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16 DAYS BIRDING SAFARI WITH GORILLAS

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Price $2000
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16 DAYS BIRDING SAFARI WITH GORILLAS

From $2000 per person

This is a birding trip with moderate walking, Tracking Gorillas will be the most strenuous part of the trip. The hike will be anywhere between 1-8 hours under varying trek conditions depending on where the mountain gorillas happen to be on the day of our visit. Good physical condition and the ability to hike all day on hilly terrain is required. Please note that the best birding and wildlife is found in early morning hours. So most days will have an early start. There will be some long driving days. Our vehicle will be a 4X4 safari Land cruiser with air conditioning. We will be birding in boats, along roads, trails, and from the vehicle.

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Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe Airport
Receive a warm welcome from our company representatives, then head to hotel for check in. Depending on arrival times, we can plan to do some birding this day or in afternoon at the Entebbe botanical gardens in case clients don’t suffer from Jet Lag. The Botanical Gardens are situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, the gardens are virtually on the Equator, and cover an area of roughly 100 acres. The plantings and natural vegetation here have attracted over 200 species of birds, including Goliath Heron, African Open bill, Saddle-billed Stork, Allen’s Gallinule, Spur-winged Lapwing, and many other birds of the lakeshore. Apart from these water birds, we are likely to see a nice variety of open country species, such as African Green-Pigeon, Blue-headed Coucal, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Crowned Hornbill, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Papyrus Gonolek, and Slender-billed and Golden-backed Weaver. A fine start to our birding adventures. Dinner and overnight at the hotel (in Enetbbe or Kampala as preferred by the clients)
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Day 2: Birding Mabamba/Kamengo.
Depending on local weather conditions, today we shall choose either the Mabamba Swamps or go to Kamengo Makanaga site for our day’s birding. After an early breakfast, we’ll set out straightaway with packed lunches to find one of the avian highlights of the tour-the incomparable Shoebill. The Mabamba-Kamengo Wetland about 30 miles west of Entebbe area on the shores of Lake Victoria is one of the few remaining swamps in Uganda protected by the local communities. Its extensive stands of papyrus with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous avian resident. This charismatic species, the sole member of its family, is amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa. We will make a special effort today to find it by paddling through the channels by boat. There will also, of course, be a good selection of classic East African water birds, such as Pink-backed Pelican, African Fish-Eagle, and Malachite Kingfisher, along with more local species such as Long-toed Lapwing, Papyrus Canary, and Swamp Flycatcher. All along the routes to and from Mabamba are very good spots for birding and hence a rewarding day for you. Late afternoon transfer to Kampala for overnight and preparation of the next day’s long journey to Murchison Falls. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel in Kampala
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Day 3: TRANSFER TO MASINDI
After breakfast, we’ll drive northwards toward Murchison Falls National Park, as we are birding with very many birding spots along the way. We shall have a lunch at the Kabalega’s Dinners Restaurant, and we bird Masindi with good birding spots, reach in birds: Dinner and overnight at Masindi Hotel
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DAY 4: Birding the Royal Mile
A short drive from the hotel at dawn takes us to one of Uganda’s best birding spots, the Royal Mile with parked Lunch. The name derives from the area’s historical role as the resort of Uganda’s traditional kings. The forest here has been cut back a few meters along the sides of the main trail, making for particularly good viewing conditions within the forest. Once again we are in habitat more typical of Central and West Africa than of East Africa, so special bird species abound. As we walk quietly along the trail, Red-tailed Ant-Thrushes skulk in the shadows, as do Red-tailed Bristlebill, Scaly-breasted, Pale-breasted and Brown Illadopsis, and five or more species of the always challenging greenbuls. Lower down we have a chance for the secretive White-spotted Flufftail and the striking Nahan’s Francolin. Overhead, Sabine’s and sometimes Cassin’s Spinetail soar over the clearings. With luck and sharp eyes, we may also spot Black Goshawk Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, White-throated Bee-eater, and Willcocks’s Honeyguide. Overnight: Masindi Hotel
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Day 5: Birding in Budongo and Paraa - Murchison Falls National Park
A very early start, have Early breakfast, with packed lunch, head to Budongo Kaniyo Pabidi Sector in search of Birds especially with chances of spotting the Puvel’s Illadopsis and other rare forest birds. We will also be in a prime area for a wide range of primates such as Blue and Red-tailed Monkey, Black-and –white Colobus-and, with luck, Chimpanzees. In addition, over 200 butterfly species have been recorded in Budongo. Dinner and Over Night
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Day 6: FULL DAY MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park and protects a large section of untamed savannah bisected by the mighty River Nile. It is named for the dramatic Murchison Falls where the world’s longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge in a frothing pool 140 feet below. It is one of Uganda’s oldest conservation areas, formed in the early 1900’s. Justifiably famous as Uganda’s premier game park, there are no fewer than 76 mammal species, including lion, elephant, leopard, hippopotamus, Rothschild Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, hartebeest, Oribi, Warthog, and the Uganda Kob. We will have a morning game drive, as we search for some of the rift valley endemic and an afternoon boat trip to the bottom of the falls which is an unforgettable wildlife experience with views of elephants, hippos, crocodiles, water buffaloes and an abundance of birdlife, including the other excellent chance to spot the Rare Shoebill. Later this evening, in the areas near the lodge, we will look for the elusive Pennant-winged and Standard-winged Nightjar. Overnight:
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Day 7: TRANSFER FROM MURCHISON FALLS TO FORT PORTAL – KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Drive through the escarpment, overlooking Butiaba and Lake Albert which is also a birders paradise. Look out for the rift valley endemics on our checklist. We bird along the way to Fort Portal and to our beautiful lodge.
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Day 8: KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK FULL DAY
We will have early breakfast, plus our packed lunch and we head to the Forest (6:00 Am) to look for the green Breasted Pitta (among the top Ten Must see Birds of Uganda- at an additional Cost of 30 USD recommended by our driver bird guide) and continue with chimp tracking later on. This is the home of Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. In addition, the park probably has the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa, with 12 other primate species including the rare L’Hoest’s monkey, East Africa’s largest population of the threated Red Colobus monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, and Olive Baboon.Overnight.
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Day 9: TRANSFER TO QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Today, we shall start early after breakfast and drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park, named after Queen Elizabeth who visited in 1954, is the second largest national park in Uganda, and ranks highest with respect to overall diversity, with a bird species list exceeding 600 and a day record of 296 bird species. The park has a mosaic of habitats from moist forest at Maramagambo to wild savannah excellent for lion, leopard, elephant, hyena, Ugandan Kob, Side-stripped Jackal, baboon, and Giant Hogs, just to name a few. Overnight at the lodge.
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Day 10: Birding and Game Drive and Boat Launch at Queen Elizabeth National Park
Today’s highlight is the game drive and morning birding then afternoon boat trip on the Kazinga Channel NOTE: In addition to game drives we’ll take a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel-sure to be a highlight. This trip is one of the better places to look for African Skimmers, as well as any other African water birds we may have missed such as Yellow-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Egyptian Goose, Black Crake, African Jacana, Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plover, Greater and Lesser Swamp Warbler, and Carruthers’s Cist cola. Elsewhere in the park during our stay we will look for the likes of Brown-chested Lapwing, Black Bee-eater, Shining-blue Kingfisher, up to five species of vultures, Martial and Long – crested Eagle, Common Scimitar bill, Trilling, Winding, Stout, and Zitting Cisti cola, Black-headed Gonolek, Red-shouldered Cuckoo shrike, Violet-backed Starling, Purple-banded Sunbird, Compact Weaver, Green winged Pytilia, Golden-breasted Bunting, and many others Overnight at the lodge
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Day 11: TRANSFER TO BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK
Early Birding in Maramagambo Forest then check out to continue southward this morning toward Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, we will pass through the southern extremity of Queen Elizabeth National Park, where there is a chance of encountering tree-climbing Lions in the Ishasha sector. We will carry a packed lunch to enjoy on the way. NOTE: Bwindi National Park’s claim to Ornithological fame is that it contains atleast 23 of the 41 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics, including: Grauer’s Warbler, Black-faced Apalis, Re-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Ruwenzori Batis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Strange Weaver, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimson wing, Grauber’s Broadbill, Handsome Francolin, Montane Nightjar, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Neumann’s Warbler, and Red-faced Woodland-Warbler. We’ll stay at Gorilla Camp, located deep inside Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, this is a remote, eight-tent camp. Overnight at the lodge
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Day 12: FULL DAY – BWINDI - GORILLA TRACKING IN THE FOREST
On this day, we will set off early with packed lunch, to the park headquarters for a briefing prior to Gorilla Tracking, this is one of the most exciting lifetime experiences of all time. The gorillas are gentle animals and it is an unforgettable experience to watch them as they play and go about their daily activities. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards; you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming, and resting as the youngsters’ frolic and swing playfully from vines. On the trail, will also look for other primates like L’Hoest’s Monkey, Blue Monkey, and Black-and White Colobus. Other possible mammals include Rwenzori Duiker, Yellow-back Duiker, and Caruthers Bohm’s and Alexander Squirrels. Note: Today’s hike may take from 1 to 8 hours under varying trail conditions depending on where the Gorillas happen to be on the day of our visit. Good physical condition and the ability to hike for up to 8 hours on hilly terrain is required. dinner and overnight at the lodge
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Day 13: Full Day Birding on the Main Trail
Bwindi is largely at a higher altitude and therefore is cooler than the other localities we have visited on the tour. Temperatures range between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that today’s species will include some highland species as well as some of the Albertine Rift endemics we may have missed and better views of Uganda’s many spectacular birds. The following are just a few of the day’s possibilities to check out in your field guide: Black-faced Rufous-Warbler, Black-faced Apalis, Dusky –blue Flycatcher, Black-and- white Shrike-flycatcher, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Doherty’s Buck shrike, White-necked Raven, Black-tailed Oriole, Waller’s Starling, Black-billed Weaver, Grauer’s Broadbill, Oriole Finch, Bar-tailed Trogon, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Lagden’s Bush shrike, and Archer’s Robin-Chat.dinner and overnight at the lodge
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DAY 14: TRANSFER TO LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, we will transfer to Lake Mburo which is another scenic drive with lunch en-route. Arriving in the late evening. Lake Mburo National Park encompasses more than 100 sq. miles and has a markedly different fauna from the other reserves we have visited. We will have 2 days here to explore the rolling hills and open grassy valleys. The park is covered in extensive open and wooded acacia savannah, home to Common Eland, the largest of the antelopes, as well as Topi, Impala, Klipspringer, Burch ell’s Zebra and a number of several acacia associated birds.
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Day 15: Birding in Lake Mburo National Park
We start the day with an early morning game drive or morning nature walk, with good chances of viewing several animal species including zebras, impalas, elands, Topi and buffalos. Following lunch, our game viewing will be by boat, looking for hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of water birds like the Great Egret, Pied Kingfisher, and brilliantly colored Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow-Warbler, African Fin foot, African Fish-Eagle, and many more.
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Day 16: Transfer to Kampala – MPANGA FOREST then continue to Entebbe airport or Kampala
After breakfast we will check out with our packed lunches and transfer to Kampala. To stretch our legs, we shall stop at the Uganda Equator and then proceed to Mpanga Central Forest Reserve, which is home to some spectacular trees, including members of the elm family with large buttresses. These are a major food source for Mpanga’s notable variety of butterflies. The forest also boasts of a number of primate species, particularly Re-tailed Monkey, and Black-and-White Colobus Monkey. Not to be overlooked are the many species of forest birds including Ross’s Turaco, Gray Parrot, African Wood-Owl, Black-and –white-casqued Hornbill, and Red-chested and Klaas’s Cuckoo.