Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour
Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour
TOP BIRDS OF THE TOUR – AS VOTED BY GUESTS
- Red-faced Barbet
- African Finfoot
- Grauer’s/ African Green Broadbill
- Green-breasted Pitta
- African Skimmer
- Jameson’s Wattle-eye
- African Dwarf Kingfisher
- Northern Red Bishop
TOP MAMMALS OF THE TOUR – AS VOTED BY GUESTS
- Mountain Gorilla
- Eastern Chimpanzee
- African Straw-coloured Fruit Bat
- African Elephant
- Uganda Kob
- Giant Forest Hog
- African Lion
Mountain Gorilla mother and baby
DAY 1: 11/07/2022 – ARRIVAL IN ENTEBBE; ENTEBBE BOTANICAL GARDENS AND LUTEMBE BAY
Everyone arrived earlier so by our main arrival day, all guests and staff were in Entebbe. We thus agreed to spend the day warming up to the birds of Uganda. Entebbe Botanical Gardens hosted our morning session; where we were welcomed by a party of Great Blue Turacos and Eastern Plantain-eaters. We then enjoyed longer walks down to the shores of the mighty Lake Victoria, where we added Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, African Hobby, Winding Cisticola, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Northern Puffback, Northern Black Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Red-bellied/ Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Little Greenbul and hundreds of Little Egrets. Palm-nut Vultures and Splendid Starlings flew above us, and we were entertained by a mating pair of Gabar Goshawks. In one old tree, we had a family of African Grey Parrots checking out some old cavities.
We then enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant by the shores of Lake Victoria. Here we picked our first Red-chested Sunbird and Grey-capped Warbler of the trip. The afternoon session saw us visit a local mall for some shopping. We later took a short drive to Lutembe Bay, where we were welcomed by White-throated Bee-eaters and Sooty Chat. The boat trip here produced lots of great waterbirds; including Knob-billed Duck, African Skimmer, White-winged Tern in breeding plumage, Gull-billed Tern, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Slender-billed Gull. Along the shores we had Northern Brown-throated Weaver and Swamp Flycatcher.
Mammals seen today included Vervet Monkey and African Straw-coloured Fruit Bats. Near the water, we enjoyed one Nile Monitor Lizard; a very beautiful reptile species.
DAY 2: 12/07/2022 – MABAMBA SWAMP SHOEBILL SITE; TO LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
This was the official start of the main Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. Indeed, everyone was excited about the day. Our main target was the pre-historic Shoebill. We thus drove to the famous Mabamba Wetland, a great swamp where this species is reliable. We boarded our boats and went searching. Within the first few minutes, we went round a bend, and this mighty bird was waiting for us – Shoebill! We watched it for several minutes then continued birding the swamps. We managed to enjoy African Marsh Harrier, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Purple Heron and African Swamphen.
It was then time to head South to Lake Mburo National Park; via the Equator. We were welcomed by the fascinating Ankole Cows, with their massive horns. Mammals continued to increase as we entered the park. These included Common Warthogs and Plains Zebras. We then started birding in Lake Mburo National Park, and got to enjoy Red-headed/ faced Lovebird, Martial Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Meyer’s Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Southern Black Flycatcher, African Grey Hornbill and Green-winged Pytilia. At dusk we had Square-tailed Nightjar and Black-shouldered Nightjar around the lodge.
DAY 3: 13/07/2022 – LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
This was a major day of our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We had three main target birds i.e. the range-restricted Red-faced Barbet, African Finfoot and White-backed Night-Heron. We managed to get all three, but the heron was quite well hidden. The latter two species were both seen during our boat trip on Lake Mburo.
We had a great support cast of birds as we sought our main targets. These included Crested Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Golden-breasted Bunting, Long-tailed/ Tabora Cisticola, Goliath Heron, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Lesser Honeyguide, Buff-bellied Warbler, Lilac-breasted Roller, Lappet-faced Vulture, Red-breasted/ Rufous-chested Swallow and White-winged Black Tit.
Mammals included African Buffalo, Common Impala, Plains Zebra, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Bushbuck, Olive Baboon, Defassa Waterbuck, Topi and Common Hippopotamus. We also recorded Nile Crocodiles, to add to our reptiles list.
We closed the day with a great view of an African Scops-Owl; the best owl sighting of the entire Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour.
DAY 4: 14/07/2022 – LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK TO BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (RUHIJA)
We had a morning to enjoy birding in Lake Mburo National Park. We managed to enjoy some good mammals and birds while transecting through the park. We added African Black-headed Oriole and Tropical Boubou to our growing list. We then started our drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. On the way, we added some nice birds like White-necked Raven, Angolan Swallow and Wahlberg’s Eagle.
When we arrived in Bwindi Forest, we got to enjoy some introductory birding before sunset. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the main locations for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We had some great Albertine Rift Endemic species as well as other forest birds. These included Strange Weaver, Olive Woodpecker, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-browed Crombec, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Abyssinian Thrush, Thick-billed Seedeater, Handsome Francolin and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.
Mammals in Bwindi Forest included Western Guereza, Red-legged Sun Squirrel and Bohm’s Bush Squirrel. We also had a shy Black-fronted Duiker run across the road.
DAY 5: 15/07/2022 – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (RUHIJA – GRAUER’S/ AFRICAN GREEN BROADBILL)
Our full day in Ruhija, on the upper slopes of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, was spent birding the long trail down the Mubwindi Swamp. We started at day break and kept going for pretty much of the day. Our main target on this tough trail was the very localized African Green/ Grauer’s Broadbill. We were very fortunate today to find a complete family – two adults and two chicks. We enjoyed a good time watching the parents feed the chicks.
The day was also productive with many great species for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour list. We enjoyed the Grauer’s Warbler, African Olive/ Rameron Pigeon, Black-faced/ Mountain Masked Apalis, Rwenzori Apalis, Rwenzori Batis, Sharpe’s Starling, Stripe-breasted Tit, Mackinnon’s Shrike, White-starred Robin, Mountain Buzzard, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Mountain/ Black-tailed Oriole, Petit’s Cuckoo-Shrike, Slender-billed Greenbul, Olive-breasted/ Eastern Mountain Greenbul and Albertine Boubou.
African Green/ Grauer’s Broadbills
We also had great views of mammals such as Western Guereza, Bohm’s Bush Squirrel, Yellow-backed Duiker and Black-fronted Duiker.
DAY 6: 16/07/2022 – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (RUHIJA TO BUHOMA; VIA THE NECK)
The journey from the higher slopes of Ruhija to the lower areas around Buhoma is fairly short. However, the amount of birding that this area has, means that we always end up spending all day on this journey. Today was no different and we had a whole day cutting across the region.
We started with some birding at Ruhija targeting species we may have missed earlier. We scored very well adding Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Western Green Tinkerbird and Archer’s Robin-Chat/ Ground Robin. Continuing through the neck, we added Scarce Swift, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Red-tailed Greenbul, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, African Black Duck, Grey-headed Sunbird, Buff-throated Apalis, Black-billed Weaver, Speckled Tinkerbird, Luhder’s Bush-Shrike, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush/ Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush and Black Bee-eater.
We arrived in Buhoma in time for some rest before sundown. Mammals today were also great and we added a new species to our list – Doggett’s Silver Monkey.
Archer’s Robin-Chat/ Ground Robin
DAY 7: 17/07/2022 – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (BUHOMA)
We had a whole day to explore the lower slopes of Bwindi Forest at Buhoma; a location which always scores great species on our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tours. We enjoyed birding local trails for most of the morning, and some part of the afternoon. We also birded along the local rivers and streams seeking more species. Our picnic lunch spot was deep in the forest, surrounded by beautiful sounds of birds and insects.
We managed to add a good number of new birds and a new mammal i.e. the Schmidt’s Red-tailed Monkey. Black-fronted Duikers, which we had seen before, were also plentiful near our trails.
Some of the exciting birds species seen today included Elliot’s Woodpecker, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Bar-tailed Trogon, Kakamega Greenbul, Plain Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Olive-green Camaroptera, Least Honeyguide, Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Grey-chinned/ Green Sunbird, Green Hylia, Green Crombec, Dusky Tit, African Broadbill, Red-headed Malimbe, Ross’s Turaco, Dusky Blue Flycatcher and Sooty Flycatcher.
DAY 8: 18/07/2022 – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (BUHOMA – GORILLA TREKKING)
This day was dedicated to our Mountain Gorilla trekking adventure. This was a major bucket list activity for all group members and the team was eager to see these amazing Great Apes. We all convened at the Buhoma headquarters office, where after a great entertainment show by the local ladies, we received a briefing session. We were then assigned our Gorilla Group, which we would be trekking.
The drive to the starting point was smooth and we were soon hiking through the forest. We managed to arrive at the Gorilla Family’s location in good time. We found them happily eating, with the two Silverbacks resting nearby. This was a great group, where we also had a young baby in the family. We spent one hour enjoying these gorillas and taking more photos than our cameras could carry. While enjoying the gorillas, we were entertained by the songs of Black-faced Rufous Warbler and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo. Near here we also enjoyed good views of Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco and African Green Pigeon.
Mountain Gorilla silverback male
We then hiked back to our vehicles, where the certificates were awarded by our skilled guide – Florence. We then made our way back to the lodge for an afternoon’s rest. On the way we added Bronzy Sunbird, African Blue Flycatcher, Woolly-necked Stork and Grey Crowned Crane. At the lodge, we were entertained by L’hoest’s Monkeys feeding around the compound. This was one of the most memorable days on the Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour.
DAY 9: 19/07/2022 – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK TO QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
We left Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and started our journey North-West to the mighty Queen Elizabeth National Park. We enjoyed some nice roadside birding stops along the way where we recorded Cape Wagtail, Mountain Wagtail, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Black-and-white Mannikin and African Pygmy Kingfisher.
We then continued to Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we birded the Southern regions around Ishasha River, the Central sector and ended up at the Northern side. Here we enjoyed many mammals including African Elephant, Common Hippopotamus, Topi, Defassa Waterbuck, Uganda Kob and African Buffalo. Several of these mammals were indeed new for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour list.
Birds included Flappet Lark, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Rock Kestrel, Carruthers’s Cisticola, Red-faced Cisticola, Ruppell’s Vulture, Vieillot’s Black Weaver, Diederik Cuckoo, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-lored Babbler, Red-headed Lovebird, Black Sparrowhawk/ Goshawk, Olive/ Madagascar Bee-eater and Plain-backed Pipit.
DAY 10: 20/07/2022 – QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
We had a full day to enjoy the wonders of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is one of the largest parks in Uganda and has amazing habitats for birds. We started with a quest for the Papyrus Gonolek which showed well together with a Carruthers’s Cisticola. From here we enjoyed some Savannah birding habitats cruising through the Euphorbia woodlands. We had great views of Brimstone Canary, Northern Red Bishop, Black-crowned Tchagra, Black-chested Snake-Eagle and Brown Snake-Eagle.
We then enjoyed the memorable Kazinga Channel boat cruise, where we aimed to find the African Skimmers. They indeed put on a wonderful show; warming up our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We also enjoyed loads of African Elephants, Common Hippopotamuses, African Buffaloes and Uganda Kobs. Here we also enjoyed one Spotted Hyena and two Giant Forest Hogs. Other birds here included Red-throated Bee-eater, Kittlitz’s Plover, Common Sandpiper, Squacco Heron, Three-banded Plover and Southern Red Bishop.
Giant Forest Hog
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a different section of Savannah, this time focusing on the grassland habitat. We enjoyed great views of Flappet Lark, Rufous-naped Lark, White-tailed Lark, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Zitting Cisticola, Senegal Lapwing and a shy Common/ Small Buttonquail. Tropical House Geckos entertained us well at dinner; marking the end to a great day.
DAY 11: 21/07/2022 – QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK TO KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
We started the day early with a game drive across Queen Elizabeth National Park. The plan was to bird here all morning then enjoy our lunch before transferring North to the famous Kibale Forest National Park. Our morning drive was great with many different species of birds and mammals. African Elephants were plenty, as were African Buffaloes (one individual was showing great features of the Forest Buffalo taxa). Highlight birds included Lesser Flamingo, Red-capped Lark, Beaudouin’s Snake-Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Collared Pratincole and Temminck’s Courser. An African Savannah Hare also entertained us before hiding in a thick bush.
African Buffalo with Yellow-billed Oxpecker
We then drove North to Kibale Forest National Park where we had a short afternoon bird walk. Here we enjoyed Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Dusky Tit, African Emerald Cuckoo, Superb Sunbird, Cassin’s Honeybird/ Honeyguide, White-breasted Nigrita, Grey-headed Nigrita, Buff-throated Apalis and Blue Malkoha/ Yellowbill.
We also had a new primate species for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour, the Ashy Red Colobus.
DAY 12: 22/07/2022 – KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (COMMON CHIMPANZEES AND GREEN-BREASTED PITTA)
We had two main targets for this day, which are the main reasons for visiting Kibale Forest National Park (the Green-breasted Pitta and Common Chimpanzees). Both these species are always a key target for all our guests on the Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We started rather early to ensure our chances of finding the Green-breasted Pitta would be high. Our walk was filled with sounds from birds waking up e.g. Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Western Black-headed Oriole and Red-tailed Bristlebill. We soon heard one display sound from the Green-breasted Pitta and we walked closer to take a look. We found one bird displaying high up in a large tree. After some good views, it then moved lower, offering us even better views. We then followed it for some minutes, and found a second bird. Everyone had excellent views of both perched and displaying birds. After the Green-breasted Pitta, we continued birding for some time; adding Narina Trogon, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Crested Guineafowl, Purple-headed Starling and Brown Illadopsis.
From here we moved on to search for our second target, Common Chimpanzees. It was fairly easy to locate them as they enjoyed some morning feeding session. We had a whole hour watching them feed, as one playful baby climbed trees and vines. It was indeed a very successful morning and everyone was pleased with the outcome. Our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour was indeed delivering great sightings thus far.
A young Common Chimpanzee
In the afternoon, we enjoyed another short bird walk after some rest. We birded along wide roads as we sought species we had missed the previous day. We had great views of Brown-crowned Tchagra, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue Malkoha, Olive-bellied Sunbird and Western Nicator.
DAY 13: 23/07/2022 – KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK (BIGODI WETLAND/ SWAMP WALK) TO MASINDI
It was a great start to the day with wonderful weather. We headed out to the amazing Bigodi Wetland/ Swamp where we were keen to enjoy a walk around the area. This site is always a key location on all our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tours. There were many monkey species here as usual; with excellent views of Ashy Red Colobus, Schmidt’s Red-tailed Monkey and Olive Baboon.
Birds were exciting all morning. We had great views of Brown Illadopsis, Black-crowned Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Black Bishop, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Plain Greenbul, Bocage’s/ Grey-green Bush-Shrike and Green Hylia. A Shining-blue Kingfisher flew by very fast.
We then took the journey North to Masindi, our base for the next two days. On the way we saw some exciting birds; including our first Piapiac of the tour.
DAY 14: 24/07/2022 – BUDONGO FOREST AND THE ROYAL MILE
We had a whole day to enjoy one of the best birding forests in Uganda, Budongo Forest. We enjoyed birding the edges of the forest and then enjoyed deeper trails. We also birded the famous Royal Mile, a wide road that cuts through the forest. This was one of the best forest birding sessions we had in our entire Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour.
We had great birding all day with species highlights such as Spotted Greenbul, Little Grey Greenbul, Ituri Batis, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Senegal Coucal, Brown Twinspot, Grey-headed Oliveback, Fraser’s/ African Forest Flycatcher, Cassin’s Spinetail, Little Green Sunbird, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Blue-throated Roller, Forest Robin, White-thighed Hornbill, Marsh Tchagra, Red-collared Widowbird, Moustached Grass Warbler and White-spotted Flufftail.
Mammals were also active and we had Red-legged Sun Squirrel, Stuhlmann’s Blue Monkey and Schmidt’s Red-tailed Monkey.
DAY 15: 25/07/2022 – BUDONGO FOREST TO MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
We enjoyed a short morning birding in Budongo Forest; seeking some extra species for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We birded sections we had not done the previous day, to try for new species; focusing around the Busingiro Forest region. We got great views of Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher and heard Nahan’s Francolin/ Partridge calling.
We then started our drive towards Murchison Falls National Park, where we enjoyed some birds along the Butiaba Escarpment and Lake Albert view points. We got good views of African Black Swift, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Splendid Starling and Dark Chanting-Goshawk.
We then proceeded to Murchison Falls National Park, where Malaba Rock Agama Lizards welcomed us. Here we enjoyed some nice mammals, with close up views of African Buffaloes. They were joined by Piapiacs that gave us wonderful views too.
Common Warthog and Piapiacs
In the afternoon, we birded to the top of the Murchison Falls, while enjoying some mammals. Here we added a new mammal – the Striped Ground Squirrel. We also got great views of Rock Pratincoles and Yellow-mantled Widowbird. Our evening was livened by calls from a young Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl at our lodge.
DAY 16: 26/07/2022 – MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
We had a whole day to explore the massive Murchison Falls National Park. We planned to enjoy the habitats away from our lodge so as to get new species. We worked around several grasslands, woodlands and wetlands. Our drives also took us to the Victoria Nile and Albert Nile delta. This area produced many species for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. The North-East sections of the park were very green with signs of recent rains. As we moved to the North-West, the area looked much drier.
We had great mammals all day including African Buffalo, Common Warthog, Olive Baboon, Common Hippopotamus, Patas Monkey, African Elephant, Oribi and Lelwel Hartebeest.
Birds were also great all day with species such as Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, White-shouldered Black Tit, Green-backed Eremomela, Denham’s Bustard, Black-headed Lapwing, Black-billed Wood-Dove, Vinaceous Dove, Black-winged Red Bishop, Abyssinian Roller, Red-necked Falcon, Black-rumped Waxbill, Whistling Cisticola, Northern Crombec, Black-billed Barbet, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Northern Carmine Bee-eater and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.
DAY 17: 27/07/2022 – MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK (BOAT RIDE ON THE VICTORIA NILE RIVER)
We had a great day in Murchison Falls National Park to enjoy birding sections we had not covered adequately the previous day. We had some great savannah birding and then enjoyed a boat cruise on the Victoria Nile River. We managed to ride all through the river to the base of the mighty Murchison Falls.
Mammals were active all day with mainly Oribi and Uganda Kob herds. We had two African Lion prides in the morning, where one pride had four young cubs playing in the grass. This was a great highlight for our Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We also spotted several Side-striped Jackals and one Spotted Hyena. We had two new mammals in the morning as well i.e. Yellow-winged Bat and Bohor Reedbuck. On the river there were great reptile sightings of Nile Crocodiles, Malaba Rock Agama and Nile Monitor Lizard.
Birds included Saddle-billed Stork, Giant Kingfisher, African Skimmer, Senegal Thick-knee, Spotted Thick-knee, Red-throated Bee-eater, African Marsh Harrier, Diederik Cuckoo, Black-bellied Bustard, Little Weaver, Rock Pratincole and African Darter.
Malaba Rock Agama
DAY 18: 28/07/2022 – MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK TO ENTEBBE
We had a rather easy day to conclude our lovely Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour. We started the morning with some birding and game drives on the Southern Sections of Murchison Falls National Park. We enjoyed some nice birds here such as African Green Pigeon, Violet-backed Starling, Spectacled Weaver, Brown Twinspot, Green Twinspot, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Moustached Grass Warbler, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Heuglin’s Francolin and Whistling Cisticola.
Mammals seen in the park included Bohm’s Bush Squirrel, Western Guereza and several troops of Olive Baboons.
We then exited the park and made our way back to Entebbe, via Kampala. The drive was scenic as usual, and we enjoyed some roadside birds from our vehicles. These included Broad-billed Rollers and Long-crested Eagles.
We arrived in Entebbe in the late afternoon, where we managed to enjoy dinner together, before concluding our great Uganda Birding, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Big Game Custom Safari Tour.
Northern Red Bishop
Moonrise over Lake Mburo National Park