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Although we are now working from home, if you are due to travel shortly we will be in touch to support and guide you in either postponing or cancelling your trip, based on Foreign Office advice and your insurance arrangements.
 
When you feel ready to do so, we are here to help you plan your next holiday, knowing availability in many key destinations is already tight for next year. To help you move forward with confidence, our booking conditions have been relaxed in case you are unable to travel due to COVID-19 issues beyond your control (eg a new wave of infections; visa restrictions; mandatory quarantine; or cancellation of your international flight).
 
Thank you for your ongoing kindness & support in these difficult times. And remember that all our holidays are fully financially protected, wherever in the world you live.

Warm regards

Claire Farley, Managing Director
Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari Holidays and Primate Tours Chimpanzees

Bird Watching, Uganda: Murchison Falls to Bwindi


UPS12E
12 NIGHTS
FROM £4,995
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Bird Watching Holiday Uganda Birding Vacation Shoebill Kibale Bwindi

On this wonderful bird watching holiday in Uganda you will travel with your own birding guide to the key birding vacation hot-spots including Mabamba Swamp, home of the elusive Shoebill stork, Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls, Kibale Rainforest, Bwindi & Lake Mburo. This holiday can be tailor made, with optional gorilla trekking. Birding guide, all transfers & park fees included.

Bird Watching Holiday Uganda Birding Vacation Shoebill Kibale Bwindi
• 
Bird Watching Holiday, Uganda
• 
Shoebill, Mabamba Wetlands
• 
Royal Mile, Budongo Forest
• 
Murchison Falls
• 
Kibale Rainforest
• 
Chimp Trekking
• 
Queen Elizabeth Park
• 
Bwindi Gorillas
• 
Lake Mburo
• 
Uganda Birding Vacation
• 
Bird Watching Holiday, Uganda
• 
Shoebill, Mabamba Wetlands
• 
Royal Mile, Budongo Forest
• 
Murchison Falls
• 
Kibale Rainforest
• 
Chimp Trekking
• 
Queen Elizabeth Park
• 
Bwindi Gorillas
• 
Lake Mburo
• 
Uganda Birding Vacation
Day 1
You will be met at Entebbe Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check into your Entebbe hotel and relax under warm blue African skies.
Day 2
Day 3
After an early breakfast, we drive 1-hour to Budongo Forest with a packed lunch today for a full day of birding.
 
A broad road through one of the richest areas of the forest - known as the Royal Mile - gives us good access to many of the forest specialties found here. We hope to see many of the following: Crowned hawk-eagle, Nahan's francolin (partridge), Crested guineafowl, White-spotted flufftail, African emerald cuckoo, Sabine's spinetail, Cassin's spinetail, African dwarf kingfisher, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Blue-breasted kingfisher, Blue-throated roller, White-thighed hornbill, Black-and-white-casqued hornbill, Speckled tinkerbird, Yellow-throated tinkerbird, Yellow-spotted barbet, Hairy-breasted barbet, Yellow-crested (Golden-crowned) woodpecker, Grey, Plain, White-throated, Icterine and Red-tailed greenbuls, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush (Fraser's rufous thrush), Black-capped and Buff-throated apalis, Rufous-crowned eremomela, Lemon-bellied crombec, Yellow-bellied longbill, Green hylia, Yellow-footed, Fraser's forest (African forest) and Grey-throated flycatchers, Forest robin, the rare Ituri batis, Jameson's and Chestnut wattle-eyes, Chestnut-capped flycatcher, Red-bellied (Black-headed) paradise flycatcher, Dusky Tit, Grey-headed, Green, Little green and Olive-bellied sunbirds, Western black-headed oriole, Purple-headed glossy-starling, Yellow-mantled weaver and Crested malimbe.
Day 4
This morning we drive 2-hours to Murchison Falls National Park.
 
This wildlife-rich game sanctuary is situated on the banks of the River Nile, downstream from the famous waterfall after which it was named. This verdant reserve was favoured by Winston Churchill, who called Uganda the "Pearl of Africa". It is a relatively undiscovered gem and the premier game reserve in the country. It is one of the best wildlife conservation areas in the whole of Africa.
 
We travel via the Kanio-Pabidi section of Budongo Forest so that we can search for the secretive Pulvell's illadopsis in its only East African habitat as well as other forest birds. We spend the full day birding, with a boxed picnic lunch.
 
We also visit the top of Murchison Falls, where the waters of the river squeeze through a narrow 23-ft (7 m) gorge, creating a thunderous roar as they hits the rocks below, before checking into our lodge.
Day 5
This morning enjoy a boat ride along the Nile River to the thundering Murchison Falls.
 
This will give you a second chance to spot a Shoebill stork in the dense papyrus searching for frogs, if you failed to see one at the Mabamba Wetlands. You should also see the African darter, Grey, Purple and Squacco herons, Yellow-billed and Great egrets, Sacred ibis, Saddled-billed stork, African jacana, Spur-winged and Long-toed lapwings, Senegal thicknee, Red-throated bee-eater and many Pied kingfishers diving into the water. Along the way you may also see large pods of hippo and some crocodiles. At the base of the falls you may see Rock pratincoles leaving their perches to hunt through the swirling spray.
 
Our afternoon is devoted to birding in Murchison Falls National Park, a magnificent 3,893 square mile sanctuary that offers easy game viewing on its open plains. This game reserve is famous for its huge herds of Ugandan kob (an antelope similar to the impala) as well as its buffalo, elephant, giraffe, baboon and monkeys. You may also see warthog, Jackson's hartebeest and hopefully lion.
 
In its savanna grasslands and mature woodlands we search for the White-headed vulture, Brown snake-eagle, Bateleur eagle, Martial eagle, Grey kestrel, Heuglin's francolin, Crested francolin, Helmeted guineafowl, Small buttonquail, Black-bellied bustard, Denham's (Stanley) bustard, Speckled and Blue-naped mousebird, Crowned and African grey hornbills, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Grey woodpecker, Flappet lark, Northern crombec, Red-winged grey warbler, Spotted morning thrush, Sooty and White-fronted chats, Brown-throated wattle-eye, Beautiful sunbird, Lesser blue-eared starling, Yellow-billed oxpecker, Yellow-mantled and Red-collared widowbird and maybe the very local White-rumped seedeater.
 
If we stay out late, we can hope to see one or more of the night birds found here, such as the Greyish (Spotted) eagle-owl, Long-tailed nightjar or Pennant-winged nightjar.
 
Note: The national park opens at 6.30 am and closes at 7 pm. Vehicles are not allowed to drive off-road in any national park in Uganda.
Day 6
This morning we travel back to Masindi, heading south towards Lake Albert and the Butiaba Escarpment.
 
We arrive at the Butiaba Escarpment in time for a picnic lunch and check the Butiaba Marshes for the Blue-breasted bee-eater and Carruthers' cisticola. Piapiacs are numerous and tame in the Borassus fan palms and various bishops and widowbirds should also be seen. As we leave the escarpment, we will look for the Black-billed wood dove, Northern carmine bee-eater, Swallow-tailed bee-eater, Yellow-fronted tinkerbird, Spot-flanked barbet, Black-billed barbet, Double-toothed barbet, Red-faced cisticola, Zitting cisticola, Foxy cisticola, Moustached grass warbler, Red-backed scrub robin, Mocking cliff chat, White-shouldered black tit, Orange(Sulphur)-breasted bushshrike, Chestnut-crowned sparrow-weaver, Black-winged bishop, Black-bellied firefinch, Red-winged pytilia and Cinnamon-breasted bunting.
 
We spend the afternoon in the Busingiro section of Budongo Forest, looking along the main road for birds confined to this forest. These include the Rufous-crowned elemomera, Ituri batis, Toro olive greenbul, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Scaly francolin and many more.
Day 7
This morning we travel from Masindi to the picturesque Crater Lakes region.
 
This is the gateway to Kibale National Park, a protected tropical rainforest that has the highest concentration and variety of primates in all of East Africa. The park is home to the bushpig, duiker, otter, leopard and large herds of elephants that migrate between Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The bird life is also outstanding.
 
We travel via the Sebitoli section of the park, birding in the papyrus swamps and forest patches, with a boxed picnic lunch. This site is good for species like the Masked apalis, Joyful greenbul, White-napped pigeon, Forest Starling and many more.
 
We then drive through tea plantations to our lodge in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains (the 'Mountains of the Moon').
Day 8
This morning enjoy the amazing experience of Chimp Tracking, as you walk through the spectacular Kibale Rainforest with a local guide, searching in the high rainforest canopy for these intelligent primates that are our closest relatives.
 
Kibali is home to 14 different primate species including the chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus, red colobus, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey, bush baby, vervet and L’ Hoest’s monkey. Tracking a noisy chimp family is a thrilling experience and is best in the morning, when they come down to the forest floor to forage. The chimps are very mobile, so viewing can be quite unpredictable, but the walk itself is enchanting.
 
After returning to our lodge for lunch, we spend the rest of the afternoon birding along the main road through Kibale Forest, although the dense forest canopy does mean patience is needed. You can hope to see the huge Crowned eagle, the Black-and-white flycatcher, African grey parrot, Black-necked and Yellow-mantled weavers, the beautiful Blue touraca and maybe the secretive Black bee-eater. You may also see the Dusky long-tailed cuckoo, Narina's trogon, Grey-throated barbet, Least honeyguide, Honeyguide greenbul, White-tailed ant thrush, Fire-crested alethe, African shrike-flycatcher, Narrow-tailed starling and White-breasted nigrita (negrofinch).
 
Note: Chimp tracking is limited to small groups, with a minimum age of 12 years. Please note the chimpanzees move a lot - sometimes far into the dense forest - so wear good walking shoes and expect to walk a lot today (up to 3 hours). Don’t forget your binoculars, as if the chimps don't come down from the trees you will need these.
 
If you do not wish to track gorillas, we can spend the day searching for the endemic Green-breasted pitta, but this depends on whether the bird has been seen recently.
Day 9
This morning we visit a papyrus swamp in search of the striking Papyrus gonolek and the secretive White-winged warbler, before having an early lunch.
 
We then travel 3.5-hours through the scenic crater lakes region to Queen Elizabeth National Park - stopping for a photo opportunity as we cross the equator. This enormous 764 square mile (1,978 square km) wildlife sanctuary is the second largest in Uganda, with its extensive rolling grass-covered hills, wooded valleys and a series of extinct volcanic craters. The park extends from Lake George to Lake Edward, with the Kazinga Channel connecting these two great lakes.
 
Queen Elizabeth National Park is renowned for its river-based game viewing, but it also has a land-based game viewing area about 45-minutes from the river. Game is not plentiful here, especially during the dry season when most animals migrate to the river, but if you are patient you may be rewarded with good lion and leopard sightings. You can also hope to see buffalo, baboon, vervet monkey, waterhog, Ugandan kob, waterbuck and the elusive giant forest hog.
 
In the afternoon enjoy a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel. Thanks to the abundant wildlife that gathers along its shores - including huge herds of elephant, buffalo, Nile crocodile & hundreds of hippo - this cruise will be a highlight. The channel is also a magnet for great flocks of waterbirds and pink backed pelican, fish eagle, pied kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, grey-headed kingfisher, African spoonbill, marabou stork, cormorants, yellow bill stork, hamerkop, hadada ibis, sacred ibis, vultures and many other species gather here on the shores of the channel.
Day 10
After an early morning game drive in Queen Elizabeth Park, today we drive 5-hours to our lodge situated near the entrance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - home to over 50% of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, and also a sanctuary for colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
 
Along the way enjoy game viewing on the open Ishasha Plains that are famous for their black maned tree-climbing lions. You will also see topi, a fast and highly social antelope that is not found in the more northerly parks, as well as a variety of plains game.
 
Afterwards we continue to Bwindi. This dense equatorial jungle is accessible only on foot and features one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, including 120 species of mammals, 350 bird species including hornbills and turacos, 220 butterfly species, 27 frog species as well as chameleons, geckos and many other endangered species. It also boasts over 1,000 different flowering plants, ferns & trees.
 
Check into your lodge and enjoy the beautiful scenery of your remote forest surroundings.
Day 11
This morning there is the option to either enjoy a day of birding in the forest, or trek to see primates in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park - home to half the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, and also a sanctuary for colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
 
This dense equatorial rainforest is accessible only on foot and features one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, including 120 species of mammals, 350 bird species including hornbills and turacos, 220 butterfly species, 27 frog species as well as chameleons, geckos and many other endangered species. It also boasts over 1,000 different floral species.
 
After walking (or driving up to 1.5-hours) to your specified gate, rangers will allocate you to a small group of up to 8 people - with each gorilla family graded as a short, medium or long hike, based on their location the previous day. We recommend you ask your guide to request the appropriate category for you, although this cannot be guaranteed as the gorillas may have moved significantly overnight.
 
After a briefing, you will then track a family of endangered Mountain Gorillas, accompanied by two rangers - one at the front and one at the back. The group will walk at the speed of the slowest member, so it is important to proceed at your own pace and enjoy the experience. We strongly recommend hiring a local porter at a cost of around $15 per person, as not only is this an important source of local employment, but they will carry your backpacks and give you a hand up (or a push) where necessary. Expect to walk 1 to 4-hours each way in steep, sometimes muddy and dense tropical jungle conditions to view a family of these enormous primates and observe their behavior up close - a rare privilege indeed.
 
Note: You must take a copy of your passport with you today, as this will be required to trek. You must be over the age of 15 years to track gorillas and be sufficiently fit to walk for the period indicated. Ensure you arrange a packed lunch with your lodge and carry sufficient water in your backpack (at least 2 litres). You should wear long trousers, long sleeved top, long socks (tucked into your trousers to keep out biting ants), proper walking boots and gardening gloves to protect your hands from nettles and undergrowth. Start off wearing a light fleece, as it is cold in the forest in the morning and pack proper rain gear, including a rain jacket and waterproof trousers, as it can rain at any time. A walking stick to help with the steep ascents will be provided if you don’t have your own.
 
You cannot be sick or have any infectious disease and no eating or drinking is permitted in the vicinity of the gorillas. Only one hour is allowed with the gorillas and you have to keep a distance of at least 7 metres. No flash photography is allowed and no touching the gorillas (although they may decide to touch you)!
Day 12
After an early morning birding walk, we leave Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and drive 5-hours to Lake Mburo National Park. We make several short birding stops en-route, arriving in the late afternoon.
 
This national park offers excellent plains game viewing and is the best place in the country to see eland, zebra, topi and impala. You should also have excellent sightings of giraffe, bushbuck, warthog, oribi, vervet and red-tailed monkeys, olive baboon, pigmy mongoose, white tailed mongoose and buffalo. If you are very fortunate you may even see leopard. There are no lions or elephants in this national park.
 
As we enter the park we look for papyrus swamp species, open area species of raptors and dry savannah species.
Day 13
This morning enjoy more early birding in Lake Mburo National Park.
 
This delightful small park has rolling scrub-covered hills, open dry areas, pockets of woodland, papyrus beds, marshy lake fringes and opens water. The five lakes within the park attract hippos, crocodiles and a variety of water birds - while the fringe swamps are home to Papyrus gonalek.
 
We look for species such as the Long-tailed cisticola, Red-faced barbet and many others. A variety of new and interesting birds occur within this park and we hope to spot the African finfoot, White-backed and Black-headed night herons, Lizard buzzard, African goshawk, Coqui francolin, Emerald-spotted wood dove, Red-headed lovebird, Bare-faced go-away-bird, Lilac-breasted roller, Green wood hoopoe, Greater honeyguide, Green-backed woodpecker, the restricted range Red-faced barbet at its only Ugandan site, Mosque and Rufous-chested swallows, Yellow-breasted apalis, Broad-tailed grassbird, Grey tit-flycatcher, Chinspot batis, White-winged black tit, Grey (African) penduline tit, Violet-backed starling, Fan-tailed widowbird and Red-cheeked cordon-bleu. Two rarities occasionally seen here are the White-backed night heron and the Thick-billed cuckoo.
 
Afterwards transfer 5-hours to Entebbe, where you will have the use of a hotel day room. Later transfer to Entebbe Airport for your flight home.
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