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Mountain GorillaUGANDA
Gorillas, Chimps & Shoebills

August 27 – September 8, 2022

Contact [email protected] to reserve your space!

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>    Registration Form (pdf)>
Tour Registration, Terms, Cancellation Policies>

Uganda, also known as the pearl of Africa is now considered one of the best countries for bird watching in the whole of Africa. With a population of 42 million, Uganda is in the African “great lakes region”, sharing Lake Victoria with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda has an equatorial climate and lies within the Nile basin. There are an incredible 1,090 species of bird and over 300 species of mammal, making Uganda a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. During our trip we will visit some of the best hotspots for birding in the country including the magical Murchison Falls National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Kibale Forest, Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and not forgetting Mabamba Swamp, home of the legendary Shoebill.

Shoebill


This almost prehistoric looking member of the stork family with it monstrous bill has become an iconic symbol for Uganda and a magnet for birdwatchers from all over the world. We will not only be looking for birds on this tour but we will also spend several days of the trip looking for mammals including Chimpanzees, the unique tree-climbing Lions of Queen Elizabeth Park, and not forgetting our main target, the endangered Eastern Mountain Gorilla. Our stay at Murchison Falls is special as most tour companies do not include this and yet it offers fantastic scenery and some of the best safaris in all of Uganda and more typical of places like Kenya and Tanzania. With the added bonus of Murchison Falls, this represents one of the best short itineraries to this wonderful country, and more opportunities to see many of the special birds and mammals. Throughout the trip we will stay in a number of comfortable hotels and lodges that are all superbly located close to the wildlife parks and the species we are looking for. This is a dream destination with lovely friendly people and incredible wildlife. Our local guide and team of experts will ensure you leave with unforgettable memories with stories to tell for years after.


Some targets for this tour:

* Eastern Mountain Gorilla
* Green-breasted Pitta
* Grauer's Broadbill
* African Finfoot
* Puvel's Illadopsis
* Chimpanzee
* Shoebill
* (Tree-climbing) Lions
* Lemon-bellied Crombec
* Chocolate-backed Kingfisher
* L'hoest's Monkey
* Dusky Twinspot

* Rufous-sided Broadbill
* Secretary-bird
* Dusky Crimsonwing
* Black Bee-eater
* Rock Pratincole
* White-backed Night Heron
* Doherty's Bush-shrike
* Rwenzori Nightjar
* Black-billed Turaco
* African Elephant
* Red-chested Owlet
* White-spotted Flufftail


Join us for a trip of a lifetime to Uganda, the "Pearl" of Africa!



ITINERARY

Day 1 Arrival Day - Entebbe 27th Aug
Plan your arrival today at Entebbe International Airport (EBB) where you will be met and transferred to our nearby guest house. The tour starts with a welcome dinner tonight.  Overnight Entebbe.

 

Day 2 Mabamba Wetlands – Lake Mburo
ShoebillAfter an early breakfast, we will make the short drive to the Mabamba wetlands in search of one of Uganda's most sought after species, the incredible Shoebill. We will take several punts out and search the small channels for this legendary bird. There are, of course, chances to see a number of other species on our excursion including Papyrus Gonolek, African Pygmy Goose, Lesser Jacana, Black Crake, African Fish Eagle, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Olive Bee-eater, Red-chested Sunbird and more!

Once we finish our birding in the wetland, we will start our journey to Lake Mburo National Park, the next destination on our journey through Uganda. Lake Mburo contains an extensive area of wetland and has a rich population of birds and mammals for us to enjoy. Some of the bird species we can hope for include Green-backed Woodpecker, African Finfoot, Brown-chested Plover, Spot-flanked, Red-faced and Black-collared Barbets, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, White-winged Warbler and Holub's Golden Weaver. Lake Mburo will give us our first chance of seeing some of the mammals Uganda has to offer including Hippos, Plains Zebra, Topi, Impala and Vervet Monkeys. We will have dinner and overnight at Rwakobo Rock Lodge.

 

Day 3 Lake Mburo – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
FinfootEarly this morning we will head down to the lake and take a boat trip in search for African Finfoot, one of our top targets for this part of the trip. As always there will be a number of different species to see including the elusive White-backed Night Heron, as well as Greater Swamp Warbler, Golden-backed, Slender-billed and Village Weaver, Papyrus Gonolek, Giant Kingfisher, and many more.

After this exciting boat trip we will pack up our belongings and head towards Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Driving slowly out of Lake Mburo, we hope to pick up a few more bird and mammal species and concentrate our efforts on seeing Coqui Francolin, Tabora Cisticola, Lesser Blue-eared Starling, Green Wood Hoopoe, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green-capped Eremomela and many more acacia associated species.

As we continue towards Bwindi there will be a number of birding stops along the way searching for several new species. Once we reach the higher altitude section of Ruhija, Bwindi, we will look for some of the special Albertine Rift endemics like Black-faced Apalis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Batis, White-naped Raven, Black-crowned Waxbill just to name a few. Birding around the forest margins can be very productive and this part of Bwindi is at a higher altitude meaning there are a huge amount of new birds for us to see. Bwindi is regarded as one of the best areas for birding in not just Uganda but the whole of Africa, with no less than 23 highly localized Albertine rift endemics. Some of the species we will concentrate our efforts on include the Grauer's Broadbill also known as the African Green Broadbill, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Mountain Greenbul, Black-billed Turaco, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Blue-headed Sunbird, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Pink-footed Puffback, Ayre's Hawk-eagle, African Wood Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, African Broadbill, Bar-tailed Trogon, Elliot's Woodpecker, Black Bee-eater, Archer's Ground Robin, Toro Olive Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Dusky Crimsonwing, and Doherty's Bush-shrike. We will stay at Bakiga Lodge for the next 3 nights.

 

Days 4 & 5 Gorilla Tracking and Birding in Bwindi
Close encounters with Mountain GorillaOur first full day in Bwindi will be spent looking for the legendary Mountain Gorillas. Anyone opting of this excursion (we hope you don’t!) will be able to bird some of the local area looking for a number of endemics and specialities. For those who have opted to do the trekking, we will have an early breakfast and then assemble at the park offices where we will get a short briefing before setting out for an incredible experience.

Gorilla tracking involves walking in the forest in search of these great apes. Sometimes the Gorillas can prove elusive but most often they are found within an hour or two. Each encounter is unique and has its own rewards and we hope to enjoy safe, close views of the adults grooming and feeding while the youngsters frolic and play. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. Depending on how long the tracking takes we may have time to do a short amount of birding in the afternoon but this day is specifically dedicated to seeing the Gorillas.

Our second day in Bwindi will be spent birding around the Mubwindi Swamp. This is one of the best birding spots in Bwindi and we will search for a number of Albertine rift endemics including Grauer's Broadbill, Regal Sunbird, Dwarf Honeyguide, Rwenzori Batis, Grauer's Warbler, Fraser's Eagle-owl, Strange Weaver, Blue-headed Sunbird and too many more to mention here. One thing for sure is there will be a lot to look for within this incredible area.
Night at Bakiga Lodge.

 

Day 6 Birding to Queen Elizabeth Park
After breakfast we will check out of the lodge and make our way to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Not before we make a number of birding stops on our way including the famous “neck”, where key birds could include Mountain Wagtail, Black-billed Turaco, Red-tailed Greenbul, Narina Trogon, Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-throated Alethe, African Shrike-flycatcher, Pink-footed and Northern Puffback, Many-colored Bush-shrike and a number of bee-eaters including Black and Cinnamon-breasted. We will pass through a several different habitats including dry fern giving us an opportunity to see a number of different birds like Dusky Twinspot, Black Saw-wing, Augur Buzzard, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Rock Martin, Petit's Cuckoo-shrike, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, African Crowned LionHornbill, Yellow-spotted Barbet, and African Harrier Hawk.

Later in the day we will arrive at Queen Elizabeth National Park, the second biggest protected area in Uganda. Birding in Queen Elizabeth will expose us to a wide range of new birds and some iconic mammals as we will now be in a dry savanna habitat. As we make our way through the park, we hope to see birds like Martial Eagle, Black Coucal, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Temminck's Courser, Senegal and Wattled Lapwing, Brown Snake-eagle and a number of larks and pipits. The park has a good number of mammal species and our main target will be the famous Ishasha tree-climbing Lions. We can also hope to see Elephants, African Buffalo, Ugandan Kob, Topi and also Hippos. We will overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge.Saddle-billed Stork

 

Day 7 Queen Elizabeth National Park – Kibale Forest
Today after breakfast we will set off on another bird watching drive through some of the park in search of any species that we didn’t see the previous day. Around mid-morning we will take a boat trip along the Kazinga channel. This is a narrow neck of water that connects Lake George and Lake Edward and should give us some wonderful close photographic opportunities. During the boat trip we will cruise along the shore line and hopefully see a number of birds including African Skimmer, Kittlitz's Plover, African Spoonbill, Three-banded Plover, Water Thick-knee, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and a number of Storks like the Marabou, Saddle-billed and Woolly-necked. There could also be close encounters with Hippo's, Elephants and Buffalo. We will then leave Queen Elizabeth Park and make our way to Kibale National Forest, making a few stops on the way to look for species like Blue-throated Roller, White-collared Oliveback, Narrow-tailed Starling, Shining Blue Kingfisher and Afep Pigeon. Once we arrive at our lodge we will check in and have dinner and prepare for the next day. Overnight at Kibale Forest Lodge.

 

ChimpanzeeDay 8 Chimp Tracking and Birding
Kibale Forest

Our morning in Kibale will be spent tracking Chimpanzees. Those who opted out of this will be birding the area with a local guide.

For those doing the Chimp tracking, we will have a similar experience to the Gorilla tracking; we start by having a short briefing and then set off into the forest in search of Chimps. Once we find them we will spend some time observing their behavior while the local guide talks us through their habits and how they live. Once we finish with the Chimps, we will spend the rest of the day birding some of Kibale's hotspots. Birding in Kibale is a delightful experience and we should encounter a large number of species including White-tailed Ground Thrush, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Purple-headed Starling, African Emerald Cuckoo, Green-throated Sunbird, Masked Apalis, White-spotted Flufftail, Red-chested Owlet, and Tiny Sunbird. Our main target, however, is the elusive Green-breasted Pitta, one of Uganda's most sought after birds.

We will then return for dinner and overnight at Kibale Forest Lodge.

 

Day 9 Kibale – Murchison Falls
Black-billed BarbetAfter an early breakfast we will leave Kibale and make our way north towards Murchison Falls National Park. A lot of bird tours to Uganda do not include this spectacular area and we will be privileged to visit an area that will surely be one of the highlights of this tour, not just for the birds and mammals, but also some incredible scenery. As we make our way towards Murchison, we will make several important birding stops in search several specific species.

One of the main stops will be in the area of Busingiro, one of Uganda's top birding sites. Some of the targets here will be Foxy Cisticola, White-headed and Black-billed Barbet, Northern Crombec, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Red-winged Pytilia, Black-bellied Firefinch, Lesser Masked Weaver, Mocking Cliff Chat, Green-backed Eremomela and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting among others. We will then cross the Nile and drive through part of the Murchison Falls National Park searching for more birds and mammals whilst heading towards our comfortable lodge. Night at Pakuba Safari Lodge.

 

Days 10 & 11 Murchison Falls National Park
Beaudouin's Snake-eagleWe will spend the next two full days engaging in a number of activities including boat trips and safari game drives in search of more birds and mammals. On our first day we will spend the morning in the safari vehicles looking for open savanna species. The park is brilliant for raptor sightings and we can hope to see species like Beaudouin's Snake-eagle, Tawny Eagle, Martial Eagle, Yellow-billed Kite, Bateleur, and a number of vulture species like Lappet-faced, White-backed and Hooded.

Later in the afternoon, after our first drive we will take a boat trip to the falls. We will enjoy some fantastic scenery and, of course, some great birds and mammals. Nile Crocodiles and Hippos will be on view throughout the boat ride and we can also hope to see birds like Rock Pratincole, African Darter, Giant Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, and a number of Egret and Heron species. During our second day, we will take another boat trip, this time heading towards the delta, where on occasions it is possible to get our second chance of the trip to see the mythical Shoebill. Other birds we can hope to see include Goliath Heron, Sacred Ibis, Saddle-billed Stork, Pied Kingfisher, Senegal Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Red-necked Falcon, Blue-breasted Bee-eater and African Fish Eagle. We will spend the rest of the day in the safari vehicles looking for any birds or mammals we have missed the previous day. Overnight at Pakuba Safari Lodge.

 

Day 12 Murchison – Kaniyo Pabida (Budongo Forest) – Entebbe
ERock Pratincolesarly this morning we will turn back south and head towards the famous Budonga Forest. Our efforts will be concentrated on the Kaniyo Pabidi area in the southern sector of the Murchison Falls NP, and the only known site in East Africa for Puvel’s Illadopsis. We have high expectations of finding this bird as well as a wide range of other forest species. A good part of the day will be dedicated to try and find a mix of widespread species and more local specialties such as Crested Guineafowl sporting their “punk hair-do’s”, White-crested Turaco, Chestnut-crowned Eremomela, Yellow and Grey Longbills, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Little Green Sunbird and Red-headed Bluebill. Here, we can look for many other special birds with a West African origin including White-thighed Hornbill, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Blue-breasted, Dwarf and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Yellow-crested and Brown-eared Woodpeckers, Yellowbill, Western Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted and Yellow-billed Barbets, Green Hylia, Buff-throated, Black-throated and Black-capped Apalis, Red-headed Malimbe and the elusive Lemon-bellied Crombec. We will also be in prime area for a wide range of primates such as Blue and Red-tailed Monkeys, plus Black-and-white Colobus, and if we are lucky ,Chimpanzees, (this area is home to Uganda's largest population of Chimpanzees). Once we reach Entebbe we will enjoy our last night together ready for our departure flights the next day.

 

Day 13 Departure Day 8th Sept
Today you will be transferred to Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in time for your departing flight.

 

Leaders: Tom Bird & Local Guides

 

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT GORILLA TREKKING:
Mountain GorillaAnyone wishing to track Mountain Gorillas must obtain a permit in advance. The cost of the permit is currently $700 per person and the demand for permits is very high. It is critical that if you wish to accompany a gorilla trek, reserve your place when you register for this tour. Please clearly state that you wish to accompany and pay for a gorilla trek. Permits are non-refundable. A reasonable level of fitness is required for the gorilla trek though the pace is not overly fast. The trek can involve several hours of strenuous walking on steep slopes and off-trail so you will need to be able to walk through dense forest and up and down slopes. The guides will carry your backpack (for a fee or tip) and are very helpful during the trek getting you over the terrain. The walk can take anywhere from a few hours to all day and quite often the gorillas can be found within a few hours. Sometimes, however, it is possible to miss the gorillas completely as these are indeed wild animals and their movements are unpredictable. The guides will have the latest information on the whereabouts of the group during the trek briefing.

Because everyone may not want to accompany a Gorilla trek, we have costed this excursion separate from the cost of the tour. If for any reason you do not opt for the Gorilla trek, there will be birding opportunities offered.  If you have any questions about Gorilla trekking, please ask!


Gray Crowned CraneUGANDA!
Gorillas, Chimps & Shoebills

August 27 – September 8, 2022
Registration Form>    
Contact [email protected] to reserve your space!

TOUR PRICE: US$4650.00 per person, double occupancy from Entebbe, Uganda (Airport code: EBB)

Single supplement: US$780.00 per person subject to availability.  Prices based on exchange rates at the time the tour was posted (**see note below).

Gorilla and Chimpanzee Tracking Permits: Please note that these permits can only be booked on request. They are expensive and we do not include them within our tour cost as not everyone wishes to partake. If you do wish to take either one or both of these then please advise on your booking form, Gorilla Permit US$700 and Chimp Permit US$200.

Deposit: US $1000.00 per person per tour. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal. 
Use this link
to make your credit card payment. 
Please advise [email protected] when you have made payment. 

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals from Dinner on Day 1 to Breakfast on Day 13, group airport transfers, ground transport throughout, all entrance fees to national parks, water, and services of English speaking leaders.


Not included: International airfare, insurance, passport/visa fees, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature. Also, any and all costs arising from pandemic or Covid-19 related issues are not included in the tour cost and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. These include, among others, the costs of Covid treatment, hospitalization, medical fees, transport, meals and accommodation in case of illness or quarantine, and the costs of any Covid tests needed before, during and after the tour.


Accommodation: All lodges are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms, a good variety of meals and cooked breakfasts.


Tour Code: This is a standard wildlife tour with regular walks, boat trips, and safaris in a variety of habitats. There are early morning options and pre-breakfast excursions, followed by morning and afternoon sessions. The weather should be generally good to warm, even hot. But be prepared for all eventualities.

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour:

1) Contact Gina Nichol at [email protected] to confirm availability and hold your place.

2) Review the Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)>

3) Complete the Registration & Release Form (pdf)> and mail it with your deposit of US$1000.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC within two weeks to secure your place. 

>Download & print the Registration Form (pdf download).
Instructions are on the form.

Reservations are held with a paid deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.

This tour will be booked on a first come first serve basis with confirmed places held on receipt of a deposit. Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights. Please do not book flights until you receive this information from us and are notified that the trip has sufficient numbers to run. Final payment is due May 27, 2022.

**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds:
Please review our Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)> prior to registering for this tour. All cancellations must be made in writing. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.


There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

TRIP INSURANCE:
Sunrise Birding LLC strongly recommends that you consider purchasing a travel protection plan to protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected in case of delay, injury or illness prior to or during a tour. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss and Delay, Emergency Medical Transportation, Pre-existing Conditions, and more.

There are many trip insurers. Here are two options to consider:

CSA Travel Protection
CSA TRAVEL PROTECTION>
CSA offers coverage for pre-existing conditions if you purchase your policy before making your final payment for a tour.
Please be sure to use Sunrise Birding's producer code: 20201123
when purchasing your policy.
Insuremytrip
INSURE MY TRIP>
Insure My Trip is a web site that allows you to compare trip insurance plans
to find the right plan for you.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Insurance policy requirements vary and the timing of your purchase can affect coverage. Some insurance providers require that for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a policy must be purchased within 7-14 days of booking. Others, like CSA, offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions as long as the policy is purchased prior to making your final payment for the tour.

  • Trip insurance policy premiums may be non-refundable, but they may be able to be amended or transferred. Check with your insurer. It is important to be sure that the tour is sufficiently subscribed to operate before you purchase trip insurance.

  • Pay attention to coverages provided by your policy. Be aware of the requirements of country or destination can change, so check often. Some policies are now offering Covid related coverages so check with your insurer.

  • US medical insurance plans (including Medicare) often do not provide coverage outside the US. The US State Department strongly advises Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Consult with your insurer prior to your trip to ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider directly or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Be sure to get and keep all documentation of any expenses incurred.

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol [email protected].com 
Phone: 203.453.6724

This tour is being run in cooperation with Bird’s Wildlife & Nature Travel
44 Courtland Crescent, Plymouth, Devon UK PL7 4HL