Birding Safaris in Uganda Bird Watching Safaris Tour Cost 2022/23 – Confidence Africa Tours
Uganda birding safaris tour offers a feast of rare and colorful species, and the chance to improve dramatically on your species life list. More than 1,065 bird species inhabit a range of habitats – from montane forests to wetlands, agricultural lands, lakes, and savannahs.
Uganda is on the equator, and the endemic species-rich Albertine Rift valley separates the west of the country from DR Congo and Rwanda, so expect impressive biodiversity. In no particular order, here are arguably the best birding safaris tour spots in Uganda:
Best Selling Birding Safaris Tour to Uganda – Confidence Africa Tours
Where to go for Birding Safaris in Uganda
- 1. Mabamba Marsh at Lake Victoria
- 2. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
- 3. Murchison Falls National Park
- 4. Queen Elizabeth National Park
- 5. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
- 6. Semuliki National Park
- 7. Kibale Forest National Park
- 8. Rwenzori Mountains National Park
- 9. Lake Mburo National Park
- 10. Budongo Forest
- Mabamba Marsh at Lake Victoria
Look out for the shoebill, blue swallow, pallid harrier, papyrus gonolek, swamp flycatcher, pigmy goose, lesser jacana, white-winged warbler, Viellot’s weaver, grosbeak weaver, palm-nut vulture, black-headed weaver, northern brown-throated weaver, Clarke’s weaver and Carruthers’scist cola.
- Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi is the heart and soul of Uganda birding safaris tour destination, the make-and-breaker of bird lists and the home of many endemic and rare bird species. This forested heaven boasts about 350 species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda.
The forest trails around Buhoma are ALIVE with opportunity as you stand your best chance to catch a glimpse of olive long-tailed cuckoo, bar-tailed trogon, dusky tit, Abyssinian (Kivu) ground thrush, white-bellied robin-chat, equatorial akalat, grey-chested illadopsis, red-throated alethe, white-bellied crested flycatcher, white-eyed slaty flycatcher, the enigmatic Chapin’s flycatcher, white-browed crombec, Neumann’s warbler, black-faced prinia, handsome francolin, Jameson’s anti pecker, black-faced rufous warbler, northern double-collared sunbird, Wilcock’s honeyguide, black bee-eater, black-billed weaver, magpie manikin and newly described Willard’s sooty boubou.
Scan snags and canopy contours for sooty flycatcher and forest starlings – including Waller’s, Stuhlmann’s and narrow-tailed. Transitional areas such as “The Neck,’ between Buhoma and Ruhiza are popular areas to look out for black sparrow hawk, western bronze-napped pigeon, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Cassin’s honeybird, Petit’s cuckoo shrike, white-chinned prinia, mountain wagtail, pink-footed puff back, the rare tiny sunbird and the dapper brown-capped weaver.
Away from the indigenous forests, amongst pioneer vegetation fringing the tea estates you can strike it lucky with the highly sought-after dusky twin spot, yellow-bellied, Kandt’s and black-crowned waxbills, streaky and thick-billed seedeaters, western citril and yellow-crowned canary, noisy Chubb’s cist cola, alert Mackinnon’s shrikes, and with luck marvel at a sigh of the striking Doherty’s bush shrike.
Ruhija is your next hotspot in Bwindi, and although the walk down to Mubwindi Swamp is not for the faint-hearted, this is an obligate pilgrimage for the serious birder, since it is down there that resides the MOST coveted of Bwindi’s Albertine Rift endemics …. the rare and localized Grauer’s broadbill, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds. This globally threatened species is only known from two sites in the world, the other being a remote forest in eastern DR Congo.
Other species to watch out for in Ruhija include Carruthers’s cisticola and the localized Grauer’s swamp warbler, red-chested fluff tail, black-billed turaco, barred long-tailed cuckoo, white-headed wood-hoopoe, western tinker bird, olive woodpecker, thick-billed and the elusive dwarf honeyguide, black saw-wing, grey cuckoo shrike, olive-breasted and yellow-streaked green buls, Abyssinian thrush, white-starred robin, Archer’s ground-robin, stripe-breasted tit, mountain illadopsis, Rwenzori hill-babbler, mountain masked, Rwenzori, and chestnut-throated apalises, cinnamon bracken, mountain yellow, red-faced woodland and Grauer’s warblers, white-tailed blue flycatcher, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Rwenzori batis, mountain sooty boubou, the rare Lagden’sbush shrike, Sharpe’s starling, mountain oriole, strange weaver, and oriole finch.
Flowering symphonias attract the incredible blue-headed, regal and scarce purple-breasted sunbirds, all highly desired Albertine Rift endemics. Dusky, red-faced and the phantom-like Shelley’s crimson wing occur here too. As the sun sets, Ruhija offers your best-bet Rwenzori Nightjar, African wood owl, and if you are exceptionally fortunate, the rare Fraser’s eagle-owl.
- Murchison Falls National Park – Birding Safaris in Uganda
Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest and largest national park, named after the mighty waterfall of the same name – formed as the mighty Nile River is forced through a 7-metre gap in the rocks.
The park is home to about 450 bird species, and birding can be done on a game drive, via a boat trip (on the Nile) or a nature walk. Habitat types include forest, swamp, riverine woodland, palm savannah and acacia-dotted plains.
The riverine thickets hold white-crested turaco, double-toothed barbet, red-throated bee-eater, Heuglin’s francolin, brown babbler, silver bird, buff-bellied warbler, black-headed batis, and bare-breasted firefinch. Puvel’s illadopsis can also found near the chimp researchers’ camp.
There is plenty of open palm Savannah, which is an excellent haunt for Abyssinian ground-hornbill, Senegal lapwing, Shelley’s rufous sparrow and the strange-looking priapic. The Nile delta is of course home to the near-mythical shoebill stork. Night drives can produce a plethora of species such as pennant-winged and standard-winged nightjar and greyish eagle-owl.
- Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a birdwatcher’s haven, with about 600 bird species across a variety of habitats – from sprawling savannah to dense forest, lakes and wetlands.
Moving from Ishasha to Mweya you will do well keeping an eye out for African crake, blue-throated roller, flappet lark, sooty chat, black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, northern black flycatcher, black-headed gonolek, mous tached grass warbler, red-chested sunbird, and slender-billed weaver. And along the banks of the Kasinga channel, you can expect grey crowned-crane, hamer kop, African jacana, flocks of African skimmer, gull-billed tern, as well as grey-headed and lesser black-backed gulls.
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Birding Safaris in Uganda
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to about 180 bird species, including some of the spectacular Albertine Rift endemics. It is located in the southern part of Uganda, bordering Rwanda and DR Congo and comprises dense highland forest on the slopes of 3 extinct volcanoes.
Mgahinga offers excellent bird viewing opportunities along the gorge trail, bamboo trail and farm/community trail. The bird species to look out for include Kivu ground thrush, handsome francolin, dusky crimson wing, red-throated alethe, blue-headed causal, Rwenzori nightjar, Rwenzori batis, Archer’s robin chat, black-headed waxbill, western green tinker bird and stripe-breasted tit.
- Semuliki National Park
It hosts Guinea-Congo biome species in its lowland forest. The species to look out for include the Congo serpent-eagle, long-tailed hawk, African piculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue-billed malimbe, yellow-throated nicator, black dwarf hornbill, Nkulengu rail, piping hornbill, yellow-throated cuckoo, dwarf honeyguide, orange weaver, white-crested hornbill, red-billed dwarf hornbill, black-watt led hornbill, lyre-tailed honeyguide, capuchin babbler and swamp palm bulbul.
- Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest is a prime birding safaris tour spot with about 375 bird species, including six Albertine Rift endemics. It is an excellent birding spot with habitats ranging from wet and dry tropical forest to woodland and savannah.
The number one sought-after bird in the Kibale Forest is the green-breasted pitta. This “mega” has recently become available, though finding it still takes a good measure of luck.
Kibale offers an impressive bag of goodies replete with gems such as various forest robins, scores of brown and scaly-breasted illadopses, brown-chested alethe, phantom-like black-eared and Abyssinian ground-thrushes, joyful and Toro olive green bulls, black-bellied seed cracker, collared and black-capped apalis, grey-throated, yellow-spotted and yellow-billed barbets, blue-throated roller, black bee-eater, crowned eagle, red-chested owlet, African grey parrot, African fin foot, afep and white-napped pigeons and the comical, hulking great blue turaco.
The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary within the park is a great haunt for specials such as speckled tinker bird, speckle-breasted woodpecker, white-spotted fluff tail, snowy-crowned robin-chat, Boscage’s bush shrike, and western nectar. Nearby patches of papyrus support the shy and cautious white-winged swamp-warbler.
- Rwenzori Mountains National Park
The Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda are home to about 220 bird species, including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, with habitat ranging from high elevation forest and open montane grasslands, to peat bogs, snowfields and glaciers.
The mountains lie in western Uganda, with snow capped peaks reaching 5,110m. Most of the birding in the forest zone and species to see include Rwenzori turaco, long-eared owl, Archers’ robin-chat, Lagden’s bush-shrike, blue-headed and golden-winged sunbird, white-starred robin, slender-billed starling, cinnamon-chested bee-eater and bearded vulture.
- Lake Mburo National Park – Birding Safaris in Uganda
Birding safaris tour is one of the major activities in Lake Mburo National Park, and the best spots for birding are near the lake swamps at Warukiri and Rwonyo. Other habitats include dry hillsides, rocky outcrops and dense savannah.
The park is home to about 320 bird species, which include red-faced barbet, brown parrot, barefaced go-away bird, black-billed barbet, blue-napped mouse bird, Nubian woodpecker, papyrus canary, papyrus gonolek, African fin foot and shoebill.
There are a few very localized species in Uganda which only occur in Mburo, and topping that list are red-faced barbet, Taboracisticola, green-capped eremomela, golden-tailed woodpecker, spot-flanked barbet, and grey penduline tit.
At the lake swamps, the main targets are African fin foot, papyrus gonolek, white-winged warbler, African water rail and white-backed night-heron. Yellow-throated leaf love chatter loquaciously in dense, waterside thickets and giant kingfishers wait patiently on overhanging branches.
Mixed woodlands are best for Coqui francolin, black-bellied bustard, African watt led plover, brown parrot, red-headed lovebird, barefaced go-away-bird, blue-napped mouse bird, lilac-breasted and broad-billed roller, green wood-hoopoe, common scimitar bill, Narina trogon, Nubian woodpecker, trilling cist cola, northern black flycatcher, chin-spot batis, rufous-chested swallow, yellow-throated long claw and southern red bishop.
Small numbers of the migratory brown-chested plover are regularly observed in the grasslands that access the park, in addition to the impressive Abyssinian ground-hornbill. Night drives may reveal African scoops owl, marsh owl, Verreaux’s eagle owl, swamp and pennant-winged nightjars.
- Budongo Forest
Budongo Forest has two main sections – Kaniyo Pabidi (Murchison Falls National Park), and the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found south of Murchison. It lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift valley, protecting the most extensive natural forest area in East Africa. Budongo is home to about 360 bird species.
At Royal mile look out for the elusive and skulking Nahan’s francolin, the fleeting Cassin’s spine tail, and the dainty chestnut-capped flycatcher. Also search for the stunning chocolate-backed, blue-breasted and African dwarf kingfishers.
The forest is full of illadopses and alethes, and the diversity of green bulls here is simply incredible. But for those who don’t fancy cryptic birds, there are plenty of more colorful species such as the white-thighed hornbill and black bee-eater. Other species include Cassin’s hawk-eagle, Ituri batis, black-collared lovebird and brown twin spot.