will spot. Soon you can take a launch cruise on the Murchison falls in about 2 hrs. Spot schools of hippos, large crocodiles, small herds of buffalo. There’s rich birdlife on the papyrus banks, watch out for the shoebill stork, the most sought after bird in Africa. Go to the Top of the falls; such a lovely scene for viewing the fall, park as well taking lunch or relaxing. Camp or lodge at Sambiya Lodge/ Red Chili/ Paraa Safari Lodge.
Day 4: Budongo Forest – Royal Mile
Begin early and head to Budongo Forest; this is one of most extensive and ecologically diverse forest in East Africa with 465 plant species, a dense concentration of buttresses giant mahoganies up to 60m height. Has the largest chimp population and above all is of great ornithological significance with over 366 bird species. The best spot to do superb birding is the Royal Mile (the single best birding site in Uganda). You can checkout a long list of African dwarf, blue breasted, White-shouldered Black Tit, African Penduline Tit, Black Scimitar bill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike, Rattling Cisticola, the extremely shy Foxy Cisticola, Black-faced Waxbill, and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and savannah raptors like Whalberg’s Eagle, Bateleur and Martial Eagle, Grey-crowned Crane, Cassin’s hawk eagle, Black-headed Oriole and Carruther’s Cisticola, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Tropical Boubou, the colorful Papyrus Gonolek, Vieillot’s Black Weaver and Grosbeak-Weaver and the black-capped Apalis. Dine and sleep at Masindi Hotel /Court View Hotel.
Day 5: Budongo Forest – main road past Busingiro
After breakfast, walk along the main road past Busingiro which is another exciting venture altogether as it is easier to locate the birds. some of the species to look out for include the Red-tailed Bristle bill, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Puvel’s Illadopsis ( one of those rare species), Cameroon Sombre, Slender-billed, Honey guide, Speckled Tinker bird, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Buff-throated Apalis, and both White-breasted and Grey-headed Negrofinches. More species include White-spotted Fluff tails , Crested Guinea fowl, Tambourine Dove, Grey Parrot, African Emerald and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos, Yellow bill, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-throated Tinker bird, Western Nicator, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Forest Robin, Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spine tails, Ituri batis, Wilcock’s Honey guide, Yellow and Grey Longbills, Rufous Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe among others. Dine and sleep at Masindi Hotel/ Court View Hotel.
Day 6: Kibale Forest
Leave early for Kibale Forest National Park. This is a rather long drive, and we will bird at a few key spots along the way. Kibale is particularly alluring to nature lovers known for its excellent chimp tracking and birding, worth also noting having the highest concentration of primates in East Africa of about 13 primates. Such include chimps, vervet, red-tailed, L’Hoest and blue monkeys. It also has bird species beside the primates. Kibale Forest birds include Grey-winged Robin, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, White-naped Pigeon, Green-breasted Pitta, Red-chested Fluff tail, African Pitta, Cabanis Greenbul, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Masked Apalis to mention a few. Dine and sleep at Ndali Lodge/ Primates Lodge.
Day 7: Chimp Tracking
If you a primatologist, you are in the right place. This morning go in search of chimpanzee near Kanyanchu. Chimps live in communities of about 100 individuals; learn about the physical and behavioral aspects we share in common. Check out more primates such the golden monkey, olive baboons, red Colobus, white and black Colobus monkeys, grey checked mangabey and blue monkeys. Dine and sleep in Ndali Lodge (luxury)/ Primates Lodge (budget) FB.
Day 8: Birding in Kibale
At dawn, we head to Bigodi sanctuary (Magombe swamp), which offers an array of birdlife, butterflies and tree species and has one of the best guided trails in East Africa. The Great Blue Turaco and Papyrus Gonolek are the most popular in the swamp. Committed birders admire this sanctuary for its “quality rather than quantity.” birds easily spotted include the Tinker-barbets, Blue-throated roller, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Crowned Hornbill, Yellow bill, Narina Trogon, Honey guide Bulbuls, Cassin’s Honey bird, Masked Apalis, White-chinned Prinia and Banded Prinia, Pink-footed Puffback, Black-and-White Flycatcher, Superb Sunbird, Mountain Wagtail, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Purple-headed Starling, Black-necked Weaver, Dark-backed Weaver and Red-headed Bluebill. There are butterflies as well. Do not be surprised to see the sitatunga antelope as well as primates in the vicinity as well.
Dine and sleep at Ndali lodge/ Primates Lodge.
Day 9: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable national park. On your way, you will notice various Albertine bird species. Bwindi is unique among other parks because of the presence of the mountain gorillas but it has more to offer for committed birders. Watching in the evening around the forest margins of the forest is productive. Bwindi is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemic like black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s warbler, banded Prinia, black-throated Apalis, and Mountain masked Apalis to mention a few. Do a guided walk along the Munyanja River trail from Buhoma following Bizenga River. The shining blue Kingfisher can easily be spotted. Along the Waterfall Trail you will be able to spot over 40 species such as Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, , McKinnon’s grey shrike, Luhder’s and Doherty’s bush-shrikes. Dine and rest at Gorilla Resort/ Buhoma Community Bandas.
Day 10: Ruhija – Bwindi
Ruhija has unique Albertine endemic species, which has ranked Bwindi to be one of the best ornithological sites in Africa. As we move up to this high altitude section of Bwindi, you will notice not only the difference in avifauna but also rare bird species. In Ruhija you can spot the four crimson-wings, augur buzzard, handsome Francolin, red-throated Wryneck, Archer’s Robin Chat, Collared Apalis, Bronze Sunbird, Scarce Swift, Black Saw-wing, Cassin’s Grey, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Toro Olive Greenbul, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, yellow-crested helmet shrike, Stripe-breasted Tit, Yellow Bishop, Collared Apalis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Stripe-breasted Tit, White-naped Raven, Strange and Baglafecht Weaver. Dine and sleep at Trekker’s Tavern or Ruhija Campsite.
Day 11: Mubwindi Swamp – Bwindi
After breakfast we hike to the Mubwindi Swamp for a whole day of birding. The 4 km trail to Mubwindi Swamp drops from 2,350 m to 2,050 m and is the best place for some of the most elusive rift endemics like the beautiful Regal Sunbird and Archer’s Robin Chat.
others include stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Apalis and African hill babbler, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Fraser’s Eagle-Owl, African Green Broadbill, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, purple-breasted, Blue-headed, Archer’s Robin Chat, Eastern Mountain-Greenbul, strange Weaver, bar-tailed Trogon, white-headed Wood hoopoe, Waller’s and Stuhlmann’s Starling and Montane Nightjar.
Day 12: Bwindi – Kampala
Enjoy breakfast and then transfer back to Kampala so as to reach when it is still early.