Forest Birds of Uganda

Discover Uganda’s diverse rainforest bird species and spot the Shoebill in the Mabamba Wetlands! With our expert specialist birding guides you will seek out the diverse species of Uganda’s rainforests including the Yellow-footed Flycatcher and African Green Broadbill. Explore rainforest trails in Mabira Forest and along the banks of the river Nile. Explore the rainforest trails of Budongo Forest including the Royal Mile, regarded as one of Uganda’s best birding sites and for it’s excellent accessibility and spot West African bird species in the secluded Semuliki National Park. You will also gain the chance to seek out the rarest of Uganda’s birds, the Green-breasted Pitta in Kibale National Park as well as meet a chimpanzee family in this iconic rainforest reserve.

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Itinerary - Forest Birds of Uganda [TACP037]

Day One

To Mabamba Wetlands

On completing immigration and collecting your luggage you will be met by your driver / guide at arrivals in Entebbe International Airport. They will help you with your bags and they will drive you the short distance across Entebbe town to reach the Nakiwogo-Buwaya ferry crossing. Here you will take to the water on a vehicle and passenger ferry and make the short trip across the inlet on Lake Victoria and then continue to drive a short distance to reach Nkima Forest Lodge.
Estimated journey time: 1 hr 30 mins
[This option using the ferry is only available if the flight lands before 14:00]

Spend some time unwinding at your rainforest lodge. Take a dip in the lodge’s private pool to cool off from the heat of the day or relax on the shaded sun loungers with a good book. Alternately explore the forest trail through the lodge grounds to spot some of the abundant birdlife and monkey species chattering in the trees. Of course you can also retire to your private terrace, where you can unwind in the shade to the sights and sounds of the forest. 

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Nkima Forest Lodge, cottages.

Day Two

Shoebill Tracking

Meet your guide at the jetty on the shores of Mabamba Wetlands, a protected RAMSAR site. Take to the water in a motorised canoe to spot a variety of wading species. As you glide through the water you will be struck by the lush green vegetation, dotted with bright purple water lilies and feathered papyrus flowers swaying over your head. You will spend several hours exploring the swamp with your main goal to seek out the infamous Shoebill, a prehistoric looking bird. Reaching 140cm tall they spend their time wading through the swamp fishing in a very slow manner, making them almost look like statues. While in the swamp you will be able to spot a variety of other bird species such as the Saddle-billed Stork, Papyrus Gonolek, Lesser Jacana, and Purple Swamphen.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Key species: Shoebill, Lesser Jacana, Papyrus Gonolek, Purple Swamphen, Garganey, African Pygmy-goose, Purple Heron, Blue-headed Coucal, Blue Swallow, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Weyns’s Weaver, White-backed Duck. 

Depart from Mabamba Wetlands and drive north passing through vast swamps of swaying papyrus throngs and fisherman selling their catches on the roadside. You will then pass through the hustle and bustle of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city to drive on through vast fields of sugar cane, tea fields and Mabira Forest, the largest rainforest standing in central Uganda. On passing through the rainforest it’s then a short drive on to reach the banks of the river Nile and Jinja town.
Estimated journey time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: The Kipling Lodge, cottages.

Day Three

Mabira Forest

Depart from the river Nile to drive a short distance west passing through rolling sugarcane and tea fields to reach Mabira rainforest, the largest rainforest remaining in central Uganda.
Estimated journey time: 1 hr

You will take a walk along the trails through Mabira Forest which covers 300 square kilometres, making it the largest tropical rainforest remaining in central Uganda. The rainforest is valued for its high diversity of species with 310 species of trees recorded, 315 bird species and various monkeys such as grey-cheeked mangabeys and red tailed monkeys. As you trek along the forest trails you will be seeking out bird species such as the Nahan’s Francolin, Tit Hylia, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Forest Robin, Green-tailed Bristlebill and Forest Wood-hoopoe which you can spot as you wander the forest paths at your own pace. Your bird guide is an expert on the forest and will be able to explain in detail about the forest's diversity, key species found here and the ongoing work to preserve it.
Estimated excursion time: 9 hrs

Key Species: Forest Wood-hoopoe, Forest Robin, White-spotted Flufftail, Tit-Hylia, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Western Black-headed Oriole, Red-headed Malimbe, Blue-throated Roller, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Grey-headed Sunbird, Green-backed Twinspot. 

Depart from the rainforest of Mabira Forest and drive east passing through the rainforest. On exiting the forest you will then continue through vast fields of sugar cane, villages and farmland to reach Jinja town and the river Nile.
Estimated journey time: 1 hr

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: The Kipling Lodge, cottages.

Day Four

Kakooge Swamp

Depart from Jinja town and cross over the river Nile to follow the river course north. As you drive you’ll be passing through many villages, farmlands and roadside markets selling a variety of tropical fruits, before driving on through vast swamps filled with swaying papyrus throngs. You will then join the road heading north and through rolling plains and pass through Luwero town to reach Kakooge Swamp.
Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

Take a short break from your journey by stopping off at this lesser-known birders hot-spot to stretch your legs with a short walk around Kakooge Swamp. The small swamp is home to a diverse group of birds so if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to tick some more species off your list!
Estimated excursion time: 30 mins

Key Species: Purple-banded Sunbird, Western-banded Snake-eagle, Fan-tailed widowbird, Spot-flanked Barbet, White-browedenb Coucal, African Opill, Brown Babbler, Wooly-necked Stork, Abyssinian Roller, Abdmi’s Stork, White-headed Barbet, White-crested Turaco. 

Depart from Kakooge Swamp and continue your journey northwards through vast plains dotted with large rock formations. As you travel further north the landscape becomes drier and you’ll pass through several trading centres until you turn off the Kampala - Gulu highway and wind your way through the hills to reach Masindi town on the border of Murchison Falls National Park.
Estimated journey time: 3 hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Masindi Hotel, rooms.

Day Five

The Royal Mile of Budongo Forest

Depart from Masindi town and drive west following the edge of the forest and passing through farmlands and forests to reach one of The Royal Mile, which is part of the Budongo Forest Reserve on the edge of the Albertine rift.
Estimated journey time: 45 mins

Explore the Royal Mile, considered to be one of the top birding sites anywhere in Uganda! You will be able to follow a flat 2.5km dirt road through the forest giving you excellent access into the forest and the chance to spot a variety of bird species such as the Dwarf Kingfisher, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher and Uganda Woodland Warbler. Of course you will also get the chance to seek out the Yellow-footed Flycatcher amongst the trees. This is an endemic species to Budongo forest, making it the only place to spot this bird in East Africa! The forest is also still home to a vast range of species such as the 280 butterflies varieties, 9 species of primates and 465 species of plants, including the Mahogany trees which can grow up to 80 meters in height. You will have the day to explore the Royal Mile at your leisure and enjoy this fantastic birding hotspot.
Estimated excursion time: 7 hrs

Key Species: Yellow-footed Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Cassin’s Spinetail, African, Crowned Eagle, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Spotted Greenbull, Dwarf Kingfisher, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Blue-throated roller, Sabine’s Spinetail.

Depart from the rainforest of of Budongo Forest Reserve, and leave this birding hotspot behind you to follow a winding road through rural Uganda to reach Masindi town, the gateway town to the south of Murchison Falls National Park and the road to Kampala and Entebbe.
Estimated journey time: 45 mins

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Masindi Hotel, cottages.

Day Six

Transfer to Kibale National Park

Depart from Masindi town to begin your journey through the stunning scenery of western Uganda. It’s a long drive but with beautiful scenery of vast tea fields, mountains, forests and farmland as you drive through the rural countryside. You will be able to stop off along the way to stretch your legs and on completing most of the journey you will arrive at Kyenjojo trading centre. From here you will rejoin the main paved road and drive west to reach Fort Portal town in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, its then just a short drive to reach the rainforest of Kibale National Park.
Estimated journey time: 8 hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Isunga Lodge, cottages.

Day Seven

Pitta Search, Chimp Tracking & a Rainforest Ramble

Rise at 05:00 to meet your team at the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters for your chance to spot the rare Green-breasted Pitta! After a briefing you will walk into the rainforest, listening for the Green-breasted Pitta displaying in the early morning light. With your expert guides and their local knowledge this gives you the highest chance to spot this rare species and of course get the chance to seek out other birds such as the Joyful Greenbul, Chestnut Wattle-eye and Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat amongst the dawn chorus.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs 

Key Species: Green-breasted Pitta, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Joyful Greenbul, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Tullberg’s Woodpecker. 

Meet with your Uganda Wildlife Authority tracking team for a briefing on tracking the chimpanzees in the rainforest. Kibale National Park is one of East Africa’s premier destinations to chimp track with a 95% successful tracking rate. This ancient rainforest is also home to one of the highest concentrations and diversities of primates found anywhere on the continent. The tracking team will be escorting you throughout your time in the rainforest and will be able to identify and give more information on the species found here including the 325 species of birdlife, 250 tree species and over 80 species of mammals as you trek. Groups of chimps live in communities containing between 10 and 100 members and once you’ve found your group, amongst the dense rainforest you will spend one hour with them. You will be able to observe their natural behaviour in the rainforest as they play, eat, socialise and display their prowess. You will then make the return hike along the rainforest paths to meet your driver / guide.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs (including 1 hr viewing) 

Key Species: Great Blue Turaco, Narina Trogon, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Isunga Lodge, cottages.

Day Eight

Kirumia Trail and Sempaya Hot Springs

Depart from the rainforest of Kibale National Park and drive north out through tea fields and small villages to reach Fort Portal town in the foothills on the Rwenzori Mountains. Follow a winding road along the base of the mountain chain offering beautiful views over the terraced farmland and homesteads perched on the hill valley side below. As the mountains chain ends the landscape flattens into the plains that run down to Lake Albert, where you’ll arrive at Semuliki National Park.
Estimated journey time: 2 hrs

Venture into the lowland tropical rainforest of Semuliki National Park with your birding guide. After a briefing you will walk 2 km to the trailhead, the path then winds for 12 km (each way) through the rainforest to reach the Semuliki River. Most groups will do a shorter route of either a 20 km walk to the grasslands or 16 km route. The distance is adjustable so your route can be tailored depending on how far you wish to walk and what you wish to see. The rainforest is a prime destination for birding with the chance to spot Long-tailed Hawk, African Piculet, Piping Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill and Crested Malimbe amongst others. This is also a great primate habitat with several for you to spot such as the Dent’s Monkey, grey-cheeked Mangabey, De Brazza’s Monkey and Black & White Colobus Monkey. You will of course be accompanied by your bird guide and ranger throughout your time in the rainforest who will be happy to answer all of your questions.
Estimated excursion time: 8 hrs

Key Species: Hartlaub’s Duck, White-crested Hornbill, White-thighed Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black-Casqued Wattled Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, Long-tailed Hawk, Nkulengu Rail, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Shining-blue Kingfisher. 

Depart from Semuliki National Park and follow a winding road along the Rwenzori Mountain chain to drive to Fort Portal town. Then drive south passing the edge of the Ndali-Kasenda crater lake fields and through rolling fields of tea. On the edge of the tea fields you will enter the rainforest of Kibale National Park, watching out for baboons on the side of the road waiting to greet you.
Estimated journey time: 2 hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Isunga Lodge, cottages.

Day Nine

Sebitoli Wildlife Reserve

Depart from Kibale through the crater fields past Fort Portal and drive east out of the town and drive a short distance along the road towards Kampala. You will follow the edge of the rainforest to reach the Sebitoli Wildlife Reserve on the northern edge of Kibale National Park.
Estimated journey time: 30 mins

Take a walk with your guide and ranger along the forest trails of Sebitoli keeping your eyes peeled for primates and birds. This wildlife reserve is on the border of Kibale National Park so you’ll weave along paths and walk beside the Mpanga River looking for forest and savannah birds. Your birding guide will help you spot key species such as the Red-bellied Paradise-flycatcher, Great Blue Turaco, Dusky Tit, Tullberg’s Woodpecker and Grey-throated Barbet. Sebitoli Wildlife Reserve offers the chance to encounter several types of primate including red colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkey and vervet monkey which you’ll spot scampering through the trees.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs 

Key Species: Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Purple-headed Starling, Chestnut-winged Starling, Dusky Tit, Black-billed Turaco, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Grey throated Barbet. 

Depart from Sebitoli Wildlife Reserve and drive along the edge of the rainforest, then through vast tea fields which blanket the hills in western Uganda. Journey on passing through many villages, farms and forests as you descend from the hills back down onto the flatter plains in central Uganda. On passing the expansive Lake Wamala and Mityana town to the edge of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. From here you will follow the bypass around the edge of the city, and drive on to reach Entebbe town on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Estimated journey time: 5 hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Not included