Uganda, December 2023

Uganda is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse countries in Africa. From the papyrus-fringed Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Rwenzori Range to the extensive savannas around Murchison Falls, the “Pearl of Africa” boasts enormous habitat diversity and thus an incredible bird list!

We will be guided by top female guides, thus supporting the Uganda Women Birders in their efforts to train women in nature guiding and birdwatching, teach children about nature and ecology, enhance environmental awareness among the public, and provide an avenue for women to secure sustainable employment alongside men in a traditionally male-dominated sector.

When:

  • Main tour: 9–22 Dec. 2023
  • Pre-tour: 5–9 Dec. 2023 International Conference for Women Birders (more details coming soon)

Where:

  • Start: Entebbe International Airport (EBB)
  • Finish: Entebbe International Airport (EBB)

Price:

  • $6,500.00 per person in double occupancy
  • Single supplement: $1,300
  • Gorilla tracking permit (optional, not included in standard price): $700 per person

Included:

  • Accommodation: 13 hotel nights
  • Meals/drinks: 3 meals per day from dinner on day 1 until breakfast until day 14. Including non-alcoholic beverages during meals.
  • Transportation: All in-country private transportation to and from sites visited. Transportation from airport to hotel and day 1 and from hotel to airport on day 14.
  • Guiding fees: All guiding fees for tour leaders and local guides.
  • Entrance fees: All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Activities: All non-optional activities as described in the itinerary.

Not included:

  • Gorilla tracking: Gorilla tracking is an optional activity and not included in the base price. Permits cost $700 per person and sell out soon, so reserve your permit as early as possible!
  • Meals/drinks: Alcoholic beverages.
  • Transportation: Transportation to and from start/end point of the tour (Entebbe international airport, EBB).
  • Personal purchases: Items such as (but not limited to) calls, laundry, souvenirs etc.
  • Tips: Any tips you would like to offer tour leaders, guides, drivers, porters, wait staff, housekeeping etc. for outstanding service.

Terms & Conditions >>

9 Dec. 2023: Arrival in Entebbe (EBB)

Our drivers will be waiting for you upon your arrival at Entebbe International Airport (EBB) to transfer you to our hotel for the night. Please try to book your flights so that you arrive before 5pm local time, so you can join us at 7pm to meet the other participants and guides, talk about the upcoming trip, and enjoy socializing over our first dinner together in Uganda.

 

10 Dec. 2023: Mabamba Swamp and travel to Lake Mburo

After an early breakfast, we drive to Mabamba Swamp, about 30 mi. (50 km) west of Kampala. With over 250 species recorded, Mabamba Swamp is a birdwatchers’ paradise. Its most famous and sought-after inhabitant is without a doubt the prehistoric-looking Shoebill, but Swamp Flycatcher, African Swamphen, African Rail, Lesser and African jaçanas, African Pygmy-Goose, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Squacco Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, Long-toed Lapwing, Hamerkop, Malachite Kingfisher, and Black Crake find a home in this swamp too.

In the afternoon, a long drive takes us to Lake Mburo National Park. There will be plenty of birding, though. Especially once we enter the park, we will drive slowly and make stops along the way to see our first savannah birds: Red-billed Firefinch, Pin-tailed Whydah, Brown- and Red-backed scrub-robins, Crested and Red-necked francolins, etc. And mammals, of course, such as zebras, black ánd white rhinos, elephants, and so on.

 

11 Dec. 2023: Lake Mburo National Park

We start the day with a boat cruise on Lake Mburo, keeping our eyes open for the elusive African Finfoot, as well as Pink-backed Pelican, Saddle-billed Stork, Malachite Kingfisher, Squacco Heron, African Sacred Ibis, and more. 

During our afternoon game drive, we will look for mammals including zebras, impalas, elands, topis, and buffalos, as well as bird specialties such as Crested, Spot-flanked, and Red-faced barbets, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Red-headed Weaver, etc.

 

12 Dec. 2023: Travel to Bwindi

After breakfast, we make our way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. If the road and weather conditions allow, we will pass through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we might see the famous tree-climbing lions!

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to approximately half of the world’s population of the endangered Mountain Gorillas. This vast reserve also offers what is arguably the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 22 of Uganda’s 23 Albertine-Rift-endemic birds. The park was once part of a much larger forest that included the Virunga Volcanoes in neighboring Rwanda, but now, Bwindi is an ecological island within a sea of human cultivation, and therefore of enormous importance for conservation.

 

13 Dec. 2023: Gorilla tracking (optional) or birding in Bwindi

If you opt for the gorilla tracking today, after breakfast you will head to the park offices, where park rangers will give us the do’s and don’ts for coming eye-to-eye with these giants of the forest. Experienced trackers will head out before the crack of dawn to locate the various family groups and radio in their position to the park offices. Visitors are divided into small groups, each of which will be assigned a family of gorillas to reach. Bear in mind that gorilla tracking can be challenging and strenuous: it can take anywhere from one to eight hours of walking in the forested mountains to reach a family unit. Being in good physical condition is a must: you should be able to walk for several hours on uneven terrain, up- and downhill, at times bushwhacking, in warm and humid weather. Each encounter with the gorillas is different and has its own rewards, but you will likely enjoy close views of adults feeding, grooming, and resting, while playful youngsters frolic, swing from vines, or chase each other around. If you are up for the hike, observing a family of gorillas up close truly is a once in a lifetime experience.

For those who decide not to undertake the tracking, there will be plenty of other things to see and do, since Bwindi is of course also a top destination for birding. This group will go out for early morning birding, looking for specialties such as Mountain Masked Apalis, Grauer’s Warbler, Green Tinkerbird, African Green Broadbill, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, and more.

Both groups will be back in time for dinner together at our hotel.

 

14 Dec. 2023; Birding Bwindi

Forest birding in Bwindi ranks for some as the best in Uganda. Bwindi 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. With so many specialties to look for, we’ll spend the entire day out birding this beautiful forest.

 

15 Dec. 2023: Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Today, we have a long drive ahead of us, to the world-famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, named after Elizabeth II, who visited here in 1954, it is the second-largest national park in Uganda. Thanks to an interesting combination of open savanna, rainforest, dense papyrus swamps, brooding crater lakes, and the vast Lake Edward, the park boasts the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the region. The park is home to almost 100 mammal species and a remarkable 612 bird species. 

16 Dec. 2023: Queen Elizabeth National Park

There will be a morning game drive searching for lions, elephants, buffalos, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, warthogs, and of course a wide variety of bird species including Collard Pratincole, Temninck’s Courser, Kittlitz’s Plover, etc.

After lunch, we take a boat out on the Kazinga Channel, a bottleneck connecting lakes George and Edward. There will be great opportunities to spot and photograph hippos, buffalos, elephants, and waterbirds such as Pied Kingfishers, African Skimmers, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Long-tailed and Great cormorants, and many more.

 

17 Dec. 2023: Travel to Kibale Forest National Park

We drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park one last time (on this trip) as we make our way to Kibale Forest, where we will arrive late afternoon. Kibale Forest National Park is, other than a good birding spot, the best place for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa. The tropical forest here hosts 13 species of primates, including Uganda’s largest population of chimpanzees (1,450 individuals). It is also home to the rare L’hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey—plus over 300 species of bird.

 

18 Dec. 2023: Chimpanzee tracking

After an early breakfast, we drive to the Kibale National Park for a briefing on chimpanzee tracking. After instructions, we are split into smaller groups, each of which will go with an experienced tracker, looking for our closest cousins the chimps. Chimpanzee tracking can take several hours of walking through the forest, though we should be back to the visitors center in time for lunch.

 Afternoon birding along the main road to Bwindi or at Bigodi wetlands often is very productive. We’ll be focusing on species that are often hard to find elsewhere, for example the Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’ 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 Apali, and possibly Olive-green Camaroptera.

 

19 Dec. 2023: Travel to Murchison Falls National Park

After an early breakfast, we drive to Murchison Falls NP, Uganda’s largest National Park. It protects a vast expanse of untamed savannah, bisected by the mighty Nile river. At the dramatic Murchison Falls, the world’s longest river bursts violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment and plunges down in a frothing pool 174 ft. (43m) below. 

360 bird species and 76 mammal species find a home in Murchison Falls National Park, including lions, elephants, leopards, hippos, Rothschild giraffes, Cape buffalos, hartebeests, oribis, warthogs, and Uganda kob.

 

20 Dec. 2023: Murchison Falls National Park

Early in the morning, we explore the beautiful savannah looking for Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, and many more. 

After lunch, we take a boat cruise to the bottom of Murchison Falls. Along the way, we’ll get to see Carmine Bee-eaters, Black-headed Herons, Pied Kingfishers, Giant Kingfishers, African Fish Eagle, etc.

 

21 Dec. 2023: Travel to Entebbe

After a hearty breakfast, we begin the long drive back to Entebbe, where we arrive in time for our farewell dinner. 

 

22 Dec. 2023: Botanical Gardens (optional) and transfer to Entebbe airport (EBB)

Depending on the time of your departure flight, you may opt to bird the Entebbe botanical gardens, which are home to Yellow-spotted Barbet, Orange Weaver, Bat Hawk, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, and Gray Parrots, among many others. 

We transfer you to Entebbe international airport (EBB) for your flight home.