BirdingPals group departure  - fixed date tours

Local host: Uganda Eco Tours

Maximum group size: 6

Availability: A few places available

Extension: 6days possible extension to Murchison falls national park, Ajai wildlife reserve for the rare black-breasted barbet, Lake Bisina for Uganda's only endemic; the Fox's weaver, and Mabira central forest reserve

Contact: contact deomuhumuza(at)ecouganda(dot)com for more details

 

TRIP DETAILS

15 days bird watching in Uganda

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Dates: Jan 24th – Feb 7th 2014

Highlights: Albertine Rift Endemics, Mountain Gorillas and Chimps

Overview

The tour starts and ends in Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. Upon arrival, you will be picked from the Airport by your driver guide and taken to your hotel for dinner, refreshments and overnight stay. Early arrivals will give a chance to bird around Entebbe areas; the Botanical Gardens and/or any other nearby site that will be decided upon by the group.

January - February are generally dry months; hence we may not expect any showers that may jeopardise our birding activities. Some of our routes connecting to sites are long with a few smooth tarmac roads (some still under construction); they are sometimes bumpy and dusty/muddy taking you through a patchwork of Uganda’s scenic areas passing through engrossing village streets with isolated pockets of woodland, tropical rain forests, Papyrus swamps, fertile farmlands, and captivating hilly landscapes. These are particularly in the southwestern part of the country.

Although we shall do our best to adhere to the schedule below, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control; including flight schedule changes or delays, health threats, local rebellions, participants logistical issues, weather, road or trail conditions etc. The right is reserved to substitute hotels, lodges or camps of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary where deemed necessary.

 

 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 ~ 24th Jan 2014Arrivals

Early Arrivals will give a chance to bird in Entebbe Botanical Gardens (EBG)

Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, EBG is a beautiful place with colourful butterflies, birds and primates in an area of 40.7ha. The habitat has attracted a diverse array of birds – 206 species (both forest and shorebirds) and monkeys; Black and White Colobus and Vervet Monkeys.

Here, the birding walk is more relaxed. Some of the species we are likely to see here include harrier hawk, lizard buzzard, northern brown-throated wattle-eye, willow warbler, olivaceous warbler, African thrush, yellow-throated leaflove, African Grey Parrot, golden-backed, yellow-backed and orange weavers, white-spotted flufftail, ross’s Turaco,  crowned, African pied and black-and-white-casqued Hornbills, Superb, olive-bellied, collared and Marica Sunbirds, ruff, green crombec, Blue-cheeked bee-eater, heuglin’s and snowy-headed robinchat, red-cheeked cordon-blue, grey-headed negro-finch, etc

Overnight: Airport Guest House EntebbeDay 2 ~ 25th Jan 2014Mabamba Swamp and Lake Mburo National Park

We bird to Mabamba wetland in the morning and continue to Lake Mburo in the afternoon. Start very early at 6:00 and carry packed lunch and drive to Mabamba Wetland. Mabamba is about 50km west of Entebbe area on the shores of Lake Victoria. The bay comprises of an extensive marsh with a labyrinth of channels and lagoons, classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda's most famous avian resident. Other interesting species include Lesser Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher, Pygmy Goose, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue-headed Coucal, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, etc. Out of the marsh in the woods and gardens or along the way, we are likely to encounter species like Purple-headed Starling, African Green Pigeon, Grey-rumped Swallow, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Superb Sunbird, Roufous-naped Lark, Grey-capped Warbler, Colored Sunbird, Green Hylia, Dusky Tit, Speckled Tinkerbird, Red-headed Lovebird, the rare Weyn's Weaver etc. Overnight: Rwonyo Camp for 2nightsDay 3 ~ 26th Jan 2014 Whole day birding in Lake Mburo National Park

Morning boatride and afternoon birding in the wooded savannah

We shall start early; have our breakfast at the Restaurant strategically located on the Lake shore and thereafter we go for a two hours boat ride along the shores of the lake looking for specials like the white-backed and black-crowned night herons, rufous-bellied heron, African Finfoot, African darter, water thicknee etc. The papyrus swamp along the shores of the lake holds the papyrus yellow warbler and papyrus gonolek. You will also encounter pools of hippos, crocodiles, buffalos and elephant. We spend the rest of the day on a bird walk in the wooded savannah. Most sought-after species here include tabora cisticola, red-faced barbet, possibilities of the rare crested barbet, which are only known in the remote north-eastern Tanzania, Rwanda and here, brown-chested lapwing, twinspot batis, emerald-spotted wood dove, etc.

Birding here is a delightful experience, with beautiful scenery and a markedly different fauna from other reserves. This is the best place in the country to see antelopes such as Eland, Zebra, Topi, Impala, and acacia-associated birds.

Lunch and dinner will be at the same restaurant.

Day 4 ~ 27th Jan 2014 Lake Mburo National Park to Ruhiija sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Today, we shall check out the Rwonyo Camp, have an early morning breakfast and drive slowly as we bird on the way. We may have lunch in Mbarara or Kabale depending on our pace and later continue to Ruhiija. Early arrivals at Ruhiija will give a chance to bird along the main road. Our first encounter with the Albertine Rift Endemics begins here. We shall have dinner at the Camp Overnight: Broadbill Forest Camp for 2nightsDay 5 ~ 28th Jan 2014 Birding Ruhiija – Mubwindi Swamp

After breakfast, we shall carry our picnic lunch and head for a whole day birding following the famous trail through the forest up to Mubwindi Swamp. The 4km trail to Mubwindi Swamp drops from 2350m to 2050m ASL and is the best place for some of the most difficult to find of all the Albertine Rift Endemics including; the rare and localized Grauer's Rush Warbler, African Green Broadbill, the beautiful Regal Sunbird, and Archer's Robin Chat. Mubwindi Swamp is home to Dwarf Honeyguide, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Apalis and African / Rwenzori Hill Babbler, and Carruthers' Cisticola. Other key species here include Fraser's Eagle-Owl, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Eastern Mountain-Greenbul, Strange Weaver, Black-headed Waxbill, Bar-tailed Trogon, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Waller's Starling, Stuhlmann's Starling, Ludher's Bush-shrike, Handsome Francolin and Montane Nightjar.

We shall return to our Camp this evening for dinner and overnight stay. Day 6 ~ 29th Jan 2014 Ruhiija ‘NECK’ birding and Buhoma

We shall travel to Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park while birding on the way – we do the popular “NECK” Birding or follow the trail that goes to the communities in the morning. The neck is a relatively narrow stretch connecting a small extension patch of the forest to the main body of Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It is characterized by riverine forest vegetation.

Some of the species we are likely to see here include; Mountain Wagtail, Red-tailed and Shelley's Greenbul, Cassin's Flycatcher, Black Duck, Banded Prinia, Grey-throated Barbet, Common Buzzard, Black-billed Turacco, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Dwarf Honeyguide, Red-tailed Greenbul, Black Bee-eater and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Bronze-naped Pigeon, Many-coloured Bush-shrike, Ayres's Hawk-eagle, Bronze-naped Pigeon, Honeyguide Greenbul, Red-throated Alethe, Gray Apalis, African Shrike-flycatcher, Red-headed Malimbe, Dusky Twinspot etc.

Today we shall carry picnic lunch. We arrive at Buhoma late this afternoon. Dinner at Bwindi View Bandas

Overnight: Bwindi View Bandas for 2nightsDay 7 ~ 30th Jan 2014 Birding or Gorilla Tracking at Buhoma

Those doing the Gorilla trek will set off early after breakfast, carry packed lunch and gather at the park headquarters for briefing prior to the activity. Trekking up the hillside to view a family of gorillas nestled in casual, frolicking play is a fascinating, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  You will have an opportunity to enjoy close views of adults feeding, grooming and resting, as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully gentle display.

The group doing the birding will start early after breakfast, carry picnic lunch and begin a whole day birding along the main trail at Buhoma.

Bwindi is generally at a higher altitude and therefore is cooler. Temperatures range between 10 - 18 ° C. Forest birding at Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda and Africa as well. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift Endemics.

Some of the key species here include Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Chapin's Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, cassin's Grey Flycatcher, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Mountain Illadopsis, African Hill-Babbler, Dusky Tit, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Narrow-tailed Starling, Strange Weaver, Magpie Mannikin,  Shelly's Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre's Hawk-eagle, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, (Western) Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Elliot's Woodpecker, African Broadbill,  Lagdens Bush Shrike, Petit's Cuckoo-shrike,  Archer's Ground Robin,  Ansorge's Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, White-bellied Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Short-tailed Warbler, and Neumann's Warbler.

In addition to the birds, other likely encounters include Ruwenzori and Yellow-backed Duikers and the beautiful L’Hoest and Blue Monkeys.

We return to our Bandas this evening for refreshments, dinner and overnight stay.

Day 8 ~ 31st Jan 2014 Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Start early after breakfast for Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is a rather long journey that may take most of our time this day. We shall have a few stops for stretching legs, to have our packed lunch and birding on the way. Depending on weather and road conditions, we may drive through Ishasha section famed for its tree climbing lions. Alternatively, drive through the beautiful sceneries of Rukungiri district.

We arrive late this evening at our camp (about 7km away from the park). We shall have dinner at our Camp.

Overnight: Nyanz’Ibiri Eco Camp

Day 9 ~ 1st Feb 2014 Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park and afternoon transfer to Semliki – Bundibugho

Queen Elizabeth National Park is yet another area with some of the highest biodiversity ratings than any National Game Reserve in the world. Its varied habitats of open savannahs, acacia woodlands, tropical rain forests, dense papyrus swamps and lakes, make it one of the richest parks in Africa. Game in the park includes Elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, a profusion of Hippos, the elusive Giant Forest Hog and handsome Uganda Kob; with occasional Lion and Leopard. The park boosts of over 610 bird species recorded, and a one-day record of 296 species

Start early this morning after breakfast, we carry our lunch packs and drive for about 20min to the park. We shall choose between doing the Launch Cruise and a birding drive in the Savannah area.

Following one of the numerous trails in the park on a game / birding drive will produce special sightings of such species as Harlequin Quail, Blue Quail, Small (Common) Buttonquail, African Crake, Martial Eagle, Stout Cisticola, Black-crowned Tchagra, Trilling Cisticola, Speckle-breasted woodpecker, African Skimmer, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, Amur Falcon, Ovampo Sparrowhawk, African crake, marsh tchagra, black coucal, Secretary Bird (on a lucky day) etc.

Along the Kazinga Channel, there are chances of spotting the African Skimmers, the new record for Uganda – Grey prantincole, snowy-capped robin chat, spoonbills, kittliz plover, flamingos, crowned plovers and many other shorebirds both migratory and resident.

Later in the afternoon, we shall drive to Bundibugho town. Dinner at our Hotel

Overnight: Vanilla Hotel Bundibugho

Day 10 ~ 2nd Feb 2014 Birding Semliki National Park along the famous Kirumila Trail

Semliki forest is one of the richest for lowland forest birds in Uganda and marks the eastern extension of the great Ituri Forest. A large number of Guinea-Congo biome species reach their eastern limits here. This therefore makes it the best place in Uganda with high chances of encountering some of the West African species that cannot be easily accessed from other places.

We shall start at dawn after an early breakfast and set off with our packed lunch.  We spend the whole day bird watching the Kirumila Trail or any other part of the forest depending on the reliable information from our site guides. Key species include Red-billed, Black-wattled, Black-billed and White-crested Hornbills, African Piculet, Zenkel Honey-guide, Black-chested Cuckoo, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Nkurengu Rail, White-bellied, Dwarf, and Pygmy Kingfishers, Piping, White-thighed, Black and White-casqued, and African Pied Hornbills, Fire-crested Alethe, Red-bellied and Blue-billed Malimbe, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Lowland Akalat, Forest Scrub Robin, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Leaf Love, Red-breasted Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Hawk, Pale-fronted and Chestnut-breasted Negrofinches, Black-winged Oriole, and others.

We return to our hotel later in the evening for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 11 ~ 3rd Feb 2014 Semliki and travel to Kibale Forest National park

We start early after an early morning breakfast, check out the hotel, and bird towards the hot springs (or the main road), continue birding on the way up to Kibale Forest. Along the main road from Semliki, look out for Pin-tailed Whydah, black bishop, southern red bishop, brown twinspot, black-crowned and common waxbills, plus many other open country species. We have lunch in Fort-portal town, and later continue to Kibale Forest. This afternoon we may choose to bird in the forest along the main road or the Bigodi Papyrus Swamp.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a community owned and managed nature reserve.  A 4km trail has been created in the wetland adjacent to the forest. The habitat here consists of a swamp surrounded by low, scrubby secondary forest and cultivation. Key species include among others; White-spotted flufftail, Green-backed Twinspot, Cabanis's and Joyful Greenbuls, Scaly Illadopsis, Olive-green Camaroptera, White-collared oliveback, white-winged warbler, white-chinned Prinia, Blue-shouldered Robinchat, Lesser honeyguide, Uganda Spotted and speckle-breasted Woodpeckers, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Red-capped Robin Chat and Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Great Sparrow-hawk, Red-headed Bluebill, Luhdher's Bush Shrike.

Occasional encounters are chimps; black and white colobus and red-tailed monkeys are also residents here.

Overnight: Kibale Forest Camp for 2nights

Day 12 ~ 4th Feb 2014 Birding in the forest for the whole day or Chimp tracking

After an early morning breakfast, we shall make an early start for the forest, where more than 330 rainforest species, including restricted range species have been recorded. Kibale’s specials include, among others: Green-breasted Pitta,  African Crowned-Eagle, Afep Pigeon, Red-winged Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Superb sunbird, Narina Trogon, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Black Bee-eater, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Green-throated Sunbird, African Pitta, African Broadbill, Willcock's honeyguide, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Joyful Greenbul, Honeyguide Greenbul, Black-and-white Flycatcher, Pink-footed Puffback, Chestnut-winged Starling, Green-headed sunbird, and Dark-backed Weaver .

Chimp tracking on this day will be in the afternoon, for those who will be interested. You will have a whole morning birding and later in the afternoon, go look for chimps.

Day 13 ~ 5th Feb 2014 Travel Masindi Town

We wake up this morning; have breakfast and setoff for Budongo area. This is another long journey on a murrum road that may take the whole day with chances of birding on the way. Stopovers will be done at strategic points to provide opportunities for birding, stretching legs and enjoying our Picnic Lunch. Arrival in Masindi will be late this evening

Overnight: Court View Hotel Masindi for 2nights

Day 14 ~ 6th Feb 2014 Whole day Birding the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest

We shall have an early morning breakfast, carry picnic lunch and drive to one of “Uganda's bird watching hotspots”, the Royal Mile. This is historically known to have been a leisurely spot for the traditional King of Bunyoro, hence the name Royal Mile. Here the forest has been cut back a few metres along the sides of the main trail, which provides a good viewing area. Depending on how we shall be successful this morning, we may decide to spend the whole morning here and later in the afternoon bird to Busingiro section of the forest.

Key species include: Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, African dwarf Kingfisher,Cchestnut-capped flycatcher, Crowned eagle, Olive-bellied Crombec, Yellow Longbill, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Forest Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Camaropera, Ituri Batis, Red-headed Bluebill, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Green Crombec, and Crested Malimbe.

Day 15 ~ 7th Feb 2014 Transfer to Entebbe for your flight back home.

End of trip.


Price per person

USD2300 for 6 people sharing accommodation

USD2600 for 4 people sharing accommodation Single Room Supplement US$260.

Included in tour price: National Park entrance fees, shared accommodation (in basic facilities for 14nights) and all meals, bottled drinking water throughout the trip, forest and game reserve entrance fees, birding walks and game drive charges, Boat hire at Mabamba, and L.Mburo, Kazinga channel launch Cruise, Bigodi wetland entrance, car hire and fuel throughout the tour (we shall use an 8-seater 4WD omnibus with an open roof hatch), a knowledgeable birding guide charge, and site /local guides fees. Not included in tour: Flight charges to and fro your country of origin, visa fees, alcoholic and additional soft beverages like sodas, laundry services, gorilla and chimp trek fees, tips to guides and hotel staff, night game drives, and any other items of personal nature