10 Days Uganda birding Safari  Endemics & Gorilla Trek

10 Days | Mabamba Bay Mash, Bwindi impenetrable national park

Uganda offers the enthusiastic birder a fantastic opportunity to watch some rare bird species. Get rewarded in Bwindi impenetrable forest with over 360 bird species, including 23 of the 24 Albertine rift endemics recorded, making Bwindi Africa’s number one birding spot. Besides, Bwindi forest is home to more than half of the World’s population of mountain gorilla specie.

TIP: We can customize any tour and can start any date.

Highlights

  • Shoebill canoe tracking experience on Mabamba Mash on Lake Victoria.
  • Key species expected on this safari: Shoebill Stork, Papyrus Gonolek, Red-faced Barbet, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Grauer’s Broadbill, Handsome Francolin, Kivu Ground Thrush. Specifically Albertine Rift Endemic Species include; Archer’s Robin-Chat , Dusky Crimson-wing, Strange Weaver, wenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Short -tailed/Neumann’s Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Collared Apalis, Montane Masked Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-throated Alethe, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Nightjar, Rwenzori Turaco, Handsome Francolin Forest Ground Thrush, Sassi’s Olive Greenbul.
Albertine Endemics

Albertine Endemics

Need To Know

Lodging mentioned in the itinerary depends on availability of rooms available at the time of booking. Reservations will only be made after your confirmed booking with us.

At the time of your booking, in the event that listed hotels are fully booked, we will do our best to inform you and book a different hotel in the same class. Gorilla permits can only be secured after receiving the requested deposit.

You can extend your stay with either; more birding safari or Kidepo Fly in safari, Wilderness road safari to Kidepo Valley National Park- Africa’s true wildness (Scheduled and private charters available).

mabamba bay bird watching tour Uganda

mabamba bay bird watching tour Uganda

Detailed Itinerary

Day 0: Arrival at Entebbe Airport.

Uganda Birding Albertine Endemics & Gorilla Safari

Arrive at Entebbe International Airport, our driver/guide will pick you on arrival.
Overnight: Boma Hotel Entebbe/ Karibu Guest House. Meal plan: Dinner included.

Day 1: Uganda endemics birding – Mabamba Wetland Bay – Shoebill To Masindi. 
Early breakfast and then with packed lunch proceed to bird the Mabamba Wetland bay. This Swamp is one of the best places to spot the exceptional Shoebill Stork. At Mabamba Swamp, most of the birding is done on a canoe. At the start the canoe is powered by engine, later engine is turned off, paddling is by our local guide.

Canoe ride: You will board wooden boats with engine and there after traditional peddle canoeing in search of mainly the Shoebill which usually hides in the mash to looking for fish. Getting on a motorized canoe in search for this pre-historic bird is a great experience. Recent sightings indicate Mabamba boasts of 9-15 shoebills and is a must-visit place for birders who come to Uganda.

Local guides continue scanning around the mash for this amazing bird to behold and certainly one of the world’s most iconic. The bird’s massive beak and brilliant large eyes are usually noticed first. Shoebills like this bay because there is plenty of fish and the area has an extensive marsh which local people have been passionate to protect. Listen to Amazing stories. Look out for the Shoebill both in the sky and down in the marsh. Also watch out for the; Swamp Flycatcher, African Purple Swamp Hen, African Water Rail, African Jacana, African Pigmy Goose, White-faced Whistling Duck, Squacco Heron, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron, and, Yellow-billed Duck, Malachite Kingfisher, Long toed Plover, papyrus gonolek, Western Banded Snake Eagle, and Weyns’s Weaver.

Rare sightings may include Black Crake, African Green Pigeon, Common Moorhen, Blue-headed Coucal.
Transfer to Masindi enroute to Murchison falls. We drive north passing through lush green landscapes and mosaic wood-land. We  look out for the White-crested Turaco, Bronze-tailed Starling, Lesser Blue and Greater Blue-eared Starlings, Black, Yellow-mantled and Black-winged Bishop, White-headed Barbet, Cardinal and Nubian Wood-pecker, Lesser and Greater Honeyguide, Grey-capped Warbler, White-shouldered Tit, Brown-throated Wattle Eye, Brown Twin-spot, Eastern and Dark Chanting Goshawk, Banded Snake Eagle, Broad-billed Roller, Lizard Buzzard, Shikra, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Lesser Striped, Angola and Barn Swallow, Village and Black-headed Weaver, Sooty Chat, Black-headed Batis.
Accommodation: Masindi Hotel (en-suite private rooms) https://www.masindihotel.com
Full Board Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 2: Uganda Endemics Birding In Murchison Falls National Park: All day birding.

In Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest National Park (3893sq.km) bisected by the mighty River Nile. Birding through Budongo forest. We look for Puvell’s Illadopsis, the endangered and unusual Nahan’s Francolin, Grey and Yellow Longbill.

Key sightings that might be encountered in Kaniyo Pabidi (Budongo forest) might include, the Fire-crested Alethe, Narina Tragon, Dusky Longtailed Cuckoo, Plain and Little Greenbul, Yellow Billed, Hairy-breasted and Yellow-spotted Barbet, Green, Olive-bellied and Olive Sunbird, Crested Guineafowl, Speckled, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Brown-eared and Yellow-crested Woodpecker plus other forest birds.

We head further north, on lucky days we find the Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Grassland Moustached Warbler, the Brown Parrot, African Thrush, Little Sparrow Hawk, African Harrier Hawk, Grey Woodpecker, Green Backed Eremomela, Grey-headed Olive Back, White-chinned Prinia, Black and White Mannikin, Red-eyed, African Morning, Ring-necked, Vinaceous and Laughing Dove.

We continue to view ‘Top-of-the Falls’, south of River Nile; to view of the mighty Murchison Falls, the point where River Nile is squeezed through such a tiny space (7m gap) plunging 42m deep making one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. What a stunning sight, foaming, crashing white water rushing through narrow channels of stone and plunging down into a curving stretch of river below, silvery in the mid-day light. The payoff is a killer view back toward the falls, and down the Nile in another direction as your eye can see. A vivid rainbow arces right across the plunging spray of the falls. You will be thrilled by this magical place and so glad that you need another day.
Accommodation: Pakuba Safari lodge. (en-suite rooms) www.pakubasafarilodge.com
Full Board Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 3: In Murchison falls national Park: Game viewing safari and water fall boat cruise 

Depart for early (6.30AM) game drive. Enjoy a 3-hour game and bird watching safari on the northern bank of River Nile in Murchison falls Park and look out for both game and birds, among those there.

Key sightings to expect: Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Black-bellied Bustard the Grey-headed, Striped and Woodland Kingfisher, Red Shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike, Beautiful Sunbird, Foxy, Whistling, Croaking, Singing, Rattling, Zitting and Siffling Cisiti-cola.  White Fronted Black Chat, Sooty Chat, Yellow-billed and Grey-backed Shrike, Abys-sinian and Rufous-crowned Roller, Spotted Morning Thrush, African Quail Finch, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Black-billed Barbet, Swallow-tailed, Northern Carmine, Little and the seasonal Eurasian roller, water thicknee.

Mammal sightings expected to see include; Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, Jackson’s Hartebeast, Oribi, Bush and Water Buck, Jackal, Lion, Hyena and on a lucky day – the elusive Leopard.
At 2:00 pm, we depart for a 3-hour boat cruise along the Victoria Nile to the bottom of Murchison falls. Along the way, you’ll be passing large numbers of giant Nile crocodiles, schools of hippos, vast range of birds – birds feeding on open water; birds that hunt the river margins; like stilts, kingfishers, storks, kingfishers; Saddle-billed, carmine bee eaters, Yellow-billed and African Open-bill birds feeding off rising from water insects; like swallows, bee-eaters and rock pranticoles.
At 6pm we start an evening game viewing safari as we head back to your lodge.  We look out for some nightjars.
Accommodation: Pakuba Safari lodge. (en-suite rooms) www.pakubasafarilodge.com
Full Board, Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 4: Murchison falls to Kibale Forest National Park – Road Transfer
Today we transfer to Kibale Forest National Park. we drive through agricultural fields, eucalyptus plantations, small villages, oil infrastructure region. We shall have a few birding stops along the way. Kibale NP contains good primary forests which we will explore this afternoon, with chances of many bird species including specialties such as Brown and Western Banded Snake Eagle, Little Spar-row-hawk, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Joyfull Greenbul, Grey-throated Barbet, Olive Longtailed Cuckoo, White-breasted Nigrita, African Emerald Cuckoo, Mottled Spinetail, African Black Duck, Mountain Wagtail, Yellow-mantled and Forest Weaver, Black-billed Turaco, Narrow-tailed.

Kibale forest is also home of Chimpanzees and 13 other different species of primates. Approximately 5,000 chimpanzees live in the wild in Uganda. In Kibale Forest National Park, you will find one of the largest populations of chimpanzees in Africa – about 1450 individuals. Kibale N.P is an extension of the great rainforests of Central Africa. It is inhabited by three large “communities” of chimps, each with over 120 individuals.

Primate species sightings: Besides Chimpanzees, you will also have chances of seeing other monkey species that live here; the guereza colobus, red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, and olive baboons. It is also home to the rare L’hoest’s Monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened Red Colobus Monkey.
Accommodation:
Kibale Forest Camp. (en-suite rooms) https://naturelodgesuganda.com/kibale-forest-camp/ or 
Turaco Tree tops. https://www.turacotreetops.com
Full Board, Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 5: Kibale Forest National Park: Birding & Chimpanzee tracking.
After an early breakfast we drive to Kibale National Park visitor center, for orientation. The activity may last from a few hours to several hours. We head out into the forest. Our morning focus while birding will be to search for the elusive Green breasted Pitta. The Pitta is one of the most thought after bird species in this country. A very uncommon bird and restricted to forest interiors and active very early morning. With guidance of our site guide and rangers we are hopeful to boost our chances of finding the Green breasted Pitta.
There are chances of spotting White-throated Greenbul, Thick-billed Honeyguide up in the canopy, Brown-chested Alethe. Yellow-billed Barbet, Yellow-mantled Weaver along route to the lodge.

The Kibale forest environment also boasts 325 bird species, including 6 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region. They include; the Black capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.
Other species include: Narina Trogon, African Emerald Cuckoo, Grey Parrot, Black-billed Turaco, Yellow-billed Barbet, Red-tailed Ant Thrush, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Chestnut Wattle eye, Narrow-tailed Staring among other birds.
Rare sightings include, Black Bee-eater, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Black-eared Ground-Thrush, Blue-breasted Kingfisher.

Chimpanzee tracking: those interested in chimpanzees, this is an optional activity starting at 2pm for two hours, and there is an extra fee of US$200 payable for this unforgettable experience. Please inform our reservation specialist whether you’re interested in chimp tracking at time of booking.

Into the forest, the main bird species we look out for; Rufous Flycatcher-thrush, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush Purple-headed, Glossy-Starling, Brown, Pale and Scaly Breasted Illadopsis, White-naped and Olive Pigeon, Masked Apalis, Toro-Olive-Greenbul, Black-billed Turacao, Buff-spotted Woodpecker and Green Crombec.
At 4pm in the event that you don’t go chimp tracking, we shall take a head out for swamp walk around Bigodi looking out for Red-headed Bluebill, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Uganda Spotted Woodpecker, Afri-can Emerald Cuckoo, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Red-capped Robin Chat and Ru-fous Flycatcher-Thrush, Luhdher’s Bush-shrike. Cabanis’s and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Flufftail.
Accommodation: Kibale Forest Camp or Turaco Tree tops (en-suite rooms). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 6: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, through Queen Elizabeth NP
Today we transfer early further south to Bwindi impenetrable national park, Ruhija section. Geographically Ruhija is on high elevation 2300m above sea level, viewing Rwanda and Congo. Our driving route goes through Queen Elizabeth NP as we continue birding en-route.
Some of the bird spp we expect include the Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Tropical Boubou, Augar Buzzard, Mountain Buzzard and Wagtail, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Barred and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Dusky Tit, Ludhur’s and Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Grey-Green Bush-Shrike, Chestnut-throated, Black-faced Rwenzori, Black-throated and Buff-throated Apalis, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Streaky Seed-eater, Stripe-breasted Tit, White-starred Robin and many more.
Today mammal sightings include; Topi, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, cape buffaloes, elephants, Baboons and others.
Later in the day we’ll check in at our lodge located on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP.
Accommodation:
Bakiga Lodge / (en-suite rooms), Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 7: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Gorilla trekking and birding walk
This morning we have the unique chance to get up close and personal with Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to approximately half of the world population of Mountain Gorillas. Today will be one of those truly “once in a life-time” opportunities, the chance to see this majestic animal in its wild habitat.
Those going trekking into the forest to track Mountain Gorillas will set off at 7.30am transfer to park offices, listen to orientation talk about tracking etiquette by rangers at 8am. With a packed lunch and led by an experienced team of ranger guides and trackers, you will track Mountain Gorillas.
We recommend you to wear good walking shoes and carry good rain gear and enough drinking water. Gorilla trekking can be tough and challenging and one has to be reasonably fit. You will carry a picnic lunch with you into the forest but not to share with the Gorillas and you will be thrilled to see these Gorillas and the return journey from Gorilla trekking could be easier. Gorilla tracking is an incredible wildlife experience and well worth the effort! This is an optional activity and there is a fee of US$700 payable for this unforgettable experience.
Need to know about gorilla trekking:
Anyone wishing to track Mountain Gorillas must obtain a permit in advance (we arrange it for you). The cost of the permit is currently US$700 per person (after June 2021) and the demand for permits is very high daily. It is critical that you reserve your place in advance when you register for this tour. Please inform our reservation personnel whether you’re interested in gorilla tracking at time of booking.

Please clearly indicate that you wish to pay for a gorilla trek. Permits are non-refundable. A reasonable level of fitness is required for the gorilla trek though the pace is not overly fast. The trek can involve several hours of strenuous walking on steep slopes and off-trail so you will need to be able to walk through dense forest and up and down slopes. The guides will carry your backpack (for extra fee US20) and are very helpful during the trek getting you over the terrain. The walk can take anywhere from a few hours to all day and quite often the gorillas can be found within a few hours. Sometimes, however it may take longer – 10 hours as these are indeed wild animals and their movements are unpredictable. The ranger guides will have the latest information on the whereabouts of the group during the trek briefing. They have taken many people of 70 years plus to successfully see these amazing creatures.
* we have costed this excursion separate from the main cost of the tour keeping in mind not everyone may want to go on a Gorilla trek. If for any reason you do not opt for the Gorilla trek, there will be birding opportunities offered!*

Forest birding in Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda. 24 highly localized Albertine Rift Endemics have been recorded in Bwindi forest.
Those who rather go birding we’ll take out into the bird-rich forest where the main bird species well look out for are Grey-capped Warbler, Black-lored Babbler, Double-toothed Barbet. Small flocks of birds can be found foraging in the lush trees – it seems like every minute another new bird appears! Highlights include such birds as African Wood-owl, Pink-footed Puffback, African Paradise-flycatcher, Dusky Blue Flycather, species of Greenbul, species of Sunbird, Red-headed Malimbe, Golden-breasted Bunting…. and more!
We all meet and get on a birding walk along the Bwindi forest edge where many endemics like to feed. Expect to see Mountain Wagtail, Toro Olive-Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Olive Thrush, Cassin’s grey Flycatcher, Grauer’s Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Collared Apalis, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Sharpe’s Starling, Strange Weaver, Dusky Twinspot, Yellow Bishop, Black-throated Seedeater. African Dusky flycatcher, Chestnut throated Apalis (E), Regal sunbird (E), Northern double collard sunbird, Yellow whiskered greenbul, Cinnamon breasted bee eater, Red-faced woodland warbler (E), Mountain Oriole, Rwenzori Batis (E), White tailed blue flycatcher, Striped breasted tit (E), Mountain Masked Apalis (E), Cinnamon chested bee-eater, Grey throated Barbet.
Expected Mammal sightings; Caruthers squirrel, African giant snail, three horned chameleon – High altitude and highly endemic. We transfer to Kisoro town. Drive time: 2 hours
Accommodation:
Travellers Rest Hotel (en-suite rooms). https://naturelodgesuganda.com/travellers-rest-hotel/   or
Mutanda Lake Resort https://www.mutandalakeresort.com/
Full Board, Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 8: Uganda Birding – Birding Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Transfer to lake Mburo National Park
Today we transfer to Mgahinga Visitor Centre. On arrival look out for White-starred Robin and Northern Double-collared Sunbird. After a short briefing start to walk in the direction of Sabinyo Volcano. The trail is not steep and climbs from 2300 to 2900 meters. Look out for specialties like the Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Shellys and Dusky crimsonwings. Archer’s Ground Robin, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Variable Sunbird, Northern Double-collared Sunbird Olive-breasted Greenbul, African Olive Pigeon, Afep Pigeon, Rwenzori Batis, Western Tinkerbird, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Strange Weaver, Chubb’s Cisticola, Kandt’s Waxbill, Rwenzori Batis, Doherty’s Bushshrike, Crowned Eagle, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Mountain Masked Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis and a Montane Nightjar flushed from the trail. Rwenzori Apalis, White-necked Raven, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler and Albertine Boubou, Dusky Turtle Dove.
After picnic lunch we shall transfer 4 hours to Lake Mburo National park.
Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock. (en-suite rooms) https://www.rwakoborock.com/
Full Board, Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

Day 9: lake Mburo National Park; Morning birding, afternoon boat trip
The main focus at lake Mburo NPK is to look for African fin foot an endemic specie on shores of lake mburo papyrus. Lake Mburo National Park is 260 sq. km. The park boasts of an extensive open acacia woodland missed with savannah, rolling hills, open grassy valleys and five smaller lakes.
We do a safari birding drive, expect to see Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Blue- napped Mousebird, African Grey Hornbill, Red-faced Barbet, Spot-flanked Barbet, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Larks, Pipits, Long tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis among others birds.
At 2pm we take a boat cruise to look for the African Finfoot and other good species such as White Backed and Black Crowned Night Herons, Giant Kingfisher. We continue our drive back to the lodge.
Before dinner try the African Scops Owl, Swamp, Black-shouldered and Freckled Nightjars among other birds. In terms of mammal sightings – this is probably the best parks to see the giant Eland as well as Zebra, Topi, Impala, the more uncommon Klipspringer, Burchell’s Zebra, Buffalo & Hippopotamus.
Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock. (en-suite rooms) https://www.rwakoborock.com/
Day 10: Transfer to Entebbe for Return flight.

Today our guide will transfer you to Kampala/Entebbe. En-route we’ll make a few birding stops and will also stop for photo moment at the equator- a chance to cross from south to northern hemisphere. We proceed to Entebbe. If you wish to stay on in Entebbe tonight, we can book you a room here at your own cost.

Meal Plan: Breakfast and Lunch

Trip Price Includes:

Arrival and departure airport transfers as per itinerary
All other transfers as per itinerary
Transportation on safari in Toyota 4×4, Landcruiser
English-speaking driver/ bird guide (exclusive use of vehicle)
Park entrance fees and activities as per itinerary
Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking arrangements as indicated in the itinerary
Mineral water in the vehicle
Accommodation in self-contained rooms as indicated on the itinerary
1 night at Masindi Hotel with breakfast, lunch & dinner
2 nights at Pakuba Safari Lodge with breakfast, lunch & dinner daily
2 nights at Kibale Forest Camp or Turacoo Tree Tops with breakfast, lunch & dinner daily
1 night at Bakiga Lodge or Haven Lodge Buhoma with breakfast, lunch & dinner
1 night at Mutanda Lake Resort or Travellers Rest Hotel with breakfast, lunch & dinner daily
2 nights at Rwakobo Rock with breakfast, lunch & dinner daily
Private transfer to Entebbe International Airport

Trip Price excludes:

• International flights into and out of Uganda.
• 1 Chimpanzee tracking permit – $200 per person (we can arrange it for you, inform us at booking)
• 1 Gorilla trekking permit – $700 per person (we can arrange it for you, inform us at booking )
• Any additional optional activities, such as chimpanzee habituation & second gorilla trek.
• Health Vaccinations
• Drinks (softdrink, beer, wine, spirits…)
• Ugandan visas: single entry visa costs US$50 and it is required for all countries that require visas for Ugandans (principle of reciprocity). It can be obtained on arrival at Entebbe airport.
• Medical and travel insurance.
• Tips, gratuities, telephone
• Items of personal nature (expenses like laundry, spa services)
• Any other concept not indicated as included

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