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Embark on an extraordinary 12 Days birding tour into the enchanting realm of birds and primates, curated exclusively for passionate adventurers like you. Welcome to the unrivaled Birding and Primate Tour of Uganda, crafted by Harrier Tours to offer an immersive experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
At Harrier Tours, we believe in responsible travel and conservation. As you embark on this unforgettable journey, you can take solace in knowing that your adventure supports local communities and contributes to the preservation of Uganda’s natural wonders for generations to come.
From Entebbe International Airport
This is a 12 Day Birding tour of Uganda that covers most of the key birding locations
Wetland birds, Savanna birds, Albertine Rift endemics and Semuliki Ituri forest specials. Other expectations include Gorilla and Chimpanzee tracking
Uganda, a country beautifully situated within the heart of Africa, is a landlocked paradise filled with myriad ecosystems, diverse wildlife, and over 1,000 bird species. Embarking on a birding safari here is not just about spotting birds – it’s about immersing oneself in a unique African experience. With vast landscapes ranging from the dense forests of Bwindi to the savannahs of Lake Mburo, every day promises a new thrill for birders and wildlife enthusiasts.
As your flight descends into Entebbe International Airport, the heartwarming embrace of Uganda begins to unfold. Upon touchdown, the experienced team from Harrier Tours is on hand, ready to greet you. Their presence ensures a seamless transition, offering a concise overview of the enriching birding tour you’re about to embark upon. In no time, they’ll whisk you away to your arranged accommodation for rest and dinner. Nestled amidst the tropical splendour of Entebbe, this serene abode, filled with the soft, harmonious notes of evening birdcalls, provides the ideal setting to relax and acclimate.
Entebbe Botanical gardens: Ornithological Eden
Those who arrive early have the chance to visit Not far from here, lies Uganda’s sole national Botanical Garden, established in 1901. This verdant sanctuary is conveniently located on the shores of majestic Lake Victoria, a mere 34 km away from Kampala. These gardens are a harmonious blend of indigenous forest, cultivation, and horticulture, making it an irresistible draw for avid bird watching.
With Harrier Tours guiding the way, bird enthusiasts are in for a treat. The garden, with its vast avian diversity, houses species ranging from the serene Pink-backed Pelican, Malachite Kingfisher, Black-and-white-Casqued Hornbill. Species such as the Glossy Ibis, Woodland Kingfisher, Spur-winged Lapwing, Yellow White-eye and the Red-billed Firefinch are but a few of the many avian wonders awaiting discovery.
Yet, the gardens offer more than just a bird watching paradise. Butterflies flit amidst the foliage, an array of plant species beckon botany aficionados, and the occasional primate might just cross your path.
Setting out at dawn, Harrier Tours leads you westward, destined for Lake Mburo National Park. However, before we reach our ultimate destination, we’re set to explore some of Uganda’s renowned birding havens.
Our initial stop is the Mabamba Swamp, not too distant from Kampala. But first, we make a brief detour at Mpigi Swamp, an enclave celebrated for its rare papyrus species. As the morning mist lifts, watch out for the elusive White-winged Warbler, the vibrant Papyrus Gonolek, and the industrious Yellow-backed and Northern Brown-throated Weavers, among other swamp specialties.
Mabamba Wetland soon beckons. Recognized by the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance, this 16,500-hectare expanse, fringing Lake Victoria, is a testament to Uganda’s rich avian tapestry. The wetland is a magnet for bird enthusiasts, chiefly for its star attraction: the iconic shoebill. Guided by local experts in a canoe, you’ll traverse through its marsh-filled channels, seeking out this massive bird both amongst the reeds and soaring overhead.
But Mabamba is not just about the shoebill. From the inquisitive Swamp Flycatcher and the majestic Goliath Heron to the dainty African Jacana and the melodic Winding Cisticola, the swamp teems with feathered marvels waiting to be discovered.
As we leave the wetlands behind, a quick pit-stop at the equator offers a blend of photo memories and refreshments. The drive onwards is a visual delight, revealing the diverse landscapes of Uganda. Come late afternoon, as Lake Mburo emerges on the horizon, we undertake a game drive en route to our lodgings. Here, the savannah unveils its own set of avian wonders, rounding off a day steeped in ornithological splendour with Harrier Tours.
With Harrier Tours as your guide, day three dawns amidst the wooded savannahs of Lake Mburo National Park. As the morning sun stretches across the landscape, the distant laughter of hyenas punctuates the air, while elegant Elands, Zebras, and Impalas graze in harmony. The iconic acacia trees, standing tall with their sprawling canopies, are alive with birdsong, notably the distinct calls of the Rufous-naped Lark and the tuneful melodies of the Black-collared Barbet.
Lake Mburo, although compact at 370 square kilometers, is an ecosystem tapestry. It boasts a medley of landscapes from gallery forests, open savannahs, and acacia woodlands to rock kopjes, wetlands, and the vast expanse of the lake itself. One is particularly drawn to the lake’s western side where a grassy cliff meets a beach, flanked by an acacia forest and the dense Rubanga Forest. The eastern periphery, adorned with rock kopjes, presents another facet of this diverse park.
Beyond its scenic allure, Lake Mburo sustains an impressive array of fauna, boasting 68 mammal species. It has the distinction of being the only Ugandan park housing Impalas and the unique combination of Grant’s Zebra and Eland. The park also shelters the rare topi, only found here and in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Common sightings might include warthogs, buffalo, oribi, Deffassa waterbuck, and reedbuck. The waters of the lake teem with hippo and crocodile, while leopards and hyenas stealthily move through the terrain.
For bird enthusiasts, Lake Mburo is a treasure trove. Key avian highlights include the Crested Francolin, Blue-napped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Grey Hornbill, and the Trilling Cisticola, to name a few.
As the day fades, we journey towards the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a realm of mist-covered hills and rich biodiversity. Tonight, we find solace at the Gorilla Mist Camp, ensconced in the embrace of this timeless forest.
In the heart of Uganda lies the ancient realm of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, under the expert guidance of Harrier Tours, you’ll traverse this age-old rainforest, an adventure that promises to be one of the most profound experiences of your life.
Following an early morning breakfast, we gather at the park headquarters, where seasoned guides detail the essential etiquette for our anticipated gorilla encounter. The path through Bwindi, although demanding, unfolds rewards that are beyond words. Here, amidst the dense foliage, you’ll experience the unparalleled joy of witnessing a gorilla family in their authentic habitat. The gentle play of the young ones, the protective stance of the silverbacks, and the intricate dynamics of these magnificent creatures paint a picture of nature in its purest essence.
But Bwindi’s treasures are manifold. Home to over half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas, it also shelters a fascinating array of wildlife, including elusive forest elephants, a diverse array of mammals, and a staggering 350 bird species. This makes the park an absolute paradise for both wildlife enthusiasts and avid birdwatchers.
Beyond its fauna, Bwindi offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of the indigenous Batwa community, the forest’s earliest inhabitants. Their vibrant traditions, compelling dances, and ancient tales add depth to this already enriching journey.
As the sun dips below the horizon, the evening is spent at the Gorilla Mist Camp. Surrounded by the sounds of the forest and the memories of the day, it’s a time for reflection, camaraderie, and anticipation for the adventures that lie ahead with Harrier Tours.
Our journey at dawn leads us to the renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park. As we navigate the park’s southern sector, Ishasha unveils its unique spectacle: tree-climbing lions. Witnessing these majestic beasts lounging on acacia branches presents a sight deeply etched in Africa’s wilderness tapestry. As twilight approaches, our journey shifts northward within the park.
The day concludes at Buffalo Resort, enveloped by mountain silhouettes and the enchanting serenades of nocturnal birds.
Our sixth day dawns with the promise of unparalleled encounters in Queen Elizabeth National Park. With the first light, post our morning repast, we navigate the diverse terrains of the park. Elephants, with their majestic presence, graze calmly, while the elusive Leopards watch from their covert vantage points. Lions, the kings of the savannah, mark their territories, while the graceful Uganda kob, Giant Forest Hogs, and the robust herds of Buffalo enhance the park’s vibrant tapestry. Amid this animate display, the calls and flutters of the park’s rich avian life provide a melodic backdrop.
The Kazinga Channel, the 32-kilometre natural conduit linking Lake Edward and Lake George, becomes our focal point by afternoon. Renowned for one of the world’s densest concentrations of hippos and a plethora of Nile crocodiles, the channel is an embodiment of nature’s splendour. As we embark on our launch cruise, the waters come alive.
Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Common Squacco Heron, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, African Open-billed Stork, and the conspicuous African Fish Eagle grace our path. Ducks include White-faced Whistling and Knob-billed, The water’s edge presents a mesmerizing dance of African Jacana, Spur-winged Plovers, and Water Thick-knees, African Wattled Plovers and the fringes of the swamp exhibit yellow-backed weavers and swamp flycatchers
The channel also offers a spectacle, especially during the peak migratory months. The skies become a canvas of White-winged Terns, with the reed-beds below Mweya hosting an astounding number of Yellow Wagtails and Common Sand Martins. The marshy fringes of the channel come alive with the Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, and the Common Greenshank.
Approaching Lake Edward’s entrance, a unique sight might greet us – hundreds of African Skimmers, the southern tropics’ migrants, elegantly resting on sandbars. Their presence, however, is seasonal, typically spanning December to May.
As the sun dips, Buffalo Resort awaits our return.
With the first rays of dawn, our journey today begins with a game drive, unveiling nature’s theatre before us. But as the morning matures, our compass points towards the dense foliage of Kibale National Park – a sanctuary renowned as the epicentre of primate diversity in Uganda.
At Kibale, our focus narrows onto a creature that mirrors us in ways profound and mystifying: the chimpanzee. The chance to track these habituated primates in Kibale, closely related to humans, is a captivating experience. Watching them cavort, play, and engage in social rituals in the fruiting trees is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Boasting 13 different primate species, Kibale is a veritable haven for enthusiasts. With an estimated 1,500 chimpanzees gracing its expanse, it’s Uganda’s prime chimpanzee sanctuary. Additionally, Kibale is pivotal for the conservation of the endangered Red Colobus Monkey, housing East Africa’s most significant population. The elusive L’hoest’s Monkey and the vibrant display of other primates, such as the Black and White Colobus, Blue Monkey, and Olive Baboon, further embellish Kibale’s reputation.
But Kibale is not only about primates. Reaching 1,590 metres above sea level at its zenith, this park presents a lush tableau of forest paths, beckoning botanists, insect enthusiasts, and birdwatchers alike. An impressive roster of 335 bird species serenades visitors through these trails. Beyond the canopy, the park shelters buffalo, giant forest hogs, multiple antelope species, and the rarely sighted forest elephant, which contrasts its savannah counterpart with its petite stature and hairy appearance.
As twilight creeps in, casting a golden hue over Kibale’s verdant expanse, we find sanctuary in the embrace of the Primate Lodge. Surrounded by the gentle murmurs of the forest, we drift into dreams, anticipating yet another day of exploration in Uganda’s wild heart.
With the break of dawn over Kibale, a sanctuary of unparalleled avian beauty beckons us. As the first light filters through the canopy, the rainforest awakens to the harmonious calls of its feathered inhabitants. Today, our birding journey in this lush paradise revolves around a particular gem: the elusive Green-Breasted Pitta. Kibale proudly claims its title as the premier location in Africa to spot this radiant bird.
As we meander through the verdant trails, a flurry of colours and melodies graces our path. Birds to expect here include White Spotted Flufftail, Jameson’s Wattle Eye and African Blue Flycatcher. The forest resonates with the gentle coos of the Afep, White Naped, and Western Bronze Naped Pigeons. Also included are Joyful Greenbul, the Brown-Backed Scrub Robin, and Purple-Headed Starling.
Adding to this avian tapestry, we keep a keen eye out for the Shining Blue and Blue-Breasted Kingfishers, The Western Black-Headed Oriole, Grey-Throated Tit Flycatcher, and the unique Brown and Scaly-Breasted Illadopsis further enrich our birding experience in Kibale.
After an eventful morning, we retreat to our lodge, letting the memories of the morning settle as we indulge in a hearty lunch.
But Kibale’s wonders aren’t over for the day. Post-lunch, we gear up for an intimate primate encounter – a trek with the Chimpanzees of Kibale. A brief orientation at the park headquarters sets the stage. This 2-4 hour journey into the heart of the forest allows us a window into the world of these fascinating creatures. Observing their social dynamics, playful antics, and innate curiosity, we realise that the wilderness of Uganda holds stories and secrets that leave a lasting impression.
As the sun sets on our eighth day, the harmonies of Kibale – both avian and primate – play a lullaby that promises even more adventures in the days to come.
With the promise of another exhilarating day, our expedition moves towards the majestic Murchison Falls National Park. Departing post breakfast, with packed lunches in tow, the route northward takes us through the ever-changing tapestry of Uganda’s landscapes.
Murchison Falls National Park, complemented by Bugungu and Karuma Wildlife Reserves, stands as a testament to nature’s power and beauty. The heart of this park is the phenomenal Murchison Falls. Here, the mighty Nile, with all its ferocity, narrows down to squeeze through a slender gorge, cascading dramatically into a placid river. This serene stretch of water is a sanctuary for hippos and crocodiles, while its banks play host to waterbucks and buffaloes. The spectacle of the falls and the surrounding wilderness resonates with nature’s raw grandeur.
This park is not only about the waterways. The expansive savannahs, riverine forests, and woodlands house a splendid variety of fauna. Beyond the aquatic marvels, the land teems with lions, leopards, elephants, and giraffes. Buffaloes graze in herds, while hartebeests and oribis dot the landscape. The Uganda Kobs, with their graceful presence, further enrich our experience. And for birding enthusiasts, the park holds special treasures. From the multitude of bird species, the rare Shoebill stands out, a unique avian gem in this diverse ecosystem.
As the day winds down, we find solace at the Murchison River Lodge. Its idyllic location, overlooking the vast expanses of the park, ensures we’re perfectly placed for the adventures the morrow brings. Tonight, the soothing sounds of the Nile lull us into a restful slumber, as we dream of waterfalls and wilderness.
Dawn at Murchison Falls National Park promises a day brimming with awe and wonder. As we navigate the expansive terrains of Uganda’s largest national park, a myriad of wildlife encounters await. From the majestic prance of Giraffes and the strategic prowls of Lions to the playful antics of Patas Monkeys and graceful Uganda Kobs, the park continually offers a spectacle of nature’s grand theatre.
While the mammals steal the limelight, the avian chorus elevates the experience. The park, with its mosaic of wetlands, savannahs, and open habitats, is a treasure trove for birdwatchers. Key species that grace our path include the vibrant Blue-naped and Speckled Mousebirds, the elusive Siverbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, and the striking Black Headed Gonolek. Birds like the Speckle-fronted Weavers, Slender-billed and Compact Weavers, Whistling and Singing Cisticolas, and the Abyssinian Ground and Grey Hornbills, to name a few, paint the sky and terrain with their colours and melodies.
As the morning melds into afternoon, a boat ride beckons. This journey, to the very foot of the magnificent Murchison Falls, offers a vantage like no other. The roar of the falls, the might of the Nile juxtaposed with the tranquil movements of Hippos and the stealthy presence of Crocodiles, paints a contrasting canvas. The skies and waters, teeming with diverse bird species, make for an avian spectacle.
The culmination of today’s itinerary brings with it a sense of profound admiration for nature’s marvels. As the sun casts its golden hues, we find solace in the comforts of Murchison River Lodge. Here, against the backdrop of the Nile’s whispers and the distant calls of the wild, we retire, reminiscing the day’s adventures and anticipating the mysteries of the morrow.
As dawn breaks on the penultimate day of our Ugandan birding safari itinerary, we bid farewell to the breathtaking landscapes of Murchison. Energized by a hearty breakfast and filled with the anticipation of the day ahead, we begin our journey back to Entebbe. Our route, meticulously chosen, promises one last extraordinary encounter with Uganda’s unique wildlife.
Midway, we make a significant detour to the renowned Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This sanctuary stands as a beacon of conservation efforts in Uganda, home to the only wild rhinos in the country. Upon arrival, the sanctuary’s experienced guides lead us on an immersive rhino tracking experience. As we tread softly through the sanctuary’s paths, every rustle raises our expectations of a close encounter with these majestic, prehistoric-looking creatures. Observing these rhinos in their natural habitat, understanding their behaviours, and learning about the ongoing conservation efforts to increase their numbers is an inspiring and humbling experience.
But Ziwa is not just about rhinos. The sanctuary also boasts a rich avian diversity, making it a treat for bird enthusiasts. The dense woodlands of Ziwa come alive with the vibrant hues and melodious calls of several bird species. Among the many avian wonders here, we hope to catch glimpses of the striking White Crested Turaco, the distinctive Black Billed Barbet, and the elusive Bruce’s Pigeon, among others. Each sighting adds a new note to our already rich symphony of birdwatching experiences in Uganda.
As the day progresses and we continue our journey to Entebbe, the memories of Ziwa, its rhinos, and its birds accompany us, making the return journey as memorable as every other day on this safari.
Tomorrow marks the end of our 12-day adventure, but the memories and stories gathered along the way ensure that Uganda’s wilderness remains alive in our hearts long after.
As our 12-day Ugandan adventure with Harrier Tours draws to a close, we reflect on the breathtaking landscapes and diverse habitats we’ve traversed. From locking eyes with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi’s dense canopies to marveling at the iconic shoebill stork in Mabamba Wetlands and walking alongside the regal rhinos at Ziwa Sanctuary, our journey has been a tapestry of unforgettable moments.
The melodious calls of the Rufous-naped Lark, Black-collared Barbet, and the vibrant White Crested Turaco are but a few highlights from our birdwatching escapades. Queen Elizabeth National Park’s serene beauty, juxtaposed against the might of Murchison Falls, showcased Uganda’s contrasting landscapes.
As we bid adieu to the Pearl of Africa, we do so with gratitude and cherished memories. Here’s to the tales we’ve forged, the camaraderie we’ve built, and the wonders we’ve witnessed. May the echoes of Uganda’s wilderness beckon you again. Safe travels from Harrier Tours.