UGANDA - Mountain Gorillas, Shoebill, Chimps & Pitta
Uganda is one of Africa’s most outstanding birding destinations – FACT! With its wide-variety of habitats including breathtaking forests, world-famous waterfalls, awesome savanna and high-altitude grasslands. Only recently has this amazing country got to grips with issues of tourism development and infrastructure but it is now a fully-operational and rapidly-growing destination. The “jewel in the crown” must certainly be Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park which is one of the best places in the World to see GORILLAS, and this will be high on our list of targets on this spectacular trip. Of course there will be many other things to look for including African Green Broadbill and a bunch of Albertine Rift Endemics. In Kibale we will look for Chimpanzees and the rare Green-breasted Pitta as well as a host of other superb species. And dont forget the amazing Shoebill which is another must see bird that we will have great opportunity to see. Our very special short trip will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the Worlds most sought after birds and mammals. At less than half the price of many companies, staying in wonderful lodges this is a trip you should not miss out on.
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Plan to arrive today on international flights from UK, Europe, USA etc. Time permitting there may a chance for some local birding.
Night Boma Guest House, Entebbe.
Day 2 Entebbe - Kibale National Park – 8th July
Today we will take an early breakfast before setting off on the drive to Kibale National Park. We will break this journey with birding stops and have more opportunities to see White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Gonelek if we have missed them previously. As we near Portal we will pass through a section of the National Park and here a few roadside stops could produce an assortment of species. On the streams we could see African Black Duck, Cassin’s Grey flycatcher, and maybe Shining Blue Kingfisher, while the forest edges could produce Waller’s, Narrow-tailed and Purple-headed Starlings, Joyful, Slender-billed and Toro-olive Greenbuls, Luhder’s, Bocage’s and Many-coloured Bush-shrikes, Senegal Coucal, African Emerald Cuckoo, Hairy-breasted and Grey-fronted Barbets, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, and possibilities such as Afep and White-naped Pigeons, Red-headed Bluebill, Blue-headed Brown Sunbird, Crowned Eagle, Sabine’s Spinetail and White-collared Oliveback. Leaving the main road we will then drive towards our accommodation. Again passing through forest we will make a couple of stops in search of Black Bee-eater, Blue-throated Roller, Green Crombec, Red-headed Malimbe, Crested Guineafowl, Grey-throated and Sooty Flycatchers, Great Blue Turaco plus a variety of primates such as Olive Baboon, Blue, L’Hoest’s and Red-tailed Monkeys, and Red Colobus. Depending on what time we arrive at the lodge we can either relax or take a short walk into the surrounding forest. Night Primate Lodge or Crater Safari Lodge
Day 3 Kibale National Park - Chimp Trek - Bigodi Wetland – 9th July
After an early morning breakfast we will set off into the forest in search of one of its most difficult inhabitants – the shy Green-breasted Pitta. As dawn rises we hope to hear one displaying and with luck this will enable us to track it down and hopefully see it! Early morning in the forest can be alive with strange sounds and we may be able to coax a Red-chested Owlet to show itself, or even African Wood Owl. Some birds are easier heard than seen and both Scaly-breasted Illidopsis and White-spotted Flufftail are prime examples although with patience we have a good chance for the latter. As the morning unfolds our tracker will head us towards a meeting with our closest living relative the Chimpanzee. Park ranges set out early each morning to track the animals from their previous overnight nests, meaning that our chances of an encounter are extremely high. A highlight of the Kibale forest this will be an awe-inspiring experience and a highlight of any tour to Uganda. After our meeting with the unpredictable Chimps, we will continue birding the area until lunch-time. Some of the species we can hope to come across include White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Black-billed Turaco, Red-tailed Antthrush, Western Black-headed Oriole, Crowned Hornbill, White-chinned Prinia, Narina Trogon, Olive, Scarlet-chested and Green Sunbirds, Mountain Wagtail, Velvet-mantled Drongo and Honeyguide Greenbul. After lunch we will take the short drive to the Bigodi Wetland an area of dense Papyrus, pools and marshland. A walk around the trail that circles this reserve will give us chances for Papyrus Gonolek, Western Nicator, Grosbeak Weaver, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Red-faced Cisticola, African Green Pigeon, Olive-bellied Sunbird, the elusive White-spotted Flufftail, Vieillot’s Black Weaver and maybe Grey Parrot, African Hobby, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Long-crested Eagle and both Red Colobus, Black-and-white Colobus and Grey-cheeked Mangabey’s. Night Primate Lodge or Crater Safari Lodge
Day 4 Kibale – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – 10th July
This morning we head out of the park towards Ruhija and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to Mountain Gorillas and a good selection of Albertine Rift Endemics. Along the way we will pass through the Queen Elizabeth National Park where we have a chance to see a variety of typical African mammals such as Elephant and even tree climbing Lions. Depending on what we see and how many times we stop will dictate how much time if any, we have to bird after our arrival at our lodge which overlooks the forested mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. If we have time for a little birding along a stream and the forest edges, we could find African Black Duck, and many new and exciting species such as Black Cuckoo, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Tambourine Dove, Black Saw-wing, Red-headed Malimbe, Grey-headed Negro-finch, Ludher’s Bush-shrike, Little and Yellow-throated Greenbul, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Yellowbill, Green Crombec, Brown-throated wattle-eye, Green-headed Sunbird, and if we are very lucky Woodhouse’s Antpecker.
Night Gorilla Mist Camp.
Day 5 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – 11th July
Today surely has to represent one of those truly “once in a life-time” experiences as we set out on an early morning trek into Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park. The forest is so named because of the teepness of the hills which used to make progress almost impossible, but thankfully these days most of the special birds can be observed from gently sloping trails or from roads. Today however the birds will not be our priority and with a packed lunch and led by our experienced team of guides and trackers we will go in search of a family of Mountain Gorillas. Tracking the Gorillas through the dense mountain forest is a magical experience, and we could spend anywhere between a couple of hours to a full day looking for these rare and docile animals. Once found we have a full hour to enjoy, quietly watch and take photographs on what will most likely be one of the best days experiences ever! Many people go on Gorilla treks from Buhoma, but doing this from Ruhizha is by far the best experience as we will probably be the only people going out on our designated day. This really does make it special and a day never to be forgot. Depending on the time we return from the Gorillas we may bird the mine trail where we have a chance for Grassland Pipit, Chestnut throated Apalis, Regal Sunbird, Black-headed and Yellow-bellied Waxbills, Dusky Twinspot, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Red-throated Wryneck, and if we are lucky we may see a Spotted Eagle-Owl in a day roost. If for any reason you do not opt for the Gorilla trek then there will be birding opportunities where we can see some excellent species such as Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Bar-tailed Trogon, Equatorial Akalat, Grey-throated Barbet, Yellow-spotted Barbet, African Broadbill, Petit's Cuckoo-Shrike, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Red-throated Alethe, White-bellied Robin Chat, Chubb’s Cisticola, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Cape Wagtail, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Slender-billed, Stuhlmann’s and Waller’s Starlings, Oriole Finch, Willcock’s Honeyguide and maybe the curious and attractive Woodhouse's Antpecker.
Night at Gorilla Mist Camp.
Day 6 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – 12th July
Today we have the full day to explore the area which includes the old school road, and sections of forest within a short distance of our lodge. One of our main targets for today will be trying to connect with the very rare and difficult African Green Broadbill, and it must be stressed that unless an active nest has been located then our chances of seeing this bird are very slim. They can move around with mixed species flocks and it will be these that we search for. Beside our lodge we can find Chubb’s Cisicola, Yellow-headed Canary, African Dusky Flycatcher and the stunning Golden-breasted Bunting, while closer to the forest we could come across Dusky Twinspot, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Rwenzori Batis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, African Hill-babbler, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Grauer’s Warbler, Mountain Masked, Collared and Black-throated Apalis. The gorgeous looking Doherty’s Bush-shrike will be sought and other birds in this area include Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds, Narina Trogon, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Archer’s Robin-chat, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Dusky Crimsonwing, Banded Prinia, White-starred Robin, Slender-billed Starling, Yellow-bellied and Black-headed Waxbill, Brown-crowned Tchagra, White-breasted Negrofinch, Handsome Francolin and hopefully Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird. Another excellent birding spot will be an area known as the "neck". Mist lingers along the higher stretches, and the dense forest is covered in a profusion of epiphytes and mosses that create a rather damp atmosphere. This is an excellent locality for Black Bee-eater, as well as Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Handsome Francolin, Red-throated Wryneck, Archer’s Robin-chat, Collared Apalis, Bronze Sunbird, Scarce Swift, Black Saw-wing, Cassin’s Grey, Dusky Blue, African Blue, White-tailed Blue and White-eyed Slaty Flycatchers, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Toro Olive Greenbul, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Doherty’s, Many-coloured and Lühder’s Bush-Shrikes, Ruwenzori Batis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Yellow Bishop, Purple-breasted Sunbird, White-naped Raven, Strange and Baglafecht Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow Bishop, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Black-and-White Mannikin, the rare Dusky Twinspot, Yellow-crowned Canary and Streaky Seedeater. Other memorable species could include Black-billed Turaco, Elliott’s Woodpecker, Blue-throated Roller, Shelley’s Greenbul, White-browed Crombec, Chapin’s Flycatchers, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Northern Double-collared and Blue-headed Sunbirds, Bar-tailed Trogon, and African Broadbill. The very rare and exceedingly difficult African Green Broadbill has also been seen on many occasions along this road so we need to keep vigilant. At dusk we could find Rwenzori Nightjar or African Wood Owl.
Night Gorilla Mist Camp
Day 7 Bwindi - Lake Mburo – 13th July
Today, we will drive to Lake Mburo National Park where you will experience some of the more classic African wildlife. A network of game tracks through the park leads through a variety of landscape features including acacia woodland, wetlands, grassy hillsides, rock outcrops and seasonally flooded valley floors. Lake Mburo National Park is home to 350 bird species and 68 mammal species including Zebra, Impala, Eland, Water Buffalo, Oribi, Defassa Waterbuck, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Spotted Hyena, Topi and Reedbuck.
Night Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo.
Day 8 Mburo to Entebbe – 14th July
A highlight of our visit here will be a morning boat ride on Lake Mburo. The Lake attracts a variety of species including some real global rarities like White-backed Night-Heron, African Finfoot and the range-restricted Red-faced Barbet. The massive list of other bird species recorded in the park includes African Marsh-Harrier, White-backed, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures, Brown Snake-Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, African Darter, Spur-winged Goose, Coqui and Crested Francolins, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-chested, Jacobin, Levaillant’s, Klaas’s and Diederik Cuckoos, Blue-headed Coucal, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Striped Kingfisher, Lilac-breasted Roller (Photo: Steve Bird), African Gray Hornbill, Green Woodhoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Blue-naped and Speckled Mousebirds, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian and Bearded Woodpeckers, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Singing, Long-tailed and Siffling Cisticolas, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Chinspot Batis, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Red-faced Crombec, Lead-colored Flycatcher, White-winged Black Tit, African Penduline-tit, Black-headed Oriole, Tropical Boubou, White-crested Helmetshrike, Brubru, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Greater Blue-eared and Wattled Starlings. Our day here should be bird-filled to say the least and we’ll add a few more of the iconic African mammals to our trip list. We will then travel back to Entebbe in time for dinner.
Night Boma Guest House, Entebbe.
Day 9 Mabamba Swamp - Entebbe – 15th July
This morning we will visit Mabamba swamp where we stand an excellent chance to encounter Uganda’s most famous bird, the enormous and thoroughly bizarre Shoebill. This prehistoric looking bird really has to be seen to be believed. Being paddled silently towards one of these huge birds in our wooden boats will be a life long memorable experience. Many other water birds will be searched for including a variety of herons and ducks, as well as Black Crake, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfishers and Swamp Flycatcher, and with luck we may find a Lesser Jacana, Saddle-billed Stork or smart looking Blue-breasted Bee-eaters. As African Fish Eagles soar overhead we will check for papyrus specialities, including White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek. We will then return to our guest house for lunch in time for an afternoon transfer to Entebbe airport in time for our international departure and end of a spectacular tour.
Leaders - Zoothera Guide and local Uganda Bird Guide
Ground Price: £2195.00 - Entebbe/Entebbe
Airfare: £690.00 based on the above timings with Kenya Airways - UK/UK
Zoothera tour prices explained
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4, and a maximum of 10 with 2 leaders
Included in cost: Full-board accommodation in twin or double en-suite rooms (according to availability), all meals from dinner on 8th to lunch 16th, drinking water from van cool box, transport in exclusive 4x4 Land Cruisers which accommodate 6 guests, all boat excursions mentioned herein, all park and reserve entry fees, and services of all local driver-guides and leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, entry visa fee and departure tax, drinks, tips, laundry and items of a personal nature. Plus:
• Gorilla permit (subject to availability), which is USD 600 per person.
• Chimpanzee permit (subject to availability), which is USD 150 per person.
Early booking recommended! You will need us to book you a permit if you intend looking for Gorillas or Chimpanzees.
PLEASE LET US KNOWN STRAIGHT AWAY IF YOU WANT TO DO EITHER OF THESE TWO TREKS.
Accommodation: Ranges from very good to good, food is generally of a high standard and mostly buffet-style.
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