BIRDING SAFARIS IN UGANDA
Given the fact that Uganda is located in the equatorial region, it is a country of extra ordinarily startling contrasts. Non of the African country can match its astonishing variance of habitats ranging from rich Savannah, vast wetlands, arid semi-deserts, montane rainforests, lowland, volcanoes and an afro-alpine zone which all cover an altitude of 650 to 5000m.This prosperity is reflected in the number of birds per square kilometer and it I seen as the highest next to non-in Africa. Although Uganda is a small country approximately 235,000 kilometers squared, it however boasts a national bird list of over 1008 species. This represents more than half the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa.
Uganda has more than 700 forest reserves. On its western boarder, Uganda has an area adjacent to the Great Guinea / Congo Basin rain forest. Subsequently there are a number of west and central African bird species occurring in Uganda that are not found elsewhere in East Africa. One of the particular regions is the Albertine Rift Endemic area (ARE), which has 38 species of birds confined to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo.
And among these AREs, Uganda has 25, mostly confined to the forests of Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks in the Southwest.
Of the 30,000 sqkms in the Uganda wetlands, it has got 210 species from the shoebill and African Skimmer to the endemic Fox's weaver.More still are 4 Papyrus endemic and they include; Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Yellow warbler. There is also the White winged Black Tern roost of 2-3 million birds in the Entebbe (Lutembe bay) area.
Savannah in Uganda varies from the remote, semi-dessert, dry thorn-scrub region of Karamoja in the Northeast, to the richer fertile Savannah of the western rift valley. Queen Elizabeth National Park has a bird list of 604 species the highest for any protected area in Africa.
BIRD WATCHING SITES:
Bwindi is the Bird watcher's paradise! It holds 348 species of birds and contains 90% of all Albertine rift Endemic such as; the Short-tailed Warbler, Rusty-faced woodland Warbler, Bar-tailed Trogon, Gruel's Rush Warbler, Wilcock's Honey-guide, Yellow-eyed black Fly-catcher, Kivu Ground Thrush, Dusky Crimson Wing, White-tailed Blue Monarch among others, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of EastAfrica.
An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species in a day! Visit Ruhija and Buhoma for this dream. Indicate your interest to the guide so that appropriate early morning departures can be arranged.
For the visitor having 2 or 3 days in Bwindi, the park has 4 outlandish hiking trails. On all these trails, you have opportunities to see and learn about primates, many species of birds, butterflies, trees, and other organisms. Arrange at the reception for a guide. The guide's company is obligatory and yet affords you an excellent understanding of nature's system at work in the park.
THE MUNYANGA RIVER TRAIL:
Is an ideal short walk for visitors with little time to spare. Here you can see birds and primates of the forest edge.
THE POPULAR WATERFALL TRAIL provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, epithetic ferns, orchids and Bwindi's colorful array of butterflies. This trail which leads to 3 delightful crystal clear waterfalls typifies your impression of a tropical rain forest.
Forests - THE RUSHURA TRAIL:
Commands expansive views across the western rift valley floor. To the west,
Congo's Parc Nationale Des Virungas provides a spectacular backdrop, and on clear Das Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountain are visible.
THE MUZABAJIRRO TRAIL:
Offer breath-taking views of Bwindi Forest. Western Rift Valley and the Virungas. On the way, you witness hundreds of pre-historic tree ferns. The top of this trail is a great place for a picnic lunch.
THE RIVER IVY TRAIL
So far the longest in the park will occupy you for a full day. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.
BUHOMA VILLAGE TOURISTS WALK:
The local community manages the village tourist walk that takes up to three hours and the proceeds received here are ploughed into the community to improve on their welfare. The walk introduces you to a number of interesting sites such as a typical rural homestead, a visit to the local traditional healers, a banana beer brewing demonstration site and much more.
HIT THE TRAIL IN YOUR CAR:
Visitors with their own 4 -wheel drive transport should consider crossing the rugged centre of the park through Ruhija. This transect affords the visitor with Uganda's finest vistas of deep undisturbed forests. Watch out for duikers, primates and both forest and grassland bird species. In Ruhija, visitors can take the three-hour scenery packed hike to the Mubwindi swamp. You may also walk to the Bamboo zone (the only such area in the park).
THE BAMBOO TRAIL:
The Bamboo trail offers 14 vegetation types and is one of the areas of highest diversity in the park. At the top of this trail, you witness panoramic views encompassing L. Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest.
In the evenings, participate in captivating traditional performances presented by Women's groups. Proceeds from these go directly to improve the welfare of families around the park.
There are of variety of choices to cater for your accommodation.
African Pearl Safaris offers a medium range accommodation homestead.
Abercrombie and Kent have luxury-tented accommodation.
Mantana luxury tented camp also provides fully furnished luxury tented accommodation.
The Local community operates a Rest camp with clean and simple Bandas. A restaurant serving simple traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner is available.
Volcano Bwindi camp
Lake Kitandara Bwindi camp
Gorilla forest camp
Or you can as well bring your tent
There is self catering Guesthouse which is booked in advance through Great Lakes Safaris.
Savanna Resort Hotel is 40 kms to Buhoma and is adjacent to Ishasha sector, of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kampala to Kabale is a distance of 414 kms on bitumen surface and takes 6-7 hours. An additional 120 kms from Kabale to Buhoma Park Headquarters via Kanungu and Kanyantoorogo on Murram surface takes 3-4 hours and may require a 4WD vehicle. Kabale- Ruhija-Buhoma is 95 kilometers and takes about 3 hours. The public does not use this road much. A 4WD vehicle is recommended.