2023 19 Days Uganda Birding Tour (Shoebills, Endemics, and Primates)
Explore Uganda – The African Pearl! On our 2023 19 Days Uganda Birding Tour, you will get to see “the Best of Uganda”! The Shoebill (the easiest country to see this amazing species), the 20-plus Albertine Rift endemics (including African Green Broadbill), and finally other birds difficult to find elsewhere, such as Green-breasted Pitta, are essential birds of Uganda.
This 19 Days Uganda Birding Tour focuses on the “must-see” birds of Uganda, though we’ll certainly see a lot of widespread spectacular species like Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, amazing barbets, and so many others. We can also expect to see other star species such as the Red-faced Barbet, as well as the incomparable Gorillas, troop encounters with Chimpanzees, and a slew of other primates. We’ll also see breathtaking scenery such as the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Virunga Volcanoes, and Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, as well as the breathtaking Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls National Park. This is going to be a truly spectacular and unforgettable wildlife adventure and birding extravaganza!
Detailed Itinerary – 19 Days Uganda Birding Tour (Shoebills, Endemics, and Primates)
Day 1: Arrival and birding Entebbe
Our 19 Days Uganda birding tour begins when we arrive in Entebbe. We may be able to do some birding around the garden city of Entebbe, away from the hustle and bustle of Kampala, if time allows. Entebbe is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and we may have the opportunity to bird the grounds of our hotel, the beautiful botanical gardens, and other sites. African Hobby, the striking Black-headed Gonolek, the Broad-billed Roller, a plethora of weavers, and a slew of others are among the town’s specials. You’ll already be getting a good taste of Uganda’s vast bird diversity.
Overnight: Lake Victoria View Guest House, Entebbe, or similar.
Day 2: Mabamba Swamp, Lake Mburo National Park
“Majestic Shoebill” – Amazing Birding in Mabamba Swamp and Entebbe, Uganda
We set out on a morning boat trip on Mabamba Swamp, which is likely the world’s most famous Shoebill habitat. On the lake, we should see a wide range of other birds, including Lesser Jacana, lapwings, several water-associated weavers, and Red-chested Sunbird (also usually near water). Orange Weaver, the massive and strange Great Blue Turaco, the beautiful Ross’s Turaco, Eastern Plantain-eater, Double-toothed Barbet, and many others could be found. We depart for Lake Mburo National Park in the afternoon. Birding and wildlife viewing in Uganda is a delightful experience and one of the highlights of a birding trip to the country. We look for birds that are highly localized, such as the (a small part of Uganda and nearby Tanzania) Red-faced Barbet, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, African Finfoot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Tropical Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, and Golden-breasted Bunting. We could also encounter numerous mammals such as Eland, Zebra, Impala, Bohor Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Topi, Defassa Waterbuck, Common Duiker, Buffalo, Hippo, and many others.
Overnight: Rwakobo Rock, or similar.
Day 3: Lake Mburo National Park
We will go on a boat trip to Lake Mburo National Park in search of the African Finfoot. We occasionally see overwintering Malagasy Pond Heron and Papyrus Gonolek, as well as a variety of kingfishers such as Malachite, Giant, Pied, and the rare Shining-blue Kingfisher. In general, this park provides an excellent opportunity to see many arid-country birds, such as Blue-naped Mousebird, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Golden-breasted Bunting, and the incredibly localized Red-faced Barbet, as well as a more widespread East African species, Spot-flanked Barbet. During our Uganda birding tour, this is the only place where we are likely to see Plains Zebra, as well as Hippopotamus, African Buffalo, Defassa Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, and other mammals.
Overnight: Rwakobo Rock, or similar.
Days 4 – 5: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
We travel to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, where the backdrop of the Virunga Volcanoes enhances the birding experience. We begin our birding adventure in the fabled Albertine Rift, which is teeming with endemic birds. At Mgahinga, we specifically look for birds that are often overlooked on standard Uganda birding tours. The goal of this tour is to see as many Albertine Rift endemics as possible, and Mgahinga is the only place to see the Ruwenzori Turaco, a must-see turaco because it is in its own genus and extremely localized. We also look for the critically endangered Shelley’s Crimsonwing here, though sightings of this species are becoming increasingly rare.
Overnight: Travellers Rest, Kisoro
Day 6: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, birding Ruhija
We travel to the high-altitude Ruhija section of the magnificent Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, arguably Africa’s best forest for birds (and gorillas), looking for Albertine Rift endemics along the way. This is a large forest with beautiful hills. We’ll begin birding the forested hills as soon as we arrive, looking for the beautiful Black Bee-eater and also trying to find Grauer’s Swamp Warbler at a roadside location.
Overnight: Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija, or similar.
Day 7: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding Mubwindi Swamp
We spend the entire day after breakfast searching for African Green Broadbill and other species such as Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, African Hill Babbler, Mountain Illadopsis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, Mountain Masked Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Ruwenzori Apalis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Ruwen The walk down to the site (and back) takes up a significant portion of the day, but it is one of the best birding days of the tour. Throughout the day, trip participants are usually treated to a steady stream of life-birds.
Overnight: Trekkers Tavern, Ruhija, or similar.
Day 8: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding The Neck and Buhoma
“Great Apes” – Amazing Gorillas and Birds in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
We bird on our way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s Buhoma section. We pass through “The Neck,” a well-known birding area. We are looking for Augur Buzzard, Ross’s Turaco, Cinnamon-chested and Black Bee-eaters, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Grey-throated Barbet, Red-throated Wryneck, African Grey Woodpecker, Mountain Wagtail, Red-tailed Greenbul, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Mountain Masked Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Cassi.
Overnight: Ride 4 Woman, Buhoma.
Day 9: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: birding Buhoma
After an early breakfast, we enter the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in search of species such as Black Bee-eater, barbets and tinkerbirds (“mini-barbets”), woodpeckers, African Broadbill, a slew of greenbuls, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Mountain Masked Apalis, Bocage’
Overnight: Ride 4 Woman, Buhoma.
Day 10: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Gorilla trekking or birding Buhoma
After breakfast, we begin our optional gorilla trek (or continue birding for those who do not wish to go on the gorilla trek) in the fabled Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We recommend that you wear sturdy walking boots and bring a good rain suit as well as plenty of drinking water in a backpack. Trekking can be strenuous and demanding, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. You’ll bring a picnic lunch, and you’ll be thrilled to see these rare apes (no guarantee, although rarely missed). We can spend an hour with these gentle giants (again, no guarantee, but probable).
Overnight: Ride 4 a Woman, Buhoma.
Day 11: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast, we set off for Queen Elizabeth National Park. We will take a two-hour boat trip on the Kazinga Channel to see a variety of wildlife, including hundreds of hippos, crocodiles, and birdlife. During the day, we look for Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Striated Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Martial Eagle, Kittlitz’s Plover, Senegal Plover, Wattled Lapwing, and kingfishers and larks, among many others, and look out for mammals like Uganda kob, Bushbuck, Defassa Waterbuck, African buffalo, African elephant, warthog, and, if lucky The rare and shy Giant Forest Hog, a mammalian specialty of Queen Elizabeth National Park, would be a truly unique find.
Overnight: Elephant Plains Lodge
Day 12: Transfer to Kibale National Park
We depart after breakfast for Kibale National Park and the Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse. We drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park, cross the Equator, and travel through Kasese along the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, birding along the way.
Overnight: Kibale Forest Camp, Kibale National Park
Day 13: Kibale National Park
Chimpanzees of Kibale and Budongo Forest and Birding in Bigodi Wetlands, Uganda
Today we’ll be birding in Kibale National Park and trekking with chimps! We bird the Kanyanchu area after breakfast, looking for the spectacular Green-breasted Pitta and other species such as Yellow-billed Barbet, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed Turaco, Narina Trogon, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Sabine’s Spinetail, Chestnut Wattle-eye, and Narrow-tailed Starling, among others. Then we search for Chimpanzees in the area. In addition to chimps, we may see Uganda Red Colobus, Guereza Black-and-white Colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Red-tailed Monkey, and L’Hoest’s Monkey in this park.
Overnight: Kibale Forest Camp, Kibale National Park.
Day 14: Masindi
After some final birding around Kibale, we head to Masindi, and if time permits, we may begin birding the famous Royal Mile.
Overnight: Masindi Hotel
Day 15: Royal Mile Budongo Forest
The Royal Mile is a stunningly beautiful forest with an abundance of birdlife. Crowned Eagle, Heuglin’s Francolin, Blue-breasted and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, African Dwarf Kingfisher, White-thighed Hornbill, Speckled and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-crested and Brown-eared Woodpeckers, Little Grey, Plain and Spotted Greenbuls, Fire-crested Alethe, Red-tailed Ant Thrush, Rufous We’ll drive to Murchison Falls for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Overnight: Twiga Safari Lodge, near Murchison Falls National Park
Day 16-17: Birding Murchison Falls National Park
We’ll be exploring this magnificent park for the next few days. We go on game/birding drives and take a boat trip down the Nile, where we can see hundreds of hippos and crocodiles, as well as a wide variety of birdlife. Northern Ground Hornbill, Black-headed Lapwing, Rock Pratincole, Swallow-tailed, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Black-billed Barbet, Spotted Palm Thrush, Speckle-fronted Weaver, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, and others are among the birds we hope to see. Keep an eye out for the graceful Rothschild giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest, Uganda Kob, Oribi, Defassa Waterbuck, African buffalo, African elephant, Common Warthog, Hippo, and possibly a Leopard or Lion. It’s also possible that we’ll come across the rare Patas Monkey here. We’ll make a point of visiting the viewpoint at the top of the falls. We can walk down a steep path to the river’s edge after a short walk around the top of the falls to see how the waters of the majestic Nile narrow as they are forced through a rocky cleft only seven meters wide to plunge down 35 meters in a majestic cascade.
Overnight: Twiga Safari Lodge, Murchison Falls National Park
Day 18: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
We’ll make our way to the well-known Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, where we should see White Rhinoceros. This is also the best location for the magnificent, White-crested Turaco, and we should add some other excellent bird species to our growing list. We’ll return to Entebbe in the afternoon.
Overnight: Lake Victoria View Guest House, Entebbe
Day 19: Departure
Your flight can leave any time today.
Please also note that the itinerary might change due to various factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information, road, or weather conditions. The itinerary can be customized to fit the traveler’s interests.
End of the 19 Days Uganda Birding Tour
- All meals and bottled water
- All accommodation
- Private 4 x 4 ground transportation
- Guides (including local birding guide)
- All park, conservation, and entrance fees
- Boat rides on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth and the Nile
- Nature walk fees
- Optional Gorilla permit (subject to availability, $700 USD) and Chimpanzee permit (subject to availability, $200) not included
- Flights to and from Entebbe
- Travel Insurance
- Visa fee
- Gratuities to local guides, porters, and hotel staff
- Other items of a personal nature
Even though we cannot guarantee a sighting of the animals listed below, we are confident that an encounter with one of them is very likely.
- Shoebill, African Green Broadbill, Red-faced Barbet, Green-breasted Pitta, Black-billed Turaco, Mountain Illadopsis, Bocage’s Bushshrike, Black Bee-Eater, Ross’s Turaco, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, White Rhinoceros
What To Expect
On our 19 Days Uganda birding tour, we frequently start birding early in the morning, usually before breakfast. Days will typically begin at the first light in order to capture activity in the morning before the day warms up and activity slows. We stay in mostly high-quality accommodations, often in prime birding areas; accommodations range from lodges to guest houses; all are comfortable, pleasant, and secure.
The roads are generally good, albeit a little rough in some places. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, boat trips into the Mabamba Swamp and along the Kazinga Channel are planned (and on the Nile on the extension). The 19 Days Uganda Birding tour will generally move at a leisurely pace; walking will be mostly moderate, with a few walks on rocky terrain. We did, however, spend one day on a strenuous walk up and downhill to Mubwindi Swamp in search of African Green Broadbill.
Birdwatching at Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.
The optional gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is difficult and requires a reasonable level of fitness. Please be aware that there is no guarantee of success, despite the fact that the Gorillas are rarely missed. Chimpanzee trekking and searching for Green-breasted Pitta can both require a significant amount of walking. Everyone is welcome to opt-out of activities if they are too difficult.
We stick to less-traveled roads and moderate walking trails in general. Uganda is a diverse country, and we visit a wide range of habitats. The majority of the days will be warm or hot, dry, and sunny; cloudy weather is to be expected, and rain is likely. Temperatures can be cool at higher elevations. Humidity can be inconvenient at times. On some days, we may take a siesta in the middle of the day. We either eat at a nearby restaurant or bring a picnic lunch into the field. We discuss the day’s activities, review the day’s list of sightings, and make plans for the next day during leisurely dinners. There will be a plethora of fantastic photo opportunities!