Africa… the way it should be
Birding in the Albertine Rift, Uganda May 29 – June 10, 2019
Uganda is a land of beauty and variety. In half a day you can drive from mist-shrouded volcanic mountains to hot hazy savannah, dappled with wildlife. Serene undulating hills of tea plantations, lush but ordered, give way to tangled jungle and rainforest with the musical accompaniment of chaotic, cacophonous birdlife. Uganda is alive with these contrasts: The tiniest sunbirds, iridescent in the morning light, the massive lumbering yet silent elephant, disappearing like a vapor behind the trees,
the chimpanzees crashing about the forest canopy, the lugubrious gorilla, chewing thoughtfully in the bamboo thicket. There’s the Nile, twisting its way north like a shimmering ribbon, through arid semi-desert scattered about with rocky kopjes. Snow-capped peaks, tropical, sandy, freshwater beaches, amazing birds and smiling faces everywhere. It’s all here, a feast for all the senses.
This trip will focus on the birds of the Albertine Rift in western Uganda. There are over 1000 species of birds in Uganda, dozens of which are endemic. We will visit this avian paradise during the richest breeding season, in June. During this time all birds show their wildest colors and sing their prettiest songs. Their activity levels are extreme as they try to impress potential mates and built their nests. We will travel in style with a local dedicated birding expert who will take us to all the secret places to maximize our viewing. In our 12 days in Uganda we might expect to see over 500 bird species, including many of the hard-to-find endemics.
Day 1; May 29; Arrival Entebbe Airport
Upon your arrival at Entebbe international Airport, you will be met by your driver who will assist you with your luggage and transfer you to your hotel. Overnight at Airport Guest House
Day 2; May 30; Fly to Kibale National Park
After breakfast, your guide will transfer you to Entebbe International Airport for your flight to Kasese.
Our guide will meet us on arrival and drive to Kibale National Park, while birding along the way. Check into our lodge, then drive to the Magombe/Mabamba Swamp. The swamp is an excellent place to find some of the endemics birds to this habitat such as Marsh Tchagra, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler; other distinct possibilities are White-spotted Flufftail, and Blue-headed Coucal, Yellow-billed Barbet and Scaly-throated Honeyguide. Kibale birds include Crested Guineafowl, Afep Pigeon, White-napped Pigeon, Grey-winged Robin, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, Green-breasted Pitta, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Joyful Greenbul, Cabanis Greenbul, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Lowland Masked Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, Tiny Sunbird, White-collared Oliveback.
Overnight at Primate Lodge
Day 3; June 1; Whole day Chimpanzee tracking and birding in the forest
After breakfast, prepare to report to the ranger station in Kibale National Park at 8.00am to track habituated chimps – these delightful apes, more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees, among a network of shady forest paths in light terrain. The elusive Forest Elephant, a smaller version of his large savannah cousin, moves seasonally into the developed part of the park. During chimp-tracking look out for African and Green- breasted Pittas. We’ll spend the day in the forest, looking for other specialties such as the Grey Parrot, Blue Malkoha, Klaas’s Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Sabine’s Spinetail, Narina Trogon, Speckled Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Grey-throated Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Cassin’s Honeybird, Willcocks’s Honeyguide, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Elliot’s Woodpecker, African Shrike-flycatcher, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Bocage’s Bushshrike, Luehder’s Bushshrike, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Western Oriole, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Dusky Tit, Western Nicator, Honeyguide Greenbul, Cabanis’s Also, this forest is home to 13 primate species of primates including the Uganda Mangabey, Ugandan Red colobus, L'Hoest's Monkey, Black Colobus and the Blue Monkey and Chimpanzees.
Overnight at Primate Lodge
Day 4; June 2; Transfer to Semliki National Park
Drive to Semliki Safari Lodge, check in at our lodge then head out for the whole day birding in the forest. Semliki is known for its most sought-after rarities and these include Congo Serpent Eagle, Black-throated Coucal, Grey-throated Rail, Nkulengu Rail, Long-tailed Hawk, Spot-breasted Ibis, Capuchin-babbler, Yellow-throated Nicator, Northern Beaded Scrub-robin, Red-chested Owlet, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Black-collared Lovebird, White-bellied Kingfisher, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Zenker’s Honeyguide, White-throated Blue Swallow, Bate’s Nightjar, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Black-winged Oriole, Red-billed Helmeted Shrike, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Icterine Greenbul, Swamp-palm Greenbul, Crested Malimbe, Blue- billed malimbe, Fiery-breasted Bush-shrike, Pale-fronted Nigrita, and Piping, Red-billed Dwarf, White-crested, Black-casqued Watled and White-thighed hornbills; and the Pale-fronted Negrofinch.
After dinner we’ll go out for a night game-drive will give us the chance to see unusual nocturnal species. Sometimes the big cats (lions and leopards) are sighted as well as the diminutive genet and serval cats. Unusual nocturnal dwellers also show themselves such as forest elephants, white-tailed mongoose and slender mongoose, and standard and pennant winged night. There are always surprises on the night drives. Overnight at Semliki Safari Lodge
Day 5; June 3; Semliki National Park
An early morning rise, with coffee delivered to our tents, a good breakfast, then depart on a boat triponLake Albert to look for the rare shoebill, visually a cross between a dodo and a dinosaur. The lake is superb: there are sand cliffs where brightly colored colonies of red-throated bee-eaters dart in and out of their burrows, and there are several traditional fishing villages along the way. Then drive back to the Lodge through the borassus palm forest and the acacia savannah revealing different species of raptors and passerines. After dinner we’ll go out owling on foot into the forest to look for White-faced Scops Owl, Pel’s Fishing Owl, and the rare Bate’s Nightjar.
Overnight at Semliki Safari Lodge
Day 6; June 4; Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Drive southwards to Rwenzori National Park. The Rwenzori mountains host most of the Albertine rift endemics and Key Bird species. We’ll hike, looking for Rwenzori turaco, Handsome francolin, Montanne (Rwenzori) night jar, Dwarf honey guide, Red throated alethe, Kivu ground thrush, Stripe breasted tit, Barrel long tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori batis, Grey winged, Evergreen forest and Bamboo warbler, Lagden’s bush shrike, Montane sooty boubou, Golden-winged, Scarlet-tufted and Malachite sunbirds, Red faced crimson-wing, Oriole finch, Western green tinker bird, Montane masked apalis, Long eared owl and Olive woodpecker. Overnight at Equator Snow Lodge.
Day 7; June 5; Rwenzori Mountains National Park
After an early breakfast, head out for full day of birding and hiking in Rwenzori National park. Among the Key Bird species during our hike will be Rwenzori turaco, Handsome francoline, Montanne (rwenzori night jar), Dwarf honey guide, Red throated alethe, Kivu ground thrush, Regal and Purple breasted ground thrush, Stripe breasted tit, Barred long tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori batis, Grey winged, Evergreen forest and Bamboo warbler, Lagdens bush shrike, Montane sooty boubou, Golden-winged and Scarlet tuft malachite sunbirds, White collored olive-back, Red faced crimson-wing, Oriole finch, Western green tinker bird, Montane masked and Collored apalises, Long eared owl, and Olive woodpecker.
Overnight at Equator Snow Lodge.
Day 8; June 6; Mgahinga National Park
This morning after breakfast, we will be transferred to Kisoro while birding along the way. Papyrus areas at Lake Bunyonyi out-flow and Echuya forest hide some Albertine rift endemics. Birds in Echuya forest include; Dwarf Honeyguide, Red-throated Alethe, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Collared Apalis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Strip-breasted Tit, Regal Sunbird, Strange Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver, Strange Weaver.
Mgahinga gorilla national park is home to over 180 bird species recorded including some favorite Albertine rift endemics. This park with beautiful montane vegetation will reward us with more than birding. This is the smallest national park in Uganda and was predominately protected to conserve the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Overnight at Kisoro Travelers Rest Camp
Day 9; June 7; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
This morning after an early breakfast, we’ll drive to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Special birds in Bwindi include some Albertine Rift endemics. Targets are Handsome Francolin, Mountain Buzzard, Ayres’ Hawk-eagle, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Green Broadbill*, African Wood-owl, Red-chested Owlet, Rwenzori Nightjar*, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Black Bee-eater, African Broadbill, Western Green Tinkerbird, Black-billed Turaco, Ruwenzori Turaco*, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Elliot’s Woodpecker, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Archer’s Ground-robin, Equatorial Akalat, Kivu Ground-thrush, , White tailed Ant-thrush, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Lagden's Bush-shrike, Pettit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Mackinnon's Shrike, Pink-footed Puffback, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, , Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer's Warbler*, Banded Prinia, Black-faced Apalis*, Black-throated Apalis, Red-throated Alethe*, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher*, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Black and white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Mountain Illadopsis, , Dusky Tit, Blue-throated Sunbird*, Blue-headed Sunbird, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Mountain Oriole, African Golden Oriole, Strange Weaver, Shelly’s crimson-wing, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Magpie Manikin, Yellow-crowned Canary,
Overnight at Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
Day 10; June 8; Ruhija-Mubwindi swamp
The 4 km to Mubwindi Swamp drops from 7000’ to 6700’ and is the best place for some of the difficult to find Albertine Rift Endemics. We’ll spend the day here, and in the Bwindi Forest. Look for Grauer’s (African green) Broadbill, Regal sunbird, Archer’s Robin-chat, Dwarf Honey-guide, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Apalis, African Hill-babbler, the rare and localised Grauer’s Swamp-warbler, Caruthers’s Cisticola, Dusky Crimson-wing, Shelley’s Crimson-wing, as well as some difficult to see species such as Fraser’s Eagle Owl, Black Sparrowhawk, Neumann’s Warbler, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird and Red-throated Alethe. We should also come across Mountain-masked Apalis, Rwenzori Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Carruther’s Cisticola, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Purple-breasted and Blue-headed sunbirds, Eastern Mountain Greenbull, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Strange Weaver, Black-headed (Kandt’s) Waxbill, Bar-tailed Trogon, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Waller’s starling, Luehder’s Bush-shrike, Doherty’s Bushshrike, Yellow-crowned Canary, Handsome Francolin and Montane Nightjar.
Overnight at Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge F/B
Day 11; June 9; Lake Mburo National Park
Morning birding around Mgahinga, then after lunch drive to Lake Mburo National Park, a lovely park dominated by the lake. Late this afternoon we’ll take a boat out onto the lake to look for final water species. Before dinner we’ll do a night drive to look for special nocturnal animals and birds.
Overnight at Rwakobo Rock Lodge
Day 12; June 10; Entebbe
After breakfast, drive 5 hours to Entebbe for our flights home, with a photo-op stop at the Equator.
 Albertine Details