ConQuest Adventures live on to offer small-group birding and nature tours led by skillful guides in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. We look forward to you will join us for one of our sensational birdwatching safaris
This monumental 22 Days Uganda birding tour will take you to some of the best birding Uganda has to offer, from Mabamba Swamp through to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Semliki Forest, and the plains of Murchison falls national park. The birdwatching allows the clients to have first-hand experience with Uganda’s most sought-after bird species. Staying in rural, charismatic hotels and tasting typical food, you will get to know more about Uganda’s culture and its hospitable people on this entertaining trip
The Uganda birding tour will give you a chance to see some of the most coveted Albertine Rift endemics, plus the mystifying Shoebill, in Mabamba Swamp, a legendary bird in Uganda. The Birdwatching in Uganda tour starts and ends in Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. This Ugandan birding tour will cover and explore various kinds of habitats from green rainforests to golden-colored savannahs, to vast wetlands and swamps found in the beautiful country.
Some of Uganda’s top birds are eminently easily seen from the months of June through September. These include the vulnerable, exceptionally localized Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill, which nests at this time of the year in the Ruhija sector in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The splendid Green-breasted Pitta can also be assuredly found when it displays at this same time of year in Kibale National Park. The Green-breasted Pitta becomes very evasive at other times of the year when it doesn’t give away its presence by its display call
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 5000 meters. 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’ is West African and Congolese forest birds that would be very hard to see elsewhere.
Some of the excellent birdwatching safaris destinations in Uganda are; Kibale Forest National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mabira Forest, Budongo Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Mabamba Swamp- Breeding site for attracting Shoebill, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park, Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Echuya Forest Reserve, Mpanga Forest, Mount Moroto Forest Reserve, and Nabajjuzi Wetland.
When to Visit Uganda for Birding/ wildlife safari
Uganda can be visited at any time of the year, though mountain hikes, gorilla tracking, and other forest walks are more challenging during the rains which generally peak between mid-September to November and March to May. The excellent time for bird-watching tours or safaris in Uganda is from late May through September when there is less rain and food for birds 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 has superb weather yearlong, naturally varying between 18 to 33 centigrade during the day, and nicely cooler at night. Uganda is a tropical country straddling the equator, it does not have seasons in the usual sense of the word, but does have two wet “seasons” which normally run from March to May and then again from late September to November each year. Extensive birding and wildlife tours in Uganda are good all year round; even in the wet seasons it’s rare for the rain to fall all day long and, instead, showers usually only last a few hours, leaving the rest of the day for enjoying birding and wildlife
Our Uganda birding tour starts at Entebbe International Airport located on the breathtaking equatorial forested shores of island-strewn Lake Victoria, Entebbe is a renowned birding destination within Uganda, we can stretch our legs and search for species such as Bat Hawk, which roost close to the airport, other species to look for in this short birding session includes; Purple Starling, Double-toothed Barbet, Copper Sunbird, Eastern Plaintain-eater, 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, birdwatching in Entebbe Botanical Gardens is done on foot and may take 1- 3 hours. Entebbe Gardens is a favorite place for a day of birding safaris in Uganda.
Birds species common in the Entebbe Botanical include Yellow-billed Stork, Lesser Jacana, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Palm-nut Vulture, Purple-banded Sunbird, Senegal Coucal, Black, and White Casqued Hornbill, Vieillot’s Black Weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Green Crombec, Little Greenbul, Toro-olive Greenbul, African Wood Owl, Bat Hawk, and Orange Weaver
Transfer to Hotel in the evening, where we will discuss our plan of spending the next three weeks exploring the pleasant countryside, forests and wetlands, lakes mountains, savannah, and rivers
On this morning we begin our Uganda birding in earnest in Mabamba Swamp
Mabamba is a massive 16,500 hectares of swamp and is part of the list of Wetlands of International Importance as designated by the Ramsar Convention. The swamp is found 36 kilometers west of Kampala on the shores of Lake Victoria The extensive and rich wetland is home to 300 bird species, including the Jurassic Shoebill – Uganda’s most appealing 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 slowly through the thick and shallow marshes. The swamp is the most easily accessible, and convenient, and has the highest chances of seeing the sought-after shoebill. The best time to visit the swamp is the early morning hours before the fishing activities begin. Mabamba Swamp is a popular and preferred birding destination in Uganda, almost all the birdwatching trips in the country have to visit the swamp
Later in the afternoon drive to Mabira forest
Our Day will be spent exploring different nature trails, looking for a diverse array of birds and mammals
Mabira forest is a bird-filled destination, the forest enjoys 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. Birding in Mabira Forest will be on foot at a moderate pace. Additional bird species in Mabira Forest; Yellow-billed Barbet, Green Crombec, Green Hylia, Compact Weaver, Tit-Hylia, White-throated Greenbul, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Sabine’s Spinetail, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Narrow-tailed Starling
Early departure to Masindi, birding along the way, stay at Masindi Hotel. The hotel has old colonial-style buildings and wood works, after checking in we shall have an evening birding session around the hotel’s compound which hosts interesting bird species such as the; Grey-headed Oliveback, Copper Sunbird, Splendid Starling, Bronze-tailed Starling, Cabanis’s Bunting. Uganda is lush and green with wonderfully rich and colorful birds
Budongo Forest has two main sections – Kaniyo Pabidi (Murchison Falls National Park), and the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found south of Murchison. The forest lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, protecting the most extensive natural forest area in East Africa. Budongo Forest harbors enormous diversity with around 360 bird species. Royal Mile forest looks out 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, Forest Flycatcher, Yellow-footed Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Grey, and Yellow Longbill. Budongo Forest is a medium-altitude, moist, semi-deciduous tropical rainforest. Budongo offers a remarkably rich biodiversity including 24 species of small mammals, 9 species of primates, and 280 species of butterflies. The forest is also the natural habitat of more than 600 chimpanzees. A well-maintained nature trail with a length of 115 kilometers is found throughout the forest, which enables activities like forest walks, chimp tracking, and birdwatching.
Murchison Falls National Park supports a large population of Lions, Buffalos, Elephants, Uganda Kob, Rothschild Giraffe, and rare Patas Monkeys, the waterfall is spectacular, some interesting birds to look for in Murchison National Park; Heuglin’s Francolin, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Red-throated Bee-eater, White-rumped Seedeater and the Shoebill. Murchison National Park is a fantastic all-year-round birding destination, the park has distinctive habitats and delightful bird species making it one of the best birding destinations in Uganda
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, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Rock Pratincole, Whistling Cisticola, Olive-bellied Sunbird, Piapiac, Western Black-headed Oriole, Red-headed Lovebird, Blue-throated Roller, Black-billed Barbet, Senegal Lapwing, Vinaceous Dove, Black-billed Wood-Dove, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Foxy Cisticola, Shelly’s Rufous Sparrow, Brown-chested Lapwing, Green-backed Eremomela, Brown-rumped Bunting, Senegal Thick-knee, Woodchat Shrike, Western Crested Guineafowl, Red-winged Pytilia, Bronze-tailed Starling, Black-faced Waxbill, Long-tailed Nightjar, Brown Twinspot, White-shouldered Black-Tit, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher and Grey Longbill.
Transfer to Fort portal, the town lies on the northern foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains. The town is the gateway to Uganda’s adventures, the city has beautiful scenery, and most of Uganda’s birding tour makes a stop, we shall stay at the Mountains of the moon. The hotel sits on 15 acres of landscaped gardens with superb views of the Ruwenzori Mountains from where the hotel borrowed its name. The Mountains of the Moon Hotel earns its creativity from the natural world surrounding it. The use of primary greens in the form of canvas and plaid fabrics, and walking around the hotel gardens will add some interesting bird species
Semliki is rapidly establishing a reputation as one of the premier destinations in Uganda for viewing and photographing iconic birds and fantastic primates, such as the tiny Piculet and Dent’s Monkey
Semuliki National Park is in the Albertine Rift Valley of western Uganda, River Semuliki which runs through the park forms an international boundary between the Democratic Republic of 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, of the 144 Guinea-Congo Biome species about 130 bird species have been seen and recorded in Semuliki, birds such as the dazzling Piping Hornbill, the chunky Capuchin Babbler, and Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher. The Park has two famous hot springs knowns as Sempaya, a male Bintente, and a female, Nyasimbe
Semuliki National Park birds; Nkulengu Rail, Hartlaub’s Duck, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Piping Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Piculet, White-throated Blue Swallow, Yellow-throated Nicator, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Red-bellied Malimbe, Blue-billed Malimbe, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Ituri Batis, Long-tailed Hawk
Kibale Forest is a prime and excellent 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, 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
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is home to more than 200 species of birds. Bigodi Swamp is located 6 kilometers 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 Woodpeckers, White-spotted Flufftails, and Snowy-crowned Robin-chat. The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a fascinating area, with an array of biodiversity, it’s 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. The money raised from birdwatching activities is channeled back to the community to build schools, hospitals, and bursaries for needy students
Queen Elizabeth national park, is located in the southwestern part of Uganda the park ranges from the savannah Ishasha plains to the humid rain forests, salty water lakes, freshwater lakes, acacia and euphorbia bushes lowlands, and wetlands. Queen Elizabeth National Park is a birdwatcher’s haven, with about 600 bird species across a variety of habitats- the broadest checklist of any birdwatching destination in East Africa.
Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park which has unique blend of marvelous birding amidst spectacular scenery in a land steeped in history and culture
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a classic birding safari with a few twists. The impressive variety of habitats includes acacia woodland, grass savannah, lakes, rivers, dense papyrus swamps, rainforest, and extinct volcanic crater cones with lakes. Queen Elizabeth National Park’s 1,978-kilometer squared total area is home to a vast array of wildlife, and it is the most bio-diverse park in Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National 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 freshwater lakes; Lake Edward (which is to the west) and Lake George (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. There are steep exposed cliffs providing nesting sites for kingfishers, reedy edges and grasses where jacanas and egrets prowl, and muddy shallows providing the ideal habitat for thousands of waders. Bird species in Kazinga Channel include; Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Black-winged Bishop, African Skimmer, Woodland Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Grey Kestrel, White-winged Swamp Warbler, Angola Swallow, Ethiopia Swallow, Masked Apalis.
Today we travel to Bwindi’s Impenetrable forest which offers spectacular scenery and pristine environments, looking for birds along the drive, we shall spend four days birding in Bwindi, touring different sections searching for the Albertine rift species which are more abundant in the forest, birding will involve walking which in some days will be short and others it may be long, with rainfall likely in some days
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’. Bwindi-Impenetrable Forest is located about 25 kilometers north of Virunga Volcanoes in southwestern Uganda. It is one of the largest forests in East Africa containing both montane and lowland forest in a continuum. As a result of its size and altitudinal range (1,160- 2,650 meters), the species diversity of the Impenetrable Forest is extremely high
Uganda has five habituated Gorilla troops- four in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and one in Mgahinga National Park. The Buhoma section is the most prominent and visited for Gorilla expeditions with 32 tourists in groups of 8 per day. The four groups with 8 clients each, two rangers, and a guide begin the adventure at 8.00 am after the briefing, the trek usually takes 30 minutes to 4 hours
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. The forest 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-Impenetrable forest covers an area of 331 kilometers square. Birdwatching in the forest is productive and enjoyable at any time of the year. Wetter months (February-May) and September- November) most birds species are breeding and thus singing and active
Bird species in Buhoma trail; Neumann’s Warbler, Narrow-tailed Starling, Blue-headed Sunbird, Oriole Finch, Least Honeyguide, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Green Hylia, Olive-green Camaroptera, Buff-throated Apalis, Green White-eye, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Red-throated Alethe, Black Bee-eater, Speckled Tinkerbird, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Elliot’s Woodpecker, Black-throated Apalis and Blue-throated Roller.
On this day we shall drive towards the Ruhija sector in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, birding along the way with the “Neck” being one the productive, first stop along the River we shall look for the Cassin’s Flycatcher, Narrow-tailed Starling, Buff-throated Apalis, Red-tailed Greenbul, Black Bee-eater. So many forest birding situations present the same extremes: Huge trees up to 25 meters tall create the tallest canopy of any rainforest, and support a myriad of lianas and epiphytes which in turn support a profusion of wildlife. Indeed, these rainforests are among the richest habitat on earth; we will enjoy this lush and verdant tropical forest with its many unique flora and fauna.
Ruhija is home to several Albertine endemic bird species making it a special birding area in Bwindi Impenetrable forest, walking is easy and birds are plentiful, you will visit Mubwindi Swamp which is about 5 kilometers walk each way, and the swamp has interesting bird species. The bamboo forest area has a diversity of Albertine rift endemic birds including Kivu Ground Thrush, Purple -breasted Sunbird, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Stripe- breasted Tit, Mountain- masked Apalis, and Ruwenzori Turaco, other bird species in Ruhija track include; Albertine Boubou, Lagden’s Bushshrike, Grauer’s Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Regal Sunbird, Dusky Crimsonwing, White-bellied Crested-Flycatcher, Dwarf Honeyguide, and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle.
Ruhija is the highest point in the Bwindi forest, and from here, you will walk through the forest to gorgeous views of lush rolling hills and the far-flung Virunga Mountains. Ruhija forest section is home to three gorilla families, it offers the quietest of the four gorilla trekking regions of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and provides the most secluded experience. Ruhija is the only area you are bound to encounter Elephants, other animals include; Red-tailed Monkeys, Guereza monkeys, blue monkeys, and L’Hoest Monkeys.
Lake Mburo birding is dominated by lakes and papyrus wetland systems, riparian forests, wooded grassland, and rocky ridges. There are a few very localized species in Uganda that only occur in Lake Mburo, and topping that list are African Finfoot, Red-faced Barbet, Tabora Cisticola, Green-capped Eremomela, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Grey Penduline Tit, Black-collared Barbet, Familiar Chat, White-throated Blue Swallow, African Scops Owl, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Trilling Cisticola, Freckled Nightjar, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Splendid Starling, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Orange Weaver, Senegal Coucal, Swamp Nightjar, White-backed Night Heron, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Bat Hawk, Weyns’s Weaver, Leaf-love, Compact Weaver. Lake Mburo National Park is one of the birding places in Uganda that allows night game drives
Lake Mburo National Park has more than 300 bird species recorded, rewarding areas within the park are; Warukiri and Miriti Swamps. In the Rubanga forest birds are seen in rapid sequence. Lake Mburo has wildlife too, which includes; Hyena, Cape Buffalo, Bushbuck, Leopard, Giraffe, Common Eland, Topi, and Klipspringer. Horse riding is also a common activity in Lake Mburo National Park.
Our Uganda Birdwatching ends today, with a drive to Entebbe Airport for your flight back. We part ways here with memories from an incredible “Pearl of Africa” birding experience. A superb and exciting birdwatching adventure with mostly easy birding and a pleasant environment- absolutely memorable!