• Bird-Shoebill-Nile-Delta-Murchison-Falls-Uganda

Savannah Birds of Uganda

Experience Uganda’s top birding destinations and seek out a plethora of birdlife found on golden savannah plains. With your expert local birding guides to share their wealth of knowledge as you explore the savannah of Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley, Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Parks. Allowing you to seek out sought after species such as the Karamoja Apalis, Cut-throat Finch and Red-faced Barbet and explore the Mabamba Wetlands system and Victoria Nile delta to seek out the Shoebill! Combined with your top birding experience you will also be seeking out Uganda’s savannah wildlife with the chance to view the ‘Big 5’ on your birding safari adventure!

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Itinerary - Savannah Birds of Uganda [TACP038]

Day One

To Mabamba Swamp

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 your flight flight arrives 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. 

You will depart from Nkima Forest Lodge and follow a winding unpaved road through the farmlands and villages on the flat leading down to Lake Victoria. Pass around the edge of Masaka town and journey on with views over rolling hills, dotted with low scrub vegetation amongst which you will spot herds of Ankole cattle with their impressive horns being grazed on the hills. You will then turn off the main road and meander your way through the African bush studded with rocky outcrops to reach Lake Mburo National Park.
Estimated journey time: 3 hrs 30 mins 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock, cottages.

Day Three

A Game Drive, a Water Safari and a Birding Walk

Lake Mburo National Park’s mix of rolling hills, acacia woodland and rocky outcrops offers a stunning backdrop to view the park's abundant bird species and savannah mammals. You will drive onto the plains and wind your way along the bright red mud roads with your expert local guide and ranger as you make your way to popular birding sites such as the shores of Lake Mburo and Rwonyo. You will have several hours to explore the park at your own pace as you keep watch to spot bird species such as the Crested Barbet, Red Faced Barbet and Martial Eagle which are all found here. You’ll also get the chance to spot a variety of game species such as zebra, eland, topi, impala and warthog and if you’re lucky the small group of giraffes recently reintroduced to the park.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Key Species: Red-faced Barbet (higher chances around Rwakobo Rock Lodge), Striped Crake (when the ponds are dry, the chances are low), Crested Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Martial Eagle, Blue-naped Mousebird, Common Scimitarbill, Long-tailed Cisticola.

Drive down to the shores of Lake Mburo itself for a water safari and a briefing on the Lake Mburo-Nakivali wetland system. The lake is known for its high diversity and populations of birdlife with 350 different species recorded as living along the shores including African Finfoot, White-backed Night-Heron, Papyrus Gonolek, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, which you’ll have the chance to spot from the boat. The lake is also home to a large hippo population numbering around 300 individuals, dwarf crocodiles and monitor lizards, which you’ll have a good chance of spotting before returning to the lake’s shore.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs 

Key Species: African Finfoot, White-backed Night-Heron, Papyrus Gonolek, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, White-winged Warbler, African Fish Eagle, African, Marsh Harrier, Sedge Warbler. 

Meet your Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger for a briefing on your walking safari on the savannah of Lake Mburo National Park. With your ranger and bird guide you will follow a series of tracks through the park, some made by the larger wildlife species living here including hippopotamus, eland, zebra, topi and warthog. You will be able to wander through the savannah at your own pace with walks lasting from 2 to 4 hours. This will give you plenty of opportunity to spot species such as the Crested Barbet, Red Faced Barbet and Martial Eagle as you explore the park’s savannah forest and grasslands dotted with acacia trees.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs 

Key Species: Red-faced Barbet, Striped Crake (when the ponds are dry, the chances are low), Crested Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Martial Eagle, Blue-naped Mousebird, Common Scimitarbill, Long-tailed Cisticola. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Rwakobo Rock, cottages.

Day Four

Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Depart from the savannah forest of Lake Mburo National Park and drive north passing herders grazing their cattle on the park boundaries to rejoin the main road. Journey on passing Mbarara town, rolling tea fields and banana plantations until you reach Kichwamba Escarpment on the southern border of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This viewpoint offers stunning views across the savannah to the Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’ in the distance. You will then drive down the escarpment and onto the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park below.
Estimated journey time: 6 hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Mweya Safari Lodge, classic rooms.

Day Five

Savannah Plains and a Water Safari

Explore the savannah of Kasenyi Plains on a game drive, set to stunning views of the Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’ running along the skyline. These plains are home to a number of kob leks or kob breeding grounds for Uganda kobs, where they battle for mating rights. The large game herds make the area a prime location to track prides of lions, which hunt the game herds found here. On your game drive you’ll be searching for a variety of bird species including the Collared Pratincole, Black-rumped Buttonquail and White-tailed Lark. Once you’ve crossed the plains you will make your way to the salt lake where you have the chance to spot the Lesser Flamingo which is seasonally found here.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs

Key Species: Collared Pratincole, Lesser Flamingo, Black-rumped Button-quail, White-tailed Lark, Little Bee-eater, Blue-naped Mousebird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Black Coucal. 

Embark on a water safari to explore the Kazinga Channel to view vast flocks of African Skimmers as well as the chance to spot the Saddle-billed Stork, White-fronted Plover and Goliath Heron. This channel connects Lake Edward and Lake George, flowing through the heart of the park and is an excellent way to view a variety of savannah wildlife. As you meander your way along the river banks you will also have the chance to spot elephants, buffalo, warthogs and waterbuck as they come down to the water's edge to cool off in the heat of the day. The channel is also a prime location to view crocodiles and hippo pods. After a couple of hours on the water you’ll reach a fishing village at the end of the channel where the river enters Lake Edward, where a large number of birds often congregate sunning themselves on the river banks from where you will make the return boat trip to the docks on the Mweya Peninsula.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs

Key Species: African Skimmer, Saddle-billed Stork, White-fronted Plover, Great White Pelican, Goliath Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Stilt, Common Greenshank, Black Crake. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Mweya Safari Lodge, classic rooms.

Day Six

Transfer to Hoima

Depart from the savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park and drive north following the Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’ to reach Fort Portal town. From where you will  drive along the edge of the rainforest of Kibale National Park, on reaching Kyenjojo trading centre you will turn off the main road and follow an unpaved road through western Uganda. The scenery as you meander through rural Uganda is stunning, as you journey through vast tea fields which blanket the hills, small villages and forests. You will be moving at comparatively slow pace due to the road conditions but this gives you all the more time to enjoy the scenery until you arrive at Hoima.
Estimated journey time: 8 hrs

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

Day Seven

Butiaba Escarpment

After a briefing from your guide on the species you can expect to spot today you will depart from Hoima town. From here you will drive along the Butiaba Escarpment which is a ‘migration corridor’ between August and April. This gives you great chances to spot Cliff Chat, Cut-throat Finch, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, amongst other key species as you drive through this birding hotspot. When travelling out of these months you will also still have the chance to spot Cliff-chats, Bronze-tailed Starling, White-rumped Seed-eaters. You will follow the escarpment and drive down onto the flatter plains which border Lake Albert to reach the savannah plains of Murchison Falls National Park.
Estimated excursion time: 5 hrs

Key Species: White-rumped Seed-eater, Shelley’s Rufous Sparrow, Scaly-Throated Honeyguide, Bronze-tailed Starling, Red Winged Pytilia, Cut-throat Finch, Orange-winged Pytilia, Cliff Chat, Cut-throat Finch, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, African Hawk-Eagle, Orange-Winged Pytilia, Foxy Cisticola 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Paraa Safari Lodge, classic rooms.

Day Eight

Savannah Drive and Falls Cruise

Explore the game tracks of Murchison Falls National Park with stunning views over the savannah, as wind your way through Acacia scrub and grasslands dotted with palm trees. You’ll be joined by a knowledgeable ranger to give your highest chance of tracking down the lions and leopard. They will help you track down the Rothschild giraffe, elephants, buffalo, Jackson’s hartebeest, and bushbucks grazing on the savannah. Of course you will predominantly be searching for a variety of bird species, with 451 having been recorded in the park including the Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill and Grey Crowned Cranes. Towards the end of your game drive you’ll be able to stop off at the hippo pool on the Victoria Nile delta where you’ll see the hippos wallowing in the shallows and calling to each other across the water. If you are lucky, you might even see a Shoebill here.
Estimated excursion time: 4 hrs or 3 hrs 30 mins

Key Species: Secretary Bird, Shoebill, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Black-bellied Firefinch, Martial Eagle, Rupell’s Griffon Vulture, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, White-fronted Black Chat, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Black-billed Barbet, Grasshopper Buzzard, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-winged Grey Warbler. 

Embark on a water safari on the river Nile and cruise upstream to the base of Murchison Falls waterfall. Also known as Kabalega Falls, this is one of the most popular activities in the park and offers fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. As you cruise up the river you will be able to view giant Nile crocodiles basking in the sun, hippo pods calling to each other across the water and a multitude of bird species living and nesting on the riverbanks. Species such as the African Darters, Cormorants, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers, Fish-eagles, Giant Kingfishers and Goliath herons.  As you pass Nyamusika cliffs you should also be able to spot the Red-throated and Northern-carmine bee-eaters and towards the base of the falls you may find the Rock Pratincoles.  A variety of game species such as buffalo, waterbuck, elephants and Uganda kob can also be viewed on the riverbanks as they come down to drink and cool off in the heat of the day. After three hours you will reach the base of the thundering falls where the White Nile surges through a 7 metre wide gap in the rock face, cutting through Fajao Gorge and falling 43 meters to continue its journey through the park.
Estimated excursion time: 2 hrs or 3 hrs

Key Species: Egyptian-plover, Rock Pratincole, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Giant Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, African Darter, African Fish Eagle, Saddle-billed Stork, Senegal Thick-knee. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Paraa Safari Lodge, classic rooms.

Day Nine

Transfer to Kidepo Valley National Park

Depart from the savannah of Murchison Falls National Park and follow the parks northern border as you drive east to reach the hustle and bustle of Gulu town, which has become the hub of northern Uganda. Continue your journey on as the landscape becomes more arid as you wind your way through villages, farmland and crossing over dry riverbeds to reach Kitgum town. You will then complete your journey by driving through stunning rock formations to reach the wilderness of Kidepo Valley National Park.
Estimated journey time: 4 hrs

Explore the rolling savannah of the Narus Valley which is flanked by the Morungule Mountain, Napore-Nyangea hills and Lonyili mountains framing this stunning wilderness panorama. The water running in the Narus Valley is seasonal but there is permanent water access through a series of waterholes and wetlands, so for much of the year the park’s game species and birdlife congregate here. Birding highlights found on the savannah in the valley include the Clapperton’s Francolin, Secretary Birds, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Red-pate and Rattling Cisticola, which your expert bird guide will help you seek out. On your game drive you will also be seeking out a variety of savannah species such as Rothchild’s giraffe, elephants, Burchell’s zebra, lions and leopards. The park is also home to a wide variety of bovine species including the Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, African buffalo, Grant’s gazelle, greater & lesser kudu and eland. The pace of the game drive will be in your hands as you explore the Narus Valley to seek out the specific species you’re most interested in spotting.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Key Species: Red-pate Cisticola, Rattling Cisticola, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Clapperton’s Francolin, Secretary Bird, D’Arnauds Barbet, Stone Partridge, Little Green Bee-eater, Heuglin’s Wheatear, Black-faced Waxbill, White-headed Buffalo-Weaver. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Kidepo Savannah Lodge, safari tents.

Day Ten

Kidepo Valley Birding Drive

Rise early to begin your game drive to the northern limits of Kidepo Valley National Park. Your route takes you north, following the Narus Valley through rolling savannah in the soft morning light. This is an excellent time of day to spot a variety of game herds including Burchell’s zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, African buffalo and Grant’s gazelle as you drive. Before you reach the Kidepo riverbed you will be able to seek out the Four-banded Sandgrouse, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, White-browed Sparrow-weaver which are all found around the river's southern banks. You’ll then drive over the seasonally dry Kidepo riverbed and continue through a Borassus palm tree forest, with the clatter of palm throngs filling the air. After winding through the forest you will reach the savannah scrub to reach northern reaches of the park, to an area home to the Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Karamoja Apalis and Secretary bird. If you have time you’ll also be able to stop off at the Kanangorok hot spring which is located where the Narus and Kidepo Valleys meet.  This area is also particularly for the flocks of ostrich found in the region, the only place in Uganda you can view these fantastic birds which you will seek out with your experienced ranger.
Estimated excursion time: 12 hrs 

Key Species: Clapperton’s Francolin, Secretary Bird, D’Arnauds Barbet, Superb Starling, Eastern Chanting-Goshawk, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Red-billed Oxpecker, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Red-winged Lark, Beautiful Sunbird, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Karamoja Apalis, Common Ostrich, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, White-browed Sparrow-weaver, Yellow-necked Spurfowl. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Kidepo Savannah Lodge, safari tents.

Day Eleven

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Depart from the wilds of Kidepo Valley National Park and drive west through the arid landscape of northern Uganda. As you depart from the savannah you will follow a winding unpaved road passing traditionally thatched homes and villages nestled amongst the rock landscape. You will drive on through the arid plans dotted with farmland and passing herders with their cattle on the roadside to reach Kitgum town before joining the paved road to Gulu town. You will then drive due south and as the landscape becomes greener to reach Karuma Falls where the river Nile crashes down an impressive set of rapids. You will cross over the river and drive a short distance to reach your next destination, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
Estimated journey time: 5 hrs

Explore the savannah woodlands of grasslands dotted with acacia trees protected by Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. While primarily the home to protected rhinos the sanctuary is also home to 40 species of mammals and reptiles, as well as in excess of 300 birds recorded here. You will follow the paths and secondary roads through the sanctuary with your guide to seek out species such as the Common Scimitarbill, African-crowned Eagle, African Black-headed Oriole, Bruce’s Green-Pigeon, and White-crested Turaco. While this is primarily a walking trip you can also use your vehicle to cover the sanctuary to visit the different habitats found here with your expert guide.
Estimated excursion time: 3 hrs 

Key Species: Bruce’s Green-Pigeon, White-Crested Turaco, Beautiful Sunbird, African Hoopoe, Western Banded Snake-eagle, African Black-headed Oriole, Common Scimitarbill, Crested Francolin, Black-headed Gonolek, Black-headed Weaver, African Crowned Eagle.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Amuka Lodge, chalets.

Day Twelve

Shoebill Tracking

You will rise early to meet your guides who will take you out on to Lugogo Swamp. A strict 06:00 departure is compulsory, which gives you the best chance of spotting as many bird species as possible and allows you to watch the beautiful sunrise over the swamp. You will drive through the African bush for 45 minutes to reach the edge of the swamp. You then will take to the water in a local motorised canoe to glide through the water to seek out this rare and prehistoric looking species, with trips into the swamp taking approximately 4 hours. Aside from the Shoebill you will also have the chance to stop some of the other +300 species living here including the Malachite Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Heron and from the swamp walk; Black Crake and Common Squacco Heron. On return to dry land you will also be able to take a walk along the swamp edge, depending on the water levels, giving you further opportunities to tick more species off your list. You will then drive back through the African bush to your lodge.
Estimated excursion time: 4 hrs

Key Species: Shoebill, Woolly-necked Stork, Black Crake, Rufous-bellied Heron, Common Squacco Heron. 

Depart from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and drive south passing plains, villages and roadside markets selling a range of fruits such as bananas, jackfruit, mangoes, papaya and passion fruit, which you may wish to stop off and sample along the way. After several hours' drive you will reach the hustle and bustle of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. You will pass through the city and drive south to reach Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Estimated journey time: 5 hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Not included