Uganda Wildlife Odyssey

Mabamba Bay, Murchison Falls, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth NP, Bwindi and Lake Mburo
Overview

overview

Ecologically, Uganda is the richest country in East Africa.  This JOURNEYS Signature Trip, led by expert birder and naturalist Paul Tamwenya, explores the varied habitats, parks, and reserves where you will see extraordinary wildlife, including gorillas, chimps, lions, elephants, and many of the more than 800 species of birds found in the country. (Participants on our 2011 version of this trip -- Primates & Parrots -- identified 335 species.) Destinations include Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth Park, The Royal Mile, Lake Mburo, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mabamba Wetlands, Budago Community Forest, Kibale, and many other sites known to your guide. One Mountain Gorilla visit permit is included, and a second optional permit is available. You will travel by a 4x4 Toyota Landcruiser with a pop-top for safari viewing and photography. In addition, you will explore the Upper Nile and Rift Valley lakes by boat. Accommodations are in basic to comfortable hotels, all with en suite facilities, hot water, and electricity and well-sited for safari access. Most hotels have gift and craft shops and internet access. Most meals are included. Drinking water is supplied in vehicles. See JOURNEYS' FAQ about Mountain Gorillas for detailed informatin about the animals and the logistics for visiting them.

This trip is especially suited for nature-oriented travelers seeking a truly intensive experience with African natural history.  The emphasis will be on finding, identifying, and observing as many species of mammals and birds, but reptiles, butterflies, plants, local cultures, arts, and traditions will be noted and interpreted. We will also enjoy the hospitality of many friendly people representing different tribes who will be your hosts.  Every participant must be capable of hiking and be prepared for rough roads and other rigors of remote area travel.

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 focus only on locations where chimps and the Mountain Gorillas are found.  While we will have several chances to see the gorillas up close (see Will's 2009 Gorilla Video), the main emphasis will be active exploration of your naturalist-guide’s favorite sanctuaries for other many other species of birds and animals.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Entebbe
    Gray-crowned Crane

    Arrival in Entebbe, Uganda, and transfer to your accommodation with a panoramic view of Lake Victoria. Early arrivals will visit the Entebbe Wildlife Education Center or enjoy a first day of wildlife scouting at the botanical gardens, good for birds as well as several varieties of Colobus Monkeys.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Garuga Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Visit to Mabamba Bay -- Shoebill Storks
    Seek out the Shoebill Stork (photo by Tom Tarrant)

    We start early and drive to Mabamba Swamp, 50km west of Kampala. Stop en route at Mpigi Swamp for papyrus rarities. Look for warblers, gonoleks, weavers, and other swamp specialities. At the swamp, most of the birding is on a canoe, paddled by our local site guides. Look for the Shoebill, both in the sky and down on the marsh. Like nothing else on earth, this bizarre avian wonder is the only representative in its family. It is truly a life-changing moment looking at this bizarre bird as it preens, showing off its huge, grinning, wooden-looking, clog-like bill. You may also have marvelous views of it as it soars on broad wings. Also watch for many other bird secies, including several types of jacanas and ducks. Return to the Garuga Resort Hotel for your overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Garuga Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: 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. The African Bird Club lists this as one of the best birding sites on the continent.

    Cross the Nile by ferry and spend the night at beautiful, scenically sited Paraa Safari Lodge.

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

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Paraa Safari Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Game Safaris Murchinson Falls
    Ferry across the Nile

    After an early breakfast, you begin your safari with a game drive up to the Lake Albert delta point. Be alert for lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hartebeest, oribi and kob.  A few of the many special birds found here include shoebills, bustards, lapwings and weavers.  In the afternoon, a boat trip on the Nile takes you to the roaring waters at the base of the Murchison Falls and the river's biggest concentration of  hippos and crocodiles, some more than 20 feet long. Scattered among the hippos and crocs, look for birds such as storks, plovers, bee-eaters, herons and more. Return to the Paraa Safari Lodge for dinner and overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Paraa Safari Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Drive to Masindi
    Red-chested Sunbird

    Today you will have one last morning safari in and around Murchison Falls. After lunch, depart for Masindi, visiting the Upper Falls en route.  This visit involves a short hike to the upper edge of the falls. Night at the relatively simple, but atmospheric and historic Masindi Hotel, Uganda’s oldest hotel.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Masindi Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: The Royal Mile and Busingiro
    Elusive Narina Trogon (male breeding plumage, photo by Patty McGann)

    Start early with a drive to the Royal Mile, one of the most famous primate and bird sanctuaries in Uganda. You will enjoy a slow hike through magnificent primary forest, searching carefully along the way for mammals and birds, including several varieties of monkeys, baboons and chimps, flycatchers, trogons, hornbills, sunbirds, cuckoos, malimbe, and turaco, among many others.

    Return to the lodge where you will have the evening to relax and enjoy a western Uganda dance called ‘Entogoro,’ performed by the Banyoro people living around Masindi.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Masindi Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: 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 animals, birds, and photos along the way. You may encounter large congregations of baboons and monkeys as Kibale National Park is a popular habitat for 13 known primate species, including the closest living cousin of man, the chimpanzee.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountains of the Moon or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Primate Tracking in Kibale
    Breakfast with Slender-billed and Yellow-backed Weavers

    After breakfast, go Chimpanzee tracking. Primates you may also encounter while seeking chimps include several varieties of baboon, the Gray-cheeked Mangabey, and others.

    In the afternoon, visit Bigodi wetland, a project started by an American Peace Corps volunteer who was seeking ways for local people to derive income by protecting their forest for ecotourism.  The wetland is now managed by the local community and serves as a successful model of stewardship and ecotourism, funding a school and employing local people who serve as guides, hosts and guards. Here you are likely to spot the elusive Sitatunga Antelope among the papyrus, as well as several interesting species of birds (warblers, gonoleks, and cisticola, among others). Today, we enjoy a traditionally-prepared lunch hosted by the local group that manages this wetland.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mountains of the Moon or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: 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,  Martial Eagle, African Skimmer, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, and the Amur Falcon. Primates include Olive Baboon, Velvet Monkey, and the Tantalus Monkey.  In the afternoon, embark on a boat ride along the Kazinga Channel where you get close to hippo, buffalo, and crocodiles. Elephants often swim here as well. The bird life is very rich and quite approachable, including the Saddle-Billed Stork, Malachite Kingfisher, both species of Pink-backed and Great Pelicans, and other migratory species. Overnight at the very comfortable Mweya Safari Lodge.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mweya Safari Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Crocodile on the bank of the Nile

    Morning safari in Queen Elizabeth Park. Return to Mweya for lunch and exploring around the lodge.   Embark on an evening game drive in search of elephants, lions, buffalo, bushbuck.  As we drive back late in the evening, we keep our spot lights out in the open, looking out for nocturnal mammals like the leopard and aardvark and nocturnal birds such as the nightjar. Return to Mweya Safari Lodge for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mweya Safari Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
    Look for the area's unique tree-climbing lions (photo by Cody Pope)

    After breakfast, begin our wildlife safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The seasonal Ishasha sector provides good chances for seeing tree-climbing lions, unique to this area. On a lucky day, you might also catch a glimpse of a leopard. Troupes of Olive Baboons also frequent the roads while we are on the lookout for interesting savannah animals and birds.  Overnight at the Bwindi Forest edge at Gorilla Resort for two nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Gorilla Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Days 12-13: Gorilla Tracking and Birding in Bwindi
    Muhare Group 6 (large male)

    Set off early, with packed lunch, to the park headquarters for a briefing prior to setting off to track and observe gorillas. It is an unforgettable experience to observe and photograph these highly-intelligent, gentle animals. Reaching the family group to which we are assigned may require walking anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours.  Game scouts are likely to have pre-located them and radioed back their location to your guide, but the animals are wide-ranging, they move their nests nightly, and they don’t stick to the trails. 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 from vines in a delightfully-playful display. Gorilla tracking involves part or all of a day in the Impenetrable Forest. In rare instances, it can take an entire day of very hard trekking to locate, reach, observe, and return from a group.  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.

    A second, optional day of gorilla tracking is available at extra cost. Alternative second-day experiences include a local village trek, forest birding in Bwindi, a visit to a local hospital, or free time around Gorilla Resort.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Box Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Gorilla Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 14: Lake Mburo National Park
    Zebra and other hoofed mammals are common in the park

    Today after breakfast, drive to Lake Mburo National Park, one of the best savannah parks in Uganda, with a variety of game such as zebra, impala, topi, eland, buffalo, and more.  For birders there are many species usually associated with northern Tanzania (e.g., cisiticolas, barbets, francolins, weavers, woodpeckers, and many more).  Head to your lodge in the afternoon for your last evening in country.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Mantana Lodge or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 15: Kampala-Entebbe Onwards
    Say farewell to Uganda and its wild creatures

    After breakfast, you will depart for Kampala-Entebbe.  Depending on your the flight time, lots of craft shops await to help you pass the time.  Transfer to the airport in time for your homebound flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Sep 6-20, 2014
Sep 5-19, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$6,995
2 - 3 travelers: $7,395 4 - 10 travelers: $6,995 1 Uganda Gorilla Permit Included Extra permits @ cost - $500
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:
15 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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