Trip Report – August 2017
We flew KLM via Amsterdam to Entebbe. We enjoyed a lovely day in Amsterdam and then continued on.
We rated this trip as one of the best we have ever done – in big part because our guide ( Crammy Uganda Wanyama) was superb but also because the people were lovely and the animals were fabulous.
Please note that I only list life-birds on this daily itinerary.
Day 1: We started with a lazy day after our trip down – saw 2 lifers in the grounds of the hotel African Thrush and Northern Brown-throated Weaver and then met our first guide at about 3pm to go to the Botanical Gardens. What a great start to our trip because we had 20 life birds in this amazing spot. Great-Blue Turaco, Eastern Plantain-Eater, Black & White Casqued Hornbill, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Double-toothed Barbet, African Hobby, Black & White Shrike-Flycatcher, Northern Puffback, White-chinned Prinia, Northern Black Flycatcher, Swamp Flycatcher, Olive-bellied Sunbird, Red-chested Sunbird, Veillot’s Weaver, Black-headed Weaver, Splendid Starling, Slender-billed Weaver, Orange Weaver, Grey-headed Negrita. Night at Protea Marriot
Day 2: Early morning departure for our morning at Lake Mabamba Swamp. This was a big day for us as we were after the long awaited Shoebill. As we spent our time searching among the
reed beds we also got to see Blue-breasted Bee-eater and then after about 1.5 hours there it was!!! Shoebill.
After that thrill it was time to start the drive towards Lake Mburo. Arrived at the park at about 3.30pm which was perfect timing as the temperature was starting to drop and the birds picked up. Red-headed Lovebird, Black-headed Gonolek, White-headed Sawwing, White-winged Black-tit, Leaflove, Black-lored Babbler, Gray-tit Flycatcher and Brown-backed Scrub-Robin. Night at Mihingo Lodge.
Day 3: Birded through Mburo Park on our way to the lake. It was a typically beautiful African morning and we enjoyed more life birds on the way – Sooty Chat, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Spot-flanked Barbet and Buff-bellied Warblers. We only did a short trip on the lake as the normal target of African Finfoot was not a lifer for us and we had other birds to focus on. The boat guide was excellent and picked out a number of species for us – the 2 lifers were Shining Blue Kingfisher and Carruther’s Cisticola. The rain came
shortly after so our only lifers for the rest of the day were Trilling Cisticola and Freckled Nightjar (off the deck of the lodge). Night at Miningo Lodge.
Day 4: Gentle start to the day as we were really just working our way over to Ruhija. We birded our way out of the park and added Brown-Chested Lapwing and Wahlberg’s Honeyguide .
Then stopped for lunch in Mbara where we changed to our main guide Crammy for the rest of the trip.
Although the drive to Ruhjia was quite long we birded along the way and wow! Brown-throated Wattle-eye, McKinnon’s Shrike, Northern Fiscal, Angola Swallow and White-winged Swamp Warbler and that was before we hit the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – which was unbelievable. Black-billed Turaco, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Cinnammon-chested Bee-eater, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher, Dusky Tit, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Chubb’s Cisticola, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Waller’s Starling and Black-throated Apalis. Night at Ruhija Lodge.
Day 5: Quite a strenuous day going out to Mabwindi Marsh. This was a 6km hike, downhill over slippery terrain so we were glad we had hired a porter to carry everything and also hand me down!! But the birding was spectacular – the list was unbelievable with 38 life birds. Hard to even pick the highlights but the target at the marsh itself was Grauer’s Marsh-Warbler which we were successful with – unfortunately we missed the Green Broadbill but with having seen so many new birds on the way there we weren’t too disappointed. Rameron Pigeon. Blue-headed Coucal, Ruwenzori Batis, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Gray Cuckooshrike, Petite’s Cuckooshrike, Black-tailed Oriole, White-bellied Crested-Flycatcher, Stripe-breasted Tit, Slender-billed, Eastern Mountain and Little Greenbuls, Grauer’s Warbler, Mountain Yellow-warbler, Ruwenzori, Black-faced and Chestnut-throated Apalis, Banded Prinia, African Hill Babbler, Scaly-breasted and Gray-chested Illadopsis, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, White-starred Robin, Absynnian Thrush, Sharpe’s, Slender-billed and Stuhlman’s Starling, Blue-headed, Purple-breasted, Tiny and Regal Sunbirds, Western Citril, Streaky Seedeater, Red-headed Malimbe, Grey-throated Barbet, Strange and Brown-capped Weaver, Yellow-bellied and Kandt’s Waxbill.
Now however, we had the 6km hike back UP the hill!!! Night at Ruhija Lodge.
Day 6 : Mountain Gorilla day!!! This was not about birds at all and you really can’t bird while going for the gorillas – but what a fabulous morning it was. We enjoyed a whole family of gorillas within about 15 feet of us and we were awed by them.
After lunch and a rest we went down the road outside Ruhija that leads to the local community and did manage to get one lifer for the day Leuhder’s Bush-shrike. Night at Ruhija Lodge.
Day 7: We were transferring today form one side of Bwindi Park to the other side at Buhoma. The route there goes through a skinny strip of
the forest called The Neck and once again just the lifers alone were amazing!! Lizard and Mountain Buzzards, Black Goshawk, Black Bee-eater, Speckled Tinkerbird, Gray-green Bushshrike, Red-tailed, Gray, Ansorge’s, Plain and Toro-olive Greenbuls, Gray Apalis, Grey-capped Warbler, Black-faced Rufous-Warbler, Chapin’s, Dusky-blue and Cassin’s Flycatchers, Grey-headed, Seimund’s, Green, Green-headed, Blue-throated Brown, Western Olive, and Bronze Sunbirds, Oriole Finch, Chestnut-breasted Nigrita and Black and White Mannikin. Night at Silverback Lodge.
Day 8: Another long hike today into Buhoma Forest – and another amazing list of life birds. Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, White-spotted Flufftail, Blue-spotted Wood-dove, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Yellowbill, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Western and Yellow-throated Tinkerbirds, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Tuhlberg’s, Golden-crowned and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, Chestnut Wattle-eye, African Shrike-flycatcher, Pink-footed Puffback, Willard’s Sooty Boubou,
Many-colored Bushshrike, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Shelley’s, Honeyguide, Yellow-throated, Yellow-whiskered and Cabani’s Greenbuls, Green Crombec, Green Hylia, Neumann’s Warbler, Buff-throated Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera, Puvel’s Illadopsis, White-bellied, Blue-shouldered, Gray-winged and Snowy-crowned Robin-chats, Red-throated Alethe, Equitorial Akalat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Narrow-tailed Starling, Green-throated Sunbird, Thick-billed Seedeater and Black-billed Weaver. Once again we treated ourself to a porter and enjoyed the 14km hike. Night at Silverback.
Day 9: Actually had a lazy breakfast on the deck of the Silverback Lodge overlooking the Buhoma Forest. Today is really about the long drive to Queen Elizabeth Park but, as usual, our guide Crammy still delivered 10 life birds. African Blue Flycatcher, Marsh Tchagra, Papyrus Gonolek, Great & Little Marsh Warblers, White-headed Vulture, White Headed Barbet, Little Weaver, Stout Cisticola and Copper Sunbird. Then a lovely evening at Mweya Safari Lodge.
Day 10: Started the day with a game drive into the park but the real focus was pipits and larks. It was quite cool and drizzling at the start
but the birds were great and big game was also wonderful. Bat Hawk, White-tailed Lark, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Jackson’s and Short-tailed Pipits and Fawn-breasted Waxbill. Then after a lazy couple of hours we enjoyed a wonderful boat ride. Although there weren’t many life birds for us, just Red-throated Bee-eater, the elephants were fabulous. Then the final thing to end a wonderful day was spot lighting Black-shouldered Nightjar on the ground at the camp site. Night at Mweya
Day 11: The morning was driving to Fort Portal and the only life bird was Little Rush Warbler. But after a packed lunch we went to the Bigodi Wetland Community Project and spent a number of hours walking the grounds and enjoyed wonderful views of Yellow-billed and Hair-breasted Barbets, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Joyful Greenbul, Compact Weaver and Grey-throated Tit-flycatcher. Night At Chimpanzee Lodge.
Day 12: Our morning started with staking out the nest of a Green-breasted Pitta in the Kibale Forest. Our wait was successful and spectacular. We were entertained by a couple of chimpanzees as we waited and then we spent the morning walking through the forest gathering a few more lifers Chestnut Wattle-eye, Western Black-headed Oriole, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, White-throated Greenbul, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Rufous Flycatcher-thrush, Purple-headed Starling and Black-crowned Waxbill. After lunch we joined an organized Chimpanzee trek with 2 other people. It was another wonderful wildlife experience. Night at Chimpanzee Lodge.
Day 13: An early morning siting of African Grey Parrot was a good start. Then after a relaxing breakfast we birded the road near by the lodge. Velvet-mantled Drongo, Sooty Flycatcher, Afep Pigeon, Western Nicator, Mottled Swift, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle and Black-bellied Seed-cracker were added to the list. Then we drove the short distance into Fort Portal for a night at the Mountain’s of the Moon hotel.
Day 14: Drove early to Semliki Forest. Birding started really well with Mustached Grass-Warbler, Northern Red Bishop, Orange-cheeked
Waxbill, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Red-billed Dwarf, African Pied, White-crested and Black-casqued Hornbills on the road. Once we entered the forest it slowed a bit and although the list for the area is impressive they didn’t deliver for us today. Still added Levaillant’s Cuckoo, White-bellied Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser and Xavier’s Greenbuls, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Forest Robin, Red-tailed Ant-thrush and both Blue-billed and Crested Mailmbe. On the way home added Piapiac and both Whistling and Singing Cisticola. Night at Mountains of the Moon Hotel.
Day 15: Started the long drive to Masindi. It was 8 hours of dirt roads which was pretty exhausting but Crammy still had his eye out for birds and we actaully added 7 life birds just from the car – Yellow-mantled Weaver, Piping Hornbill, Least and Cassin’s Honeyguide, Ross’s Turaco, Yellow-shouldered Widowbird, Black-winged Bishop and Speckle-breasted Woodpecker. Night at Masindi Hotel.
Day 16: Drove early to the Royal Mile – where we spent the entire day covering one mile of forest trail. Once again the list of potentials is impressive but we still didn’t have the birding god’s with us and it was really quite dull. We did manage to get a number of lifers but for 7 hours of walking it was a bit disappointing. African Dwarf and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Spotted Greenbul, Lemon-bllied Crombec, Yellow Longbill, Siffling Cisticola, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Mountain Illadopsis, African Forest Flycatcher, Red-headed Bluebill, Black-bellied Firefinch, Black Bishop and Magpie Mannikin. Night at Masindi Hotel
Day 17: Drove the long way from Masindi to Murchison Falls so as to maximize the birding. Black-billed Wood-Dove, Yellow-billed Shrike, Foxy Cisticola, Lesser Blue-eared and Bronze-tailed Starlings, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Green–backed Eremomela, Beautiful Sundbird and White-rumped Seedeater. Then a lovely hike around the falls and onto the ferry over to Paraa Lodge for a lovely evening.
Day 18: Fantastic morning bird drive – the wildlife was fabulous and the scenery so picturesque – and then add in the birds!!! Abyssinian
Ground-Hornbill, Heuglin’s Francolin, Black-headed and White-headed Lapwings, Black Coucal, Northern (and Southern) Carmine Bee-eater, Black-billed Barbet, Gambaga Flycatcher, Brown-rumped Bunting, Shelley’s Rufous-Sparrow, Crimson-rumped and Black-rumped Waxbills, Bar-breasted Firefinch and Wilson’s Indigobird. After lunch and a rest we joined the boat trip up to the falls. Not much in the way of birds (although great close up views of Rock Pratincole) but a nice way to spend a hot afternoon. Night at Paara Lodge.
Day 19: Early morning private boat ride down the Nile away from the falls. Lovely experience but not a ton of birds – lifers for us were Dusky Babbler and Senegal Thicknee in addition to a second view of Shoebill. Back for lunch and another lazy afternoon before commencing our late afternoon/evening game drive. We started with a couple of life birds – Brown-backed
Woodpecker and Northern Crombec before the sun went down. Then we had a wonderful hour in the dark spotlighting some of the wildlife until we reached the airfield where we had Swamp and Slender-tailed Nightjars. What a day! Night at Paraa Lodge.
Day 20: Our long journey home started by getting the 7 am ferry. It was a fairly long drive back to Entebbe and although we added a few new birds for the trip the only lifer for us was Ovampo Sparrowhawk. Spent the afternoon / evening at the 2 Friends Beach Hotel to relax before our late night flight home.
Entebbe – Protea Marriot
Mburo Lake – Mihingo Lodge
Ruhija – Ruhija Gorilla Lodge
Buhoma – Silverback Lodge
Mweya – Mweya Safari Lodge
Outside Fort Portal – Chimpanzee Guest House
Fort Portal – Mountain’s of the Moon Hotel
Masindi- Masindi Hotel
Murchison Falls –Paraa Safari Lodge
Entebbe – 2 Friends Beach Hotel
Guides & Resources
Field Guides – Birds of East Africa App
The Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi (Princeton Field Guides)
Guides – Avian Safaris – our guide was Crammy Uganda – excellent and a super-high recommend!
Lonely Planet Guides for Uganda