This unique two week Birding and Wildlife Tour will give you the opportunity to explore parts of Uganda rich in birds and wildlife which few other tours ever take people to. One of our experienced tour guides will accompany you throughout.
Day 1: Mabamba Swamp and Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Most flights arrive late in the evening, so you will have arrived in Uganda the previous night and stayed in a hotel of your choice in Entebbe. (We can advise and book for you if you want us to).
You will be met by one of our professional guides after breakfast who will take you on a boat trip to explore the fringes of Lake Victoria near Entebbe, including Mabamba Swamp. This is a delightful introduction to the rich diversity of bird life in Uganda, from the huge prehistoric-looking Shoebill to tiny birds such as the Blue-breasted Bee-eater and Cisticolas. You may even see otters.
After lunch, enjoy a bird-watching walk through the vast Botanical Gardens. The rich variety of mature trees, bushes and vegetation, as well as the lake shore, are home to so many birds.
Day 2: Entebbe to Mabira Forest Reserve
It is no longer necessary to drive through the heavy traffic of Kampala – unless you want to see something of the city. We will stop for an hour at Namugongo Martyrs shrine which tells the story of the young men and boys who were killed in 1885 and 1886 for refusing to give up their Christian faith, an important part of Uganda’s history.
We travel on eastwards through rolling hills cultivated with cash crops, bananas, sugar cane, coffee and tea until we reach Lugazi, near Jinja, where we turn off and drive a few miles into the edge of Mabira Forest, a different world from the busy roads and towns we have been driving through.
An afternoon walk will give you the opportunity to see a range of forest birds, from the tiny African Pygmy Kingfisher to the magnificent Great Blue Turacos and Black-and-white Casqued Hornbills. There are also many Red-tailed Monkeys, while at night you will hear (but not see) Tree Hyraxes making their eerie calls.
Day 3: Mabira Forest to Sipi Falls (Mount Elgon)
We continue eastwards, over the new suspension bridge across the Nile (soon after it starts it’s long journey northwards to the Mediterranean from Lake Victoria). The countryside becomes flatter, with many swamps, as we leave Iganga and drive towards Mbale. We will get our first sight of Mt Elgon and the huge rocky hills near Mbale. The steep climb, with hairpin bends, up the escarpment from the plains is spectacular, with distant views over the plains and lakes of Teso and Karamoja on one side and steep hills, cliffs and waterfalls on the other. It gets much cooler as well.
Sipi Falls is a small trading centre with a number of lodges and simple guest houses clinging to the hillside with wonderful views of the mountains, plains and waterfalls. For some people, this is their favourite place in the whole of Uganda – you won’t be disappointed!
Day 4: Exploring Sipi Falls
Mt Elgon, over which the border with Kenya passes, is a very different habitat from elsewhere on this tour, so you will see some interesting birds as you take one or more guided walks. You could take all day and visit all three waterfalls, with the help of sticks and the occasional hand from your guide, especially useful if it is very muddy and slippery! Or you could do a shorter walk in the morning and another in the afternoon. There is also the option of doing a coffee tour (visiting a local homestead and going through the process of growing, harvesting and preparing your own mug of coffee) or even abseiling 100m down beside the lowest waterfall (extra cost).
Day 5: Sipi Falls to Pian Upe Reserve
We come down from the heights back onto the plains and drive north to Pian Upe Reserve, the second largest conservation area in Uganda and possibly its best-kept secret! You will see more birds and animals than tourists in this area of semi-arid acacia grassland. There are also some wetland areas, including Lake Opeta, the only place in the world you are likely to see Fox’s Weaver. Although the density of animals isn’t as high as in the better-known National Parks, you may see some species not seen elsewhere. You will feel you really are in the Heart of Africa.
Day 6: Exploring Pian Upe Reserve
The easiest time for seeing animals is during the dry season (December to April), when the grass is short and animals gather around water. You will have an early morning game drive and another in the late afternoon. Most birds and animals ‘disappear’ to rest during the heat in the middle of the day – which is a good idea for tourists as well!
Looking through a bird book of Uganda which has distribution maps for each species, you will notice how many species only occur in north eastern Uganda!
Day 7: Pian Upe to Kidepo Valley National Park
A long, but spectacular drive northwards through Karamoja to Kidepo Valley National Park. You are likely to see more animals and birds on the drive, which passes through beautiful landscapes with huge volcanic rocky outcrops and hazy blue mountains in the distance. The Karimojong people, who have a harsh life which is very different from other tribes in Uganda, are friendly.
Day 8: Exploring Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo is another Park which few tourists visit – because most tour companies only take them to western Uganda. So you are likely to be on your own with the birds and animals. Waterbuck, Patas Monkeys and Warthogs wander around amongst the bandas, as do Jackals at night, but when you hear lions roaring close by, stay in your banda! Of about 475 bird species, there are believed to be about 14 species which are endemic to Kidepo and Karamoja although there is not yet a definitive list of the birds of Kidepo.
Again, you will be able to enjoy early morning as well as late afternoon game drives along the many tracks which now exist, driving north as far as the (unmarked) border with South Sudan. You will be able to dip your hands (briefly!) into a small hot spring which bubbles out and waters a large area which stays green even in the dry season.
For more photos, look at A DAY IN KIDEPO.
Day 9: Kidepo to Soroti, Teso
Another long but beautiful drive through Karamoja to the neighbouring REGION OF TESO. Long gone are the days when the Karimojong regularly raided the Iteso, stealing their cattle and other livestock. Although the landscapes of Teso are not as dramatic or spectacular as many other parts of Uganda, Teso has a beauty of its own unlike anywhere else, with cultivated plains interspersed with swamps and lakes as well as some rocky outcrops and hills. The Iteso are arguably the friendliest people in Uganda.
Our company, Homestead Tours and Safaris, is based in Teso, so we will warmly welcome you to our homeland and invite you to experience as much of our culture and way of life as you want to. It is no longer possible to see wild animals, but we have plenty of birds in a wide variety of habitats.
You will stay in or near Soroti tonight where you will be treated to a rare and authentic performance by traditional music and dance groups in the evening.
Day 10: Exploring Teso
You have a wonderful CHOICE OF ACTIVITIES today. So that we can organise everything for you, we shall ask you when you book what you would like to do.
You have the option tonight of staying in the same hotel or you could have the unique experience of staying with a family in a village. To help you decide if this is for you, look at our HOMESTAY page.
Day 11: Soroti to Murchison Falls National Park
Today we leave early for Murchison Falls National Park, a 6 hour drive westwards along good tarmac roads. The name of the Park was derived from the incredible Murchison Falls, where the vast River Nile is forced through a 6 metre gap, apparently the most powerful water surge on the planet! The Nile divides the Park into two very different halves – most of the animal sightings are north of the Nile. There is a variety of accommodation available, both within the Park and just outside in Pakwach.
Day 12: Exploring Murchison Falls National Park
We need to set off just before dawn to go on a game drive. You will be amazed by the large numbers of animals to be found in beautiful landscapes. We will have a picnic breakfast by what is known as the Hippo Pool where it is safe to get out of the vehicle. The hippos have all returned to the water for the day although you will see them playing around. It is also a haven for water birds.
The bird life in Murchison is wonderful, with many more new species for you to see.
In the afternoon, take the three hour boat trip up the River Nile towards Murchison Falls. Not only is it relaxing, but a wonderful way to get close to birds and animals, including Red-throated Bee-eaters and Crocodiles.
For more photos, see A DAY IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK.
Day 13: Murchison Falls to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Another early start to look for more birds and animals before crossing the Nile on the car ferry. The southern part of the Park is mostly forest. We will turn off the murram road towards the top of Murchison Falls. A short walk takes us to the amazing sight of the vast river Nile crashing through the narrow, seven metre wide gap in the rocks. You will need to protect your cameras and binoculars from the heavy spray!
We will reach Ziwa in the early afternoon where you can go on a guided walk to look for White Rhinoceros. They became extinct in Uganda in the early 1980s because of conflict and poaching but are now breeding successfully at Ziwa. The Reserve is protected by a fence and rangers follow the rhinos day and night to protect them from poachers. You can’t miss seeing at least one mother and her young one when you got out on a guided walk with a ranger. They sometimes even roam around the accommodation, so you have to be cautious as they are wild animals which can attack, especially if they have a baby. There are also many other animals in the Reserve, including Leopards.
Day 14: Ziwa to Entebbe
Although it’s our last day, there is still time for another early morning walk or boat trip to look for birds before leaving.
We return to Entebbe, in time for a late evening flight if you are flying home today, or your last night in Entebbe.
THIS IS A SAMPLE ITINERARY. We can adjust the route, activities and type of accommodation according to your requirements and budget. Where there is a choice of accommodation available, you can decide whether you want to stay in luxury, mid-range or budget lodges, hotels, superior camping or guest houses. Click on: HOW TO PLAN YOUR HOLIDAY or CONTACT us.