The 22 Days Uganda birding tour will take you to some of the prime birdwatching destinations in Uganda
The Uganda birding tour will give you a chance to see some of the most sought-after Albertine Rift endemics, plus the enigmatic Shoebill, in Mabamba Swamp, an iconic bird in Uganda
The Birdwatching in Uganda tour starts and ends in Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria.
This birding tour will cover and explore various kinds of habitats from green rainforests to golden-colored savannahs, to vast wetlands and swamps found in Uganda
The best time for bird-watching tours or safaris in Uganda is from late May through September when there is less rain and food is abundant. The main nesting season in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is in May and June. The months of February and early March are the only time Toro-Semliki National Park is moderately dry, but it is uneasily hot in the north, including the famous Murchison Falls National Park. The months of December and January are also good for birdwatching since the north is not yet too hot and there is much less rain down south. The best time for primate tracking and wildlife viewing in the savannah reserves is during the dry season which starts from June to August and December to February
Uganda also has 60 protected areas, which include ten national parks, two of which – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Ruwenzori Mountains National Park – are UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Uganda has over 1000 bird species making it a preferred destination for birding safaris in Africa.
These birdwatching destinations in Uganda are home to many endangered species, such as birds, plants, insects, mountain and lowland gorillas, and different kinds of monkeys. In the west, of Uganda, there are a series of mountains associated with the Albertine Rift, the Western Great Rift Valley, the Albertine Rift region spans the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and extends over a distance of 1,000 kilometers. Albertine Rift is an area of extraordinary endemism and contains many species threatened with global extinction, chiefly within the mountain forest habitats
Over 50% of birds, 39% of mammals, 19% of amphibians, and 14% of reptiles and plants found in mainland Africa occur in the Albertine Rift.
With a rich diversity of bird species, friendly people, pleasant climate, and attractive, green landscapes, which makes Uganda is a great destination for birdwatching safaris in Africa
Plus well-established birding sites, add to this a good number of Albertine Rift bird endemics and the opportunity to see Gorillas and Chimpanzees. The key to Uganda’s birdwatching safaris success is its variety of habitats: arid semi-desert, rich savannah, lowland, and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes, and an Afro-alpine zone.
Uganda covers an altitude of 650 to 5000meters. Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity-1,078 bird species is attributed to its location at a transitional point between the East African savanna, the West African rainforest, and the semi-desert of the north. Most of these Uganda’s specials are West African and Congolese forest birds
Most of the ‘Uganda bird extraordinary’ are west African and Congolese forest birds that would be very hard to see elsewhere,
Uganda is a landlocked country and lies west of Kenya, east of DR Congo, north of Rwanda and Tanzania, and south of South Sudan. Uganda got its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The populace of Uganda was hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations moved to the southern parts of the country
Uganda has a population of almost 42 million, ranking it as the 35th largest country in the world in terms of population. With an area of over 93,000 square miles, it is the 81st largest country in the world by area. The capital city of Uganda is Kampala, and it is also the largest city.
There are an estimated 52 tribes existing in Uganda. All these tribes have their own customs that are still practiced to this day. Uganda is the second-largest producer of bananas in the world, falling second only to India. The country produces an estimated 11 million tons annually
Even though Uganda is a landlocked country, it has many large lakes. The south of the country is heavily influenced by one of the world’s biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, which contains many islands. Uganda’s main cities are located in the south, near this lake, including the capital city of Kampala.
Roughly one-quarter of Uganda’s surface area consists of wetlands, ranging from vast inland seas to the mysterious marshy expanse of Lake Kyoga, formed by the Nile as it drains into a shallow sump at the very center of the country.
The northwestern third of Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest freshwater body falls within Uganda’s boundaries, while the impressively scenic Lakes Albert and Edward extend for 150km and 80km respectively along the Albertine Rift valley floor bordering the Congo.
Renowned for its water birds and dense population of otters, mountain-ringed Lake Bunyonyi is one of Uganda’s most rapidly developing wetland destinations, with its steep-sided shores and small islands dotted with rustic hotels and campsites.
Another rising attraction is the cluster of 200 crater lakes that extends northwards from Queen’s Elizabeth national park to Fort Portal, reaching its scenic peak in the vicinity of Kibale forest where several forest-fringed lakes have been developed as community-based ecotourism projects such as in Bigodi Wetland
The jewel in Lake Victoria’s crown is the Ssese archipelago whose 84 islands-some large and dotted with local fishing villages, others small and uninhabited-are well watered and lushly forested. Mainlanders traditionally revere Ssese as the Islands of the Gods and one specific island called Bubembe is regarded to be home to Mukasa, the spirit presiding over Lake Victoria. The Ssese Islands make for an ideal retreat after a long safari, and they also offer superb opportunities for bird watching & for hooking heavyweight Nile Perch
Meet and greet transfer to Hotel check-in and if time allows, visit Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Entebbe Botanical Gardens house a collection of species of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones, besides several shrubs and other plants regenerated naturally over the years, which have known medicinal value. The glittering Entebbe Botanical Gardens lies at the shores of Lake Victoria- in Uganda, the lake is locally knowns as “Nnalubaale” – which means the home of the great spirit. Entebbe Botanical gardens have a collection of 389 species of plants, for decades the gardens have acted as an avenue for birdwatching, environmental education, and research in Uganda. The Garden is rich with birds and acts as an introduction to Uganda’s birdwatching safaris. The park is home to more than 115 bird species
Birds species common in the Entebbe Botanical include:
Birding Mabamba swamp in the morning
Mabamba is a massive 16,500 hectares of swamp and is part of the list of Wetlands of International Importance as chosen by the Ramsar Convention. The swamp is located 36 kilometers west of Kampala on the shores of Lake VictoriaThe huge swamp is home to 300 bird species, including the Jurassic Shoebill – Uganda’s most coveted bird. The Mabamba swamp is named after the lungfish which inhabit its waters, and they form the principal Shoebill’s food. Mabamba Swamp is also a successful breeding ground in Uganda for the Shoebill. This papyrus swamp is characterized by small channels of marsh-filled water and lagoons. Mabamba swamp has become one of the strongholds for the Afrotropical Blue Swallow with more than 100 birds seen and recorded each year. Like many papyrus swamps adjacent to Lake Victoria, Mabamba Swamp is home to the rare Sitatunga, a swamp-dwelling antelope
Birding in Mabamba Swamp is done while on a motorized wooden canoe, navigating through the thick and shallow marshes. The swamp is the most easily accessible, and convenient, and has the highest chances of seeing the neoclassic shoebill. The best time to visit the swamp is the early morning hours before the fishing activities begin.
Later drive to Mabira forest and stay at Mabira Eco lodge
Spend the whole day birding in the Mabira forest
Mabira forest boasts 315 species of birds including the rare ones like the Nahan’s Francolin, Tit Hylia, Yellow and grey Longbills, Purple-throated Cuckoo Shrikes, Illadopsis, Jameson’s Wattle-eye. More than forty percent of Uganda’s forest birds can easily be seen in Mabira than in any other forest in Uganda. Mabira forest has well-established and maintained trails which include; Buttress, Red-tailed Monkey, and Turaco nature trails. The Mabira Forest is a rainforest area covering an area of about 300 square kilometers, located in Buikwe District, between Lugazi and Jinja. The forest has been protected since 1932
Early departure to Masindi, stay at Masindi Hotel
Budongo Forest has two main sections – Kaniyo Pabidi (Murchison Falls National Park), and the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found south of Murchison. It lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift valley, protecting the most extensive natural forest area in East Africa. Budongo Forest is home to around 360 bird species. At Royal mile lookout for the elusive and skulking Nahan’s Francolin, the fleeting Cassin’s Spinetail, and the dainty Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. Look also for the dazzling Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted, and African Dwarf Kingfishers
Birding to Murchison Falls National Park via Top of the falls, stay at Fort Murchison
Murchison Falls National Park supports a large population of Lions, Buffalos, Elephants, Uganda Kob, Rothschild Giraffe and Patas Monkeys, the Waterfall is spectacular, Heuglin’s Francolin, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Red-throated Bee-eater, White-rumped Seedeater and the Shoebill
Murchison Fall National Park has an impressive list of 451 recorded bird species, including the startling Shoebill which may be seen in the thick papyrus beds in the delta area downstream of the falls.
The riverine thickets hold White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Red-throated Bee-eater, Heuglin’s Francolin, Black-headed Batis, and Bar-breasted Firefinch
Stay at Fort Murchison
Transfer to Fort portal, stay at Mountains of the moon
Semuliki National Park is in the Albertine Rift Valley of western Uganda, River Semuliki which runs through the park forms an international boundary between DR Congo and Uganda. Semuliki National Park has more than 400 bird species in its riverine, forest, and grasslands avian habitats. The Park hosts Guinea-Congo biome species in its lowland forest
Semuliki National continues as one of the greatest and most important birding destinations in Uganda
Semuliki Park has two famous hot springs knowns as Sempaya, a male Bintente, and a female, Nyasimbe
Semuliki National Park birds
Stay at Kibale forest camp
Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest
Kibale Forest is a prime birding spot in Uganda with about 375 bird species, including six Albertine Rift endemics. Kibale Forest is an excellent birding destination in Uganda with habitats ranging from wet and dry tropical forests to woodland and savannah. The number one sought-after bird in the Kibale Forest is the Green-breasted Pitta-A striking short-tailed upright bird with a peculiar bottle-green breast, a black-and-buff head, a white throat, a scarlet belly, and shiny blue-spotted wings and rump. A scarce resident of dense lowland forest, usually skulking in pairs in leaf litter on the forest floor
Kibale Forest is home to more than 1,000 chimpanzees, the prime chimp tracking destination in Uganda.
Two Chimpanzee treks take place every day in Kibale National Park, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The terrain of the forest is not difficult making it comfortable and fun for everyone
A typical trek will take around 3 hours, including one hour with the chimpanzees
Birding Bigodi swamp
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is home to more than 200 species of birds
It is located 6 km south of Kayanchu, the main center of Kibale Forest. There are raised wooden walkways
The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary within the park is a great haunt for specials such as Speckled Tinkerbird, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, White-spotted Flufftail, and Snowy-crowned Robin-chat
The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a fascinating area, with an array of biodiversity, its home to several primates such as; Red Colobus Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkey, and L’Hoest Monkey
The swamp is run and managed by the community
Money raised from birdwatching activities is channeled back to the community to build schools, hospitals, and bursaries for needy students
Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Stay at Bush Lodge
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a birdwatcher’s haven, with about 600 bird species across a variety of habitats – from sprawling savannah to dense forest, lakes and wetlands
Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a classic safari with a few twists. The impressive variety of habitats include acacia woodland, grass savannah, lakes, rivers, dense papyrus swamps, rainforest and extinct volcanic crater cones with lakes
The park hosts the famous tree-climbing lions in magnificent giant fig trees, elephants, lions, buffaloes, leopards, Uganda Kob, giant forest hogs, hippos, crocodiles and a variety of other species
On this day we shall visit Kazinga channel for a boat ride
The Kazinga channel is a wide, 32-kilometre (20 miles) long natural channel connecting the two Lakes; Lake Edward (which is to the west) and Lake Gorge (which is to the east)
The shores of Kazinga channel attracts a large number of wild animals, birds and reptiles too, with one of the largest population of hippos in the whole world as well as bountiful Nile crocodiles
For the avid bird watcher, the Kazinga Channel is a prime place for bird watching. While on the boat safari you can see up to 60 different species of birds. Many of these are water birds
Transfer to Bwindi (Buhoma), stay at Buhoma Lodge
Bwindi, the birthplace of mountain gorilla trekking, is a jungle paradise covered in dense misty Afromontane forest that clings to steep mountain slopes and cloaks secret valleys. This biologically diverse forest enthralls trekkers with its massive trees and dense understory of ferns and vines – hence the name ‘Impenetrable’
Gorilla trekking stay at Buhoma lodge
Bwindi is one of three places to trek for mountain gorillas, and hosts almost half of the 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to an astonishing variety of animals, birds, plants and insects which make Bwindi a must visit destination in Uganda
Bwindi is the heart and soul of Ugandan birding, the make-and-breaker of bird lists and the home of many endemic and rare bird species. Bwindi Forest is home to about 350 bird species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda
Birding to Ruhija stay at Gorilla mist lodge
Ruhija offers the best place for any birder to see the Albertine Rift endemics
Birding Ruhija, stay at Gorilla mist lodge
Albertine Rift that may be encountered in Ruhija includes, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Fraser’s Eagle Owl, Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Ruwenzori Batis
Birding Lake Mburo NP, stay at Rwakobo Rock
The park is dominated by lakes and papyrus wetland systems, riparian forest, wooded grassland and rocky ridges
There are a few very localized species in Uganda which only occur in Mburo, and topping that list are Red-faced Barbet, Tabora Cisticola, Green-capped Eremomela, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, and Grey Penduline Tit
At the lake swamps, the main targets are African Finfoot, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, African Water Rail and White-backed Night-Heron, Yellow-throated Leaflove
Morning breakfast and transfer to Entebbe International Airport for flight back home