Hi David. Just to say that we couldn’t have had a better trip. The more I think about it, the more remarkable it was. We couldn’t have asked for better encounters with our target birds and the mammal experiences were memorable. Thanks!!!
The entire entourage was impressed by your skills and leadership. I’m glad we could make this happen. Looking forward to future trips.
Our Uganda Highlights birding tour provides a comprehensive coverage of the highlights of this incredible nation at a much reduced price; and, aside from the birds, offers superb game viewing and the chance to track Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees!
Please note that a Rockjumper leader may not accompany this tour unless a minimum of 7 participants are signed up. In the case of insufficient sign-ups, a professional and very experienced local guide will lead the tour instead.
Shoebill, Green-breasted Pitta, Nahan’s Francolin, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Papyrus Gonolek, Lühder’s, Many-coloured & Bocage’s Bushshrikes, Red-throated Alethe, Ituri Batis, Great Blue Turaco, Dusky & Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos, Blue Malkoha, Black Bee-eater, Blue-throated Roller, Grauer’s and Neumann’s Warblers, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush, White-tailed & Red-tailed Ant Thrushes, Lowland Masked & Mountian Masked Apalises, Afep & White-naped Pigeons, Red-chested Owlet, Grey-winged, Blue-shouldered & White-bellied Robin-Chats, Equatorial Akalat, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Magpie Mannikin, Kakamega and Ansorge’s Greenbuls, Jameson’s Antpecker
Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Giant Forest Hog, L’Hoest’s Monkey, Central African Red Colobus, Lion, Leopard
mid-altitude and montane rainforest, woodlands, acacia savanna, grasslands, wetlands, papyrus swamps
tropical with some rain expected, cooler in highlands
moderate pace with some longer walks and drives
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Kazinga Channel cruise, African art
Day 1: Entebbe to Masindi via Mabamba Wetland
This morning, we depart Entebbe early and begin our Ugandan adventure in search of a very special bird. Our prime target for today is the legendary Shoebill and we will set off through small rural villages and homesteads to Mabamba, which is a large wetland connected to Lake Victoria. This extensive papyrus swamp is home to several pairs of Shoebill, Uganda’s most famous avian resident and the prime attraction to the nation for most birders. This charismatic species, the only representative of its family, is certainly amongst the most highly prized birds in the world! We will commission a boat from the nearby fishing village and search the maze of channels in an attempt to find this special species. Other water birds abound and we should find several species of herons, egrets and waterfowl, the ever-present African Fish Eagle, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Marsh Harrier, Purple Swamphen, Long-toed Lapwing, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher, African Pygmy Goose and Swamp Flycatcher. If we are exceptionally fortunate, we may see the rare Sitatunga, a shy swamp-dwelling antelope with splayed hooves.
Common and widespread roadside species we can expect to see today include the funky-looking Long-crested Eagle perched atop telephone poles, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, hovering Black-winged Kite, African Harrier-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, the truly impressive Great Blue Turaco, raucous Eastern Plantain-eater, seemingly awkward Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill and floppy-flighted Crowned and African Pied Hornbills, dazzling-blue Woodland Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Angola Swallow, Splendid and Rüppell’s Starlings, African Thrush, Northern Black Flycatcher, Sooty Chat, gregarious Grey-backed Fiscal, Scarlet-chested Sunbird and Pin-tailed Whydah.
We will pass through the outskirts of Kampala, the sprawling capital of Uganda, where grotesque Marabou Stork line the city’s high-rise buildings and flocks of Hooded Vulture, Yellow-billed Kite and Pied Crow soar overhead. As we head eastwards through villages and woodlands, it will become evident how birdy this country really is! In the late afternoon, we will arrive at Masindi, which acts as a gateway to the mighty Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls NP.
Day 2: Budongo Forest – Royal Mile birding
Today will be our first introduction to central African forest birding and we will spend a good portion of the day in the vast Budongo Forest Reserve, the largest natural forest area in East Africa. We will concentrate much of our attention on “The Royal Mile,” a wide forestry track considered to be the country’s premier forest birding locality. Among the numerous specials we hope to find include Blue Malkoha (a skulking forest coucal), three forest-dwelling kingfishers (Chocolate-backed, Blue-breasted and African Dwarf), the huge White-thighed Hornbill, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted and Yellow-billed Barbets and their diminutive cousins, the tinkerbirds (Speckled, Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped all being likely), Western Oriole, Green Hylia, the rarely encountered Uganda Woodland Warbler, Grey, Buff-throated, Black-throated, and the stunning Black-capped Apalises, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Green and the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec, Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Purple-headed Starling, Little Green, Grey-chinned, Collared, Olive-bellied and the aberrant Grey-headed Sunbirds, and Crested and Red-headed Malimbes.
Greenbuls are abundant and we will work slowly through any flock that we encounter looking for Little Grey, Yellow-whiskered, Slender-billed, Honeyguide, White-throated, Red-tailed and the striking Spotted Greenbul. The beautiful Nahan’s Partridge is sometimes heard, but we will require luck and patience to see this secretive and near-endemic species during our Uganda bird safari.
We’ll search the undergrowth alongside the track for the numerous understorey skulkers, which may include Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Fire-crested Alethe, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush, Red-tailed Ant (Rufous) Thrush, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Yellow-browed and Olive-green Camaropteras and Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher. Openings in the forest canopy will be carefully watched as Crowned Eagle, White-throated Bee-eater and Cassin’s, Mottled and Sabine’s Spinetails are all possible over the tall forest.
Day 3: Masindi to Kibale National Park
Today on our Uganda bird safari, we drive south from Masindi to the expansive Kibale National Park. Our first birding will be in an area of rich farm bush where we will look for Red-headed Lovebird, African Yellow Warbler, Ross’s Turaco, African Blue Flycatcher, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Compact Weaver, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Brown Twinspot and the beautiful Grey-headed and White-collared Olivebacks. Further on, papyrus swamps hold the stunning Papyrus Gonolek and skulking White-winged Swamp Warbler.
In the afternoon, we will bird the northern section of Kibale Forest known as Sebitole. Our target species will include Joyful Greenbul, Lowland Masked Apalis, Dusky Long-tailed and African Emerald Cuckoos (the latter fairly common and conspicuous at this site), Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Many-coloured and Lühder’s Bushshrikes, Narrow-tailed and Chestnut-winged Starlings, Tiny and Blue-throated Brown Sunbirds and Dark-backed Weaver. Thereafter we will continue to our accommodations near Kibale National Park.
Day 4: Kibale NP – Chimpanzee tracking & birding
The towering Kibale Forest has the highest primate concentration and species diversity of any reserve in East Africa. Primate highlights might include sightings of localised Central African Red Colobus, handsome L’Hoest’s Monkey and the scruffy Grey-cheeked Mangabey. We will also embark on a Chimpanzee trek and our chances of finding these, our closest living relatives, are excellent! The birds are typical of the medium-altitude forest, with excellent mixed species flocks and specials such as Afep and the rare and globally threatened White-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Blue-throated Roller, Narina Trogon, African Shrike-flycatcher, Scaly-breasted and Brown Illadopsis, Superb and Green-headed Sunbirds, Black-billed Turaco, Plain Greenbul, Chestnut Wattle-eye and Black-and-white Mannikin. The stunning Green-breasted Pitta occurs in this forest, however, a good deal of luck and perseverance will be needed to locate this low-density understory inhabitant! At night on our Uganda bird safari, we may encounter Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos (more commonly known as bushbabies) and African Wood Owl.
Day 5: Kibale NP to Queen Elizabeth NP
This morning on our Uganda bird safari, we pay a visit to the birdy swamp forest and wetland habitat at the nearby Bigodi Wetland. A number of good birds can be seen here, including Yellow-billed Barbet, the rare Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, White-tailed Rufous Thrush, Honeyguide Greenbul, White-spotted Flufftail, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Grey-winged and Snowy-crowned Robin-Chats, Black-crowned Waxbill and Bocage’s Bushshrike. After lunch back at our lodge, we will bid farewell to these enchanted forests and head for the open savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After passing beautiful crater lakes and the foothills of the mighty Ruwenzori Mountains, we arrive at our accommodations close to the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, formerly known as Kazinga National Park but renamed in the Queen’s honour after her visit in 1954.
Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park – Game drives & Kazinga Channel boat ride
We will spend time birding in the spectacular Crater area in the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains and the main game-viewing area along the Kasenyi track. The area can be particularly productive for raptors and species that will be the focus of our search include Rüppell’s Vulture, Bateleur (one of Africa’s most spectacular raptors), Brown Snake Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Grey Kestrel. Queen Elizabeth National Park also offers a wonderful variety of grassland-dominated habitats which hold Red-necked Spurfowl, Harlequin Quail, Kurrichane and the rarely encountered Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Crake, Temminck’s Courser, Senegal and Crowned Lapwings, the marsh-dwelling Black Coucal, Flappet, Rufous-naped, Red-capped and the scarce White-tailed Larks, Plain-backed Pipit, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Croaking, Red-faced, and Stout Cisticolas, Marsh Tchagra, Southern Red Bishop, flocks of Red-billed Quelea and Quailfinch while Black-lored Babbler, Greater Honeyguide and Red-billed Firefinch occur in the surrounding woodlands. Mammals will also be a highlight in this area and we may see Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Uganda Kob, Bushbuck, Common Warthog and the spectacular Giant Forest Hog, the largest and undeniably ugliest pig on earth!
A highlight of our Uganda bird safari is the launch trip on the Kazinga Channel, which allows a close approach to Buffalo, Elephant and Hippopotamus, as well as numerous waterbirds. Amongst many others, we hope to find African Skimmer (which sometimes flocks in large numbers here), Pink-backed and Great White Pelicans, White-breasted Cormorant, African Openbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Glossy Ibis, African Wattled Lapwing, Water Thick-knee, Grey-hooded Gull, White-winged and Gull-billed Terns, Swamp Flycatcher, Lesser Swamp Warbler and Winding Cisticola.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth NP to Bwindi NP via Ishasha section of QENP
Today we depart QENP and head for the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a bastion for gorilla conservation and a hotspot for Albertine Rift Endemics. If conditions allow, we will drive through the extensive southern Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park en-route to Bwindi. Savanna bird and mammal species are likely to be seen and we may be fortunate in sighting Ishasha’s famous tree-climbing Lions. The elusive Scaly Francolin is another species that we hope to find on this route.
After a long drive, we will reach the headquarters of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at Buhoma, where we will be based for three nights. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to approximately half of the world population of 600 Mountain Gorillas. This vast reserve offers arguably some of the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species. Once part of a much larger forest that included the Virunga Volcanoes in neighbouring Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is now an ecological island within a sea of human cultivation and therefore of immense conservation importance. Buhoma lies in the valley of the Munyaga River at 5,100 feet and is flanked by steep, forested hills. Excellent forest birding, not least the prospect of numerous rare and localised Albertine Rift endemics, makes this a true birding Mecca.
Days 8 & 9: Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable NP – Birding and optional Gorilla tracking
From our comfortable base, those departing on an optional gorilla trekking adventure will search for a habituated family group of Mountain Gorilla. Spending an hour with these gentle giants is, without a doubt, one of the greatest wildlife experiences on Earth!
We will spend the balance of our time here birding the trails leading out from the camp. Species we will search for include Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Bar-tailed Trogon, Dusky Tit, Abyssinian (Kivu) Ground Thrush, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Equatorial Akalat, rare Grey-chested Babbler, Red-throated Alethe, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Willcocks’s Honeyguide, newly described Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Black-billed Weaver and Magpie Mannikin. High exposed perches in the open forest are favoured by African Goshawk, the dazzling Black Bee-eater, Sooty Flycatcher and forest starlings including Waller’s, Stuhlmann’s and Narrow-tailed. One of Bwindi’s star avian attractions is the diminutive, pitta-like Neumann’s Warbler, a vocal yet very secretive bird! Other understorey birds we hope to see include displaying African Broadbill, Black-faced Prinia and the handsome Black-faced Rufous Warbler. The mid-storey and canopy support Elliot’s and Tullberg’s Woodpeckers, Cabanis’s, Kakamega and Ansorge’s Greenbuls, the enigmatic Chapin’s Flycatcher and White-browed Crombec. The rare Jameson’s Antpecker may also be seen probing under moss on dead branches or gleaning warbler-like in the canopy, while Scarce Swifts forage over the forest. Birding at Buhoma is a truly magical experience!
Other wildlife that we may be fortunate enough to find here includes Black-fronted and the huge Yellow-backed Duiker, Guereza Colobus, L’Hoest’s, Blue and Red-tailed monkeys, Chimpanzee and several species of squirrels, including Fire-footed Rope, Carruthers’ Mountain, Ruwenzori Sun and Red-legged Sun Squirrels.We will spend the balance of our time here birding the trails leading out from the camp. Species we will search for include Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Bar-tailed Trogon, Dusky Tit, Abyssinian (Kivu) Ground Thrush, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Equatorial Akalat, rare Grey-chested Babbler, Red-throated Alethe, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Willcocks’s Honeyguide, newly described Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Black-billed Weaver and Magpie Mannikin. High exposed perches in the open forest are favoured by African Goshawk, the dazzling Black Bee-eater, Sooty Flycatcher and forest starlings including Waller’s, Stuhlmann’s and Narrow-tailed. One of Bwindi’s star avian attractions is the diminutive, pitta-like Neumann’s Warbler, a vocal yet very secretive bird! Other understorey birds we hope to see include displaying African Broadbill, Black-faced Prinia and the handsome Black-faced Rufous Warbler. The mid-storey and canopy support Elliot’s and Tullberg’s Woodpeckers, Cabanis’s, Kakamega and Ansorge’s Greenbuls, the enigmatic Chapin’s Flycatcher and White-browed Crombec. The rare Jameson’s Antpecker may also be seen probing under moss on dead branches or gleaning warbler-like in the canopy, while Scarce Swifts forage over the forest. Birding at Buhoma is a truly magical experience!
Day 10: Buhoma to Ruhija, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Although the distance is not large, we will spend the entire day on this route due to the superb birding it provides. In scrubby areas beyond Buhoma, we will search for Ross’s Turaco, Red-throated Wryneck, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Bronzy, Copper and Variable Sunbirds, Baglafecht, Black-necked and African Golden Weavers, Yellow Bishop, Village Indigobird and Black-throated Canary. Further along the road, we will pass through Kitahurira or “The Neck,’ another well-known birding locality. Here we will search for species that could include Black Sparrowhawk, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Cassin’s Honeybird, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, White-chinned Prinia, Mountain Wagtail, Pink-footed Puffback, the rare Tiny Sunbird and the attractive Brown-capped Weaver.
Even further up the road, cultivated areas provide feeding opportunities for many seedeaters. Our main targets here will be the highly sought-after Dusky Twinspot and Yellow-bellied, Kandt’s and Black-crowned Waxbills, African Stonechat, Streaky and Thick-billed Seedeaters, Western Citril and Yellow-crowned Canary may also be found here. The noisy Chubb’s Cisticola will mock us from deep within the bracken, and the beautiful Doherty’s Bushshrike can be lured out from the dense vegetation. Mackinnon’s Shrikes survey the road from high, exposed perches.
Finally, we will reach the seldom-visited higher camp in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The ranger station at Ruhija is situated at an altitude of 7,500 feet, with breathtaking views over steep, forested valleys toward the distant Virunga Volcanoes. Ruhija is likely to be one of the highlights of any trip to Uganda with excellent birding in spectacular surroundings.
Day 11: Ruhija, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – birding Mubwindi Swamp
Today on our Uganda bird safari, we will concentrate our birding on the trails to the unique Mubwindi Swamp and along the main access roads. This area is the most accessible site on Earth for the rare and localised Grauer’s Broadbill, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds. This globally threatened species is only known from two sites in the world, the other being a remote forest in eastern Congo. Carruthers’s Cisticola and the localised Grauer’s Swamp Warbler are resident in Mubwindi Swamp and if we are very fortunate we will see Red-chested Flufftail.
Today’s other target species include Mountain and Augur Buzzards, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, the furtive Handsome Francolin, African Olive Pigeon, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Western Tinkerbird, Olive Woodpecker, Thick-billed and the elusive Dwarf Honeyguide, Black Saw-wing, Grey Cuckooshrike, Olive-breasted and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Abyssinian Thrush, White-starred Robin, Archer’s Ground Robin, Stripe-breasted Tit, Mountain Illadopsis, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Mountain Masked, Ruwenzori, and Chestnut-throated Apalises, Cinnamon Bracken, Mountain Yellow, Red-faced Woodland and Grauer’s Warblers, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Ruwenzori Batis, Mountain Sooty Boubou, the rare Lagden’s Bushshrike, Sharpe’s Starling, Mountain Oriole, Strange Weaver, and Oriole Finch. Flowering trees attract the incredible Blue-headed, Regal Sunbird and scarce Purple-breasted Sunbirds, all three being beautiful Albertine Rift Endemics. Dusky, Red-faced and the super elusive Shelley’s Crimsonwing, amongst the most beautiful and sought-after of African seedeaters, are possible at Ruhija. At night, we may search for Ruwenzori Nightjar and African Wood Owl, and if we are exceptionally fortunate, the rare Fraser’s Eagle-Owl may be seen.
Day 12: Ruhija to Entebbe and departure
Today is a lengthy travel day, and we will leave Ruhija early to make it to Entebbe in good time.
What our clients say about tours to Uganda
Hi David. Just to say that we couldn’t have had a better trip. The more I think about it, the more remarkable it was. We couldn’t have asked for better encounters with our target birds and the mammal experiences were memorable. Thanks!!!DD, Private Uganda
David, I need to thank you again for the birding experience in Uganda. The mammals were spectacular, not to be missed, but it was really the birding that blew my mind. It is with a mixture of gratitude, wonder and definitely humbleness having been shown these birds by someone so ‘awesome’ that I say thank you again. It was so much fun for me. I was elated and still am when I think Uganda. As they say, it was priceless.MN, Uganda
Markus displayed his exceptional birding skills in additional to wonderful people management skills. Birds were obviously a delight and Markus was able to maintain his infectious enthusiasm for birds for the whole tour. At the same time Markus was very considerate of various people’s needs to make the tour a memorable time for all.GR, Uganda
This tour more than met all our expectations: in terms of sightings, accommodations, leadership, and magnificence of the country. Of course, we knew David Hoddinott, and knew he would be superb. We’d highly recommend Rockjumper’s Uganda tour, we loved it and appreciate David’s expertise and leadership.PM & SM, Uganda
The office staff are always so friendly in their response to emails, and I always feel that there is a personal relationship. That makes for good customer relationships. I met Rockjumper at an ABA conference years ago, and was impressed by them. I regret that I did not take the tour sooner. I have traveled with most of the major companies on more than 30 tours, and I feel that Rockjumper is superior in many ways, especially in having skilled and enthusiastic leaders.W, Uganda Birds & Gorillas