Saturday 25 January 2020: Departure
After relaxing in our complimentary airport lounge, we board our overnight flight from London to Entebbe.
Sunday 26 January 2020: Arrival
We arrive at Entebbe International Airport, where we will be met by our Driver and local Guide, then we proceed to our accommodation located just a few minutes away. Overnight for two nights at Boma Hotel, Entebbe.
Monday 27 January 2020: Mabamba Wetlands
We take an early breakfast and then head to the Mabamba Wetlands, a great spot for picking up some superb birds on our very first morning. We take to boats here to go through channels in the swamp, looking for the mighty, iconic, Shoebill! Other birds on this first full day should include Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Yellow-billed Duck, Malachite Kingfisher, Long-toed Plover, Blue-headed Coucal, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, and many more.
We then bird our way back to Entebbe looking for birds including African Open-billed Stork, Grey Kestrel, African Green Pigeon, Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Red-headed Lovebird, Broad-billed Roller, and various swifts, sunbirds, weavers and finches among others.
Tuesday 28 January 2020: Travel Day: Birding on the way to Kibale
After breakfast, we drive south to Kibale in the Toro Kingdom. We will be birding en-route, looking out for birds such as Western Banded Snake Eagle, Striped Kingfisher, Great Blue Turaco, Lizard Buzzard, Lesser Striped Swallow, Joyful Greenbul, Chubb’s Cisticola, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, African Stonechat, Green-headed Sunbird, Northern Fiscal among many others. We will pass through some typical lowland habitats and landscapes and opportunities for photography, as throughout the tour, will be very good. Dinner and overnight for two nights at Kibala Guest Cottages.
Wednesday 29 January 2020: Birds and Primates in Kibale NP
After an early breakfast, we start to bird the forest with our excellent local guide, looking out for the spectacular Green-breasted Pitta and other species like Yellow-billed Barbet, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed Turaco, Narina Trogon, Sabine’s Spinetail, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Narrow-tailed Starling and more.
Kibale is one of the major rain forests in Uganda, home to 13 species of primate, making it perhaps the most important protected area on the African continent. These include Chimpanzee, Red Colobus, Black and White Colobus, Red-tailed Monkey, and Grey-cheeked Mangabey among others. In addition, it is home to 325 species of birds including Red-chested Owlet, Green-breasted Pitta, and White-spotted Flufftail. Chimpanzee watching is a major attraction of the park, and after lunch we head to Kanyanchu to look for them, hoping for excellent views. We search for Chimps on foot with a tracker/ranger, in flat terrain, or gentle hill country, depending on their recent movements; the animals are quite mobile as they search for food. While it isn't possible to say exactly how far we might walk, we might even locate them by the roadside.
Thursday 30 January 2020: Bigodi and transfer to Queen Elizabeth NP
After breakfast, we head to Bigodi for a wetland walk coming back in time for lunch. Later, we move on towards Queen Elizabeth National Park driving along the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains and crossing the Equator, where we stop for photographs. The park, named after our own Queen who visited in 1954, is the second largest national park in Uganda, and ranks highest in terms of overall diversity, with a bird species list exceeding 600. The park has a mosaic of habitats from moist forest at Imarabigambo, to wild savannah excellent for Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Hyenas, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Baboons, Giant Forest Hog, and Warthog among others. We will also look out for various herons, raptors, kingfishers, larks, pipits, babblers, swallow, cisticolas, shrikes, starlings, widowbirds, and many more wonderful birds. Dinner and overnight for two nights at Park View Lodge.
Friday 31 January 2020: Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast, we leave with a packed lunch for a mammal and bird safari. In the afternoon, we take a two-hour boat trip on the Kazinga Channel, to see a rich variety of wildlife, including hundreds of hippos, crocodiles and superb wetland birds, like pelicans, Green-backed Heron, storks, African Spoonbill, Martial Eagle, plovers, lapwings, larks, Yellow-throated Longclaw, babblers, sunbirds, weavers, and widowbirds. Photographic opportunities will be excellent throughout the day. We will no doubt also see mammals like Uganda Kob, Bushbuck, Defassa Waterbuck, Buffalo, Elephant, Warthog, and with a little luck Leopard, Spotted Hyena and Lion among others.
Saturday 1 February 2020: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
After breakfast, we drive to Bwindi, getting there in the early evening after making several stops looking out for raptors, bee-eaters, kingfishers, barbets, tinkerbirds, woodpeckers, apalises, Honeyguide Greenbul, swallows, larks, cisticolas, pipits, chats, shrikes, starlings, widowbirds and many more. Game includes Elephant, Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Defassa Waterbuck, and Warthog among others. Our total drive is about 190 km, and we arrive in time for dinner and overnight at Engagi Lodge, where we stay for three nights.
Sunday 2 February 2020: Gorilla Trekking at Bwindi
Bwindi is an unspoiled National Park found in south western Uganda, covering an area of 331 sq. km, and home to half of the world's Mountain Gorillas. Indeed, the National Park is the only protected area in the world where Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees are found together. Today, after an early breakfast, we begin our gorilla trek, at about 8:00 a.m. Good walking shoes or boots will be needed, rain gear and plenty of drinking water. The trek isn't too long, but can be steep and challenging in parts, and so one must be in a reasonably fit condition. Our efforts should be worthwhile, as the thrill of seeing these very rare primates (no guarantee, of course, but chances are high as we will be with experienced trackers from the park) is simply incredible. It is no exaggeration to state that seeing these wild apes is one of the great wildlife watching experiences on the planet.
In the afternoon, there will be time to rest or enjoy a local birding foray.
Monday 3 February 2020: Birding Bwindi
Bwindi has a great diversity of mammals and birds and is home to some endangered species, including a special group of birds only found in the western Rift Valley in Uganda and neighbouring countries, popularly known as the 'Albertine Rift Endemics'. On this holiday we hope to see more than half of these birds, including Handsome Francolin, Dwarf Honeyguide, Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Collared Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Rwenzori Batis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird and Strange Weaver. Today we also seek Black Bee-Eater, tinkerbirds and barbets, woodpeckers, African Broadbill, greenbuls, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Luhder’s Bush-shrike, Pink-footed Puffback, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, starlings, sunbirds, Black-billed Weaver and Brown-capped Weaver among others. We also look out for primates including Blue Monkeys, Black and White Colobus, and Red-tailed Monkey among others.
Tuesday 4 February 2020: Travel to Lake Mburo
After breakfast, we bird our way to the Lake Mburo, another wildlife rich National Park, looking out for birds like Bateleur, Handsome Francolin, Crested Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Blue-napped Mousebird, African Grey Hornbill, Stripe-breasted Tit, Fork tailed Drongo, and various barbets, woodpeckers, apalises, flycatchers, batises and waxbills among others. Although the trip is not focused totally on wildlife photography, those with cameras should get some good shots today. Overnight at Mantana Tented Camp for two nights.
Wednesday 5 February 2020: Lake Mburo
This is one of the smaller National Parks in Uganda covering 260 sq. km but still very special in its own way. Mburo is home to over 320 bird and 68 mammal species. The park’s special birds include African Finfoot, Brown-chested Plover, Red-faced Barbet and Long-tailed Cisticola. We have a full day birding the park, including a boat ride in the afternoon. We will be looking for species such as Bateleur, Crested Francolin, Black-bellied Bustard, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Blue-napped Mousebird, African Grey Hornbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Long tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis and others.
The lake is home to Hippos and the surrounding wooded savanna is home to mammals including gorgeous Eland, Zebra, Impala, Buffalo, Reedbuck, Topi, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi, Bush-duiker and others. About 100 km round trip today.
Thursday 6 February 2020: Travel day to Entebbe
After breakfast, we start heading back towards Entebbe, birding on the way, in particular stopping for any species we may have missed so far, and getting there in time for dinner. About 280 km. Overnight once more at Boma Hotel, Entebbe.
Friday 7 February 2020: Head to airport for flight home
After breakfast, we have a short drive to Entebbe International Airport for our departure flight.
Saturday 8 February 2020:
Arrival in London.