ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS
Sunday 15 June : Morning birding Lake Mburo NP. Afternoon drive to Kisoro for overnight stay.
Monday 16 June : Drive to Nkuringo and onwards Gorilla trekking. Overnight in Kisoro again.
Tuesday 17 June : Birding Mgahinga NP and afternoon transfer to Ruhija for overnight stay.
day birding the trail to
Thursday 19 June : Transfer to Buhoma birding “the neck” en route. Overnight at Buhoma.
Friday 20 June : Whole day birding Bwindi trails. Overnight in Buhoma again.
Saturday 21 June : Transfer to Queen Elizabeth NP birding en route. Overnight in QENP.
Sunday 22 June : Whole day birding and game drives in QENP. Overnight in QENP again.
Transfer to Semliki birding en route. Visit
Tuesday 24 June : Birding Kirumia Trail. Late afternoon transfer to Kibale for overnight stay.
Wednesday 25 June : Morning Chimp trekking. Afternoon birding in and around Kibale. Overnight in Kibale.
Friday 27 June : Birding the Royal Mile. Afternoon transfer to Murchison Falls NP for overnight stay.
Saturday 28 June : Whole day birding and game drives in Murchison Falls NP. Overnight at MFNP again.
Our KLM flight from
were up already at around 5:30 for breakfast before heading out to Mabamba
swamp, our first destination of the trip. Our main target at Mabamba was of
course the Shoebill, one of the most sought after birds in
were up just before dawn for a nice breakfast before heading out for another
game drive. During the first 1 ˝ hours we saw quite some good birds like
Blue-naped Mousebird, Emerald Spotted Wood-dove, Red-shouldered
Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Tit-flycatcher and finally also one of our aimed targets
this morning: Red-faced Barbet. We then went to the park headquarters to
pick up a park ranger and the boatman and headed to the lake for an onward boat
trip on the lake. We first checked out the papyrus stands along the lake where
we found our first target namely Papyrus Gonolek. Heading further we saw
at least five pairs of African Fish-eagles. After about an hour we found
our second target: a male African Finfoot. It was almost noon when we set
foot on land again and decided to leave the park as we still had a long way to
go to Kisoro in the extreme south-western corner of
Monday 16 June
Today is Gorilla day, an experience where my wife has been waiting for since many years. After breakfast we headed out for a 2 hours drive over bumpy roads to the Nkuringo ranger station. We arrived there around 8:00 and after the briefing we were brought to the start of the trail in a mini-van. After an hours descend we crossed a small river and from here the trail went up into the forested mountains. The hike was pretty strenuous so there was not much time to look for birds. The only new bird I could identify was a Regal Sunbird, an Albertine Rift endemic. After 2˝ hours our tracker informed us that we were close to the Gorilla’s. We had to descend into a very steep gully and when we arrived down we were surrounded by a group of about ten Mountain Gorilla’s. What an overwhelming experience this was!! We were allowed to stay near the gorilla’s for an hour, and it was great to see these magnificent creatures in there natural habitat. With pain in our hearts we said goodbye to the gorilla’s. Coming out of the gully we first had a short break before commencing the strenuous hike back to the starting point. When we arrived back we were exhausted but also each one of us was an unforgettable experience richer. Back at the ranger station Alfred and Gideon were already waiting for us. We were supposed to receive a Gorilla certificate but the ranger said they did not have any. Alfred promised us to arrange one for us in Buhoma where we would be staying after a couple of days.
We had a drink at the ranger station when Alfred told us that he had found a nice bird. Well it appeared to be a nice bird indeed. He had called in a beautiful male Doherty’s Bushshrike. It was already 3:30 when we decided to drive back to Kisoro. During the drive back we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of lakes and the Virunga Volcanoes in the back. We arrived back at the hotel around 5:00 where we had a well deserved cold beer in the hotel’s garden. After a hot shower we had dinner, and afterwards made our checklist. As today’s focus was not on birds alone we finished the checklist in just a couple of minutes. Today we saw 29 species of which 8 were new for the trip. Bird of the day was Doherty’s Bushshrike. The highlight of the day was pretty obvious: Mountain Gorilla’s.
Tuesday 17 June
were up before dusk and after a quick breakfast headed to Mgahinga NP. The drive
over bumpy unpaved tracks took about 75 minutes. We arrived at the park entrance
at around 7:30 and after a short visit to the beautiful visitor centre we
started to walk the Gorge trail up to
Today the trek to Mubwindi swamp was on the program. After an early breakfast we were off at around 7:00 packed with enough drinking water and lunch in our backpack. We followed the unpaved road for a few hundred meters and then took a trail to the right that leads through beautiful montane forest down to Mubwindi swamp. New birds recorded during the descend included amongst Black-billed Turaco, Dwarf Honeyguide, Yellow-streaked Bulbul, Archer’s Robin-chat, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher and Black-tailed Oriole. Just before a stream crossing we reached a clearing which was supposed to be the famous nesting site of the African Green Broadbill. It took Alfred only a couple of minutes to point out a male specimen of this highly sought after bird. From the clearing it was only a 30 minutes walk to the swamp that we reached around noon. We set down along the swamp and scanned the area for birds. We soon found two Grauer’s Scrub-warblers one of the specialties of the area. Other birds noted included Carruthers’ Cisticola, Black-throated Apalis, Bronze Sunbird and Angola Swallows hawking over the swamp for insects. Red-chested Flufftails were calling but unfortunately did now show. We headed back to the clearing to have a break and have our packed lunch. Around 1:30 we started the fairly strenuous ascend back to the main road. New birds that showed up included amongst Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Crowned Hornbill, Grey-throated Barbet and Elliot’s Woodpecker. While walking back over the main road to the guesthouse we noted a Mountain Buzzard souring over the forested mountains. It was 4:30 when we reached the guesthouse and we decided not to go out for more birding. The long hike to Mubwindi was quite tiresome and we decided to relax in the sun outside the lodge while enjoying a nice cool beer. In the trees around the lodge we noted Golden-breasted Bunting and White-headed Woodhoopoe which was new on the list. In the evening we had dinner at the fireplace and afterwards made our daily checklist. Today we saw 63 species of which 30 were new. After only 5 days our trip list is now at 243 species. Choosing the bird of the day was not so difficult: African Green Broadbill.
Thursday 19 June
Up early again and after a quick breakfast we packed our luggage and dropped it in the car. Before leaving we decided to do some birding on the “school” trail near the ITFC guesthouse. New birds we found here included amongst Lanner Falcon, Olive Thrush and Sharpe’s Starling. We then headed out towards the “Neck” making several stops en route. New birds included Singing Cisticola, Copper Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra and Red-collared Widowbird. A stop at a tea plantation produced Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Brimstone Canary and one of our main targets this morning: Dusky Twinspot. Around 8:30 we reached the “Neck” that we birded for about 3 hours. Here we found some excellent birds like Black Bee-eater, Slender-billed Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, African Shrike-Flycatcher, Many-coloured Bushshrike and Crested Malimbe. A bit of a surprise was the sighting of a Greater Honeyguide, wrong habitat one would say. We left the forest of the “Neck” behind us around noon and decided to have our packed lunch. The onward drive to Buhoma took about one hour arriving at the Bwindi View Banda’s around 2:00. It was fairly hot today and we decided to have a break until 4:00. While enjoying a cold beer we noted Green-throated Sunbird, Magpie Mannikin and Village Indigobird. We then headed out again birding the wide trail towards Bwindi NP before taking a left turn to the Munyaga river trail. We birded until dusk having new birds like Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Tambourine Dove, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Red-capped Robin-chat, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Tiny Sunbird and Black-and-White Shrike-flycatcher. Back at the lodge we had shower and onwards had an excellent dinner. Today’s checklist showed us that we had seen 96 species of which a remarkable 52 were new for the list, with a trip list of now 295 species. Bird of the day: Black Bee-eater.
Friday 20 June
Today we have a full day to explore Bwindi. Accompanied by a park ranger we headed out into the park. After a couple of hundred meters over the main trail we took a left into the forest along the waterfall trail. We had some great birds this morning of which several were ARE’s. Highlights included Red-throated Alethe, Short-tailed Warbler, Chapin’s Flycatcher, African Broadbill, Red-headed Malimbe and Red-fronted Antpecker. Around noon we walked back to the lodge to have lunch. During the midday break we noted African Blue-Flycatcher. Around 3:30 we headed out again for our second birding session of the day. This time we stayed on the main trail, and again we found some great new species like Crowned Hawk-Eagle, Bronze-naped Pigeon, Bar-tailed Trogon, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Red-tailed Greenbul and Equatorial Akalet. Before heading back to the lodge we went to the Park Headquarters where Alfred picked up our Gorilla certificates. Back at the lodge we had a shower and an onwards dinner. Today we saw 67 species of which 24 new on the list having a trip total of now 319 species. Bird of the day: African Broadbill.
Saturday 21 June
an early breakfast we packed our luggage and left Bwindi. During our drive over
unpaved roads towards the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth NP we made a few
stops for birds which included new ones like Klaas’ Cuckoo, Double-toothed
Barbet, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Banded Martin,
In the early morning we headed out towards the main asphalted road. We crossed the road and onwards birded the Kasenyi Track in the northern-eastern section of the park. It was a cloudy morning and the bird activity was fairly low. Nevertheless we managed to see some new species like African Harrier-Hawk, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Martial Eagle, Rufous-naped and White-tailed Lark, Marico Sunbird and Red Bishop. Around noon we headed back to the lodge for lunch. At 2:00 we left the lodge again because we had booked a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel at 2:30. The boat trip on a fairly large boat was quite touristy, but nevertheless produced some nice new birds for our trip list like Great White & Pink-backed Pelican, Squacco Heron, Goliath Heron, African Spoonbill, Water Thick-knee and Dideric Cuckoo. Two lifers for me were Collared Pratincole and Kittlitz’s Plover. After embarking the boat we decided to do a game drive over the Mweya peninsula which produced amongst Plain Martin, White-headed Vulture, the beautiful Green-winged Pytilia and a flock of about 50 African Skimmers foraging over the Kazinga Channel. It was nearly dark when we arrived back at the lodge. After heaving a nice hot shower we had dinner, and afterwards made our daily checklist. Today we saw 111 species of which 27 were new on the trip list which ended up at 386 species after 9 days of birding. Bird of the day: African Skimmer.
Monday 23 June
having an early breakfast we packed our luggage and headed out for our next
destination. We birded our way out of the park via the Crater Track. The only
new birds we noted during the 2 1/2 hours of birding were African
Hawk-Eagle and a brief view of a Harlequin Quail. We paid a short
visit to a visitor centre close to the main road before heading out on an
excellent asphalted road towards Port Fortal. Here we had lunch at a local
restaurant after which we started the last leg to Semliki over an unpaved road.
Halfway we stopped for Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird a new bird on our trip
list. During the descend towards Semliki we had a great view over the vast
lowland rainforest. We made a brief stop because Alfred heard a flock of
Green-backed Twinspots but unfortunately we did not manage to locate
them. We arrived at the ranger station around 3:30 and accompanied by a park
ranger we took the trail towards the Sempaya Hot Springs. According to the
ranger there had been almost no rain the last 3 to 4 weeks which proved to be a
bad sign for the bird activity. Nevertheless we saw some new birds along the
forest trail towards the
early for a poor breakfast and left the hotel around 6:00. We drove back towards
Semliki for about
again early and after a good breakfast we headed out towards Kibale. When we
walked outside to the car we realized what a marvellous location the lodge had.
It was located on top of a hill and surrounded by a nice big garden and tea
plantations. The view from it was really outstanding with on one side
Thursday 26 June
A very early start because we had to travel a fairly long distance to Budongo today. After breakfast we left the lodge at around 6:30 and headed towards Port Fortal. Just before town we took a shortcut to the right over an unpaved road leading through an area of cultivated fields alternated by large grassy patches which produced new birds like Western Banded Snake-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Siffling Cisticola and African Firefinch. We arrived back on a paved road leading along Kibale Forest Reserve. Here we stopped several times having some excellent new birds including White-chinned Prinia, Masked Apalis, Little Green Sunbird and Buff-spotted Woodpecker. Besides we finally managed to have brief views of a flock of Green-backed Twinspots. We then headed on taking a left onto the long and unpaved road to Masindi via Hoima. After a long and dusty drive we arrived in Masindi at around 2:00 and had lunch in the garden of a local restaurant. The onwards drive to Budongo Forest Reserve took about one hour arriving there around 4:15. We decided to do some birding along the road in the Busingiro section of the reserve which produced birds like Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Dwarf Kingfisher, Blue-throated Roller, White-thighed Hornbill and Spotted Greenbul. Just before dusk we went to the Nyabyaya Forestry Guesthouse located near the “Royal Mile”. The place was pretty basic and the bathroom did not look very inviting. We went for a beer at the restaurant and after the onwards dinner did our daily checklist. Today we saw 79 species including 17 new ones which resulted in a trip list of 453 species. Bird of the day: Chocolate-backed Kingfisher.
Friday 27 June
on the program was a visit to the famous “Royal Mile” which was only about
Saturday 28 June
day started with a nice breakfast at the bar before heading to the Paraa boat
landing where we arrived around 7:30. Here we embarked the boat for a 2 ˝ hours
trip over the
Sunday 29 June
Our last day of the trip has arrived. After breakfast we packed our luggage and headed out for a long drive back to Entebbe. We planned to do a birding stop at the Kaniyo Pabidi Forest to try for the very localized Puvel’s Illadopsis. En route to the forest we stopped for new birds like Heuglin’s Francolin and Fan-tailed Grassbird. We arrived at the newly built visitor centre at Kaniyo Pabidi around 9:30. We decided to have a drink first at the visitor centre but before coffee was served Alfred already had taped in Puvel’s Illadopsis at the trail head next to the visitor centre. After having coffee we went into the forest accompanied by a local bird guide who was another student of Alfred. The only new birds we found were Brown-chested Alethe and Grey Longbill, but we saw some other good birds as well like Narina Trogon and Forest Robin. Around 11:00 we headed on towards Masindi where we picked up a packed lunch at the Masindi Hotel. While we waited for the packed lunch to be prepared Gideon informed at the bus station what the best route was back to Kampala. Apparently the direct route had been improved a lot which saved us some 1 ˝ hours extra driving time via Hoima. Around 00:30 we headed towards Kampala. Just outside Masindi we stopped for Red-headed Lovebird. Other new birds we saw en route included Eastern Chanting-Goshawk, Lizard Buzzard, Shikra and Marsh Widowbird which was a lifer for me. Approaching Kampala we saw a familiar bird from home: Eurasian Kestrel. After finally leaving the busy Kampala behind us we arrived back in Entebbe around 4:30. Reliable as always Alfred had arranged a hotel for us near the airport where we could take a shower and have dinner. After dinner I made my checklist having seen 38 species, 11 new for the trip resulting in an excellent final trip list of 524 species. Bird of the day: Red-headed Lovebird. Around 6:30 Alfred returned back at the hotel accompanied by Gideon, another driver from AWU and Emmanuel, the man who had arranged everything so well at the AWU office. We had a last beer together and said farewell to Emmanuel and the other employees from AWU. Alfred and Gideon accompanied us to the airport where we arrived at around 7:30. We thanked Gideon and Alfred for taking care of us so well the last 16 days and for making the trip an unforgettable experience. Our flight to Dusseldorf via Amsterdam departed 20 minutes before schedule at 10:00. After a 3 hours stopover in Amsterdam we arrived in Dusseldorf at 8:45 the next morning. Another excellent holiday has come to an end…..
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