Top Places Spot Sheobills In Uganda

With over 1080 bird species that are widely distributed in different parts in Uganda, a shoebill stork is one most incredible bird you need not to miss to spot out while on birding safari in Africa. This magnificent bird features among a few rarest avifaunal species with prehistoric looks and stretches up to about 150 centimeters and has a weight of 14 pounds.

The Arabs called it shoebill stork ‘Abu Maruk’ denoting father of the shoe while others describe it as flying shoe due to its rare bill. Others also call it a king whale head given its enormous head size. It derived its name due to shoe-like bill that grows up to 24 cm long and 20 cm wide.

Shoebills can thrive up to 50 years and they do nest on the ground laying mainly 2 eggs and both male and female do incubation duties for a month prior hatching the chicks. The chicks are fed for many months prior starting to feed on their own.

These elusive creatures thrive mainly in swampy areas and depend on lungfish as well as frogs, puddle fish, snakes and others. While fighting, they have a wide wingspan with their heads and necks retracted. On ground, they look sluggish on the ground although so graceful in the air and when they are attacking their prey, they pull back the wings then approach it in a manner that demonstrates their strength.

shoebillThe notable areas for you to sight at a shoebill stork in Uganda include;

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Mainly known for wildlife safaris in Uganda,  Queen Elizabeth National park  is one of the major Bird Areas in the country. It features diverse habitats that come with variety of bird species that make up a total of about 620 that include among others the shoebill stork. The others include white tailed lark, pink backed pelicans, African broadbill, lesser and greater flamingos, bar tailed godwit, black rumped buttonquail, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher a mention but a few.

Lake Mburo National Park

With over 350 bird species that exist in this park, shoebill is rare bird you shouldn’t miss to spot out while on Uganda birding safari. The others include the African wattled lapwing, saddle billed stork, brown chested lapwing, red faced barbet, African scops owl, papyrus yellow warbler, Carruthers cisticola and many others.

Mabamba swamp

This is notably one of the best sites for you catch a glimpse at these elusive creatures while on bird watching safari in Uganda. This swamp forms part of Lake Victoria and can be reached from Entebbe or Kampala. For those of you who plan to pay a visit to Lake Mburo National Park, you can combine your trip with bird watching in Mabamba swamp.

shoebillThe Ziwa rhino sanctuary

While on safari in Ziwa expect to see more than just the rhinos. This area is equally ideal for you to sight at the shoebill stork as well as several other bird species. For amazing encounters at the shoebills at this sanctuary, you will need to spend a night at amuka lodge.

The other incredible area is Murchison falls national park. While on safari at this park, don’t miss to spot out a shoebill stork.

Semuliki wildlife reserve

The reserve is ideal for bird watching and an exceptional site for you to sight at shoebill. Lake Albert equally offers the best spot for you to sight at shoebill. This reserve and park is situated within Bwamba County western Uganda and boasts not only for its diverse bird species but also variety of mammal species that include among others hippos, forest buffaloes, Mona monkeys, elephant,  Bush babies a mention but a few.

Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC)

While this is more of a zoo, a visit to this touristic site offers you opportunity to spot out variety of bird species including the shoebill.

Makanaga wetlands

This wetland is located near Entebbe and one of the significant birds to spot out in this wetland is a shoebill. This bird hotspot lies about 60 kilometers off Entebbe and can be reached through Kampala-Masaka route.

In conclusion, if you are interested in bird watching and shoebill is your dream bird, the above places should be a must on your bucket list.

Bird Watching in Mpanga Forest

Forests are one of the important birding sites that Uganda has and Mpanga Forest is arguably an impressive and secluded destination any birder should not miss exploring. This site is situated within Mpigi District, at approximately 36 kilometers south-west of Kampala along the Kampala – Masaka Highway, making it a perfect birding stop before proceeding to your final destination much as it can also be visited as an independent destination.

This small patch of Tropical rain forest was established as a scientific Research Center extends for only 453 hectares but is a wonderful getaway destination for nature enthusiasts. Most of the bird species can be spotted within the forest edge in during flight, whereby after the tourists’ center, you will enter the forest through the clear walking trail.

Unbelievably, such a small site offers shelter to over 300 species of birds and its close proximity to Kampala makes it every birder’s must-visit area to spot several bird species.

Top on the list of bird species are

  • the fire-crested Alethe
  • black-headed heron
  • Tawny-flanked Prinia,
  • Red-headed Malimbe
  • Grey-headed Negrofinches
  • Speckled mousebird,
  • Pin-tailed Whydah,
  • Shining-blue kingfisher,
  • Superb sunbird,
  • African Shrike-flycatcher
  • Bronze Mannikin
  • Black-and-white-casqued hornbill
  • Grey-headed Sparrow
  • African Pied Wagtail,
  • Scarlet-chested sunbird
  • African green-pigeon
  • Winding Cisticola,
  • White-breasted Negrofinches
  • Ruppell’s Long-tailed Starling
  • Black and White Casqued hornbills,
  • White-breasted Negrofinches
  • Red-chested cuckoo
  • Hadada ibis,
  • Black-and-white shrike-flycatcher
  • Narina Trogon
  • Ruppell’s Long-tailed Starling,
  • Throated-brown Sunbirds,
  • Yellow-throated Tinkerbird,
  • Yellow-throated longclaw,
  • Woodland kingfisher,
  • Bronze sunbird,
  • Blue-breasted Kingfisher,
  • Green-headed Sunbird,
  • Yellow-fronted Canary
  • White-spotted Flufftail
  • Cattle egrets,
  • Compact weaver,
  • African pied hornbill
  • Fire-crested Alethe,
  • Brown-capped weaver
  • Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
  • African Palm Swift,
  • Black cuckoo
  • African green Pigeon
  • Purple starling
  • Lesser striped Swallow
  • Western Nicator
  • White-rumped Swift
  • Weyns’s weaver
  • Great blue Turaco
  • Purple heron,
  • Crested Guinea Fowl
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • Palmnut Vulture,
  • Yellow-crested Woodpecker
  • Lizard Buzzard
  • Superb Sunbirds,
  • Common Bulbul,
  • Collared sunbirds
  • White-headed sawing
  • Egyptian Goose,
  • Little Greenbul,
  • Grey parrot,
  • Long-tailed Cormorant
  • Copper sunbird,
  • Red-eyed dove
  • Variable sunbird,
  • Black-headed weaver
  • Splendid starling
  • Red-tailed Bristilebill
  • African harrier-hawk
  • Black kite,
  • Crowned hornbill
  • Sacred Ibis

The well-maintained birding trails pass through the entire length of the forest and ends at a water stream that is a haven to the rare shoebill storks and offers shelter to numerous aquatic bird species. Surprisingly, it lasts only three hours to participate in the activity through the whole trail and will reward birders with more than 100 species of birds.  Due to the dense vegetation, you will need a local guide who is not only conversant with the area but also know the resident species in the forest as well as their calls.

On top of bird species, this Forest is a home to several mammals such as pangolins, banded mongoose, squirrels, primates including the bush babies, Pottos, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and the red-tailed monkeys, 97 species of butterflies, 500 tree species and shrubs as well as over 112 species of moths. This eco-tourism site has clean cottages as well as well maintained Campsites for tourists’ own camping.

How to reach Mpanga Forest

Mpanga Forest can easily be accessed through public means by using mini-buses heading to Mpigi. You can stop at the signpost of Mpanga Eco-tourism site and proceed for only 1 kilometer from this signage on a dirt road to the forest.

Top 5 Exquisite Birding Spots in Uganda

The Pearl of Africa provides shelter to over 1060 species of birds and it is ranked among the richest destinations in the world in terms of bird diversity. Uganda’s bird check list is more than half the total species recorded in Africa and has more birds per square kilometer than any other country on the African continent. The birds of Uganda can be found in a range of habitats such as the forests, swamps, agricultural lands, lakes, savannah and alpine regions.

Mabamba Wetlands

Mabamba bay wetland is one of the most remarkable and spectacular sites for bird watching in Uganda and it is among the wetlands of international importance. Other than Murchison falls national park, Mabamba bay is the only place to spot the elusive shoebill at a close range any time of the day. It is one of the undisputed havens for the migrant Blue swallow with over 100 individuals recorded every year and this place boasts up to 260 species.

Mabamba bay also provides shelter to other four globally threatened species and other birds of regional significance such as the pallid harrier, papyrus Gonolek, White winged warbler and the blue swallow. The surveys have confirmed the presence of flocks of other species especially migrants such as gull-billed terns, whiskered terns, white winged black terns and residents such as grey headed gulls.

Other captivating species found in the marsh include good numbers of Goliath herons, spur winged, pygmy geese, malachite kingfisher, and papyrus canary, northern brown Throated weaver, Carruther’s Cisticola and a number of other birds.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls national park is the largest and one of oldest national parks in Uganda and it is home to the strongest water falls in the world where the mighty river Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and flows down to become a calm river whose banks are occupied with hippos, crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. Its flora is characterized by the savannah, riverine forest and woodland.

The popular Murchison Falls National Park has a number of unique bird species and every bird lover should visit this park because the birding experience in Murchison falls is deeply enhanced by the abundant wildlife and scenic landscape. The legendary shoebill is one of the most iconic birds in the park and this is the only park where one is certain of seeing the bird, which is regularly recorded along the Albert Nile, especially at the delta and amidst islands in the river.

Murchison falls national park is important for the Sudan-guinea biomes species with 14 out of 22 species recorded in the park and in this park travelers can view the 4 to 12 lake Victoria species, 11 of 44 guinea Congo forest species, 6 of 86 afro-tropical highland species and 3 of 32 Somalia Masai biome species and sometimes when the flow of the Nile is low, African skimmers gather on sand banks a few meters below the falls.

Lake Mburo National Park

Birding in Lake Mburo national park. Uganda’s smallest national park is covered by tall grass savanna dotted with Acacia and euphorbia trees. Lake Mburo national park has an extensive area of wetlands, harbors several species of mammals and a great bird population.

Travelers enjoy birding while driving through the park and some of the bird species to encounter in Lake Mburo national park include crested francolin, red necked spurfowl, Nubian woodpecker, arrow marked babler, emerald spotted wood dove, brown parrot and bare-faced go-away-bird. Northern black flycatcher, blue naped and speckled mousebird, lilac breasted and broad billed roller and many others. The best birding spots in Lake Mburo are near the swamps at Warukiri and Rwonyo. Travelers can also spot the rare African finfoot, occasional sightings of a shoebill, African fish eagle and malachite and many others on a boat cruise along Lake Mburo.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Bwindi National Park in Western Uganda is one of Africa’s best birding destinations in the world, it was voted by the African bird club as number one in the continent, due to the number of rare bird species found in the park. Bwindi impenetrable national park has well maintained birding trails, easily accessible and navigable by the travelers.

It accommodates more than 350 bird species including 23 Albertine rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in the country. Some of the bird species found in this park include the African Green broadbill, Shelley’s crimsonwing, handsome francolin, mountain-masked and collared apalis, white bellied robin chat, black billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, western bronze naped pigeon, purple breasted, blue-headed and regal sunbirds and many others.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Bird watcher’s haven, Queen Elizabeth national park provides shelter to over 600 bird species and in this park birds are easily spotted and travelers are expected to take great photos as they explore the park and its spectacular scenery dotted with abundant wildlife.

Some of the resident bird species to explore in Queen Elizabeth National park include the African mourning dove, swamp flycatcher, grey-headed kingfisher, African skimmer, malachite and pied kingfisher, white-winged terns, grey capped warbler, collared pratinvole, pin tailed whydah, martial eagle, Gabon and slender tailed nightjars, black headed Gonolek, Verreaux’s eagle owl and many others. Flamingos can be spotted at the salt lakes of Katwe and Bunyampaka.

Semuliki National Park

Semuliki national park has over 441 bird species in its riverine, forest and grassland habitats. Semuliki has Guinea-Congo biome species and they are found in the park’s lowland forest. Other bird species to look out for include Black dwarf hornbill, Nkulengu rail, piping hornbill, African Miculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue billed Malimbe, yellow throated cuckoo, dwarf honeyguide, great blue and ross’s turaco, purple breasted sunbird, orange weaver, white-crested hornbill, red billed dwarf hornbill and many others.

Uganda generally is gifted with nature so it has very many birding spots, some are protected and others are not protected. Other important birding areas in Uganda include Kibale national park, Mgahinga national park, Budongo forest, Rwenzori mountains national park and many others.

Kasenge Forest Resort: Where Bird Watching is WOW!!

If you are an adventurer in quest for bliss amongst the expanse of nature, plentiful of birds and some real good people, this sanctuary is hypnotizing.

Situated approximately 30km from Kampala along the Kampala – Jinja Road, Kasenge is a vast tropical forest with a fully-fledged forest safari lodge offering sensational experiences that revitalize mind, body and spirit. It is a harmonious sanctuary where you can spend a few hours and emerge feeling as fresh as the daisy flowers that thrive in her shades.

It is not a zoo like destination where birds are kept in enclosures. The sanctuary in the philosophy of wildlife parks, allows the birds to enjoy utter freedom. Entrance fee to Kasenge is UGX 10,000 (roughly $3) for adults and free for children.

For Details

Facebook: Kasenge Forest Resort Beach

Contact: +256 772 321383

5 Fascinating Birds of Prey in Uganda

To you and other people it may be the Pearl of Africa; to me Uganda is a Paradise on Earth. A country with over 1061 species of birds (10% of the World’s species of birds) can never run short of surprises. Every corner of the country has something to offer and not only that, the country has everything you would ever wish in a destination. When it comes to bird species, you will be totally amazed and surprised by what you will see in the Pearl of Africa. Most interestingly, you will be able to sight some of the birds of prey within the country. Uganda is a haven to over 90 species of Raptors also known as birds of prey and they range from the small Pygmy Falcons within Kidepo Valley National Park and the Northern region to the great Crowned Eagles found within the tropical rainforests.

Owls

Owls are one of the common birds of prey and are sub-divided into 18 species within Uganda and range from the giant Pel’s fishing Owls to the small African scops owls. What all the birds of prey have in common is that they attack and kill their victims (prey) with their gripping feet made up of long sharp talons.

Vultures

Vultures are also birds of prey although are carrion eaters whereby some of the typical attributes and characteristics of birds of prey (eating flesh) have died out. For instance, the Palm-nut vultures consume palm-nut just as their name suggests.

Buzzards

One of the common species of buzzards is the Red-necked Buzzard, medium-sized migrant birds that sometimes visit the North-western side of Uganda especially from December to March although are rarely seen within East Africa. Nonetheless, they have wider geographical habitats from Mauritania (South of Angola), Central Ethiopia and in Uganda they are found in the North-west of the country, especially within Otzi East Forest Reserve, west of the White Nile.  These exceptional birds prefer forest edges, woodlands, secondary forests and farmlands, and feed on mainly birds, reptiles and small mammals. They were listed as being birds of least concern under IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species because of habitat loss. Other Buzzard species include the Steppe buzzards, Lizard buzzard, Honey buzzards and the Grasshopper Buzzards among others.

Eagles

There are over 20 species of Eagles in Uganda and the common ones include the crowned eagle (scientifically known as Stephanoaetus coronatus) and are considered the most charismatic of all the Eagle species. They are always cunning and clever when it comes to hunting. For instance, the female will fly above the forest canopies calling and diverting the attention of monkeys whereas the aggressive males surprise the victim by grabbing the monkeys with the claws thereby killing it.

The Martial eagles scientifically known as Polemaetus bellicosus are the savannah cousins of the crowned eagles but are larger yet weaker. Their prey always includes smaller antelopes like oribis, mongoose, young warthogs, monitor lizards and vervet monkeys.

Other species of eagles include the stunning Bateleur and the long crested eagles among others.

Falcons

Falcons are also species of raptors/birds of prey and some of their sub-species include the fast Peregrine falcons, the beautiful Grey Kestrel with an all grey but dark yellow facial skin. The shy Red-necked falcons are common with Murchison Falls National Park

One fascinating fact about majority of Uganda’s raptors is that they from as far as Europe (such as the steppe Buzzard, Booted eagles, Honey Buzzard and Osprey among others), from South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania and Somalia.

Other species of raptors or birds of prey in Uganda include the Bat Kites, the African Goshawk and the Lizard Buzzard among others. Therefore a Uganda birding safari will introduce you to these and other birds of prey.

Exciting Uganda Safari Deals for 2018

Uganda celebrates gorilla tourism through conservation and sustainable travel across the globe  every year but for those planning to visit the country in 2018 , the unspeakable joy is that no gorilla permit price increase in all gorilla tracking parks-Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park.

The two mountain gorilla homes in south western Uganda have become known as great wild adventure spots in Africa and worldwide. A few months ago Rwanda increased its gorillas permits from US$750-US$1500 changing the country travel trend from being a cheap gorilla safari destination to Luxury gorilla safari destinations for reasons and conservation and community development.

This somehow worried tourists with plans of tracking mountain gorillas in 2018 in Africa. However, Uganda gorilla permit price stability changes the all scenario and joy fills up the lives for many travelers to Africa. Uganda gorilla permits for 2018 go for US$600 per trek for all months of the year with discount offers in low season.Travellers will still secure gorilla permits at only US$450 per trek during the month of April, May and November.

If your plans where initially to fly to Rwanda-Kigali international Airport, it can still work and you connect to Uganda for gorilla tracking and later fly out from Kigali international Airport. This travel arrangement offers travelers an opportunity to explore the beautiful land of thousand hills as wells that of Uganda the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda hosts exciting gorilla safari experiences in both Bwindi forest and Mgahinga national park which is conducted every day in all the parks. Gorilla safaris in Uganda are best for all budgets and one can either see mountain gorillas in their home on budget or luxury gorilla safari tour. The experience of gorilla safaris in Uganda is just same like that of Rwanda  with a true fact that whoever tracks mountain gorillas get changed with various memories of  the beautiful jungle creatures.

Trekking gorillas is much more than taking a forest walk through the thick forest jungle and later meet up with gorillas .A lot can be experienced and enjoyed –the reason for many travelers who have ever seen the gorillas to describe the experience as “life changing encounter” and worth every effort and penny”.

Like any other mountain gorilla tracking destination, one must have a gorilla permit to track gorillas in Uganda. Booking gorilla permits can be done through a tour agent responsible for organizing your gorilla safari tour or directly at the park management head offices in Kampala(UWA).However, its has always been very easy and flexible to reserve your gorilla permit with a tour agent.

The best time to track endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda is all year with a peak season from June-October and December to March. However, those who chose to visit the country during April, May and November enjoy more benefits on safari because they don’t only carry home huge memories of the unique gorillas but also save much for their next vacation. However, it’s a grantee to see mountain gorillas in Uganda on a single trek any time of the year but going for double trekking is a choice and open for every traveler to the country. Tourists are rewarded with gorilla certificates after the trek a reward gift that confirms that you made it successful to the land of mountain gorillas.

5 Unique Birds to See on a Birding Safari in Uganda

Uganda is known as Africa’s premier birding destination with the list of birds found in the country topping 1000, most of these birds live only in these tropical forests with the are sightings being described as mythical while it’s believed that some of the birds living in the remote forests of Uganda may not even be classified as of yet. These birds have greatly attracted many people to come for safaris to Uganda.

Shoebill Stork

The shoebill is one of the most attractive birds in Uganda and is endemic to Africa and the birders from around the globe flock to Uganda to catch a rare glimpse of this clumsy giant, the type of bird was not protected and its egg were also frequently from the nets.

Green Breasted Pitta

The green breasted pitta is also a difficult bird to find despite its relatively common status in the Central African countries. It lives a well camouflaged in the lowland tropical forest and photographing some of these little guys is a good dream. Another is the African Green Broadbill and this can only be seen in two places in the world, I the Itombwe mountains of DRC and Uganda in Bwindi Forest. The specie is declining due to loss of its habitat from the forest clearing and degradation, this bird species has greatly attracted many tourists for Uganda safaris.

Great Bule Turaco

The great Blue Turaco and the white crested Turaco are some of the largest, most exquisite birds which are found in Uganda. These birds are actively hunted their meat and the feathers are liked as high commodities which has decreased their numbers. Shelley’s crimson wing is one of the world’s rarest birds and can be found on most bird bucket lists. They live in a thin trip of the mountains and the volcanoes which are known as the Albertine Rift which border Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo.

Winged Nightjar

The standard winged nightjar is a bird characterized by the central flight feathers which appear during the breeding season on the male. It also a dream come true to view these birds during this short time span when their feathers which can be stretched up to 38m in length. The short tailed warbler can also be found in Uganda’s forest undergrowth while these forests of the DRC and Rwanda are also home to this camouflaged species. In addition, there is the Doherty’s Bush shrike which is found in the subtropical montane forests and the moist shrubs of central Africa. These are brightly colored birds and are one of the more common birds seen in Uganda and their population levels are table in most parts where they are found.

Bar Tailed Trogon

The bar tailed Trogon is a beautiful medium sized bird which lives in high altitude forests and has a large range throughout central and southern Africa although it’s rarely seen. Finally is the black breasted barbet which is seen by very few individuals and is highly sought after by the bird watchers. It tends to live in the areas of conflict and it rarely seen by the tourist who come for safari tours to Uganda.

Finding the Right Binoculars

A good pair of bird watching binoculars is definitely a must if you are into bird watching. This is because this will help you view and observe birds better. For beginners, a good pair of binoculars is really one of the basic tools they need in order to get the hang of the activity. Aside from helping them see birds closely and clearly, a pair of bird watching binoculars will also help them to adjust in viewing moving birds.

Buying a good pair of binoculars

Bird watching is one of those activities that entail patience and keen observation. This is because you don’t need to do anything but to watch avian creatures in the horizon and do the thing they love the most—flying.

If you are new into bird watching, the first thing that you need to pay attention to is having a good pair of binoculars. In buying binoculars for bird watching, the major consideration should be the quality of the lens installed in it. The lens should provide you the best quality of image possible, no any distortions in the viewfinder, and should present the best color of the object being observed.

The average cost of a good pair of bird watching binoculars is around $500 to $1000 depending on the brand, size, and quality of lens installed in it. For starters, you really need not buy so expensive binoculars. To help you get the best binocular for your bird watching, here are some helpful tips for you:

1. Consider its magnification
This is very important because it will enable you to see the birds clearly. When looking for a pair of binoculars, choose those that have minimum magnification of 7×35. But if you can afford to buy binoculars with larger magnification such as those with multiples of 8x, 9x, up to 10x, it is better because these can definitely give you a larger image of the bird being watched.

Always keep in mind that a larger lens gets more amount of light, thus, can provide you an image that is sharper and clearer. (TIP: Binoculars with higher magnification tend to be heavier. It is best to look for a pair of binocular with high magnification but made of light materials so you can carry it.)

2. Check its flexibility
The flexibility of the binoculars can be tested if you move its barrels. This is very important so you won’t have difficulties in holding it the way you want to. Make sure that the barrels are not tight so you don’t have to worry that it will break easily.

3. Test its focus
Most binoculars will not focus clearly when you test it inside the store because the environment tends to be dim. If you want to make sure that the binocular can focus clearly, try focusing it on a bright side of the room. If it has good focus, it will easily focus on the subject in sight. While checking the focus, you should also check if there are distortions in the image. If there is, don’t buy it because it is of poor quality.

4. Pay attention to its exit pupil
This should also be a major consideration because this will determine if you will see things clearly. The exit pupil refers to the diameter seen on the image once it leaves the lens’ eyepiece. The exit pupil should always be bigger that the eyes of your pupil because the image will appear dark. The basic exit pupil should at least be 4 mm or higher to get the brightest image possible.

A trip to Watch Birds and Gorillas in Africa

One of the classic birding experience in Uganda or Rwanda is to combine gorilla tracking and bird watching on a safari holiday. Combining the experience of tracking the mountain gorillas in the beautiful Bwindi Impenetrable forest and birding is one of the most amazing wildlife experience you can ever take. Nothing will ever prepare you for the first glimpse or the sound of the silver back pounding its chest amidst the dense undergrowth on a gorilla trek within Uganda or Rwanda. The excitement kicks in when start your gorilla trekking trip into the tropical rain forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Volcanoes National Park and you get up close to the imposing and magnificent figure of a silverback and it’s all baby gorillas peeking through leaves or hiding behind their mothers. When these forest dwellers sense that all is well they will start showing off by swinging, twisting, turning and somersaulting all for your entertainment.

These forests also host various birds including endemics that cannot be found in any other destination. There are about 350 bird species, with 14 bird species not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. in addition there are 23 birds that are endemic to the Albertine Rift and several migratory birds that are present during the months of November to April.

Gorilla permits will set you back as they cost US$600 but don’t think twice about going out for this genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Keep in mind that a portion of the fee goes to the park and gorilla conservation initiatives, helping to ensure their survival among us!

Go Gorilla Trekking and Birding in Uganda

A tiny landlocked country supporting more than 1000 species, Uganda deserves its reputation as “birders’ Eden”. A short trip here to soak up the bizarre and mind-blowing Shoebills at Murchison Falls, or Albertine Rift endemics at Bwindi National Park, is incredibly rewarding, while the chance to come face to face with Africa’s most noble beast, the mountain gorillas, is probably the most touching experience any wildlife enthusiast could hope for. Uganda is a superb destination for rain forest fanatics and those in search of the rare and elusive gorillas.

In terms of size, Uganda is the richest country in Africa for birds. It has an excellent infrastructure and a great diversity of habitats, from the papyrus-fringed swamps of the Lake Victoria Basin, through both lowland and highland forests of the Albertine Rift and north to the Guinea Savannah. Uganda could soon rival Kenya as the most visited country in Africa. Eco-tourism has been positively encouraged for the last decade. Below is a typical tour that includes both gorilla trekking and bird watching in the Pearl of Africa.

A PRIVATE GORILLA SAFARI ITENERARY

Day 1:Kampala – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

On arrival at Entebbe International airport, your private Charter plane will fly you to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi is home to the few remaining mountain gorillas. Bird life and primate life in Bwindi is quite superb, and there is an incredible variety of flora. Bwindi is the Bird watchers haven! It holds 348 species of birds and supports 24 of 26 Albertine Rift Endemics that occur in Uganda; and seven red data book species. Once continuous with the forests of the Virunga Volcanoes (Dian Fossey’s stomping ground), Bwindi is now an ecological island, surrounded by cultivation on the rich volcanic soils.

Should you have the energy this afternoon, take a guided walk on the Munyaga River trail, which is an ideal short walk. This trail leads to three delightful crystal clear waterfalls, and there is a profusion of tree ferns, epithytic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colourful array of butterflies. Here you may also see birds and primates from the forest edge. Overnight at Gorilla Forest camp/ or Volcanoes camp (FB)

Day 2: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Forest

You will rise relatively early for a hearty breakfast to give you the energy needed for gorilla tracking. Report to the ranger station at 08.00 am where the guides will take you through the bush, slashing at the undergrowth, parting thick creepers, to track gorillas. This trek can take from half an hour to five hours so a reasonable degree of fitness is required as well as a sturdy pair of walking shoes. You sit in the forest among the gorillas listening to them grumble at each other and marvel at the sheer size of the dominant male, the silverback. It is amazing to think that there are only 650 or so of these creatures left in the world!

If you have the afternoon free, how about a guided village walk – see how the Ugandans live, visit a local bar and meet the local medicine man! Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp or Volcanoes camp (FB)

Day 3: Return to Bwindi Forest

Following a relaxed breakfast your guide will drive you to the Kayonza airstrip where you will you will meet your private charter to Entebbe International airport. A guide / representative will meet you on your arrival and show you to your outbound flight.