Uganda: Birding, gorilla and chimp tracking (12 days)

Mabamba Swamp ♦ Semuliki Valley National Park ♦ Semuliki Wildlife Reserve ♦ Kibale National Park ♦ Queen Elizabeth National Park ♦ Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Buhoma) ♦ Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Ruhija)

Day 1: Arrive Entebbe Arrive at Entebbe Airport and transfer to guest house

Day 2: Mabamba Swamp This large and accessible wetland near the village of Mabamba on the shores of Lake Victoria is only a short drive from Entebbe Airport accessible through a dusty road (Approximately one and a half hours drive). The immense papyrus swamp is interspersed with channels and lagoons and floating lily pads. This is the best spot in the Uganda to find the mighty Shoebill. The swamp has got a lot more to offer such as Carruther’s Cisticola, White-winged Warbler, Saddle-billed Stork, African Pygmy Goose and Lesser Jacana. Other distinct possibilities include Purple and Goliath Herons, Yellow Billed Stork, Hottentot Teal, Long-toed Lapwing, Grey headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Malachite Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Swamp Flycatcher, Winding Cisticola, Red-chested Sunbird and Blue-headed Coucal to mention a few. We then transfer to Semuliki Valley National Park.


Day 3 and 4: Semuliki National Park 

Birding in Semuliki valley National Park (Kirumia Trail)

Semuliki national park lies in the Albertine Rift valley, North-West of the Ruwenzori Mountain. It represents an easterly extension of the great Ituri forest of the North-Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and its flora and fauna show strong affinities with the Congo basin forests, this therefore makes it the best place in Uganda with high chances of encountering most of the West African species that are not otherwise easily accessible. We shall start at dawn after an early breakfast and set off with our packed lunches  and spend the whole day birding in the Kirumia trail. Possible species include: Red-billed and Black Dwarf, Piping, African Pied, Black-and-white-casqued, Crowned, White-crested, Black-casqued, and White-thighed Hornbill, Red-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated, Dusky Long-tailed, Red-chested and African Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-billed, Crested and Red-headed Malimbe, Green-Tailed and Red-tailed Bristlebill, Fire-crested and Brown-chested Alethe, Lowland  Akalat, Forest Robin ,Red-tailed Leaflove, Pale-fronted and Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, Yellow-throated Nicator & Grey-headed Sunbird.

In this park 53 species of mammals have been recorded but many of which are shy, rare and several are nocturnal. Conspicuous species include Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed monkeys, Olive Baboon and Black-and-white Colobus. Chimpanzees are occasionally heard but seldom seen. Stay at Semuliki UWA Cottages.


Day 5: Semuliki Wildlife Reserve

The reserve has quite contrasting habitats with abundant wildlife and scenic landscape of wetlands, dry savanna and open habitats. The key species here will be: Silverbird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Spotted Palm Thrush,  Buff-bellied Warbler, Western Black-headed Batis, Viteline Masked Weaver, Denham’s and Black bellied Bustard, Heuglin’s Francolin, Red-throated Bee-eater, Black-bellied and Bar-breasted Firefinch, Grey Kestrel, Double-toothed, Spot-flanked and Black-billed Barbet, White-crested Turaco, Speckle-fronted, Slender-billed and Compact Weavers, Red-winged Grey and Red-winged Warblers, Broad-Billed and Abyssinian Roller, Piapiac, Northern Red Bishop, Whistling, Short-winged, Singing, Zitting, Rattling, Croaking and Foxy Cisticola, Sooty and White-fronted Black Chat, Yellow-billed Shrike, Dark and Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Northern Black Flycatcher, Beautiful Sunbird, Shelley’s Rufous Sparrow.

Game viewing includes Elephants, Warthog, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Uganda Kob, Defassa Waterbuck. The abundant of herbivores support a healthy Lion population.

We then transfer to Kibale.


Day 6: Kibale National Park

Today we shall leave at dawn and continue birding in this rainforest. One of the main target species in Kibale, first found in Uganda by Harriet Kemugisha, is Green-breasted Pitta. Kibale is by far the best place in Africa to find this elusive species. Other targets include White-spotted Flufftail, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, African Blue Flycatcher, Afep, White-naped and Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Joyful Greenbul, Brown-Backed Scrub Robin, Purple-headed and Chestnut winged Starling, Shining Blue and Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Brown and Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Yellow-spotted, Yellow-billed and Hairy-breasted Barbet, Grey-headed Olive-Back, Black-bellied Seedcracker, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Superb, Green-throated, Tiny, Orange-tufted and Green-headed Sunbirds, Dark-backed, Black-necked and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Thick-billed and Willcock’s Honeyguide, Grey Parrot, Uganda Woodland Warbler.

Other wildlife include Olive Baboon, Black-and-White Colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Red tailed Monkey, Blue Duiker, African Civet, not to mention the numerous Chimpanzees in this spectacular forest.

We overnight in Kibale.


Day 7: Kibale to QENP

Today we transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, birding along the way. We leave early in the morning for a game drive in the northern part of the park and boat cruise in the afternoon.

Queen Elizabeth National Park’s varied habitats of open savanna, acacia woodland, tropical rainforests and dense papyrus swamps and lakes makes it one of the most diverse parks in Africa. Some of the target species include Trilling, Red-faced, Croaking, Stout and Zitting Cisticola, Holub’s Golden Weaver, White-headed Barbet, Fan-tailed Grassbird and Moustached  Warbler, White-winged Tit, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, White-headed, Lappet-faced, White-backed and Ruppell’s Vulture, Arrow-marked and Black-lored Babbler, Nubian and Cardinal woodpeckers, Brown-chested Lapwing.

While on the boat cruise we shall have our first chance to see the African Skimmers, Saddle-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Kittlitiz’s Plover, Yellow-billed Stork, Goliath and Grey Heron, Malachite and Pied Kingfisher, African Fish Eagle, Black Crake and many other migratory and resident waterbirds. Other wildlife include Elephants, Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Bushbuck, Giant Forest Hog, Hippopotamus, Spotted Hyenas & Banded Mongoose.

We overnight near the park.


Day 8: QENP to Buhoma

Today we bird through the southern part of the park on our way towards the magical Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where we overnight in Buhoma.

Day 9: Buhoma trail

Today we bird Buhoma trail, where our targets include: African Broadbill, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Red-capped, Grey-winged, White-bellied and Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Oriole Finch, Ansorge’s Greenbul,  Equatorial Akalat, Great Blue, Ross’s and Black-billed Turaco, Pink-footed Puffback, Bocage’s and Luhder’s  Bushshrike, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Elliot’s, Fine-banded, Buff spotted and Cardinal,Woodpecker, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Baglafecht Weaver, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Ayres`s Hawk-Eagle, African Goshawk, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Red-headed Bluebill, Cassin’s Honeybird, Honeyguide Greenbul.

Overnight in Buhoma.


Day 9: Buhoma-Gorilla tracking

We head off into the forest gorilla tracking with the rangers. One of the highlights of any trip to Uganda is coming into close contact with these intelligent animals.

Later we proceed, birding through “The Neck” to Ruhija where we will overnight.


Day 10: Ruhija

Ruhija is the highest section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest at an altitude of over 2600m above sea level, offering the finest montane forest birding in Africa, it is a key destination for any birder visiting Uganda. The park is blessed with 90% of all the Albertine Rift endemics difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa. Ruhija is likely to be the highlight of any trip to Uganda with excellent birding on spectacular trails.

We bird along the mountain trails to the famous Mubwindi Swamp. Our targets include Handsome Francolin, Mountain Masked, Ruwenzori and Chestnut-throated Apalis, White-browed Crombec, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Scaly-throated and Dwarf Honeyguide, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Doherty`s Bushshrike, Mountain Illadopsis, Red-throated Alethe, Black-headed Waxbill, Shelley’s and Dusky Crimsonwing, Dusky Twinspot, Grauer’s Warbler, Mountain Oriole, Waller’s Starling, Narina Trogon, Grauer’s Broadbill, Ruwenzori Batis, Archer’s Ground Robin, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Brown-necked Parrot, Slender-billed Starlling, Mountain Buzzard,  Regal, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed, Northern Double-collared and Variable Sunbird, Western Green Tinkerbird, Strange Weaver, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher.

Other wildlife include L’host and Blue Monkeys, Carruthers’ mountain squirrel, Boehm’s Squirrel and the unusual Ruwenzori Sun Squirrel.

Overnight Ruhija.


Day 11: Transfer to Entebbe

Today we drive back to Entebbe where we will overnight before departing the following day.

Tour price:

1 to 3 people $4,150

4 to 6 people $3,250

Single room supplement $250

Tour inclusions:

  • Land transportation by private vehicle with driver
  • Local Ugandan guide/tour leader throughout
  • Accommodation and all meals
  • All entrance fees and permits (including a single Gorilla and Chimpanzee permit)

Tour exclusions:

  • Flight into Entebbe
  • Ugandan visa (purchased on arrival in Entebbe)
  • Drinks, telephone calls, laundry, tips and any other expenses of a personal nature
  • Tips to tour leader for great service