Uganda Pearl of Africa January 2019



Gorillas, Chimps, Shoebills and more!

Saturday 5th – Saturday 19th January 2019


 

Please email us on info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk for more information about this amazing bird- and mammal-packed tour!

 


Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the bird rich West African jungle. Where else but in this impossibly lush country can we see lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippopotamus and huge crocodiles before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla? Not to mention canoeing through the pristine swamps to look for the enigmatic Shoebill.

Uganda is safe and delightfully friendly, and with wonderful lodges and excellent local guides, it offers exceptional wildlife-watching. We can expect to enjoy around 400 species of bird and 40 mammal species on our small group, two-week tour. With only six participants and three guides, and all tracking permits already included in our all-inclusive tour, we can promise you an exceptional experience as you enjoy some of the very best wildlife the African continent has to offer.

Gorilla piggy back 3

Join us for your very own David Attenborough moment with wild mountain gorillas!



Itinerary


Day 1, Saturday 5th January 2019: Arrive in Uganda.


Our tour starts at Entebbe Airport where you will be met and transferred to our very comfortable hotel close to Lake Victoria. Overnight in our comfortable hotel.

Day 2, Sunday 6th January: Birding the Mabamba Wetlands.


Early breakfast, then out to nearby Mabamba Wetlands on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is an extensive papyrus swamp with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous avian resident. This charismatic bird is certainly one of our most sought-after birds in Africa, and we’ll make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels by boat. There will of course be a good selection of classic East African water birds here too, as well as open country and water edge species to enjoy. We then drive near to our first of many national parks, Mburo Lake, ready for our next day’s adventures. Overnight in a lovely hotel close to Lake Mburo (2 nights)

Day 3, Monday 7th January: Mburo Lake


Today we’ll enjoy a boat trip and game drive in our first of many national parks, Mburo Lake. This park has varied habitats from open Acacia woodlands, to a number of papyrus-lined lakes and swamps. Some of the many species we’ll be looking for today include Rufous-bellied Heron, Palm-nut and White-backed Vultures, Wahlberg’s and Verreaux’s Eagles, Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal, Crowned, Wattled, and Brown-chested Lapwings, Great Blue Turaco, Woodland Kingfisher, Lilac-breasted and Broad-billed Rollers, African Grey, Crowned, Black-and-white Casqued, and African Pied Hornbills, and Greater Blue-eared, Splendid, Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starlings, Mammals will be a large part of our visit to this park, and the many species we might see include the shy Oribi, graceful Impalas, and Common Zebras, all found out in the open, park-like woodland. Overnight in our lovely hotel close to the park.

Day 4, Tuesday 8th January: Birding to Bwindi


Today we move on to the southern part of the Bwindi National Park, the exciting named Impenetrable Forest! We will make plenty of birding stops along the way as we keep our eyes open for the Albertine Rift Endemic species that can be found in this area. Penetrating the impenetrable, we stay overnight in a very comfortable lodge within the forested National Park. Overnight in our comfortable lodge (3 nights)

Day 5, Wednesday 9th January: Gorilla tracking


We set off to the park headquarters for a briefing prior to Gorilla Tracking. This is the most exciting experience of all time. The gorillas are gentle animals and it is an unforgettable experience to photograph them as they interact. But don’t forget to put down your camera watch these gentle giants as they play and go about their daily activities. It is indeed a “once in a lifetime” moment that you must never miss. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards; you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. We will also look for other primates like the L’ Hoest Monkey, Black and White Colobus; Red tailed, and Blue monkeys. Other mammals include the Rwenzori Duiker, Yellow back duiker, Caruthers squirrel, Bohm’s and Alexander squirrels, and many other species. Overnight in our comfortable lodge.

Shoebill Uganda 2016 1

We look for the bizarre Shoebill with its enigmatic Mona Lisa smile!



Day 6, Thursday 10th January, Birding the Albertine Rift Endemics


This section of the park is also home to the Albertine Rift Endemics and we spend our day exploring various trails and tracks looking for species including including Grauer's (African Green) Broadbill, the beautiful Regal Sunbird, and Archer's Robin-Chat. Some of the many species we have a chance of seeing here include Black-billed, Ruwenzori, and Ross’s Turacco, African, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald Cuckoos, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, African Broadbill, White-starred Robin, White-bellied and Archer’s Robin-Chats, and Ruwenzori Batis. Overnight in our comfortable lodge

Day 7, Friday 11th January: Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park.


Today, we shall start early after breakfast and drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is the second largest national park in Uganda and is home to an incredible 600+ diverse species of wildlife. Our route to the park will be determined by road conditions, either passing through the Ishasha sector, well-known for its climbing lions, or alternatively drive through the beautiful scenery of Rukungiri district. The park has a mosaic of habitats from moist forest at Maramagambo to wild savannah excellent for Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Hyenas, Ugandan Kobs, Side-striped Jackal, Baboons, Giant Hogs, just to name a few. Of course there will be lots of birds too. Overnight in a luxury safari lodge in the national park (2 nights)

Day 8, Saturday 12th January: Game drive and boat ride in Queen Elizabeth National Park.


Today we’ll enjoy an exciting game drive looking for big mammals and lots of birds. One of the highlights of this area will be the boat ride on the Kazinga Channel, which is one of the best and thrilling in Africa. This trip is one of the better places to look for African Skimmers as well as Pink-backed Pelicans, Goliath Herons, Saddle-billed and Yellow-billed Storks, and Papyrus Gonolek. Be prepared for bird overload! Overnight in our luxury safari lodge.

Day 9, Sunday 13th January: Birding to Kibale National Park.


Today we move on to the extensive Kibale National Park, a huge area of rainforest that offers both excellent birding, as well as the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa, and is famous for its Chimpanzees. Some of the many species we will look for around Kibale include Yellowbill (or Blue Malkoha), Black-billed Turacco, Narina Trogon, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black and White-throated Bee-eaters, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, African (Green-breasted) Pitta, Grey-winged and Snowy-headed Robin-chats, African Broadbill, Red-headed Malimbe, Gray-headed Negrofinch, and Black-crowned Waxbill. Overnight in our lovely comfortable hotel (2 nights).


Crowned Cranes Uganda 1

Grey Crowned Crane, Uganda's national bird



Day 10, Monday 14th January: Chimp Tracking


We start our day with a briefing prior to heading into the forest of Kibale National Park to experience our chimpanzee tracking. This can be quite a different though equally exhilarating experience from gorilla-watching as the chimps move easily through the forest and are as likely to be sitting up in the branches as down on the ground. We spend the rest of our day birding in this wonderful rainforest. There is a good chance of encountering some special forest birds here such as African (Green-breasted) Pitta. Overnight in our lovely comfortable hotel.

Day 11, Tuesday 15th January: Birding to Masinidi


After some morning birding, we say goodbye to Kibale National park and move on to Masindi, the gateway to Budongo. This is the longest driving day of the trip, but if we arrive in time, we may have time to work the woodlands south of town for White-crested Turaco and Gray-headed Oliveback. Overnight in Uganda’s oldest colonial hotel (2 nights)

Day 12, Wednesday 16th January: Birding the Royal Mile


We spend the day exploring the impressive Budongo Forest, including the amazing Royal Mile. This is a forest road lined with spectacular trees where the late Kabalega, the ruler of the Bunyoro Kingdom, used to walk during his leisure time. The forest is the best place in Uganda to look for Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. We’ll also search for the stunning Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfisher, White-thighed Hornbill and Black Bee-eater. Overnight in our historic colonial hotel

Day 13, Thursday 17th January: Murchison Falls National Park.


Today we move on to the amazing Murchison Falls National Park. This is Uganda’s largest national park and protects a large section of untamed savannah bisected by the mighty River Nile. It is named for the dramatic Murchison Falls where the world’s longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge in a frothing pool 43m below. The park is perhaps Uganda’s premier game park, including an impressive list of mammal species such as Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Rothschild Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Hartebeest, Oribi, Warthog, and the Uganda Kob as well as a massive bird list. We’ll have the better portion of two days here to bird the variety of habitats at Murchison. Some of the many species we’ll look for here include Rock Pratincole, Black-headed and Wattled Lapwings, Redheaded Lovebird, Rwenzori, Long-tailed, Square-tailed, and Pennant-winged Nightjars, Red-throated, Blue-breasted, Swallow-tailed, and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Broad-billed Roller, African Gray and Abyssinian Ground-Hornbills, Silverbird, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Spotted Morning-Thrush, White-fronted Black-Chat, and Blue-throated Wattle-eye. Overnight at our luxury safari lodge (2 nights).

Day 14, Friday 18th January: Murchison Falls National Park.


After breakfast, we will have a game drive across the rolling plains where you will have chances of viewing lots of mammals and again experience a real safari. Highlights could include magnificent beasts such as Hartebeest, Lions, Buffalo, Primates, Giraffe, and Elephants. After lunch, we will have an afternoon launch cruise to the bottom of the falls and there you will view huge Nile Crocodiles, big Pods of Hippos, and other wildlife including a fantastic array of birds such as Red-necked Falcon, Senegal Thick-knee, Water Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Abyssinian Roller, and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Red-throated and Blue-breasted Bee-eaters. Overnight at our luxury safari lodge.

Day 15, Saturday 19th January: Back to Entebbe birding along the way


We say farewell to Murchison Falls National Park and make our way back to Entebbe, making several birding stops along the way. Our tour ends at Entebbe in time for evening flights home. Please note that flights back to the UK will arrive on Sunday 20th January. There is an option for guests to stay an extra night in Entebbe before flying home; please note this is not included in the price. A hotel room will be made available for guests wishing to freshen up before going to the airport on Saturday 19th, with the transfer to the airport provided.

Chimp Uganda 1

Close encounter with chimpanzee



  Our exciting tour includes 15 days’ guided bird- and mammal-watching; 14 nights’ accommodation on a fully-inclusive basis in very comfortable hotels and lodges with ensuite rooms throughout, close to the best wildlife areas and often actually within the national parks; guiding by Alan and Ruth and an expert English-speaking local guide (the very best guide in Uganda!) throughout the trip; transport in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle during the tour; all excursions as itemised in the itinerary; all entrance fees, gorilla and chimp tracking permits already included; all meals (breakfast, lunch and evening meal) from evening meal on Saturday 5th January until lunch on Saturday 19th January; bottled drinking water throughout the tour; use of our field guides; use of our top-of-the-range Leica telescopes; airport transfers; individual checklists of the birds, mammals and other wildlife we will be looking for.

We will run this tour with six participants only, ensuring that everyone has the highest levels of individual customer service and the best possible wildlife-viewing experience. All tracking permits are already included to guarantee your gorilla and chimpanzee tracking experiences.

The guide price of this exceptional all-inclusive, small-group tour is £6,695 per person, please note we are still waiting confirmation on some of the lodge costs for 2019, sharing a double/twin ensuite room. Single supplement of £550 for the trip will apply to anyone in a single room. As we are fixing the price so far in advance, we reserve the right to amend the price in the unlikely event of a MAJOR currency fluctuation or unforeseen price increases.

The price does not include: international flights to/from Entebbe airport; personal travel and medical insurance; medication; alcoholic drinks; any additional drinks or snacks; any items of a personal nature; tips.

Great Blue Turaco Large

Great Blue Turaco really lives up to its name!



While we are not able to book flights for you, we work closely with Trailfinders to arrange the flights for our long-haul tours so that they can offer you the benefit of their best possible prices and ABTA bonding. We are very happy to help you make your international flight arrangements.

We will email you separately with a checklist of the birds, mammals and other wildlife we hope to encounter and will provide a printed copy for use on the tour. We will also send you our Travellers Tips and suggested packing list to help you get the very most out of your birding tour with us. If you would like to book your place on this fantastic tour please contact at once as space is very limited, we can then send you our booking form.

To book your place or to ask for more details, please email us on info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)1492 872407.

We look forward to sharing Uganda’s amazing wildlife with you!



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