Day 1: Pick up at Entebbe International Airport and drive through to Jinja. After landing on the shores of the African Rift Valley's largest lake, Victoria, we shall drive through to the source of the mighty Nile river at Jinja. Birding at strategic stops along the way, including the beautifully landscaped Botanical Garden. We shall look for our first Lake Victoria specials including Northern Brown-throated and Orange Weaver, Orange-tufted and Red-chested Sunbird. The surrounding bush holds Eastern Grey Plantain Eater and the enormous Black and White Casqued Hornbill is conspicuous around Kampala. Later we will drive through to Jinja. Overnight in Jinja Resort Hotel.
Days 2-3: Mabira Forest. These two days are best spent enjoying the dawn chorus at the brilliant Mabira forest near Jinja, which although small, allows access to some fine primary and good secondary forest as well as forest-edge. We will search for Little Olive, Blue-throated Brown and Superb Sunbirds. The parties hold the magical Black-throated Apalis, Forest Robin and Common Wattle-eye amongst plethora of illadopses and ground robins. The forest edge supports the superb Red-headed Bluebill and Blackbellied Seedcracker while the canopy harbors the excellent African Shrike Flycatcher and Red-headed Malimbe amongst others. The dead trees support hole-nesters such as the Grey-throated, Yellow-spotted and Yellow-billed Barbets. The fruiting figs attract the cartoonesque Great Blue Turaco and Pied Hornbills. Overnight at Jinja Resort Hotel.
Day 4: Jinja - Mbarara. Early this morning, we shall make our way through Kampala to Mabamba Swamp on the fringes of Lake Victoria, looking for many of the Victoria specials, including White-winged Warbler, Carruther's Cisticola and Papyrus Gonolek. Other wetland birds abound and we will keep our eyes peeled for Swamp Flycatcher, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, herons, egrets, ducks, plovers gulls, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers and the greatest prize of all, the incredible Shoebill, which is seen here from time to time. In the afternoon we will make our way to Masaka and Mbarara. Overnight at Lake View Hotel ***** or Mantana tented camp if the pax is small i.e. 2 - 6 pax.
Day 5: Lake Mburo N. P. - Kabale. Leaving Mbarara early this morning, we make our way to Lake Mburo National Park and bird the Lakeside Track and Kigambira Loop to look for Savanna and Acacia woodland species including Blue-naped Mousebird, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Northern Black Tit, Red-headed Lovebird, Green-capped Eremomela, Ross, Turaco and the highly sought-after Red-faced Barbet. In the afternoon we shall make our way towards the town of Kabale, birding suitable patches of savanna in between. Overnight at White Horse Hotel.
Days 6-10: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The next five days will be spent at the magical and enchanting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in the rugged Kigezi Highlands of southwestern Uganda. Highly diverse, this park supports 24 of 26 Albertine Rift Endemics that occur in Uganda. Once continuous with the forests of the Virunga Volcanos (Dain Fossey's stomping ground), Bwindi is now an ecological island, surrounded by cultivation on the rich volcanic soils.
We shall start at Buhoma, overnight at Lake Kitandara Luxury Tented Camp. In the valley of the Munyaga River, at 1550 m. There are many birds in this area, but we will be on the look out for key endemics such as Red-throated Alethe, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Montane Masked Apalis, Neumann's Warbler and Ruwenzori Batis. Other non-endemic specials include Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Dusky Tit, Black Bee-eater, White-bellied Robin-chat and Sooty Flycatcher as well as hole-nesting Waller's and Narrow-tailed Starlings in the dead tree snags. The mid-storey is home to Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo,Black-necked Weaver, Lühder's Bush-shrike and Bar-tailed Trogon. Buhoma deserves several days of exploration before we make our way towards Kitahurira, the neck of forest linking Buhoma to Ruhiza. This is the best site for Toro-Olive Greenbul, Cassin's Grey Flycatcher and Western Bronze-naped Pigeon.
At least one day will be spent exploring the highland forest at Ruhiza, some 800m higher than Buhoma, on a clear day one can see all the way to the Virungas. It has a dramatically different nature and avifauna; it is also the site with most of the Albertine endemics. The star attractions here are Collared Apalis, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Grauer's Warbler,Shelly's Crimsonwing,Dusky Crimsonwing, Archer's Robin-chat, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Dwarf Honey guide and many others. The trail to Mubwindi Swamp promises to reveal some of the most difficult of all rift-endemics including the mythical African Green Broadbill. Mubwindi Swamp holds Graur's Rush Warbler and Carruther's Cisticola. Sometime has been set a side for Gorilla trekking (optional) or catching up on more of Bwindi's avian delights. Overnight at Kitandara luxury tented camp and at Ruhiza we shall use mobile luxury tented camp.
Day 11: Bwindi - Queen Elizabeth N. P. After breakfast we make our way north along the Rift Valley shifting past Lake Edward and the imposing Ruwenzori Mountains enroute to Queen Elizabeth N. P. In the afternoon we shall stop off at Maramagambo Forest south of the Kazinga Channel to look for some more typical Lowland forest birds. The mosaic of grasslands, wetlands and forest mosaic make this area incredibly rich in birds. The grasslands are home to wax bills, queleas, bishops, Broad-tailed Warbler, Singing Cisticola, Marsh Tchagra and other rank grassland species. Overnight Mweya Safari Lodge.
Day 12: Queen Elizabeth N. P. Today we will explore the Kasenyi Track and the Kazinga Channel. The late ris famous for its water bird concentrations awash with palearctic waders, herons, Storks, plover, Water Thick-knee, king fishers, terns, ducks and geese, cormorants, ibises and Pelicans. The Kasenyi track supports many raptors, with Brown Snake Eagle Bateleur and Martial Eagles being common, as are the vultures. Other typical savanna birds including shrikes, bee-eaters, kingfishers. Overnight Mweya Safari Lodge.
Day 13: Queen Elizabeth N. P - Masindi. Heading north, we shall explore Lake Kikorongo and the Shoebill Swamps before making our way to Masindi. Overnight Masindi Hotel.
Day 14: Budongo Forest. An early start should get us to Budongo's Royal Mile by dawn. A site for several specials, it is the best place in Uganda for Nahan's Francolin, Cassin's Spinetail and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. We shall also search for Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers. Fruiting trees attract White-thighed and Black and White Hornbills, western Black-headed Oriola and Purple-headed Glossy Starling. Greenbuls abound, and this is one of the only sites holding Spotted, Xavier's, White-throated and Honeyguide Greenbuls. Canopy flocks support Brown-crowned Eremomela and the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec and Yellow-mantled Weaver, Rufous Thrush, Green Hylia, Grey Longbill and Uganda Woodland Warbler. We return to Masindi for the evening. Overnight Masindi Hotel.
Day 15: Budongo - Murchison Falls. Returning to the northern sector of Budongo for the early morning we shall head to Kaniyo Pabidi, the sector of the forest en-route to Murchison Falls. Several species are more easily found here including many of the lowland akalats, particularly Puvel's Akalat. Other specials here include Sabine's Spinetails, Piping Hornbill, Fire-crested Alethe, Brown-chested Alethe, Black-capped Apalis, Jameson's and Chesnut wattle-eyes. In the afternoon we shall make our way to Murchison Falls N.P. Overnight Paraa Lodge.
Days 16-18: Murchison Falls N. P. The better part of three days shall be spent exploring the many tracks and trails around Murchison Falls Park. The park HQ at Paraa holds some excellent species including the Blue-naped Mousebird, Silverbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver and the highly localized White-rumped Seedeater. The riverine thickets hold Yellow-throated Leaflove, Red-winged Grey Warbler, White-crested Turaco, 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 Absyssinian Ground Hornbill. The grasslands support Bar-breasted Firefinch, Fawn-breasted, Black-faced and Black-rumped Waxbills. A boat trip will be taken to the magnificent falls and abundant waterbirds shall be viewed on the way, as well as the parties of Red-throated Bee-eaters breeding along the sandy river cliffs and the famous Rock Pratincoles on the exposed rocks below the falls.
Overnight Paraa Lodge.
Day 19: Murchison Falls - Kampala. We make our way back to Kampala, stopping for birding at Suitable sites. Transfers to flights at Entebbe.
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Africa Uganda Nature & Wildlife Birdwatching National Parks
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