22 Days Uganda-Rwanda birding safaris

SUMMARY

Uganda and Rwanda offer an experience that is more diverse, exceptional and breathe taking. The two countries we are featuring are best known for captivating birding encounters and timeless scenery, as this tour takes you the valley of the upper Nile-Murchison falls National Park, the vast savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park and many smaller sanctuaries protecting lakes rainforest and volcanic landscapes which hold more species of plants, primates, birds and other animals than any comparable region on the continent. In two weeks we will sample all the major habitats of Uganda and Rwanda and our emphasis will be on seeing and photographing as many birds and animals as possible. Expect early morning starts, opportunities to explore on foot, small hotels and lodges sited close to interesting natural areas. On this Birding Journeys Uganda and Rwanda safari you are going to get it all—birds, wildlife, magnificent scenery, beautiful and different cultures of the many tribes settling in these two small countries, we shall be traversing and we promise the ultimate African experience!

TRAVEL SCHEDULE

Day 1: Arrival
Day 2: Birding Mabamba and Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Day 3: Birding to Murchison Falls
Day 4: Birding Northern Murchison falls and boat ride to the bottom of the falls
Day 5: Birding to Masindi
Day 6: birding in the Royal Mile and Busingiro Forest
Day 7: Transfer as we bird enroute to Kibale Forest
Day 8: Birding and optional Chimp Tracking in Kibale Forest
Day 9: Birding  to Semliki National Park
Day 10: Bird watching Semliki
Day 11: Early birding as we transfer to Queen Elizabeth Uganda Park
Day 12: Early birding drive and afternoon launch Cruise along the Kazinga Channel
Day 13: Birding to Bwindi
Day 14 & 15: Bird watching Buhoma and optional Gorilla Tracking
Day 16: Birding to Ruhija
Day 17: Birding to Mubwindi Swamp
Day 18 & 19: Bird watching in Mgahinga Park Uganda
Day 20, 21 & 22: Birding to Nyungwe
Day 22: Transfer to Kigali onwards with a proposed city tour around the Capital of Rwanda

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival

Arrival at the Airport and check in at your respective lodge/hotel and after breakfast, we shall start in the morning with a visit to the Mabamba Bay which is an Important Birding Area.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Innophine Hotel

Day 2: Birding Mabamba and Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Today we have a very good introduction to the birds of Uganda. Our main search today will be focusing on the Shoebill Stork, one of the threatened species in Africa. Other birds to watch out for while in the swamp include among others the Purple Swamphen, Pygmy and Spur Winged Goose, Lesser Jacana and the African, African Marsh Harrier and the Eurasian depending on the month you visit. Later in the afternoon depending on your wish and choice of birding time we shall drive to Entebbe and visit the Botanical gardens. It gives us excellent birding and it has about three habitats, namely the grassland, Water and Forest. While here we shall look out for birds like the African Grey Parrots, Broad Billed Roller, Grey Woodpecker and Red Chested Cuckoo, Superb, Red Chested, Scarlet Chested, Collard, Green Throated and Copper Sunbird, Orange, Spotted Backed, Black Headed, Slender Billed and Golden Backed Weaver. The Giant Kingfisher is one of the biggest sightings we look forward to here. We later drive to our Lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Innophine Hotel

Day 3: Birding to Murchison Falls

We drive north and see the beauty of Uganda. No wonder Uganda the Eden of African Birding, here the ecosystem completely changes and we get exposed to different bird species enroute like the Bronze Tailed, Lesser and Greater Blue-eared starlings which are very difficult to identify. Black Winged-bishop, White Crested Turaco, Black billed and Blue Spotted wood-dove, the seasonal Lesser Grey Shrike, Brown Parrot, Little Sparrow-Hawk, African Harrier Hawk, Grey and Nubian Woodpecker, Grey Headed Olive

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfas/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Sambiya River Lodge

Day 4: Birding Northern Murchison falls and boat ride to the bottom of the falls

After breakfast, we shall do birding on the northern part of the  Murchison falls, here look out for both game and birds, expect to see the Grey Headed, Striped and Woodland Kingfisher, Red Shouldered Cuckoos-Shrike, Beautiful Sunbird, Foxy, Whistling, Croaking, Singing, Rattling, Ground Hornbill, Black Bellied and Stanley’s Bustard, Sooty Chat, Yellow Billed, Wood Chat and Grey Backed Shrike, Spotted Morning Thrush, African Quail Finch, Swallow Tailed, Northern Carmine, Blue Cheeked and Olive bee-eater. White Headed Buffalo Weaver, Speckle Fronted Weaver, Superb Starling and many more bird species. This Morning some of the mammals to be seen alongside the birding will be the Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, Jackson’s Heart beast, Reedbuck, Bush and Water Buck, Jackal, Lion, Hyena and with big luck the Leopard. In the afternoon the cruise to the bottom of the falls exposes us to lots of water birds like the Saddle Billed, Yellow Billed and African Open Billed Stork and lots of different Kingfishers. We later get back to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Sambiya River Lodge

Day 5: Birding to Masindi

We start in the morning and bird to Masindi via Kaniyo Pabid which is part of the Budongo Forest Reserve an area with mammoth diversity of flora and fauna. The forest is crossed with a well-maintained network of forest trails making it doable to explore the dense forest with its beautiful biodiversity in different ways and this gives us the best sighting for the Puvel’s Illadopsis a shy and secretive dull brown bird, other species here will include the Grey and Yellow Lobgbill, Chocolate Backed, Blue Breasted and Pygmy Kingfisher, We also have good views of the shaggy-crested Guineafawl, Fire Crested Alethe, Narina Tragon Yellow Billed, Grey Throated and Yellow Spotted Barbet among the species for today. After this we shall continue to our lodge where we shall stay for two nights.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Hot View Hotel

Day 6: Birding in the Royal Mile and Busingiro Forest

Today we have a birding excursion to the above two unique sites within the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. We shall start early and head to the Royal Mile where many ceremonies of the Bunyoro kingdom took place before this was a conservation area and we shall have some birding stopovers to look out for bird species like the Singing Cisiticola, Cabanis’s Bunting, Dark Capped Yellow Warbler, Grey Headed Olive Back, Brown Twin spot, Black Bellied Fire Finch and many more, then carry on to the Mile. Birding here is excellent with an open interior and gives us unique bird species like the Ituri Batis, Lemon Bellied Crombec, Dusky Longtailed Cuckoo, Dwarf, Blue Breasted, Pygmy and Chocolate Backed Kingfisher, Western Black Headed Oriole, Blue Throated Roller, White Spotted Greenbul, Rufous Crowned Eremomela, Chectnut Capped and Forest Flycatcher, Yellow Crested Woodpecker and many more. We drive to Busingiro looking out for bird species which might have been missed at the mile then later back to Masindi for dinner and overnight stay.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Hot View Hotel

Day 7: Transfer as we bird enroute to Kibale Forest

We shall have a long drive today; so birding will be minimized with a few stops enroute. We shall be leaving Masindi with a picnic lunch which we shall enjoy. Some bird species we can expect today on our stopovers include; the Brown and Western Banded Snake Eagle, Little Sparrow Hawk, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Grey Throated Barbet, Olive long-tailed Cuckoo, African Emerald spotted Cuckoo and many more. We later continue and check in at our hotel.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Primate Lodge Kibale/Kibale Forest Camp

 Day 9: Birding to Semliki National Park

We have optional birding if we stayed around the park then transfer to Semliki National Park. Interesting bird species await you mostly the brightly coloured waxbills enroute and at the park edges. We shall look out for the Golden Backed Pytilia, Melba Finch, Orange Cheekec Waxbill, Marsh Tchagra, Brown Backed Scrub Robin and at the park edges; birds like the Red Billed Dwarf, Black Dwarf, Piping and Black Wattled Casqued Hornbill are easily sighted. We continue and spend our night in Bundibugyo.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Ntoroko Game Lodge

 Day 10: Bird watching Semliki
Today we shall start early and visit the Kirumia Trail, if the weather is good, we have always registered here excellent birding with Guinea – Congolian biome species, we mostly look out for the African Piculet, Grants Bluebill, Crested and Blue Billed Malimbe, Green Throated Cuckoo, Black Billed Dwarf, Black Casqued Wattled-Hornbill, Maxwell’s Weaver and African Broadbill, Eastern Bearded Greenbul, Black Billed Turaco, African Pitta, Blue Throated Roller, Yellow Throated Nicator, Chestnut Bellied Nigrofinch, Western Bronze Naped Pigion, Orange Cheeked Waxbill and many more.

Day 11: Early birding as we transfer to Queen Elizabeth Uganda Park

On this day, we can do a mix of some culture and birding. We shall visit the female and male hot springs in the Sempaya area of Semliki. Looking out for birds and the unique Debrazza monkey which inhabits this low and tropical rainforest, we have more chances of catching up with more Guinea-Congolian biome bird species which might have been missed on the Kirumia Trail. We then continue and check in at the lodge of your choice in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Mweya Safari Lodge

Day 12: Early birding drive and afternoon launch Cruise along the Kazinga Channel.

This is Uganda’s second largest National Park with a recorded bird species of about 451. On a wonderful day, we have had records of over 150 bird species. We shall start early bird through the vast grassland looking out for species like the Warbler, Golden Weaver, Southern Red Bishop, Black Chinned Quail Finch, Black Headed Gonolex, Common and Blue Quail, African Crake and many more other grassland birds. Today we have a boat ride along the natural Kazinga Channel which takes us close to lots of water birds among which we shall see the Goliath Heron, Black Crake, African Spoonbill, African Jacana, Great white and yellow Billed Egret and many more. We shall then go back to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Mweya Safari Lodge

Day 13: Birding to Bwindi

The birding tour gets us close to Rwanda and today we get to head towards the Gorilla Sanctuary in Bwindi. This is home to half the remaining population of the world’s endangered Mountain Gorillas. We have two optional routes which lead us there. One through the Southern part of Queen Elizabeth called Ishasha which is very popular for the tree climbing lions. It’s a unique encounter finding these predators in the trees, this sector is also great for savannah birding and always provides good sittings for the African Cuckoo-hawk , African Cuckoo, Black Bellied Bustard, Red Faced Crombec, Hooded, Rupell’s Grifon, Lappet Faced and White Backed Vulture. We shall enjoy our picnic lunch at the Ishasha River where we at times view the Black Bee-eater then continue to Bwindi.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Day 14 & 15: Bird watching Buhoma and optional Gorilla Tracking

We have two days here and we have got two optional; one optional is the visit to the endangered Mountain Gorillas. Tracking them always starts where they were left the previous day and may take 30 minutes to reach them or the whole day. This is conducted by patient, qualified and knowledgeable ranger guides with wide experience in natural history with particular attention to gorilla behavior. Finding them and watching them play is quiet amazing. The second option of the birding day takes us to watch out for the merrymaking Greenbuls such as the Red-Tailed, Cabanis’s, Shelley’s, Yellow Whiskered, Slender Billed, Little Grey, Plain, Toro Olive other bird species and here will be also be able to spot the; Yellow Billed and Grey Throated Barbet, Red Faced Woodland Warbler one of the Albertine Rift Endemics and easily seen here. Yellow Bill, Dusky Long Tailed Cuckoo, Red Throated Alethe, Red Capped, Grey Winged and Blue Shoulderd Robin Chat, African Shrike and Vanga Flycatcher, Black Faced Rufous Warbler, Red-Fronted Antpecker, Pink Footed and Northern Puffbuck, Buff Throated, Grey and Black Throated Apalis, Elliot’s and Buff Bellied Woodpecker, Cassin’s and Least Honey guide are among the other bird species in this area. Later we retreat to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Gorilla Mist Camp

Day 16: Birding to Ruhija

Depending on the results of the past days while here, we might start with a morning birding walk to try and find out what might have been missed, then transfer to Ruhija while birding enroute. Some of the bird species we expect here include the Macknon’s Fiscal, Mountain Buzzard and Wagtail, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Western Bronze Naped Pigeon, Barred and Dusky Long Tailed Cuckoo, White Headed Wood Hopoe, Grey Cuckoo Shrike, Ducky Tit, Grey-Green Bush Shrike, Chestnut Throated Apalis, White Eyed Slty Flycatcher, Streaky Seed-Eater, Stripe Breasted Tit, White Starred  Robin and many more. Later we shall go the lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp

Day 17: Birding to Mubwindi Swamp

This morning, we bird to the No.1 African birding spot according to the African Bird Club. The elevation is higher than where we have done birding before. This is the birding spot where we find the African Green Broadbill and the sight to look out for the Grauer’s Rush Warbler, most Albertine Rift Endemics here include the Handsome Francolin, Blue Headed, Blue Throated, Purple Breasted and Blue Throated Brown Sunbird, Red Throated Alethe, Mountain Illadopsis, Collard and Mountain Masked Apalis, Yellow Eyed Black Flycatcher plus more. Other high altitude bird species here will be the Bar Tailed, White Tailed Crested Flycatcher, Abyssinian Hill Babbler, Stripe Breasted Tit and others. Later we shall get back to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp

Day 18 & 19: Bird watching in Mgahinga Park Uganda

We start and head to the South Western corner of Uganda in Kisoro District where Uganda’s smallest park Mgahinga lies. The bird species to watch out for in these two days will be the White-starred Robin, White Eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White Tailed Blue Flycatcher, White-napped Raven, Olive Woodpecker, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Cape Robin, Grey Caped Warbler, Bronze Sunbird, Yellow-crowned Canary, Rwenzori Turaco, Streaky Seed eater and on lucky days we shall try out the Threatened Shelley’s Crimson-wing Finch and later take a rest at the hotel.

 MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMODATION: Mount Gahinga Lodge

Day 20, 21 & 22: Birding to Nyungwe

Nyungwe is at present the best site in the world to see the thrilling and localized Red-collared Mountain-Babbler and this peculiar and active flock species is a stellar attraction. This park gives us chances of seeing endemics like the Rwenzori Apalis and Turaco, the Red-faced Woodland Red Throated Alethe, and Archer’s Robin-Chat, Doherty’s and many more. This is another good spot for handsome Francolin, Sooty Boubou, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, , Grauer’s Rush, Neumann’s, and Grauer’s Warblers, Black-faced Apalis, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed, and Regal Sunbirds, Stripe-breasted Tit, Dusky Crimson-wing and Strange Weaver. Other species we hope to see include Kivu Ground-Thrush, White-bellied Robin-Chat, and White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher. While birding here, we shall also keep our eyes out in the canopies to find primates like the Chimpanzee, Angola Pied Colobus a species known in West African countries, as well as Blue, Red-tailed.

MEAL PLAN: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 22: Transfer to Kigali onwards with a proposed city tour around the Capital of Rwanda

End of Safari

 Tour includes

  • Ground transport
  • Bottled water
  • Meal as per itinerary
  • Boat fees
  • Entrance fees
  • Service of an English-speaking bird guide
  • All mentioned activities except for the optional ones

Tour excludes

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses: alcohol, laundry services and souvenirs
  • Tips