13 Days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps & Albertine Birding Safari

Our itinerary allows us to visit some of the top sites in the country, including Budongo Forest, Kibale and Lake Mburo. We will specifically target the Albertine Rift endemics and visit lush forests teeming with spectacular birds. To compliment all this, we will take drives in search of Africa’s `big game’, as well as spending a special day looking for Chimpanzee.

Targets Species:

  • Mountain Gorilla
  • Shoebill
  • African Green Broadbill
  • Chimpanzee
  • African Finfoot
  • Woodhouse's Antpecker
  • Doherty's Bushshrike
  • Dusky Twinspot
  • Green-breasted Pitta
  • Giant Forest Hog
  • Grauer’s Rush Warbler
  • Brown-chested Plover
  • Dwarf Bittern
  • Black Bee-eater
  • Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo
  • Red-chested Owlet
  • Rwenzori Batis
  • Yellow-spotted Barbet
  • Red-throated Alethe
Day 1 Flight to Entebbe

Plan on arriving this evening where we will be met on arrival and transferred to the lovely Sophie’s Hotel.

Day 2 Mabamba swamp or Kasanje

Entebbe is situated on the vast shores of Lake Victoria, and after a good rest and some breakfast we will make a short trip to one or two swamps where we stand an excellent chance to encounter Uganda’s most famous bird, the enormous and thoroughly bizarre Shoebill. 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 and Malachite Kingfishers. As African Fish Eagles soar overhead we will check for papyrus specialities, including White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek. After our boat trip we will transfer to Lake Mburo, with birding and lunch en-route. Along the roadside we should have frequent stops as birds will be everywhere, with luck we may find Great Blue Turaco and Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Lizard Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, Grey Kestrel, African Green-Pigeon, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, Woodland and Striped Kingfishers, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Broad-billed Roller, Double-toothed Barbet, Collared and Red-chested Sunbirds, African Black Swift, Grassland Pipit, Red-tailed Chat, African Stonechat and Wing-snapping Cisticola. We should arrive at our camp in time for an evening game drive. One night at Mantana Tented Camp.

Day 3: Bwindi

This morning we will be birding and mammal watching amongst acacia-savannah around the lake which should give us the chance to see Black faced Barbet, Tabora Cisticola, Coqui Francolin, Yellow-billed Duck, Brown-chested Plover, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Lilac-breasted Roller, Rufous-chested Swallow, Temminck’s Courser, Flappet Lark, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Brubru, Wattled Starling, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, and Southern Red Bishop. We should also encounter Zebra, Eland, Topis, Impalas, Shy Orbis and other game; after our safari drive we will go for a boat ride in search of the elusive African Finfoot and Dwarf Bittern, then transfer to Bwindi, driving straight to Ruhizha. This will give us an opportunity to do some birding in one of the largest forests in East Africa, and it covers a huge altitudinal range from 1160m to 2650m. As we approach Bwindi, we will see forested mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and there will be many opportunities for birding, as well as photographing the stunning scenery. Four nights at Trekker’s Tavern Cottages.

 Day 4: Bwindi - Mubwindi Swamp

This morning we will visit Mubwindi Swamp where we may have a chance to see the superb and sought after African Green Broadbill, plus many Albertine Rift endemics and other excellent birds including Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Caruthers’s Cisticola, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds, Narina Trogon, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, African Hill-Babbler, Black Cuckoo, Chubb's Cisticola and the gorgeous Doherty's Bushshrike. In the late afternoon we bird around the camp for Dusky Twinspot, Luhder’s Bushshrike and Rwenzori Batis to mention but a few. Overnight at Trekker’s Tavern Cottages.

Day 5 Bwindi - Mountain Gorilla Trek

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 steepness 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 guides 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 and 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! 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 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 (a strikingly beautiful bird), African Broadbill, Petit's Cuckoo-Shrike, Neumann's (Short-tailed Warbler), 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 the curious and attractive Woodhouse's Antpecker. Overnight at Trekker’s Tavern cottages.

Day 6 Bwindi - Bamboo zone

Today we will search the Bamboo zone for Handsome Francolin, White-starred Robin, Red-throated Alethe, Grauer’s Warbler, and Dusky Crimson-wing, while the afternoon will see us bird around the camp and the primary road school in search of Dusky Twinspot, Magpie Manikin, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Batis, Collared and Black throated Apalis, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Mountain Illadopsis, Doherty’s and Luhder’s Bushshrike and a variety of other birds. Late evening birding around the road to the school may produce African Wood Owl and Rwenzori Nightjar. Overnight Trekker’s Tavern cottages.

Day 7: Bwindi - Buhoma

Today we transfer to Buhoma and along the way we will bird the "neck" an excellent birding area in its own right and one we will thoroughly explore. 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 and White-eyed Slaty Flycatchers, Brown-crowned Tchagra, African Green Broadbill, 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, Collared Apalis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Stripe-breasted Tit, White-naped Raven, Strange and Baglafecht Weaver, Dusky Crimson-Wing, Yellow Bishop, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Black-and-White Mannikin, the rare Dusky Twinspot and Streaky Seedeater. Other memorable species could include Black-billed Turaco, Elliott’s Woodpecker, African Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-throated Roller, Shelley’s Greenbul, White-tailed Ant Thrush, White-browed Crombec, Yellow-eyed and Chapin’s Flycatchers, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Northern Double-collared and Blue-headed Sunbirds, Bar-tailed Trogon, African Broadbill and White-headed Wood-hoopoe. Two nights at Engagi Lodge

Day 8: Buhoma

This morning we will bird Buhoma main trail in search of Olive-Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Neumann’s Warbler, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, White-tailed Flycatcher, White-bellied Robin-chat, Equatorial Akalat, Woodhouse’s Antpecker and many others. Overnight at Engagi Lodge.

Day 9: Buhoma - Queen Elizabeth National Prk

Today we will drive to Queen Elizabeth National park birding en-route, via Ishasha sector of the park for a game drive in search for tree climbing Lions and birding for a variety of savanna birds, here we have another chance for the Shoebill incase we missed it in the swamp earlier. Overnight at Savannah Resort.

 Day 10: Queen Elizabeth National Park - Fort Portal

Today we drive to Fort Portal birding en-route. Overnight at Primate Lodge cottages

Day 11: Kibale National Park - Chimp Trek - Bigodi Wetland

After an early morning breakfast we will visit Kibale National Park, reported to be home to the greatest variety and highest concentration of primates in the world. We will have an option to go for Chimp tracking where we may also have a chance to see a variety of other primates such as Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Vervet, L’Hoerst and Red-tailed Monkeys, Red, and Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys, and Olive Baboons. We will set out to track Common Chimpanzees but note that they can range over quite a distance. However, park rangers set out early each morning to track the animals from their overnight nests and our chances of an encounter are extremely high. A meeting with our  closest living relatives is an unpredictable and awe-inspiring experience, and one of the highlights of any tour to Uganda. Here we also have a chance to bird the Forest in search of skulkers like Green-breasted Pitta, and Many-coloured Bush-shrike, and other possibilities such as Afep and White-naped Pigeons, Black-billed Turaco, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Crowned Hornbill, Yellowbill, Narina Trogon, Joyful and Honeyguide Bulbuls, Streaky-throated and Yellow-spotted Barbets, Thick-billed and Cassin’s Honeybird, Masked Apalis, White-chinned and Banded Prinias, Pink-footed Puffback, Black-and-White Flycatcher, Olive and Green and Superb Sunbirds, Mountain Wagtail, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Purple-headed Starling, Black-necked and Dark-backed Weavers, and Red-headed Bluebill to mention but a few. An afternoon walk by the swamp in the Bigodi wetland will see us look for the Papyrus endemics before an evening transfer to Fort Portal. Overnight at Tooro resort.

>Day 12: Fort Portal - Kampala - Evening flight

Today we transfer back to Kampala birding Kibaale forest on the western part of Fort Portal where we may have a chance to see the Luhder’s and Many-coloured Bush-shrikes, Cassin’s Grey flycatcher, African Black Duck, White-napped and Afep Pigeons, African Cuckoo Hawk, Blue-throated Roller, a variety of Starlings, Joyful Greenbul and many others. Finally we will transfer to Entebbe for our return international flights.

Day 13: Arrive back home

TOUR PRICE: $6,490 per person Sharing

Single supplement: $1,102 Deposit: $1,200

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 and maximum of 12 with 2 leaders

Included in cost: - Accommodation in twin rooms/tents all en-suite, - all meals including picnic lunches where necessary, - bottled water, - all entrance fees, - forest and swamp walk fees, - transport throughout, - boat trips and services of local guides, - trackers and leaders.

Not included: - International flight, - insurance, drinks, - tips, and items of a personal nature. - Also not included: - Gorilla Tracking Permit: currently $500 US Dollars and Chimp Tracking Permit currently $90 if you wish to go on either of these then the sooner we know the better as permits can only be issued on a first come first serve basis.

Accommodation: Ranges from good to quite basic. But all put us in the right places without too much travelling each day.

Tour Code: This is a birding tour that will also focus on two incredible primates - the Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee. Early starts are normal to get the best birding and some late finishes are necessary. We have excluded the permits for Gorillas and Chimps as this can be optional. If not going on these treks you will be able to bird around the camps. If you are going on the treks then note that searching for Gorillas can take anywhere between 2 & 8 hours, but the chances of an encounter are very high. If trekking for Chimps this is much less predictable.

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