UGANDA East Africa: Group tour
Departure 1: Wednesday 15 to Thursday 30 January 2020
Departure 2: Thursday 5 to Friday 20 November 2020
Uganda is a landlocked country comprising a mix of savannas, mountains and lakes. It lies within the Nile River basin and has an equatorial climate. The southern part of the country includes a substantial part of Lake Victoria (which it shares with Kenya and Tanzania). The Ruwenzori Mountains, which it shares with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are home to most of the remaining endangered Mountain Gorilla population. It is also a stronghold for the highly sought-after Shoebill which is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018. The variety of habitats makes it one of the most exciting bird and mammal viewing destinations in the world.
Inala Nature Tours’ Founder Tonia Cochran, was privileged to be invited to Uganda by the African Bird Expo, Ugandan Tourism Association and private tour operators in November-December 2018 to gain a first-hand experience of this destination to see if it was suitable for Inala’s guests. This offer of two separate departures in 2020 reflects the huge success of the trip as one of the best destinations she has ever visited, which she classes as a life-changing experience. These tours are being offered at the best times of year in terms of bird and wildlife viewing and a comfortable climate. The arrangements have been made to maximise your safety and comfort, using the local knowledge of Tonia’s long-term friend, local guide Herbert Byaruhanga and good quality, comfortable accommodation throughout. We invite you to join Tonia and Herbert on this trip of a lifetime.
Dr Tonia Cochran, Inala Nature Tours.
Local guide Herbert Byaruhanga.
1062 bird species
A huge variety of primates including Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee
The best chance of seeing Shoebill
Iconic and scenically spectacular locations such as Queen Elizabeth NP, Murchison Falls NP, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP (Mountain Gorilla), Kibale (famous for Chimpanzee viewing)
This tour has been designed to maximise our birding and wildlife viewing opportunities while incorporating visits to spectacularly beautiful locations, meeting and supporting local communities and staying in strategically-located accommodation with high ecotourism values. Cape Queen Elizabeth National Park spans the equator and boasts expansive grasslands, papyrus swamps and tropical forests which supports 95 mammal species including huge herds of Elephant, African Buffalo as well as Lions, Leopards and a massive diversity (610 species) of birds. Murchison Falls is the largest National Park in Uganda and protects a large chunk of untamed African savanna intersected by the Nile River. If it named for the dramatic Murchison Falls where the world’s longest river violently explodes through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below which we will see at close range. The park’s large size and wide range of habitats allows for an impressive checklist of more than 460 species of birds and is the most reliable location for the iconic Shoebill stork. We have a great chance of seeing this species along the Nile delta. We also have other chances of finding this species as we explore various wetlands around the country. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to approximately half of the world population of Mountain Gorilla. This vast reserve offers arguably the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species which makes it a true birding Mecca.
Both departures will run with the same itinerary as follows:
Day 1. Arrive Entebbe. Botanical gardens, orientation and welcome.
Day 2. Shoebills and White Rhinoceros Reserve
Day 3. White Rhinoceros tracking and Murchison Falls National Park.
Day 4. Murchison Falls: boat cruise with morning and evening game drive.
Day 5. Murchison Falls to Masindi.
Day 6. Masindi to Kibale.
Day 7. Kibale Forest National Park: Chimpanzee tracking and birding.
Day 8. Kibale to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Day 9. Queen Elizabeth NP: Birding and afternoon boat cruise.
Day 10. Queen Elizabeth NP to Bwindi.
Day 11. Bwindi Impenetrable NP: Gorilla tracking.
Day 12. Bwindi Impenetrable NP: Birding.
Day 13. Bwindi to Lake Mburo NP.
Day 14. Boat ride Lake Mburo NP.
Day 15. Lake Mburo to Entebbe.
Day 16. Depart Entebbe.
Day 1: Arrive Entebbe and Botanical gardens, orientation and welcome.
Arrive at Entebbe where we will be transferred to our hotel. If time allows, we will spend the afternoon birding in the Botanical gardens which has a plethora of bird species including Ross’s and Great Blue Turaco, Crowned Hornbill, Black-and-white-Casqued Hornbill, Ruppell’s Starling, Splendid Starling, Grey Parrot and a variety of bee-eaters and sunbirds. We will then gather at the hotel for a welcome dinner this evening. Accommodation: Entebbe (en suite rooms). Meals: D.
Day 2: Shoebills and White Rhinoceros reserve.
After an early breakfast, we will travel to some nearby wetlands on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is one of the few remaining swamps in the country which is protected by the local communities – it is an extensive papyrus swamp with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons, classified as an Important Bird Area and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous avian resident. This charismatic monotypic species is certainly amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa, and we’ll make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels in boats operated by local community members. There will of course be a good selection of classic East African water birds, including Long-tailed Cormorant, Goliath Heron, African Open-bill, Saddle-billed and Marabou Storks, Hamerkop, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, African Fish-Eagle, African Marsh-Harrier, African Water Rail, Purple Swamphen, Allen’s Gallinule, African Jacana, Long-toed and Spur-winged Plovers. Apart from the numerous water birds, we are likely to see a nice variety of open country and water edge species, perhaps including Speckled Pigeon, African Green Pigeon, Eastern Plantain-eater, Malachite, Giant, and Pied Kingfishers, Blue-headed Coucal, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Crowned Hornbill, Angola and Rufous-chested Swallows, Winding Cisticola, Greater, Grey-capped and Lesser Swamp-Warblers, Papyrus Yellow Warblers, Swamp Flycatcher, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Papyrus Gonolek, Slender-billed, Northern Brown-throated, and Golden-backed Weavers, and Papyrus Canary. We will then travel to a White Rhinoceros Sanctuary with some birding along the way. Accommodation: Safari Lodge (en suite rooms) within the Rhinoceros Sanctuary. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 3: White Rhinoceros tracking and Murchison Falls National Park.
After breakfast, we will spend some time tracking Southern White Rhinoceros in a reserve that is home to the only wild population in Uganda. This is an amazing chance to see these animals at close range and learn about the amazing efforts to conserve and breed them. The entry fee contributes directly to the maintenance expenses of this conservation program. The sanctuary is also home to 340 bird species, including Bronze-tailed, Ruppell’s and Purple-headed Starling, Bruce’s and African Green Pigeons, Northern Crombec African Golden Oriole. This afternoon we will travel to Murchison Falls National Park, birding en route. After crossing the Murchison River, we will travel to our accommodation in the vast Murchison Falls National Park. We are likely to see a variety or mammals including African Buffalo, Lelwel Hartebeests, Bush Elephant, African Lion, Oribi, Duikers and Uganda Kob, Accommodation: Safari Lodge (en suite rooms) within the Murchison Falls National Park. Meals: B, L, D.
4: Murchison Falls: boat cruise with morning and evening game drive.
After an early breakfast, we will take a morning game drive in the National Park. In the lush Bourassa’s grassland, we may encounter Bush Elephant, African Buffalo, Rothchild’s Giraffe, and a variety of antelope. After enjoying a packed lunch, we will then have an afternoon boat trip to the base of Murchison falls. Here, you have a chance of sighting the rare Shoebills and a variety of water birds including Goliath Heron, Sacred Ibis and Fulvous Whistling-Duck. Saddle-billed Stork, Senegal Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing and Little Bittern can also be sighted along the shore and in the reed beds. Other specialties include Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Marabou Stork, Silverbird, Beautiful Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Golden-backed Weaver, White-rumped Seedeater, Pel’s Fishing Owl, White Crested Turaco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned and White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Carmine Bee-eater, White-rumped Canary, Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Roller and Ground Hornbill, Pied Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Osprey, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Vinaceous Dove and Grosbeak Weaver. During our evening game drive, we will be searching for species like Spotted Hyena, African Leopard, White-tailed Mongoose and bird species like Square-tailed, Long-tailed, Pennant-winged and Standard-winged Nightjars. Accommodation: Safari Lodge (en suite rooms) within the Murchison Falls National Park as for last night. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 5: Murchison Falls to Masindi.
After breakfast we shall cross the Murchison River on the vehicle ferry and drive to Masindi through the escarpment. We shall also pass through a section of Budongo Forest Reserve which is a good location for species such as the Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Ituri Batis, Puvel’s Illadopsis, Lemon-bellied Crombec, White-thighed Hornbill and many more. Accommodation: Hotel at Masindi (en suite rooms). Meals: B, L, D.
Day 6: Transfer to Kibale.
Kibale Forest National Park protects a diverse array of primates, from the minuscule, nocturnal Demidoff’s Galago to our closest living relative, the Chimpanzee. During the day, we will also see many other species of primates such as Red-tailed monkey, Central African Red Colobus, Mantled Guereza and Olive Baboon. Birds we should see today include Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, African Emerald Cuckoo, Purple-headed Starling, Black-billed Turaco, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-throated Barbet, Blue-throated Roller, Narrow-tailed Starling and Western Black-headed Oriole. Accommodation: Small B&B near Kibale National Park. (en suite rooms). Meals: B, L, D.
Day 7: Kibale Forest National Park: Chimpanzee tracking and birding.
After an early breakfast we will drive to Kibale National Park. Here we will spend up to several hours tracking and observing wild Chimps on foot with our expert local guides who personally know the troop members and who will interpret the behaviour. Kibale forest is home to 13 primates. We will spend the afternoon birding along the road, nearby and forest trails for bird species that are hard to find elsewhere including; the Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Cabanis’s Greenbul and Joyful Greenbul as well as White-spotted Flufftail, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos, Lesser Honey guide, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, White-chinned Prinia, Grey Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera and White-collared Oliveback. We will return to our B&B this evening for a delicious home-cooked meal. Accommodation: Small B&B near Kibale National Park. (en suite rooms). Meals: B, L, D.
Day 8: Kibale to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After breakfast, we will travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Park, which is named after the Queen of England who visited it in 1954, is the second largest national park in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts the highest biodiversity of any game reserve in the world and the habitat is comprised of a mix of open savannah, rainforest, dense papyrus swamps, crater lakes and the vast Lake Edward. Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to almost 100 mammal species and a remarkable 612 bird species, making it a superb safari territory, with Bush Elephants, a profusion of Hippopotamus, elusive Giant Forest Hog and handsome Uganda Kob all regularly sighted around the village on the Mweya Peninsula. The area also boasts a marvellous waterfront setting in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains. Accommodation: Safari Lodge (en suite rooms) within the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 9: Queen Elizabeth NP: Birding and afternoon boat cruise.
This morning’s game drive takes us through a productive area of grassy plains, which support large flocks of a variety of stork species including the Spectacular Saddle-billed and Woolly-necked Storks. Other species include the Bateleur, Grey Kestrel, Lappet-faced, Ruppell’s Griffon, White-backed and Palm-nut Vultures, African Crake, Black Coucal, Common Button-quail, Harlequin and Black-rumped Quails, Red-necked Francolin, Rufous-naped and Flappet Larks. Mammals we will look for include Uganda Kob, African Lion, Common Warthog, Bush Buck, Deffassa Waterbuck, Spotted Hyena, Leopard and many others. In the afternoon we take a launch tour of the Kazinga Channel which is a natural magnet for herds of Bush Elephant, Giant Forest Hog, African Buffalo, Monitor lizard, crocodiles and abundant Hippopotamuses.
Birding here is excellent with great photographic opportunities. Congregations of African Skimmers, Great-white and Pink-backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Open-billed Stork, African Skimmer, White-faced Whistling Duck, Marsh, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Malachite Kingfisher, African Jacana, African Wattled Plover can all be found here. Accommodation: Safari Lodge (en suite rooms) within the Queen Elizabeth National Park as for last night. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 10. Queen Elizabeth NP to Bwindi Impenetrable NP.
After an early breakfast, we will drive through the Ishasha section of the National Park where, if we are lucky, we may be able to view tree climbing African lions. We will then continue to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi NP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to approximately half of the world’s population of the endangered Mountain Gorilla. 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 big conservation importance. This vast reserve offers arguably the most productive montane forest birding in Africa and supports 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species. Specialties include; Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-throated Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white-Shrike-flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed Seed-eater, Streaky Seedeater, African Green Broadbill, Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Wood Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Black Bee-eater, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Elliot’s Woodpecker, African Broadbill, Western Green Tinkerbird, African Green Broadbill, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo Shrike, Grey Cuckoo Shrike, Archer’s Ground Robin, Toro Olive Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, White-tailed Ant Thrush, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Neumann’s Warbler, and Red-faced Woodland Warbler to mention but a few. Accommodation: A Community run Lodge in Buhoma, adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable NP (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 11: Bwindi Impenetrable NP: Gorilla tracking.
After breakfast, we will assemble at the National Park Offices for a detailed briefing before heading out on foot to track Mountain Gorilla with guides from the local community. This exclusive experience is a real privilege, as group sizes are limited and only one group is allowed to view each gorilla group each day. So, viewing permits are almost as scarce as the gorillas! Tracking can be a challenging activity involving a certain amount of physical fitness as it can take up to 8 hours of walking through thick jungle in the wilderness in search of these gentle giants. On occasions the Gorillas prove elusive, but often can be found within an hour by the expert local tracker guides. It is a very emotionally moving once in a lifetime experience to stare in to the eyes of these gentle giants and watch them play and go about their daily activities. Each encounter with the gorillas is different and has its own rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the young frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. On our return we will be issued with a certificate and provided with a chance to purchase a pictorial laminated sheet of the family that you have been tracking, with all proceeds going towards the conservation of this species and the protection of the forests in which they live. Accommodation: A Community run Lodge in Buhoma adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable NP (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 12: Bwindi: Birding.
After breakfast, we will birdwatch in the main forest of Bwindi. Species we will search for include Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Bar-tailed Trogon, Dusky Tit, Kivu Ground-Thrush, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Equatorial Akalat, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Red-throated Alethe, White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher, Gray-green Bushshrike, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Black-billed Weaver and Magpie Mannikin. High exposed perches in the open forest are favoured by African Goshawk; the dazzling Black Bee-eater, Blue-throated Roller, Sooty Flycatcher and forest starlings including Waller’s, Stuhlmann’s and Narrow-tailed Starling. One of Bwindi’s star avian attractions is the diminutive, pitta-like Neumann’s Warbler, a vocal yet very secretive bird. Other under-storey birds we hope to see include displaying African Broadbill; Banded Prinia and the handsome Black-faced Rufous-Warbler. The mid-storey and canopy support Elliot’s and Tullberg’s Woodpeckers; Cabanis’, Kakamega and Ansorge’s Greenbuls; the strange Grauer’s Warbler and White-browed Crombec. The rare Jameson’s Antpecker may also been seen probing under moss on dead branches or gleaning warbler-like in the canopy. Overhead, 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 include the huge Yellow- [Text Box: Mantled Guereza H Byaruhanga] [Text Box: Nothern Double-collared sunbird H Byaruhanga] backed Duiker, Mantled Guereza; 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 Squirrel. Accommodation: A Community run Lodge in Buhoma adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable NP (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 13. Bwindi to Lake Mburo NP.
Lake Mburo National Park is a gem. Although it is just 370 sq km in size, its landscapes are varied and even a short drive is alive with interest and colour. It is the only National Park in Uganda to contain Impala and the only one in the rift region to host Burchell’s Zebra and Eland. In Uganda, Topi are only found in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Other common wildlife species include Common warthog, African buffalo, Oribi and Deffassa Waterbuck. Common conspicuous birds we will encounter on our journey to Lake Mburo include Crested Francolin, Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Blue-napped Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood hoopoe, Common Scimitar Bill, African Grey Hornbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Northern Black Tit, Chin-spot Batis, Greater Blue-eared Starling, and Marico Sunbird. The woodland in the immediate vicinity of Rwonyo also support many of these widespread species. Tonight, we will stay in an unfenced tented camp where hot water is delivered for your shower and where you are escorted to and from your cabins after dark by the wonderful staff - a truly amazing experience! Accommodation: Tented camp (en suite tents) in Lake Mburo National Park. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 14. Boat ride Lake Mburo NP.
This morning after breakfast, we will have a morning game drive in the National Park looking for mammals including Maneless Zebra, Impala, Eland, Topi and African Buffalo. We will also look for birds like Trilling and Tabora Cisticola, Crested, Spot-flanked, Black-collared and Red-faced Barbet. In the afternoon, we will have a boat trip looking for bird specialties and other mammals in the Park, especially the rare African Finfoot, Giant, Pied and Shinning-blue Kingfishers, and Black-crowned and White-backed Night-herons.
Accommodation: Tented camp (en suite tents) in Lake Mburo National Park as for last night. Meals: B, L, D.
Day 15: Lake Mburo to Entebbe
After an early breakfast, we shall have another morning game drive in search of some species we may have missed the previous day. We drive out of the park having our lunch on the way. We will make a stop at the Equator en route for photographs and continue back to Entebbe during the afternoon. Tonight, we will have a farewell dinner and reminisce about the amazing and life-changing experiences we have had on this trip. Accommodation: Entebbe (en suite rooms). Meals: B, L, D.
Day 16: Depart Entebbe.
No activities are planned for today so that you can make your own arrangements for your departure flight to onward destinations.
Tour Price: US$9,250 per person twin share. Single supplement US$1,100.
Based on a group size of 6-10 participants + Inala leader Dr Tonia Cochran + local guide Herbert Byaruhanga.
Inclusions: Accommodation for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport for day and night tours in a private air-conditioned vehicle with specialist licensed local guide as outlined in the itinerary, all meals (B, L, D snacks and bottled water), entry fees to National Parks, permits for Chimpanzee, Gorilla and Rhinoceros tracking, boat cruises and guided walks as outlined int eh itinerary and all internal taxes and charges.
Exclusions: any international and domestic airfares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (travel and medical insurance, phone calls, laundry, tips etc). Personal & incidental expenses and any additional activities not mentioned in the above itinerary.
The above rates are based upon a group size of 6-10 people. If the tour does not achieve minimum numbers, a small supplement may be charged. We would always discuss this with you beforehand.
Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of an American style breakfast, which includes eggs to order, as well as cereal, toast, fruit, and tea/coffee. Lunch will generally be a picnic style to be eaten in the field. Dinner usually consists of a soup starter, main course and dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.
The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
A reasonable level of fitness is required for this tour, especially for the Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee tracking. However, there are usually options to stay near the vehicles and birdwatch close to the bus if you don’t wish to join these activities.
For much of this tour we will be in a wonderful yet remote part of the world. Most of the roads are unsealed and rough. If you have medical conditions or health concerns it is important you make us aware of these in advance of this tour.