20 days Rwanda and Uganda birding tour and wildlife safari

The 20 day Rwanda and Uganda birding tour and wildlife safari was designed to provide a wide diversity of birds and mammals. Rwanda’s montane forests will provide most of the Abertine rift endemic birds and mammals such the Gorillas and Golden monkeys while Uganda’s lowland and montane rainforests, savanna grasslands, and water habitats shall produce a wide variety of specialties and biome restricted species, and many animals. We use a different tour guide for Rwanda and Uganda as we believe that each guide is more experienced and very knowledgeable about each of their parent countries, not only about the birds and wildlife but also the local people, cultures and languages.

Day 1 – Arrival in Kigali

Arrival at the Kigali International Airport, our Rwandan birding tour guide shall receive you and drive you to your hotel in Kigali City to relax off the jetlag. Later you will head out for a leisurely tour/drive around Kigali, visit the Genocide Memorial, and later head to the Golf Course and bird around Lake Nyarutarama recording some local species. Drive back to the hotel for overnight.

Day 2 – Transfer to Nyungwe with an afternoon canopy walk experience

Wake up early and head southwest to Nyungwe Forest National Park. We will stopover in Huye town for lunch. After settling in at the lodge we will go out for the canopy walk experience in Nyungwe forest. The walkway offers breathtaking views over the biggest and oldest patch of montane forest in East Africa, and sightings of elusive canopy wildlife including monkeys and birds.

Day 3 – Birding in Nyungwe forest

A day spent in Nyungwe forest to find the Albertine rift endemic birds. Nyungwe is home to over 300 bird species including 27 Albertine rift endemics. Most of the Albertine rift endemics are easier to find in Rwanda than in Uganda and the Nyungwe Forest Park will provide our highest recordings. We will bird along the Karamba trail which will also bring us to views of several primates. We then continue down to the Kamiranzovu Marsh which is rich in swamp birds and we will look out for the Grauer’s Rush-warbler.

Day 4 – Birding in Nyungwe Forest

Another day in Nyungwe forest, we will explore the higher zones. 4 km from Uwinka we will embark on the trek along the 6.7km Bigugu trail to the park’s highest point at Mt. Bigugu (2,950m). The trail shall produce high-altitude related species including the Red-collared Mountain Babbler.

Day 5 – Nyungwe to Kibuye

After breakfast we shall depart for Kibuye birding along the way and enjoying the wonderful scenery along the Congo – Nile trail.

Day 6 – Birding in Kibuye Gishwati – Mukura Forest National and travel to Volcanoes National Park

We will drive to the nearby Mukura forest which is part of the newly formed Gishwati – Mukura National Park. Some 18 Albertine Rift endemic species have been recorded here. We will spend a better part of the day birding in the forest before continuing north to Volcanoes National Park.

Day 7 – Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas, and the most popular tour in the park is the memorable Mountain Gorilla trek. We will have breakfast by 7.00am and transfer to the park office at Kinigi for the allocation of the habituated Gorilla groups and thereafter head to the park to track the Gorillas against a stunning backdrop of the Virunga Volcanoes. The time taken to find the Gorillas can be unpredictable and could be a few minutes or several hours to be able to catch up with Gorillas that are moving. The rough mountain terrain also renders a slow and difficult trek. Yet we will have only one hour to be with these incredible apes!

Day 8 – Morning Golden Monkey trek and transfer to Uganda’s Bwindi National Park

The beautiful Golden Monkeys are endemic to the Virunga Mountain range and two troops have been habituated for tourism. The Golden Monkey trek is easier than the Gorilla because the monkeys stay in the base of the mountains inhabiting the bamboo forests. We will report to the park office at 7am to meet the rangers and transfer to the Sabinyo volcano to track the larger habituated troop with more than 100 members. The monkeys can be found in less than an hour and a maximum one hour will be spent with them.

We will return to the lodge for early lunch, thereafter checkout and leave for the border crossing with Uganda and here our Ugandan birding tour guide shall take charge of the trip. We shall cross into Uganda and drive to the Ruhija section of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Day 9 – Birding in Bwindi Forest for the Grauer’s Broadbill

Bwindi Forest National Park is the number one birding spot in Africa according the African Birding Club. The most sought-after bird is the rare Grauer’s Broadbill, an Albertine Rift Endemic that is a resident of Ruhija. We will set out early spend the day birding in Ruhija.

Day 10 – Birding to Lake Bunyonyi

After early breakfast we will check out of the lodge and leave for Lake Bunyonyi while birding along the main road out of Bwindi Forest. Relax away the afternoon at stunning Lake Bunyonyi and enjoy a canoe ride. The name “Bunyonyi” loosely translates “many birds” arising from the many birds in the area. Southwestern Uganda shares most of the bird species with northern Rwanda as you shall observe.

Day 11 – Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast we will head north to Queen Elizabeth National Park stopping a number of times along the way to watch birds.

Day 12 – Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts a huge bird list of over 568 species. We will set out at 6am and bird the Mweya Peninsula. After lunch we will head out for the 2pm boat ride on the Kazinga Channel that will expose us to a cocktail of birds and animals along the channel.

Day 13 – Morning Birding and travel to Kibale Forest National Park

We will set out to the vast Kasenyi plains that are rich with savanna species and plenty of big game. Enjoy the stunning views of the crater lakes. After lunch we will head west to Kibale Forest National Park.

Day 14 – Birding and Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest

Kibale Forest National Park, popular for primates, is often referred to as the primate capital of the world hosting the highest concentration of primates that also includes Uganda’s largest population of Chimpanzees. With over 335 bird species Kibale is also a prime forest birding destination in Uganda. We will bird for the Green-breasted Pitta and other species. In the afternoon we will join the Chimp trek in Kibale Forest  and enjoy an encounter with man’s closest relative.

Day 15 – Birding to Budongo Forest

Early depart northwards to Budongo forest, driving along the verdant Albertine rift escarpment and country side. We will have stopovers for birding, and lunch in Hoima. Late arrival at Kaniyo Pabidi in Budongo Forest Reserve.

Day 16 – Birding in Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is the largest forest in East Africa. It has a prolific birdlife: 10 of the 22 species of Sudan – Guinea Savanna biome, and 93 of the 144 species of the Guinea – Congo forests biome that occur in Uganda. We will bird along the famous Royal Mile that will provide plenty of the species.

Day 17 – Morning birdin in Budongo Forest and transfer to the north of Murchison Falls Park

We will bird at the Kaniyo Pabidi area of Budgongo for the better part of the day. Kaniyo Pabidi offers the best chance at recording the Puvel’s Illadopsis in Budongo forest. In the late afternoon we will bird our way to Paraa on the northern banks of the Nile and spend the overnight.

Day 18 – Birding and wildlife safari in Murchison Falls National Park

We will head out to the northern bank of the Nile and bird through the savanna grasslands for savanna species and at the Lake Albert delta area for water birds. This is also the side of the Murchison with most of the animals including Lions, Giraffes, Buffaloes, and Antelopes among others. At 2pm we shall go for the Launch Cruise down the Nile to the base of the spectacular Murchison Falls. There is plenty of birds and animals along the banks.

Day 19 – Morning birding in Murchison Falls Park and travel to  to Entebbe

We will go for another morning birding in the park before checking out and head back to Entebbe via Kampala

Day 20 – Morning birding for the Shoebill at Mabamba Swamp and evening flight

A birding tour in Uganda without the Shoebill, the number one bird, seems incomplete! Early wake up and we head to the nearby Mabamba swamp which is known to offer the best chance of spotting this bird. The wetland is home to several papyrus specialties and species of the Lake Vicotria biome. We shall return for lunch and transfer to the airport for your flight back home.


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