24 days Uganda and Rwanda birding and wildlife tour

This 24 day Uganda and Rwanda birding tour covers mostly forest habitats but also includes savanna and wetland habitats to increase your diversity of birds and other wildlife.

Tour itinerary

Day 1 –Arrival in Uganda, overnight at Nkima lodge near Mabamba Swamp

Arrive in Uganda meet your bird guide and driver and transfer to Nkima Forest Lodge overlooking Mabamba Wetland which is set to be your first birding destination in Uganda.

Depending on the time of arrival you may do some birding

Day 2 – birding in Mabamba Swamp and transfer to Jinja

After early breakfast you shall go birding in Mabamba Swamp, a Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area (IBA). About 260 bird species have been recorded at the Mabamba wetland, of which include several globally threatened species, 7 out of the 12 Lake Victoria biome restricted species in Uganda and many wetland species. You shall explore the wetland in a motorized canoe and top on the list of birds to see at Mabamba is the iconic Shoebill. Mabamba offers the best chance to see the Shoebill and therefore a must visit on your Uganda birding trip. Other birds to look out for include the Paypyrus Gonolek, African Jacana.

You will return to the lodge for lunch and then head to Jinja for the overnight.

Day 3 – birding in Mabira forest and overnight in Jinja

After early breakfast you shall go for a full day of birding in Mabira Forest Reserve. Mabira forest is the largest forest in central of Uganda. The forest is a haven for forest birds in central Uganda which has lost most of the forest cover. About 316 bird species have been recorded in Mabira forest and offers the best sightings of many forest specials. Some of the birds to look out for in Mabira forest include; African Grey Parrots, Narina Tragon, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Black-billed Turaco, Green-tailed Bristlebill

Day 4 – Transfer to Masindi

Today you shall transfer to Masindi town near Budongo forest for the overnight.

Optional

You can do a morning boat excursion at the Source of the Nile before departure to Masindi

Day 5 – birding on the royal mile in Budongo Forest

Today you shall go birding in Budongo Forest, the biggest forest in East Africa. Budongo forest has over 360 bird species which include many species of the Guinea – Congo biome. You will spend the day on the “Royal Mile” the main birding trail in Budongo forest and one of the most popular birding trails in Uganda. Among the top birds to look out for is the Puvel’s Illadopsis which does not occur anywhere else in East Africa. Some of the other key birds include: Ituri Batis, Black-eared Groundthrush, Pygmy Crake, Yellow-footed Flycatcher, White-thighed Hornhill, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, etc…

Day 6 – Birding in Kaniyo Pabidi area of Budongo Forest and overnight in Murchison Falls National Park, night safari

Today you shall go birding in Kaniyo Pabidi area of Budongo forest which is located inside Murchison Falls National Park. This marks the start of your birding in Uganda’s biggest park. You will spend the morning in Kaniyo Pabidi which could give you a better chance at some specials which you may have missed on the Royal Mile. For instance, the Puvel’s Illadopsis tends to be sighted here many times.

Later you will continue northwards towards the more savanna grassland dominated area of Murchison Falls National Park for an evening birding and safari. You will visit the top of the Murchison Falls and witness the entire Nile squeezing through a small gap between the rocks and exploding into such a spectacle!

Day 7 – Morning delta boat ride and afternoon safari

Today you shall take a morning boat ride on the River Nile to the Lake Albert delta. This stretch of the Nile and the delta area offers plenty of wetland birds. The delta is another good spot for spotting the Shoebill in Uganda, and if you missed it at Mabamba swamp this is yet another chance.

After lunch you shall go for an afternoon game drive in the savanna grassland to see a variety of game and birds.

You will do a night safari to look for nocturnal species such as the nightjars

Day 8 – Birding via Butiaba escarpment and transfer back to Masindi

Today you will bird along the scenic Butiaba escarpment on the way back to Masindi. The Foxy Cisticola is one of the specials to look out for.

Day 9 – transfer to Kibale National Park

Today you shall travel to Kibale National Park

Day 10 – Birding in Kibale forest

Early rise and head off for birding in Kibale Forest National Park. About 375 bird species have recorded in Kibale forest.  Early start increases your chance to record the elusive Blue-breasted Pitta which is the most sought after bird in Kibale National Park.

Day 11 – Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale and birding in Bigodi wetlands

Today you shall do the chimpanzee trekking adventure in Kibale Forest National Park. Kibale national park has a population of about 1500 chimps, the highest number of any park in Uganda. About three groups have been habituated for the chimpanzee tracking adventure. The chimpanzee tour in Kibale starts with briefing at 7am and thereafter set off on a trek to find the chimps and enjoy a memorable encounter with them. A maximum of 1 hour is allowed to be with the chimps.

After the chimps tour you shall return to the lodge for lunch and thereafter head out for birding in the Bigodi wetlands.

Day 12 – Transfer to Bwindi National Park/Buhoma

After breakfast you shall transfer to Bwindi national Park and overnight in the Buhoma sector of the park.

Day 13 – Birding in Bwindi National Park, Buhoma sector

Today you shall you will set off for birding in Bwindi National Park. Bwindi National Park is the number one birding spot in Africa, according to the Africa Bird Club. The park hosts 24 out of the 25 Albertine rift endemic species in Uganda. Today shall bird in Buhoma sector that will provide some Albertine rift endemics and several forest species.

Day 14 – Gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park

Today you shall do the ultimate gorilla trekking adventure in Bwindi National Park. Bwindi National Park is home to half of the remaining population of the mountain gorillas. You shall transfer to the park office to meet the park guides for briefing and assigning of the gorilla groups before heading out into the forest to track your habituated gorilla group. After gorilla experience you shall spend the time relaxing away at the lodge.

Day 15 – Birding the neck and transfer to Ruhija

Today you shall depart from the Buhoma sector of Bwindi and go birding along the neck of the forest as you transfer to the Ruhija sector of Bwindi.

Day 16 – Birding in Ruhija – Mubwindi Swamp

Today you shall go birding in the Mubwindi Swamp to look for the African Green Broadbill, one of the most sought after Albertine rift endemics. Mubwindi Swamp is known to provide the highest chances of sighting this elusive bird.

Day 17 – Transfer to Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast you shall transfer to Volcanoes national Park in Rwanda.

After lunch you may go for some birding in the outskirts of Musanze district, either in Buhanga forest or Mukungwa wetlands.

Day 18 – birding in Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast you shall set off at 7am for birding in Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes National Park is home about 200 species including 15 Albertine rift endemics. You will trek along the Lake Ngezi trail on Mount Bisoke going through bamboo and hagenia forest, recording a number of endemics and mountain species. Lake Ngezi could also provide some high altitude water species.  You stand a chance of encountering the gorillas along the trail however you can’t see them for long neither are you allowed to take pictures which is a privilege of only those doing the gorilla trekking tour.

Day 19 – Optional golden monkey tracking and transfer to Nyungwe national park

After breakfast you shall check out and transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park in southern Rwanda. You will drive along the beautiful Lake Kivu and occasionally make stops to take in the breathtaking scenery.

Optional:

Before leaving from Nyungwe, you can do the golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes national park. The incredibly attractive golden monkeys are endemic to the Albertine rift valley and they live in the bamboo forests at the base of the volcanoes. Large troops have been habituated for the tracking tours and they monkeys offer an exciting adventure. Since they live at the base of the mountain the trekking is not difficult and the monkeys are easily found. A maximum of one how is permitted to stay with the monkeys.

Day 20 – Birding in Nyungwe National Park

Today you shall set out for birding in Nyungwe National Park. Nyungwe forest is a mountain forest that has existed since the ice age, thereby harboring so many unique species. About 300 species of birds have located in Nyungwe and of these include a whooping 27 Albertine rift endemics the highest number of any park in the Albertine rift valley. Nyungwe is therefore arguably the best park for the Albertine endemic birds. Nyungwe also boasts of a big number of primates, with 13 species recorded, and therefore expect to encounter several species of monkeys along the birding trails.

You will take on a trail the Kimiranzovu trail

Day 21 – Birding in Nyungwe National Park

Today is another day of birding in Nyungwe National Park

Day 22 – Birding in Nyungwe National Park

This is yet another day in Nyungwe National Park

Day 23 – canopy walk in Nyungwe national park and transfer to Kigali

Today you shall go for the iconic canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park. A must do in Nyungwe, the canopy walk tour will give you incredible views across the sprawling mountain forest. The canopy also gives you eye level views of birds and monkeys in the canopy.

You will continue to Kigali for the overnight.

Day 24 – Departure

Today you shall transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

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