© Herbert Byaruhanga

Early Birds

12 Day Uganda Tour - Bird Watching

Take in the marvelous panoramic views of Uganda with an experienced birding guide. Search for specialties such as the shoebill stork and journey to Uganda’s mountain forests, savannahs, savannah-forests and swamplands to experience Uganda’s massive array of birding highlights.

From $4,320 PP

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- Explore Mabamba swamp to seek out the infamous Shoebill stork.
- Let us guide you all the way with your own experienced Uganda guide.
- Discover Uganda's vast birding diversity & many Albertine Rift endemics.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 - Shoebill stork in Mabamba Swamp
Day 2 - Chimp tracking and bird watching in Kibale Forest.
Day 3 - Experience Magombe Swamp and its prolific birdlife.
Day 4 - Explore the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth NP.
Day 5 - Maramagambo Forest birding day.
Day 6 - Tree-climbing lions and birding on Ishasha Plains.
Day 7 - A full days bird watching at Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable NP.
Day 8 - Track the rare mountain gorillas.
Day 9 - Rainforest birding at Ruhija, Bwindi Impenetrable NP.
Day 10 - Night game drive in Lake Mburo NP.
Day 11 - Walking safari and birding in Lake Mburo NP.
Day 12 - Return to Entebbe for flight home.
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Day 1 - Shoebill Stork Tracking

You will be collected from your accommodation in Kampala (or Entebbe) and driven to Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Take a stroll to explore the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, which run down to the shores of Lake Victoria. Here a knowledgeable guide will help you identify the various species found within the gardens and show you around. After lunch return to the shores of Lake Victoria to meet a speedboat waiting to take you to Mabamba Swamp. It’s a 30 min journey to the edge of the swamp where you’ll be meeting your local specialist Shoebill Stork tracker and transfer in dugout canoes. Your guide will navigate you through the reeds of Mabamba, a protected RAMSAR site, to search for the elusive Shoebill stork, in its natural habitat as well plethora of other species that are found here. After several hours in the swamp you will return to shore where your drive will be waiting for you. This afternoon you will drive west to Kibale Forest NP in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, arriving at your camp on the edge of the rainforest by dusk.

The elusive Shoebill in Mabamba Swamp. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.
A chimp swinging from the trees in Kibale Forest NP. Image © Steffen Schwörer

Day 2 - Chimps & Rainforest Birds

Meet with your Uganda Wildlife Authority tracking team early for a briefing on the chimpanzees in the forest. Kibale NP is famous for having the highest concentration of primates in East Africa. Depending on where the chimps are, you should take around four to five hours to complete the tracking. Once you’ve found the group, amongst the dense rainforest, spend an intimate hour with them, watching them play, eat, socialise and display their prowess. Spend the rest of the day in the forest seeking out a wide variety of birdlife living here. Your guides will help you track down several notable species before you return to your camp for the evening.

Day 3 - Magombe Swamp

Pass through the rainforest to reach the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary where you’ll meet a guide who will take you on your walk through Magombe Swamp, a RAMSAR site and part of the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. As you ramble around the swamp your guide will be able to identify key bird species such as Papyrus Gonolek and the White-winged Scrub-Warble, local flora and fauna as well as the seven species of monkey including red colobus, grey cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest, vervet, blue, baboons, black and white colobus. In the early afternoon drive south following the Rwenzori Mountain chain to reach the savannah of Queen Elizabeth NP. The park has over 600 species of birds in its varied range of habitats, so no surprise that it is classed as an important birding area (IBA) Birding International. Spend the afternoon exploring the explosion crater lakes which dot the region of the park are a reminder of the violent formation of the Great Rift Valley, as massive chunks of rock were hurled out of the volcanoes creating these craters. Along the way there’s also a good chance to see a variety of wildlife such as elephants and wild game herds and some of the parks vast number of species before driving to your camp overlooking the Kazinga Channel.

Common Waxbill at Magombe Swamp. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.
Pied Kingfisher. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.

Day 4 - Savannah Plains

Rise early to take advantage of the cooler hours before the heat of the day sets in, when the wildlife is far more active. You’ll be accompanied by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide, who are experts in tracking the lions and are very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the savannah. Explore the Kasenyi Plains, which is one of the prime places to find lions as well as a host of other wildlife such elephants, game herds, warthogs, vultures and if you’re one of the lucky ones, leopards. Visit the salt lake and Lake Nyamanyuka, which is a seasonal home to the Greater Flamingo, which if you’re lucky you can find wading through the shallow waters. After a lazy lunch by the river before drive down the Mweya peninsula from where you’ll embark on a water safari on the Kazinga Channel to the edge of Lake Edward. From the boat trip you will get the chance to search the riverbanks for hippo pods, crocodiles and plethora of species of bird such as the African Skimmer, Goliath Heron, Little Grebe and the Great White and Pink-backed pelicans. On your return to dry land drive back through the African bush to spend the evening relaxing as the sun sets with the sounds of the wilds of the savannah echoing around you.

Day 5 - Maramagambo Forest

This morning you’ll drive to Maramagambo Forest, which possesses an exceptional high diversity of species. In this savannah forest you’ll be able to follow the trails with your guide to spot some more species to tick off your list. You’ll be provided with a picnic lunch and can spend until mid afternoon wandering through the forest until it is time to return to your vehicle. You will drive south to Ishasha Plains in the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth NP.

Wood Owl in Maramagambo Forest. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.
Tree-climbing lions on Ishasha Plains. Image © Olaf Tamm.

Day 6 - Ishasha Plains

This morning your guide will take you to look for the birdlife on the savannah plains. This area of the park is a mix of savannah and forest, linking to the expansive forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo will allow you to spot east as well as central African species. Don’t be surprised when you’re looking in the trees for your birds to find some surprises! The Ishasha plains are also home to Uganda’s iconic tree-climbing lions, which you’ll get the chance to track down. You’ll hopefully find them on the shady branches of fig trees relaxing during the heat of the day. By mid afternoon it will be time to leave to Queen Elizabeth NP behind you and drive through villages and tea plantations to reach your next destination, Bwindi Impenetrable NP, a UNESCO World Heritage.

Day 7 - Rainforest Birds

Bwindi Impenetrable NP protects Uganda’s oldest forest and is it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded. These include 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Today you’ll be heading out to follow some of the trails, which snake their way through the rainforest. This section of Biwndi Forest is classed as medium elevation and there’ll be a whole new range of bird species for you to be able to track down and tick off your list. You’ll be supplied with a packed lunch so that you can make the most of your day in the forest without having to return to camp. You will of course you’ll be accompanied by your specialist birding guide and their equipment and skills to help you find as many species as possible. Once you’ve finished your days birding you’ll be able to walk back to your camp in the rainforest to relax for the evening.

Black chested bee eater. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.
Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable NP. Image © Steffen Schwörer

Day 8 - Gorilla tracking

Experience Uganda’s greatest natural wonder, an intimate meeting with one of Bwindi Impenetrable NP’s gorilla families. Start early with an orientation from a Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers on tracking the gorillas, before they guide you through the rainforest. They’ll identify the local plants, birds and wildlife as well the general ecosystem of Bwindi Impenetrable NP for you. The trek length varies, depending on where the gorillas spent the night, ranging thirty minutes to six hours. Once you find these incredible creatures you will spend one hour with them. We think you’ll agree it’s one of the most magical experiences you can have with nature to see this unique family feed, socialise, nurse their young, patrol and display their prowess. After which make the return trek to your lodge and drive along the forest boundary to your next rainforest destination, Ruhija.

Day 9 - Ruhija Birding

Today you’ll have a full day to explore the trails leading off from near your camp into the rainforest, which is classed as high elevation. This will give the opportunity to spot a whole new varied list of the species as you walk along the forest trails. You will again be provided with a packed lunch and be accompanied by your birding guide to make the most of this fantastic birding area. By late afternoon it’ll be time to head back to camp to enjoy your last evening in the rainforest before you drive north back to savannah plains the next morning.

White tailed blue flycatcher. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.
Night Jar. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.

Day 10 - Lake Mburo

This morning you’ll leave Uganda’s rainforest in the highlands. You’ll take a winding murram road down from the hills, then pass through Echuya Forest and reach Mbarara town in time for lunch. In the afternoon you’ll then continue on the Lake Mburo NP, reaching your accommodation by mid afternoon. Tonight you will take a night game drive and your guide will try and seek out a leopard for you! You’ll also be on the look out for Pennant-winged Nightjars, hyenas, buffalo, and hippos so there’ll be plenty of wildlife to track down!

Day 11 - Spotting Zebras and Birds

Today your guide will accompany you on foot through the savannah plains of Lake Mburo on a walking safari to look for an array of birdlife. In the dry season, Lake Mburo National Park can become a very dry savannah turning into lush grassland after the rains. Regions of the park that you can visit include the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti, and the roadsides between Rwonyo and the jetty. There are also popular bird watching platforms at the salt lick, in Miriti Valley, and in Rubanga Forest for you to explore. It the late afternoon you will head down to the lake shore to take a boat cruise and spot a variety of other species as well as hippo pods and crocodiles.

Malachite Kingfisher. Image © Herbert Byaruhanga.
Zebra in Lake Mburo National Park. Image © William Boase

Day 12 - Heading Home

Spend you last morning birding on safari in Uganda. You will have the morning in your hands to seek out any remaining birds in the area on your list. You will leave the savannah and drive north over the equator to make the return journey to Kampala (or Entebbe), arriving by dusk.

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Horseback Safari

Trek through the plains of Lake Mburo National Park on your very own horseback safari. An experienced guide will accompany you across the savannah to ride amongst wild game herds of zebra, buffalo, impala and Uganda kob. There are treks available for all levels of experience and ranging from a half hour rides to the 3 days including 2 nights camping in the African bush!

If you would like to add this activity to your tour, please contact us for more information.

Hot Air Ballon Safari

Fly silently over and across the African bush and savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park with an early morning hot air balloon safari. You’ll be able to watch the sun rise across this stunning landscape with the chance to view elephants and game herds in the early morning light. After an hours flight you’ll land back onto the savannah in time for your bush breakfast.

If you would like to add this activity to your tour, please contact us for more information.

Predator Tracking

Join the predator tracking team from the Uganda Carnivore Program (UCP) in Queen Elizabeth National Park to add something intimate to your savannah game drive. With your highly knowledgeable guides you’ll be able to get off the typical beaten track and search among the bushes and trees to get close up to lions, leopards and hyenas in truly natural savannah setting. Get your cameras ready! By partaking in this activity you are amongst many good things, contributing to establishing a comprehensive large predator database for the national park, which is used for conservation purposes.

If you would like to add this activity to your tour, please contact us for more information.

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4×4 Supercustom

This tour is based on using a Supercustom. On safari in Uganda, you need vehicles that you can rely on, vehicles with as much comfort as we can provide to make your journey a happy one! The 4x4 Toyota Supercustom is a practical option for group safaris as they offer space, comfort and are reliable vehicles. Each vehicle can comfortably seat eight clients as well as a driver and an extra seat for when we hire additional guides and rangers. They perform well off-road and have pop-top roofs for that intimate experience with nature in the parks. As a conscientious business, we chose this vehicle, as it is kind to the environment; running on diesel with low consumption. This is therefore our standard touring vehicle.

Please note this tour is based on your being collected and dropped off in either Kampala or Entebbe. For other locations please contact us for a quote.

Upgrade Option – Landcruiser with pop top

Some clients simply prefer a Landcruiser on their safari! They are after all the conventional way to travel on safari. Like the Super Custom, they offer comfort and reliability. They offer more intimacy for small groups of two to four clients and are optimal for single travellers. With their pop-up roof hatches, they give you up-close and personal interactions with nature.

For price quote please see "Prices Tab". Please note prices are based per car hired and on pick up and drop in Kampala or Entebbe. For other locations please contact us.

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Foreign Uganda Residents Discount: -$250 Per Person

East African Citizens Discount: -$1,000 Per Person

Land Cruiser Pop Top: +$720 Per Group

This Tour Includes

Full time use of a private vehicle (as per your itinerary)
A Full-Time Private Driver/Guide
A Full-Time Qualified Birding Guide (one guide for 1 – 10 people)
Birding Equipment (including play back equipment)
Fuel for your entire journey (with an allowance for any necessary detours)
Accommodation (please view TripAdvisor links in itinerary for impartial ratings)
- 2 nights at Kibale Forest Camp (single/ double or twin safari tent, SC)
- 2 nights at The Bush Lodge (single / double or twin banda, SC)
- 1 night at Ishasha Jungle Lodge (single / double or twin room, SC)
- 2 nights at Mahogany Springs (single / double or twin room, SC)
- 2 nights at Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp (single / double or twin safari tent, SC)
- 2 nights at Rwakobo Rock Lodge (single / double or twin cottage, SC)
All Meals (as specified in the ‘Meal Plan’ above)
Bottled Drinking Water (1.5 liters per person, per day in your vehicle)
All Activities
- Shoebill stork tracking (Mabamba Swamp)
- Chimpanzee tracking (Kibale Forest NP)
- Guided birding walk, half day (Kibale Forest NP)
- Guided birding walk at Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary (Kibale Forest NP)
- Savannah game drive x 2 (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Boat safari on the Kazinga Channel (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Guided birding walk in Maramagambo Forest (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Savannah game drive on Ishasha Plains (Queen Elizabeth NP)
- Guided birding walk, two full days (Bwindi Impenetrable NP)
- Gorilla tracking (Bwindi Impenetrable NP)
- Nocturnal game drive in (Lake Mburo NP)
- Guided walking safari (Lake Mburo NP)
Wildlife & Tracking Permits
- Chimpanzee tracking (Kibale Forest NP)
- Gorilla tracking permit (Bwindi Impenetrable NP)
Park & Vehicle Fees
- Kibale Forest NP x 1 day (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
- Queen Elizabeth NP x 4 days (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
- Bwindi Impenetrable NP x 3 days (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
- Lake Mburo NP x 2 days (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
Specialist Guides and Rangers
- Expert Birding guide (Uganda Safari Guides Association)
- Shoebill tracking guide/skipper (Wild Frontiers)
- Chimpanzee guide/ranger (UWA)
- Kibale NP guide/ranger (UWA)
- Bigodi Swamp guide (Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary)
- Kazinga Channel boat cruise guide/skipper (Marasa Africa)
- Maramagambo Forest guide / ranger (UWA)
- Game drive ranger x 3 (UWA)
- Gorilla tracking guide (UWA)
- Bwindi Impenetrable NP guide/ranger x2 (UWA)
- Night game drive guide/ranger (UWA)
- Walking safari guide/ranger (UWA)
A $10 per person donation to the Uganda Conversation Foundation (see CSR Program)
Collection from and drop-off at your desired location (in Kampala or Entebbe)
Lodging & food for your guide/driver (same lodge premises as you, where possible)
A dedicated Tours Manager based in Kampala in daily contact with your Driver/Guide and on call, 24/7 in case of an emergency.

This Tour Excludes

Items marked ‘(*for an additional cost)’
Alcohol (unless provided as complimentary by the accommodation)
Laundry (unless provided as complimentary by the accommodation)
Souvenirs & items of a personal nature
Personal Insurance
International or Domestic Flights
Visas (refer to your embassy)
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