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Whale-headed, commonly known as the Shoebill Stork is an elusive prehistoric looking bird species that is usually and commonly sought after by specialized birders and birding enthusiasts. It dwells in the dense tropical Marshes, swamps, and wetlands of Africa, it is commonly found in Eastern Africa, Sudan and Zambia with a global estimate of about 8000 individuals remaining in the wilds. It’s a hard to miss bird in Uganda while on your birding safari if you are a keen birder.

Uganda is a top birding destination with nearly 11% of the Global population and 50% of Africa’s population of bird species. Being the smallest of the 4 African countries whose bird list hits the 1000+ mark, seeing more than 300 species on a single multi day tour is guaranteed for a keen birder. On this 10 days Shoebill special safari, you will hunt for this bird in the wetlands of Mabamba in Kasanjje, Lugogo swamp in Zziwa Rhino sanctuary, the Nile Delta in Murchison Falls, Semliki River and Lake Albert in Semliki Wildlife Reserve. You will see lots of birds apart form this though it will be the main focus of this bird watching tour.


Note: On the day of arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will be warmly received by the company guide, who will transfer you to your overnight accommodation in Entebbe. O/N: Imperial Resort Hotel (Luxury)/ Lake Heights hotel (Mid-range)/ Airport view Guesthouse (Basic); Bed & Breakfast

Day 01: Birding the Mabamba and travel to Ziwa Rhino sanctuary [Approximately 4hours drive]    

Have an early breakfast at your o/n accommodation, transfer very early to catch the morning birding session at Mabamba wetland for the best opportunities to spot the Shoebill hunting in the Marsh. Other species you may come across include; African Jacana, Pied Kingfisher, Purple Heron, Pallid Harrier, Papyrus Gonolek and others. Birding here is done on a canoe paddled by a local skipper who knows every corner. In the afternoon, you will head to Ziwa Rhino sanctuary and en-route you break off for lunch. On arrival you will head to your booked accommodation where overnight (o/n) and dinner will be.

Meal Plan: Lunch and Dinner: Overnight: Amuka safari lodge (midrange) or Ziwa Guesthouse (basic).

Day 02: Searching for the Shoebill in Lugogo swamp and tracking the Rhinos at Ziwa  

An early start [0600hours] is required for the best opportunities to spot the Shoebill Stork on its morning hunt through the wetland. Therefore, you will carry a packed breakfast or have it very early at the lodge. The activity is done on a canoe with a professional guide taking you through, you will enjoy the splendor of the sun-rise over the Lugogo swamp. Expect to see a number of other birds including the; water birds such as; African Pygmy Kingfisher, Sacred Ibis, Yellow-billed Stork, Willow Warbler, Yellow-billed Shrike, Giant Kingfisher and many others.

In the afternoon after lunch, you will participate in Rhino tracking traversing the sanctuary on foot with a ranger to see one of the members of the African Big Five. Meal Plan: Full Board [FB]: Overnight: Amuka safari lodge (midrange) or Ziwa Guesthouse (basic).

Day 03: Transfer to Budongo Forest Reserve [Approximately 3hours drive] and birding here

After breakfast, checkout and travel northwards to Budongo Forest. On arrival, you will head to your accommodation where you will have lunch and in the late afternoon you go for bird watching within the reserve through Kaniyo Pabidi and/or the Royal Mile if time permits. Expect to see; Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, Blue-breasted Kingfisher and Blue-throated Roller among others.

Meal Plan: Full Board [FB] Overnight: Murchison River lodge (Midrange) or Budongo Eco lodge (Basic).

Day 04: Bird watching at the Nile Delta in Murchison Falls   

Leave Budongo forest and transfer to the park to catch the early birding session, today you will participate in a birding nature walk around the Nile Delta searching for the elusive Shoebill stork with opportune moments to also see the; Goliath Heron, Great Egret, African Fish Eagles, Denham’s Bustard, Palm-nut Vulture, and many other wetland migrants.

In the afternoon after your lunch break, you will enjoy a late afternoon to evening game drive looking out for more bird species inhabiting the savanna plains and of course the game such as Rothschild’s Giraffe, Cape Buffalos, African Elephant, Jackson’s Hartebeests, Uganda Kob and if lucky the Lion and odd Leopard will spice up your safari.

Meal Plan: Full Board [FB]: Overnight: Paraa Safari lodge (luxury) or Pakuba safari lodge (midrange) or Heritage lodge (basic).

Day 05: Birding on a launch trip; transfer to Hoima [Approximately 4 hours drive]    

An early start with breakfast and go for a morning launch trip from Paraa, to the bottom of the falls. Bird life is abundant along the banks and you will see variety of species on this launch trip along the Victoria Nile. From the boat hike all the way to the top of the falls characterized by exploding sounds, misty spry and trademark rainbow. You will meet with the driver here and later leave the park and transfer to Hoima. Meal Plan: Full Board [FB]: Overnight: Bugoma Jungle lodge (Mid-range) or Miika Eco- Resort hotel (Basic)

Day 06: Transfer to Semliki [Approximately 3 hour], Evening bird watching      

Begin with breakfast at the lodge/hotel and leave early for Semliki with a target of arriving before noon. Check in at the booked lodge where you will have lunch and then head for an evening bird watching session. Look out for the Shoebill and other species including the Albertine Rift endemics like the; Dwarf Honey guide and Purple-breasted Sunbird as well as range species like the White-tailed Hornbill, Capuchin Babbler, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher and Orange Weaver. The park hosts more than 400bird species, and others include; Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, Great Blue and Ross’ Turaco and others.

Meal Plan: Full Board [FB]: Overnight: Semliki Safari lodge (luxury) or Ntoroko Game lodge (midrange) or Kirimia Guesthouse (basic).

Day 07: Full day birding in Semliki- Key bird; the Shoebill     

Leave the lodge after breakfast and go for an early bird watching session within the park looking out for the Shoebill Stork. The park hosts variety of species including the Albertine Rift endemics so expect to come across them; this is a birding combo where you will participate in a boat ride and nature walk. With more than 400bird species, the park offers exquisite birding experience and that’s why it is commonly referred to as the “Birders haven”. On a 1-2 hours trail to the hot springs, expect to see wildlife such as primates like; Black & White Colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys and Red-tailed Monkeys among others  

Meal Plan: Full Board [FB]: Overnight: Semliki Safari lodge (luxury) or Ntoroko Game lodge (midrange) or Kirimia Guesthouse (basic).

Day 08: Travel to Queen Elizabeth, participate in launch cruise [Approximately 3hours drive]

Leave Semliki after breakfast and early transfer to Queen Elizabeth national park via Kasese taking in the stunning backdrop views of the Rwenzori Mountains. Continue to the booked accommodation, check in and after lunch head to the park for a launch trip along the Kazinga channel. Here, you will spot lots of wildlife including mammals and birds at the shores. Later return to the lodge

Meal Plan: Full Board [FB]: Overnight: Elephant Plains lodge (luxury) or Parkview lodge (midrange) or Simba safari camp (basic).

Day 09: Birding around Lake George (Kikorongo) and Game drive 

Start with an early breakfast and head for bird watching around Kikorongo Lake; an extension of Lake George; key bird to look out for here is the Shoebill Stork. The papyrus of the wetland is a Ramsar site with lots of bird species such as; Sacred Ibis, Black Crake, Yellow Wagtail, Greater and Lesser Swamp Warbler. In the afternoon after having your lunch, you will go for bird watching on a safari drive around the Mweya Peninsular; an elevated area commanding gorgeous views of the Kazinga channel and surrounding savanna. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. Meal Plan: Full Board.

Day 10: Game viewing in the Ishasha sector and transfer back to Kampala   

Early start with breakfast and drive to the remote but famous Ishasha sector known for its resident tree climbing Lions usually seen in tree branches as they keep a close eye on their prey. You may also see the Palm-nut Vulture, Bateleur, Helmeted Guinea fowl, African Crake and occasionally the Shoebill at Edward flats. The drive through this section of the park presents remarkable moments to capture the best shots of your safari such as Lions lying in tree branches.

Later leave the park and start off the drive back to Kampala. En-route, you will stop at the Equator for some snapshots. Meal Plan: Breakfast and Lunch. End of Safari


Rate Inclusion

Park entrance fees, All activity fees unless labeled as optional, Professional English Speaking guide/driver, Ground Transportation, Round trip Airport/ hotel transfers, Drinking water [mineral] in the car.

Rate Exclusions

Visa fees (visa can be arranged on request), Pre and Post Tour Accommodation [can be arranged on request], Airline ticket [arranged on request], Tips, Gratuities and expenses of personal nature, Travel insurance.

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