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5 Days Uganda Birding Tour Shoebills, Green Breasted Pitta, & Chimps

5 Days Uganda Birding Tour Shoebills, Green Breasted Pitta, & Chimps

5 Days

This brief 5 Days Uganda Birding Tour targets the green-breasted pittas and shoebills. On this tour we will take you to Mabamba Swamp and Kibale Forest to find these two of Uganda’s mega-tick birds. It is an affordable Uganda birding tour and can be modified to suit your interests and desires.

While our focus will be on these two iconic birds of Uganda, you will also rack up many other wonderfully good-looking birds, such as blue swallow, great blue turaco, Grey-crowned crane, black bee-eater, papyrus Gonolek, white-naped pigeon, afep pigeon, red-chested owlet, white-headed wood hoopoe, blue-throated roller, purple-headed starling, green-headed sunbirds, chestnut wattle-eye, white-collared oliveback, yellow-mantled weaver, bar-tailed trogon to mention a few.

You will also trek for chimpanzees in Kibale Forest and possibly even bump into the mysterious potto.


Length: 4 nights / 5 days (depending on departing flights)

Location: Mabamba Swamp and Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda

Group Size: Flexible, you tell us how many in your party

Departure Dates: To suit you


Day 1: Arrive In Entebbe Visit Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Day 2: Search for the Mythical Shoebill and Transfer to Kibale Forest

Day 3: Birding and Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale Forest

Day 4: Birding in Kibale Forest, Bigodi Swamp, and afternoon departure back to Entebbe.

Day 5: Departure day

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive In Entebbe Visit Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Welcome To Uganda!

On arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will be met by a Tulambule Uganda Safaris representative and transferred to nearby hotel in Entebbe city for your overnight accommodation.

Entebbe is in central Uganda, about 40 km southwest of the capital city Kampala, stunningly located on the shores of Lake Victoria (the world’s largest tropical lake) on the magical Entebbe peninsula. The fresh air, relaxed pace of life and the warm tropical weather will make you feel instantly at home in the Pearl of Africa.

The small city of Entebbe used to be the governmental seat of power before it transferred to Kampala. In fact, the word Entebbe in the local Luganda language actually means a seat. And the Ugandan president still has his official office and residence in Entebbe city.

Birding Entebbe Botanical Gardens

After checking into your hotel room, and taking some time to refresh, grab your binoculars because your guide will take you to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, a lakeside paradise of blossoms, lush green vegetation, and gnarled old trees native to Uganda and troops of stunning Colobus Monkeys.

Expect to kick-start that lifer list with many avian jewels that call the botanical gardens home. Right at the garden entrance in the tall trees, you can spot a pair of Verreaux’s eagle owls. Closer to the lake’s edge, the key birds to see are red-chested and orange-tufted sunbirds and orange weaver.

The latter breed in the bushes on the shores of Lake Victoria along with northern brown-throated, slender-billed, Jackson’s, golden-backed, yellow backed, black-headed and the stunning Vieillot’s black Weavers.

Along the water’s edge one can find African open-billed stork, common squacco, long-tailed cormorant, black-headed herons, Harmerkop, grey-headed gull, various terns, giant and pied kingfishers, and swamp flycatcher.

Collared pratincoles are often spotted, and the red- chested sunbird and stunning black headed Gonolek occur in the dense scrub covering the headland.

In the evening your guide will join you for dinner and explain the plan of action for tomorrow’s birding adventure in Mabamba Swamp in search of magical shoebill.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Hotel No.5/Lake Victoria Serena Resort/Protea Hotel Entebbe

Midrange: Boma Hotel/Lake Victoria Hotel/2 Friends Beach Hotel

Budget: Airport Guest House

Meal Plan: Dinner

Day 2: Search For The Shoebill And Transfer To Kibale Forest

Birding Mabamba Swamp

After an early breakfast in the hotel, we will check out and set off. Our first stop is the legendary Mabamba Swamp on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Mabamba is located about an hour drive from Entebbe, and is one of the most reliable places to see shoebill, the most sought-after bird in Africa. This wetland is a large (16,500 hectares) marshland crisscrossed by many channels that provide an ideal habitat for countless waterbirds besides shoebill stork.

We will do our birding from a big canoe paddled by an expert local bird guide. The canoe ride along the narrow channels of the swamp will give us chances of sighting other bird species.

These include the sought-after Papyrus Gonolek, regal African Fish Eagle, swamp flycatcher, malachite kingfisher, winding cisticola, black-headed weavers, long-toed lapwing, yellow-billed duck;

African jacana, banded martin, blue-headed coucal, grey-rumped and Angola swallows, African pygmy goose, blue-breasted bee-eater, rufous-bellied and purple heron, African marsh harrier, black crake, and fan-tailed widowbird. Occasionally one can also be rewarded with the sighting of the blue swallow a rare and endangered species.

The crowning glory of the morning will be finding and quietly observing the intriguing shoebill. This prehistoric-looking bird is so different, with a huge, yellow, human-like eyes and that massive bill that looks like a shoe.

Transfer to Kibale

After our morning adventure in Mabamba Swamp, we will proceed on a drive west towards Kibale Forest National Park. We will spend most of the afternoon getting there but will be able to bird along the way.

We will travel through the central part of the country, passing the rural towns of Mityana, Mubende and Kyenjojo on the way. Arrive at the town of Fort Portal, situated at the base of the sweeping Ruwenzori Mountains.

From Fort Portal, continue along the rolling hillside past scenic Crater Lakes to Kibale. We’ll arrive in the late afternoon or early evening at the lodge near or inside Kibale Forest.

Kibale Forest National Park is Uganda’s premier chimpanzee trekking destination – adjoining the northern edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This 776km2 patch of evergreen rainforest marks a transition from typical high-altitude Afromontane to lowland forest and protects a diverse array of Uganda wildlife, including over 1,500 chimpanzees and 375 bird species.

Beneath the thick canopy of the forest, the winding paths are widely recognized as some of the most picturesque on African continent, lined with a thick layer of shrubby undergrowth.

The forest tracts are scattered with patches of grassland and swamp. On the fringes of the park, the community-run Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a popular attraction for primate lovers and birders.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Crater Safari Lodge/Primate Lodge/Kyaninga Lodge

Midrange: Kibale Forest Camp /Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Budget: Kibale Forest Camp/Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3: Birding & Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale Forest

Search For Green-Breasted Pitta

Our start today in Kibale Forest Park will be pre-dawn essential as we have to listen for the first territorial calls of gorgeous green-breasted pitta.

Breeding pittas are easier to find, as they call often, but non-breeding birds require much harder work. We will search the best territories and nesting areas, hoping to find one feeding on the forest floor.

Please note that the BEST months to search for green-breasted pitta is February, March and early April and when breeding, mid-June, July and August.

More Birding In Kibale

Later, hopefully with this gem in the bag, you will continue to bird Kibale National Park, its prolific forest edge and adjacent birding areas.

The birds here are typical of medium-altitude forest, with excellent mixed species flocks and specials such as Afep pigeon, white-naped pigeon, red-chested owlet, Narina trogon, black bee-eater; white-headed wood hoopoe, dusky-blue flycatcher, blue-throated roller, Purple-headed starling, lowland akalat, shrike-flycatcher, superb sunbird, green-headed sunbird, chestnut wattle-eye, black-and-white manikin, white-collared oliveback or yellow-mantled weaver – to mention a few.

Chimpanzee Tracking

The towering Kibale Forest has the highest primate concentration and species diversity of any reserve in East Africa. Primate highlights might include sightings of red colobus, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, blue monkeys, handsome L’Hoest’s monkey and the scruffy grey-cheeked mangabey.

You will embark on a chimpanzee trek while in Kibale Forest, where the chances of finding our closest living relatives are excellent. You will see chimps in their natural environment and marvel at how similar they are to humans.

Optional Activity:

In the early evening, you can do a night search for the potto, Africa’s equivalent of the sloth. This is the best place in Africa to see potto. This unique night forest safari may also reveal 3 species of bush baby (galagos) and various small carnivores and ungulates.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Crater Safari Lodge/Primate Lodge/Kyaninga Lodge

Midrange: Kibale Forest Camp /Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Budget: Kibale Forest Camp/Chimpanzee Forest Lodge

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4: Birding In Kibale Forest, Bigodi Swamp, And Afternoon Departure Back To Entebbe.

Today provides a second chance to see the green-breasted pitta, just in case it proved elusive yesterday. And if the pitta is already encountered, your focus will be on the rest of the delectable species in the local list.

A birding walk through Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary will be in the cards at some point this morning. The wetland is an award-winning local community initiative aimed at protecting the local environment while advancing health, education, and economic growth in the wider local community.

This lovely community project offers a pleasant boardwalk through the marsh and a great chance to seek out specialties like yellow-spotted barbet, hairy-breasted barbet, yellow-billed barbet, white-spotted flufftail, western nicator, grey-winged robin-chat;

white-tailed ant-thrush, brown-backed scrub-robin, black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, brown-throated wattle-eye, superb sunbird, brown-crowned tchagra, bocage’s bush-shrike, black bishop, white-breasted negrofinch , black-crowned waxbill, etc.

After lunch you will be driven back to Entebbe, while birding en-route.

Optional Activity:

You can choose to go for a guided cultural walk in Bigodi Village – (home of two tribes). Here, you will discover the Uganda rural village accompanied by a professional English-speaking local guide.

You will also visit traditional healer who happily shares his knowledge about herbs, plants and local medicines. You can also visit the homes of elderly men and women who tell interesting stories about birth, marriage, ceremonies, clans and traditional rural life.

En route, you are given the chance to experience the Ugandan school system and tour Bigodi’s trading centre, a hub of rural life and activity.

Accommodation Options:

Luxury: Hotel No.5/Lake Victoria Serena Resort/Protea Hotel Entebbe

Midrange: Boma Hotel/Lake Victoria Hotel/2 Friends Beach Hotel

Budget: Airport Guest House

Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Note: Anyone departing on a late flight tonight (after 21h00) will be transferred to Entebbe International Airport

Day 5: Departure Day

After your final breakfast, you will be driven to Entebbe International Airport to continue your African adventures or start heading back home. Thanks you for choosing Tulambule Uganda Safaris!

End Of The Tour

Note: Our Uganda safari prices include all services rendered by us, and we only generate revenue if you book a safari with us. Going directly to the lodges will not save you money because we earn volume-based discounts from them and can always access the best prices – for your benefit.

Safari Inclusions:

  • All accommodation & meals
  • Access to all parks and reserve
  • Transportation in a 4├ù4 vehicle or minivan
  • Canoe ride mentioned in the itinerary
  • Fuel
  • Driver and guide fees
  • 24/7 office support
  • Chimpanzee tracking permit

Safari Excludes:

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Items of personal nature
  • Telephone calls
  • Laundry
  • Beverages
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Tips
  • Optional activities
  • Any activities not specified in the itinerary

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

5 Days Uganda Birding Tour Shoebills, Green Breasted Pitta, & Chimps