Uganda

Classic Uganda

A 16-day birds and mammals tour with 4-day post-tour Mountain Gorilla tracking extension

Limosa's tour to Uganda takes in a diverse selection of regions and habitats in order to maximise the birding experience in a single visit. Starting in the papyrus swamps near Entebbe, we initially focus our efforts on locating the extraordinary Shoebill.

The trip then moves to Murchison Falls National Park which should be a scenic highlight as we take a boat trip to the base of the spectacular falls. Some of the species to look for here include Rock Pratincole, White-fronted Plover, Saddle-billed Stork and Red-winged Grey Warbler.

Continuing on to Kibale Forest National Park, we hope to find Chimpanzees as well as looking for the rare Green-breasted Pitta.

Something that should be on everyone's wish list is the opportunity to experience a close encounter with Mountain Gorillas and this is likely to be the highlight of our 4-day post-tour extension. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also an important site for many of the Albertine Rift endemics including Grauer’s Broadbill and Neumann’s Warbler.

Tour Dates & Prices

Fri 28th July 2023

Sun 13th August 2023

  • Available

Tour Cost: 17 Days from £5695 excluding flights

Deposit: £1750Single Supp: £895Group Size: 10Leaders:  Frank Lambert & local guides
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What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader and expert local guide
  • 14 nights' accommodation in Uganda
  • All main meals (with drinking water provided)
  • Minibus transport
  • All excursions, entry fees, permits and wildlife drives in the parks, tour based tips (including tips to local drivers/guides) and taxes
  • Limosa checklist of birds and mammals
  • Chimpanzee Tracking permit

Cost Excludes

International Flights, insurance, drinks, airport meals/snacks and other items of a personal nature

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Notes

The Land Only Tour Cost is the amount you will pay Limosa.

Despite the end of many pandemic restrictions, it is still proving extremely difficult to predict future flight prices and schedules. As a result, we have taken the decision to continue to price our holidays as excluding international flights.

To keep the process as simple as possible, we are working very closely with a dedicated agent at Travel Counsellors, Sacha Barbato, who is essentially now our “in house” flight consultant.

Sacha is a highly experienced independent ATOL bonded travel agent, and his contact details are as follows: sacha.barbato@travelcounsellors.com and 01603 360099

He will be able to advise you which flights we are recommending for each holiday and will be able to book these for you.

This will also sometimes give you the option to travel from a regional airport if you prefer.

Tour Highlights

  • A visit to the country which Winston Churchill described as the 'Pearl of Africa'
  • Comprehensive tour to one of the best birding countries in all of Africa
  • Optional post-tour extension in search of Mountain Gorillas
  • Over 100 species of mammals are possible including Chimpanzees, Forest and Savannah Elephants, Olive Baboon, Red-tailed Monkey, Uganda Red Colobus Monkey, and Uganda Mangabey
  • A great selection of birds including the extraordinary Shoebill and 'stunning' Green-breasted Pitta
  • Saddle-billed Stork, Hamerkop, Lappet-faced Vulture, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Weyn's Weaver
  • Albertine Rift endemics including Grauer’s Broadbill and Neumann’s Warbler

Outline Itinerary

  • Depart UK

  • Arrive in Entebbe

  • Birding Mabamba and Botanical Gardens

  • Birding to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Night at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

  • Rhino tracking and birding. Afternoon transfer to Murchison Falls National Park

  • Birding at Murchison Falls National Park

  • Birding to Budongo

  • Royal Mile

  • Birding to Kibale

  • Chimpanzee tracking and birding

  • Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park

  • Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park

  • Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

  • Lake Mburo National Park

  • Drive back to Entebbe for the evening flight to UK or transfer to Bwindi for the extension

  • Arrive UK

  • _______________________________

  • Gorilla tracking

  • Drive to Nkima Lodge

  • Morning at Mabamba Swamp. Afternoon/evening flight to UK

  • Arrive UK

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
20190720-gorilla 01A
Mountain Gorilla © Herbert Byaruhanga

The landlocked nation of Uganda lies within the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. Although less well known than neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, nevertheless, the country is an amazing destination for those interested in birds and other wildlife as it is home to some very special birds including Shoebill, Green-breasted Pitta and Weyn's Weaver. For those with wider wildlife interests, there are also opportunities to look for many fantastic mammals with likely highlights being opportunities to see both Mountain Gorillas and Chimpazees, as well as more widespread species such as Lion, Leopard, African Elephant and Hippopotamus.

Our tour begins at the Mabamba Swamp which is only a short drive from Entebbe where we have our first opportunity to see one of Africa's most wanted birds - the Shoebill. In the afternoon, we shall find ourselves in the Botanical Gardens looking for the nomadic Weyns's Weaver before heading on to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where as well as rhinos, we hope to see Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Rufous-bellied Heron and the bizarre Hamerkop.

Another highlight will be at Murchison Falls National Park which is widely regarded as one of Africa's most spectacular locations. There is a huge diversity of birds and mammals here (the park is host to over 450 bird and 76 mammal species), but scenically it is also extremely impressive as the falls are considered one of the most powerful in the world.

Whilst birding at Budongo Forest's famous 'Royal Mile', we will concentrate our efforts on two endemics, Yellow-footed Flycatcher and Puvel's Illadopsis. Our visit to Kibale Forest National Park will, however, be less about birds with the main focus on obtaining some close encounters with one of our closest ancestors, the Chimpanzee. Thirteen species of primates can be found here and we also hope to see the rare L’Hoest’s Monkey and the threatened Red Colobus. There are, however, some great birds here too including both Green-breasted and African Pittas.

Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts the highest biodiversity of any reserve in the region and with over 100 species of mammals and 600 species of birds, we will have plenty to look for during our visit with possibilities including Red-throated Bee-eater and African Broadbill. A likely highlight at Lake Mburo National Park will be our boat trip to look for the elusive African Finfoot along with Red-headed Weaver and Spot-flanked Barbet. The afternoon will be a game drive looking for specialities such as Red-faced Barbet, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Grey-crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Ross’s Turaco, Red-headed Lovebird, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, White-winged Tit and Nubian Woodpecker.

Our post-tour extension takes us to the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where we have the opportunity to trek into the forest to look for Eastern 'Mountain' Gorillas. Considered one of life's greatest experiences, our group will hopefully have the opportunity for some close encounters with these amazing primates. Our journey back to Entebbe will be broken by a stop at Mabamba Swamp where we have another opportunity to see Shoebill.

20200725-weaver 01
Weyns's Weaver © Herbert Byaruhanga

Day 1Depart UK for Uganda

We depart the UK on an overnight flight to Entebbe.

Day 2Arrival in Entebbe

If time allows we shall make our first visit to the Botanic Gardens for a relaxing start to our Uganda birding. Night at Boma Hotel

Day 3 Birding Mabamba and Botanical Gardens

For our first morning in Uganda, we will head a short distance westward to the Mabamba Swamp where our main target is the unique Shoebill, which is the sole member of its family. This impressive species is only found in the papyrus awamps in this part of central Africa and we are likely to use small local boats, paddled by our local guides, to maximise our chances of seeing this extraordinary bird.

In search of Shoebill

Other species we hope to find include Swamp Flycatcher, African Purple Swamphen, African Water Rail, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, African Pygmy Goose, White-faced Whistling Duck, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Winding Cisticola, Goliath Heron and Black Crake.

Later in the day, we will return to Entebbe and explore the Botanical Gardens which are a short distance from our comfortable hotel. A great range of species are possible here with Madagascar Bee-eater, Green Crombec, Orange, Golden, Yellow-backed and Weyns's Weaver, Superb Sunbird, Bare faced Go-away-bird, Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco and Grey and Brown Parrots all possible. Further night at Boma Hotel

Day 4 Birding to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

We will leave our comfortable Entebbe hotel and travel northwards for approximately three hours to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary making strategy stops for any interesting species as we travel. We shall spend the remainder of the day birding within the sanctuary.

Birds to look for here are Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Grey-crowned Crane, African Darter, Hammerkop, Rufous-bellied Heron, African Fish Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Wattled Lapwing, Crested Francolin, Giant Kingfisher, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Sooty Falcon, Brown Parrot, Broad-billed Roller, Speckled Mousebird, Ross's and White-crested Turaco, Red-headed Bluebill, Cardinal Woodpecker, African Green Pigeon, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Dusky Tit, Northern Crombec, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver and Bronze-tailed Starling. Night at Amuka Safari Lodge

Day 5 Rhino tracking and birding. Afternoon transfer to Murchison Falls National Park

We shall spend the morning birding and rhino tracking. Although Northern White Rhino is now extinct in the wild (with only two surviving females in captivity in Kenya), Uganda has begun an introduction programme of Southern White Rhinos to fill this ecological gap and we have a good chance of seeing some of these magnificent animals.

In the afternoon, we transfer to Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest National Park, which protects a vast area of untamed savannah bisected by the mighty River Nile. The park is named after the dramatic Murchison Falls where the world’s longest river pours through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below.

The park also boasts of 76 mammal species including Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Hippopotamus, Rothschild's Giraffe (a subspecies of Northern Giraffe), Cape Buffalo and Hartebeest. Night at Pakuba Safari Lodge

Day 6 Murchison Falls National Park

We shall spend the day in the Murchison Falls National Park covering an array of different habitats as well as enjoying two boat cruises. The first of these will take us to the base of the Murchison Falls, which is considered to be amongst the most powerful waterfalls in the world.

This stretch of river also provides multiple birding opportunities with possibilities including Rock Pratincole, White-fronted Plover and Purple Swamphen.

The second boat trip will have us exploring the delta of the river as it drains into Lake Albert. This stretch is rather long but definitely worthwhile as it provides opportunities for finding Saddle-billed Stork, Red-winged Grey Warbler and also more chances for Shoebill.

Other birds in this area also include Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Double-toothed Barbet, Marsh Tchagra, Piapiac, Carruthers's Cisticola, Violet-backed Starling and Silverbird. Night at Pakuba Safari Lodge

Day 7 Birding to Budongo Forest

We will depart from our accommodation after breakfast for the relatively short drive to Bundongo Forest where we shall spend the rest of the day. This is an area of moist, semi-deciduous tropical rainforest located at the top of the Albertine Rift.

Over 450 species have been found here so we shall have a lot to look for including Great Blue Turaco, Grey-crowned Crane, Senegal Lapwing, Abdim's Stork, Grasshopper Buzzard, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, White-thighed Hornbill, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Broad-billed Roller, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Itur Batis, Brubru, Black-headed Gonolek, Mosque Swallow, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Puvel's Illadopsis, Fire-crested Alethe, Beautiful Sunbird, Northern Red Bishop, Pin-tailed Whydah and Cabanis's Bunting. Night at Masindi Hotel

Day 8 Birding the Royal Mile, Budongo Forest

The whole of today shall be spent birding at Budongo’s famous "Royal Mile". This is a wide forestry track which is widely considered to be one of the country’s premier forest birding localities. This is the best place in Uganda for Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, however, there are plenty of other species to look for including many lookalike forest greenbuls to test our identification skills including Spotted, Xavier’s, White-throated, Red-tailed and Honeyguide Greenbuls.

Canopy flocks could include Yellow-mantled Weaver and Uganda Woodland Warbler and the undergrowth along the track holds numerous skulkers including Scaly-breasted, Brown and Pale-breasted Illadopses, Fire-crested Alethe, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Yellow Longbill and Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher.

We will need keep an eye on any openings in the forest canopy for species such as Cassin’s and Crowned Hawk-eagles, with other possibilities including Cassin’s and Sabine’s Spinetails and White-throated Bee-eater.

The area around the Park Headquarters is the only site in East Africa for the elusive canopy dwelling Ituri Batis and we will certainly aim to try and see this species during our visit. Second night at Masindi Hotel

Days 9 Birding to Kibale

Kibale Forest National Park is widely considered the best destination for chimpanzee tracking in East Africa and the park contains one of the nicest and most varied tracts of all tropical forests in Uganda. Once we arrive at our lodge, we shall spend our time birding within its vicinity.

Birds we could see include Yellow-billed Duck, Crested Guineafowl, Red-necked Francolin, Rameron Pigeon, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Senegal Coucal, Blue Malkoha, Horus Swift, African Spoonbill, Palm-nut Vulture, Cardinal Woodpecker, Grey Kestrel, Papyrus Gonolek, African Paradise Flycatcher, Western Nicator, Red-faced Cisticola, White-headed Saw-wing, Toro Olive Greenbul, Brown Illadopsis and Black-billed Seedcracker. Night at Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Day 10 Chimpanzee tracking and birding

We plan to spend the morning tracking Chimpanzees, while the afternoon will be spent birding within the park and just outside at the nearby Bigodi Wetland.

There are approximately 1,450 chimpanzees within this national park and these represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. There are also another dozen species of primates including the rare L’Hoest’s Monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened Red Colobus. Other mammals we could see here also include Forest and Savannah Elephants, Olive Baboon, Blue-Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, Uganda Mangabey, Vervet Monkey and Blue Duiker.

Key birds found in this area include Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, White-spotted Flufftail, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Crowned Eagle, Green-breasted and African Pittas, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Yellow-billed Barbet, Abyssinian and Black-eared Ground-Thrushes, Black-capped and Collared Apalis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator, Little Greenbul and Black-chested Alethe. Second night at Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Day 11 Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Named after Queen Elizabeth II, who visited in 1954, this is the second largest national park in Uganda and it boasts the highest biodiversity of any game reserve in the region due to of a variety of habitats such as open savanna, rainforest, dense papyrus swamps, crater lakes and the vast Lake Edward.

The park is home to almost 100 mammal species and a remarkable 612 bird species making it a superb safari destination with elephants, a profusion of hippos, the elusive Giant Forest Hog and the beautiful Ugandan Kob which are all regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula.

This also boasts a marvellous waterfront setting in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains and there are plenty of birds we shall make an effort to see including Pink-backed Pelican, Martial Eagle, African Broadbill, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Swamp Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek and Chapin's Flycatcher. Night at Enganzi Lodge

Day 12 Whole day birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park

There will be a morning game drive searching for Lion, African Elephant, Buffalo, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Warthog and many more bird species including Collared Pratincole, Temminck’s Courser and Kittlitz's Plover.

After lunch, we shall take a boat trip along the Kazinga Channel. The trip is one of the most exciting water activities in Uganda since the channel is a narrow neck of water that connects Lakes George and Edward, with excellent photographic opportunities for waterside birds and abundant Hippopotamuses, huge families of buffalos, elephants and the possibility of many birds such as Long-tailed Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher, African Skimmer and Red-throated Bee-eater. Second night at Enganzi Lodge

Day 13 Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

Today, we shall drive to Lake Mburo National Park. Though much of the day will be spent travelling, we shall stop at selected locations en route to do some birding.

We expect to arrive in the park during the afternoon, and we shall spend the rest of the day birding where we shall start looking for some of our target species. Species could include Scaly Francolin, Afep Pigeon, Denhams's Bustard, Eastern Plantain-eater, Dideric Cuckoo, White-spotted Flufftail, Lesser Moorhen, Long-toed Lapwing, Kittlitz's Plover, African Darter, Black Heron, Lappet-faced Vulture, Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle, Forest Woodhoopoe, Black Scimitarbill, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Grey Parrot, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Jameson's Wattle-eye, Lühder's Bushshrike, Turkestan Shrike, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, African Penduline Tit, Green Crombec, Moustached Grass-Warbler, Green-backed Eremomela, Banded Prinia, Papyrus Yellow-Warbler and Eastern Mountain Greenbul. Night at Rwakobo Rock Lodge

Day 14 Full day in Lake Mburo National Park

We start the day with a boat cruise on Lake Mburo where one of the species we will be particularly keen to find is the elusive African Finfoot with other possibilities including Red-headed Weaver and Spot-flanked Barbet.

We will have an afternoon game drive in the park looking for bird specialities including the rather localised Red-faced Barbet. Other species we may see include Grey-crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Nubian Woodpecker, Common Scimitarbill, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Ross’s Turaco, Green Woodhoopoe, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Red-headed Lovebird, Brown Parrot, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-headed Barbet and White-winged Tit. Second night at Rwakobo Rock Lodge

Day 15 Drive back to Entebbe for the evening flight

Those finishing the tour will head to the airport for the return flight to the UK whilst those booked on the post-tour extension will continue on to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Day 16 Arrival in UK


EXTENSION

Day 16 Gorilla tracking

We shall assemble at the Park Offices in the morning for a briefing prior to setting off on our gorilla trek. Our search for these gentle giants can take anything from one to eight hours of walking in the wilderness and this can, therefore, require a good degree of physical fitness and stamina. It is, however, a truly wonderful experience to stare into the eyes of these amazing creatures and watch as they go about their daily activities.

Seeing Eastern 'Mountain' Gorilla is unquestionably a “once in a lifetime” experience that you will never forget and each encounter is different and has its own rewards. You are likely to enjoy close views of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.

Depending on how long the gorilla tracking takes, we shall spend our remaining time birding in the park looking for species such as the restricted range Neumann's Warbler, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Regal Sunbird, Shelley's Crimsonwing, Rwenzori Nightjar, Black-billed Turaco, Grauer's Broadbill, Black-tailed Oriole and Doherty's Bushshrike. Night at Ride 4 A Woman Hotel

(Night at Ride 4 A Woman Hotel is run by a charitable organisation set up to support women struggling with poverty, HIV and domestic violence).

Day 17 Drive to Mabamba Swamp

We shall keep an eye out for any species we might have missed as we drive out of the park on our way to Mabamba. Night in Nkima Lodge

Day 18 Mabamba Swamp to Entebbe

We shall spend the morning at the Mabamba Swamp where we shall have another chance to see the Shoebill. Other species we could see Goliath Heron, Black Egret, Lesser Jacana, Papyrus Gonolek, Orange Weaver, Black Crake and Black-faced Rufous Warbler.

After lunch we shall head back to Entebbe Airport for the flight home.

Day 19 Arrive UK

The extension costs £2,495 per person (twin sharing) with a single supplement of £395.

This includes:

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • Three nights accommodation in comfortable hotels and lodges
  • Meals from dinner on day 15 until lunch on day 18
  • One Gorilla permit per person (US$700)
  • Ground transportation
  • Reserve and Park entry fees, all tour-based tips (including drivers, local guides) and taxes

Please ensure you read the important information in the "Trip Info" tab about both the main tour and extension.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Uganda is typically warm or hot, dry and sunny but overcast conditions are fairly frequent as is some rain. At the higher altitudes, temperatures range from cool to warm.

Excellent photo opportunities including birds, mammals and some stunning scenery.

BIRDS
300-350 species

MAMMALS
60-100 species

ACCOMMODATION
14 nights accommodation in Uganda, staying at a selection of good to excellent hotels and lodges.

Like much of East Africa, unfortunately, the price of accommodation in Uganda is disproportionately high for the quality that is on offer. Whilst we naturally use good quality hotels and lodges with private facilities, nevertheless, it will be important to appreciate that this may not be of an equivalent quality as on almost all of our other holidays.

MEALS
All main meals are included in the tour price, commencing with lunch in Uganda on Day 2 and concluding with lunch on our way back to Entebbe on Day 15 (or Day 18 for those on the extension).

Food is good to excellent in Uganda, with most main meals being taken at our lodgings and lunches either as picnics in the field or at the lodges.

WALKING
The walking effort during is mostly easy, but occasionally moderate.

Sturdy but comfortable walking shoes or lightweight boots with rugged, corrugated soles are advised.

For the Gorilla Tracking at Bwindi the gorillas are usually located within an hour or so, involving easy to moderate hiking. However, it can, on very rare occasions, take up to three hours of more strenuous hiking to find them and ultimately there is no guarantees of success as they are, of course, wild animals.

KIBALE AND THE CHIMPANZEES

Our tour price includes the permit for chimpanzee tracking at Kibale (currently US$200). Whilst we may be fortunate and see the chimps when we are birding there, views are likely to be brief and it is strictly forbidden for visitors to follow the animals without the requisite permit. We, therefore, believe that including this is in the tour price is appropriate as it is likely to be one of the major highlights for many people booking this holiday.

IMPENETRABLE FOREST AND GORILLAS

Unlike some tour companies, the price of our extension to the Impenetrable Forest at Bwindi includes the cost of the gorilla permit (currently US$700). The local trackers generally know where to find the gorillas and they are usually located within about an hour and this is likely to be a moderate hike. Occasionally, however, it can be significantly more demanding and those booking the extension need to appreciate this and be prepared for a demanding walk (albeit with assistance from the local porters and rangers) with no guarantee of success.

Note: should the price of the permits to track the chimpanzees and gorillas be increased by the government, we reserve the right to pass on any increase on our final invoice. It is important to appreciate that both the chimps and gorillas are wild animals and whilst there is good chance of seeing them, there is no guarantee or refund should you be unsuccessful.

Our ground agent can only apply for the gorilla permits once we have reached minimum numbers for the extension to go ahead (a minimum of four clients). Should this not be reached then the extension will regrettably have to be cancelled.

Maximum elevation this tour: 2000m.

TRAVEL

Despite the end of many pandemic restrictions, it is still proving extremely difficult to predict future flight prices and schedules. As a result, we have taken the decision to continue to price our holidays as excluding international flights.

To keep the process as simple as possible, we are working very closely with a dedicated agent at Travel Counsellors, Sacha Barbato, who is essentially now our “in house” flight consultant.

Sacha will be able to advise you which flights we are recommending for each holiday, and he will be able to book these for you.

This will also sometimes give you the option to travel from a regional airport if you prefer.

Ground Transport We shall use minibuses.

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    Classic Uganda

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