Primates and Parrots in Uganda and Rwanda

Queen Elizabeth and Volcanoes National Parks, Murchison Falls, Kibale, and Bwindi
Overview

overview

Many naturalists claim that Uganda and Rwanda offer experiences that are richer and more diverse than the great wildlife safari destinations of Tanzania, Kenya, and Botswana. Mountain Gorillas are the featured species of these countries, and you will have the necessary permits to see them up close. But there is so much more.  The valley of the upper Nile, the vast savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and many smaller sanctuaries protecting lakes, rain forests, and volcanic landscapes hold more species of plants, primates, birds, and other animals than any comparable region on the continent.

Our goal on this trip is to explore and understand this richness in the company of an exceptional naturalist guide, Paul Tamwenya. Paul knows virtually all of the birds by vocalization and sight, and has superb vision for finding distant mammals.  He is a charismatic leader who is known and respected throughout Uganda and Rwanda. In two weeks, you will sample all the major habitats of Uganda and Rwanda. 

Our emphasis will be on seeing and photographing as many birds and animals as possible, but we will also enjoy the hospitality of many friendly people representing different tribes who will be your hosts.  Expect early morning starts, opportunities to explore on foot, and small comfortable hotels and lodges located close to interesting natural areas.  Most tourists visiting Uganda and Rwanda focus just on the locations where chimps and the Mountain Gorillas occur.  We will have several chances to see the gorillas close up (see Will's 2009 Gorilla Video), but the main emphasis will be active exploration of your naturalist-guide’s favorite sanctuary haunts species of birds and other animals.

Ask about special departure pre-tour and post-tour extensions availabe that allow a visit Paul's village and see the Golden Monkeys.  

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Entebbe
    Meet Paul, and welcome to Uganda!

    Arrival in Entebbe, Uganda, and transfer to Cassia Lodge with a panoramic view of Lake Victoria. Early arrivals will visit the Entebbe Wildlife Education Center or enjoy a first day of birding at the botanical gardens, good for the Vervet, Red tailed, Black, and White Colobus monkeys.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Cassia Lodge (http://www.cassialodge.com/home.html)
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  • Day 2: Murchison Falls National Park
    Murchison Falls

    After breakfast, drive north through the Luwero triangle to Murchison Falls conservation area with a stopover for lunch in Masindi. This park is the largest protected area in Uganda and is bisected by the Victoria Nile. Murchison Falls has three different ecosystems. This park has a variety of wildlife which includes, among others, the lion, leopard, reedbuck, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hartebeest, oribi, Uganda kob, chimpanzee, and many bird species, including the rare Shoebill. This is one of the best birding sites in all of Africa, according to the African Bird Club. We will board the ferry in the afternoon, arriving at our accommodation in time for dinner.

    This evening there is a possibility of a night game drive with your guide.

    Throughout this trip, there will be opportunities for additional hiking with our fantastic in-country naturalist guide and birder extraordinaire, Paul Tamwenya.  Ask us about options when you book your trip.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Paraa Safari Lodge or similar
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  • Day 3: Game Safari Murchinson Falls
    Ferry across the Nile

    After an early breakfast, you begin your safari. Cross the Nile with the ferry at 7 am and make a game drive up to the Albert Delta Point. Be alert for lion, leopard, reedbuck, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hartebeest, oribi, and Uganda kob.  Special birds to look out for here include Shoebill, Northern Carmine Bee-Eater, Abyssinian Roller, Ground Hornbill, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, White-Browed Sparrow Weaver, Silver bird, Buff-bellied Warbler, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Senegal Thick-knee, Osprey, Water Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Hauglin’s Francolin, Black Billed Wood-Dove, Namaqua Dove, Vinaceous Dove and Grosbeak Weaver, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning Thrush, White Rumped Seed Eater, Red-throated Bee-eater, Beautiful Sunbird, Speckle-fronted and Golden-backed Weavers, and White-rumped Canary. In the afternoon, a boat trip on the Nile takes you to the roaring waters at the base of the Murchison Falls, where you have the biggest concentration of the greatest hippos and crocodile on the river. Some of the crocs may exceed 20 feet in length. Scattered among the hippos and crocs, you will find birds such as the Yellow-Billed Stork, Egyptian Plover, Red-chested Bee-Eater, White-faced and Fulvous Whistling Duck, Rock Pratincole, Wire-tailed Swallow, and Goliath and Purple Heron. 

    Again, you will have the opportunity of accompanying Paul on a night game drive.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Paraa Safari Lodge or similar
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  • Day 4: Birds and Primates of Kaniyo Pabid
    Augur Buzzard

    Begin the day and bird to Masindi via Kaniyo Papid, which is part of the Budongo Forest Reserve and an area of incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The forest is crisscrossed with a well-maintained network of forest trails, making it possible to explore this beautiful and dense forest in different ways, giving us the best sightings of the Puvel's Illadopsis, a shy and secretive dull brown bird. Chimps, Olive Baboons, Red Tailed and Black and White Colobus monkeys are found here, as are Varvet and others. Other bird species here include the Grey and Yellow Longbills, Chocolate-backed, Blue Breasted, and Pygmy Kingfisher. We also have good views of the shaggy-crested Guineafowl, Fire Crested Alethe, Narina Tragon, Yellow Billed, Grey Throated and Yellow Spotted Barbet, among the other species today.  We end the day with a drive to Masindi, where you will spend two nights at Masindi Hotel, Uganda’s oldest hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Masindi Hotel or similar (www.masindihotel.com)
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  • Day 5: The Royal Mile and Busingiro
    Red-chested Sunbird

    Start early with a drive to the Royal Mile. Mammals to observe include the Blue, Velvet, and Red-Tailed monkeys, Olive Baboon, and chimps. En route, look for Cabanis Bunting, Dark-Capped Yellow Wabler, Grey-Headed Olive Back, Black Bellied Firefinch, Brown Twinspot, White-Thighed Hornbill, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin.  In the forest, expect to see other varieties of birds such as the Forest and Chestnut-Capped Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Narinas Trogon, Little Green, Collard, Olive and Green Sunbird, Western Black-headed Oriole, Dusky Long-tailed and African Emerald Cuckoo, Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, Yellow and Grey Longbill, Forest Robin, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Ituri Batis, Tit Hylia, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Green Crombec, Crested and Red Headed Malimbe, Red-headed Bluebill, Cassin's Spine Tail and Hawk Eagles, Little Greenbul, Slender-billed Greenbul, White-throated Greenbul and Plain Greenbul, Sabine’s Spinetail, Yellow Billed, Hairy Breasted, and Yellow Spotted Barbets, and Black Billed Turaco, to name a few. Among the primates, we expect the Blue, Velvet, and Red Tailed Monkeys, Olive Baboon, and the Chimps. This evening, we will relax and enjoy a western Uganda dance called ‘Entogoro’ from the Banyoro people living around Masindi.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Masindi Hotel or similar
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  • Day 6: Safari to Kibale National Park
    Elephant crossing the road

    Today, start after an early breakfast for a long drive to Kibale National Park with lots of stops for birds, animals, and photos along the way. We may encounter large congregations of Olive Baboons, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Red Colobus Monkey, and Red Tailed and Velvet Monkeys. Kibale National Park is a popular habitat for 13 known primate species, including the closest living cousin of man, the chimpanzee. Dinner and overnight at Mountains of the Moon.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountains of the Moon
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  • Day 7: Primate Tracking in Kibale
    Breakfast with Slender-billed and Yellow-backed Weavers

    After breakfast, go chimpanzee tracking in Kibale. Primates you may also encounter include the L’Hoest’s, Red Colobus, Red-tailed, Olive Baboon, Gray-cheeked Mangabey, and others. In the afternoon, visit Bigodi wetland, which is managed by the local community. This project was started by an American Peace Corps volunteer who was trying to develop ways for the local people to derive income by protecting their forest for ecotourism. These efforts have survived as a successful model which funds a school and employs local people has hosts, guards, and guides. Here, we expect to spot the elusive Sitatunga Antelope among the papyrus and several interesting species of birds such as the White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, and Carruthre’s Cisticola. Today, we enjoy a traditionally-prepared lunch from the local group that manages this wetland.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountains of the Moon
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  • Day 8: Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Queen Elizabeth National Park

    Journey through Uganda’s beautiful scenic areas with a potential clear view of the Mountains of the Moon, depending on the cloud cover. Nearing our destination, enjoy a game drive en route. Queen Elizabeth is the second-largest national park in Uganda. In terms of diversity, this park is amazing, with 612 known species of birds. Special birds of this park include Harlequin Quail, Blue Quail, Red Capped Lark, African Crake, Common Buttonquail, Broad Tailed Warbler, Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, and the Amur Falcon. Primates include Olive Baboon, Valvet Monkey, and the Tantalus Monkey. In the Chambura gorge, we find chimpanzees, as well as the Blue and Red Tailed Monkey. In the afternoon, embark on a boat ride along the Kazinga Channel, where we get close to hippo, buffalo, and crocodiles. Elephants often swim here as well. The bird life is very rich and quite approachable, including Saddle-Billed Stork, both species of Pink-backed and Great Pelicans, and other migratory species. The African Skimmer, Striated Heron, African Spoonbill, Water Thick-knee, Three-banded Plover, Marsh, Green, Wood, and Common Sandpiper, Gray-headed Gull, Plain Martin, Lesser Swamp Warbler, and Yellow-billed Oxpecker are typically seen. Overnight at the Mweya Safari Lodge.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mweya Safari Lodge or similar
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  • Day 9: Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Crocodile on the bank of the Nile

    Morning safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Return to Mweya for lunch and exploring around the lodge. Embark on a rewarding optional evening game drive, looking for elephants, lions, buffalo, bushbuck, and others. As we drive back late in the evening, we keep our spotlights out, looking out for nightjar birds and nocturnal mammals such leopards and aardvark. Overnight at the Mweya Safari Lodge.

     

    Embark on  an evening game drive looking for Elephants, Lions, Buffalo, Bush Buck as we drive back late in the evening, we keep our spot lights in the open looking out for nightjars and other nocturnal mammals like the Leopard, Serval Cat and much more. Overnight at the Mweya Safari Lodge

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mweya Safari Lodge or similar
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  • Day 10: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
    Tree-climbing lions

    After breakfast, begin our wildlife safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The seasonal Ishasha sector provides a good chance of seeing the area's tree-climbing lions. On a lucky day, you might also catch a glimpse of a leopard or two. Troupes of Olive Baboons also frequent the roads. Be on the lookout for other interesting savannah animals and birds, including the Black-lored Parrot, Arrow-marked Babbler, Ovambo Sparrow Hawk, African Cuckoo Hawk, Stout, Zitting, Wing-snapping and Trilling Cisticolas, Violet-backed Starling, Brown Snake Eagle, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Lesser and Greater Honeyguide, Grassland and Plain Backed Pipit, Black Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Drongo, Senegal Thick-knee, and Blue-naped Mousebird. Overnight at the Bwindi Forest edge at Gorilla Resort for two nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Gorilla Resort or similar
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  • Day 11: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi
    Muhare Group 6 (large male)

    Set off early, with packed lunch, to Bwindi's park headquarters for a briefing prior to gorilla tracking. The gorillas are gentle animals, and it is an unforgettable experience to locate, observe, and photograph their family groups. Reaching the family group to which we are assigned may require walking anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, depending on where they've been found after sunrise. Game scouts are likely to have pre-located them and radioed back their location to your guide, but the animals are wide-ranging and don’t stick to trails. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards. You are likely to enjoy a close view of adults feeding, grooming, and resting as youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully-playful display. Gorilla tracking involves part or all of a day in the Impenetrable Forest. In rare instances, finding, reaching, observing, and returning from a group takes an entire day of rather difficult trekking through thick, sometimes muddy vegetation and hilly terrain.  You need to be physically fit if you wish to maximize your chances. Very occasionally, in spite of all efforts, the gorillas prove elusive. Depending on the time at which we return, we might have an optional visit to the communities around the gorillas' habitat or evening birding around Buhoma. Return to our lodge for dinner.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Box Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Gorilla Resort or similar
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  • Day 12: Rwanda/Cyanika Border
    Saddle-billed stork

    Today move from the lower forest ecosystem to the seldom-visited higher forest in Bwindi. In scrubby areas beyond Buhoma,  your able guide, Paul, will lead the search for Red-necked Wryneck; Brown-backed Scrub-Robin; Bronze, Copper and Variable Sunbirds; Baglafecht, Black-necked, and Holub’s Golden weavers; Yellow Bishop; Village Indigobird; Black-throated Seed-eater; and more. Further along the road, pass through Kitahurira or “The Neck," another well-known wildlife locale. Here, search for more bird species such as the Black Goshawk; Bronze-naped Pigeon; Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater; Cassin’s Honeyguide; Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike; White-chinned Prinia; the enigmatic Chapin’s Flycatcher; Mountain Wagtail; Pink-footed Puffback; the rare Tiny Sunbird; and the attractive Brown-capped Weaver.

    Farther up the road, cultivated areas provide feeding opportunities for many seed-eating birds and mammals. We have excellent chances of seeing the L’Hoest’s, Red Tailed, and the Black and White  Colobus Monkeys. This is also the habitat of the beautiful Dusky Twinspot and Yellow-bellied, Black-headed, and Black-crowned waxbills, and African Stonechat, Streaky, and Thick-billed seedeaters.  The African Citril and Cape Canary also lurk here. Noisy Chubb’s Cisticolas will mock us from wihtin the bracken, and the beautiful Doherty’s Bushshrike may be lured out from the dense vegetation. Mackinnon’s Shrikes also survey the road from high, exposed perches. There are so many special birds at these elevations that we'll take our time throughout so we can identify as many of the diverse populations as possible.  Later, we'll drive through the Kanab Gap to a marshy area habitat that is home to Common and Lesser Moorhen, Hotentot Teal, African Rail, and more.   Along the way there are enjoyable views of the scenery, referred to as the 'Switzerland of Africa.'  Arrive at Ruhengeri, Rwanda, where you will spend the next two nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountain View Gorilla View Lodge or Hotel Gorilla
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  • Day 13: Parc National des Volcans
    You may also see chimps, in addition to gorillas

    Gorilla tracking in the Parc National des Volcans is optional. (Gorilla tracking permits will be available at cost and are limited. Reserve when you book this trip to avoid disappointment.  Permits for tracking in 2012 are available for $500 if purchased before May 31st, increasing to $750 thereafter). Tracking the gorillas through the lush forested slopes of the Virungas is a wonderful experience comparable to, yet distinctive from, Bwindi in Uganda. If you are lucky, you can get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at the base in time for a late lunch. Some gorilla families, as in Uganda, are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy. Individuals opting not to track the gorillas will have various options, including a nature hike, Golden Monkey tracking, hiking to Dian Fossey's tombs, Visoke Crater, or visiting a local village.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountain View Gorilla View Lodge or Hotel Gorilla
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  • Day 14: Kigali/Onward
    Our Vehicle

    After breakfast, you will depart for Kigali.  Marvel at the energy and industriousness of the Rwandan people.  Roads are in good repair, streets are clean, schools are open, and construction seems to be taking place everywhere.  While the terrible experience of the genocide has not been and will not be forgotten, you will get the sense that Rwandan people want to move forward to create a society which learns from mistakes of the past. Take a tour of the city, including a visit to the market, a pottery project, handicraft shops, the Franco-Rwandan cultural center, and the very impressive and moving Genocide Memorial. Transfer to the airport in time for your homebound flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
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Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Dec 14-27, 2014
Feb 20-Mar 5, 2015
Aug 8-21, 2015
Dec 14-27, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$7,295
2 - 3 travelers: $7,995 4 - 10 travelers: $7,295 Uganda Gorilla and Chimp Permits Included Rwanda Gorilla Permit - $750
Single Supplement:
$820
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
14 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
2
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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