Quest for green-breasted pitta & shoebill

UGANDA

This 5-day package to Uganda's Mabamba Swamp and Kibale Forest to find green-breasted pittas and shoebills won’t break the bank and can be modified to suit your dates and wishes.

Although our focus will be on these two mag-ticks, you will also rack up many other stonkingly good-looking birds, such as blue swallow, black bee-eater, papyrus gonolek, afep pigeon, white-naped pigeon, red-chested owlet, white-headed wood hoopoe, blue-throated roller, purple-headed starling, superb and 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 and possibly even bump into the cryptic potto ...

A brief safari targetting green-breasted pittas and shoebills – two of Uganda’s mega-tick birds

Overview

Length: 4 nights / 5 days (depending on departing flights)
Group Size: 1 - 6 guests
Location: Mabamba Swamp and Kibale National Park, Uganda
Departure Dates: To suit you

from US$ 1,680 per person sharing

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

Your guide, Harriet Kemigisha, was born in Bigodi Village, at the edge of Kibale National Park. She is a renowned naturalist guide in Uganda whose lifelong interest in nature was influenced by her grandfather, who introduced her to the natural world when she was just five years old. Harriet has worked with the Uganda Wildlife Authority as a local ranger in Kibale National Park, and in 2005 she rediscovered the rare and sought-after green-breasted pitta in the park. Previously, Harriet has worked with the Avian Vocalisation Centre at Michigan State University to record the sounds of rare birds, many of which have never been recorded before for science, but she now guides professionally – and is Uganda’s only female bird guide.

Prices and dates

2023 Rates

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Subscriber

Non-subscriber

1 Participant

US$ 2,510

US$ 2,640

2 Participants, per person

US$ 2,275

US$ 2,390

3 Participants, per person

US$ 2,035

US$ 2,140

4 Participants, per person

US$ 1,915

US$ 2,015

5 Participants, per person

US$ 1,800

US$ 1,890

6 Participants, per person

US$ 1,680

US$ 1,765

Price includes:
All accommodation, meals, access to all parks and reserve, transportation in a 4×4 vehicle or minivan with pop-up roof, boat cruises mentioned in the itinerary, fuel, driver and guide fees, and 24/7 office support.

Price excludes:
International flights, visas, COVID tests, excess baggage charges, items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, beverages, travel and medical insurance, tips, and any activities not specified in the itinerary.

Itinerary

On arrival in Entebbe you will be met by an Africa Geographic representative and transferred to The Boma, your overnight accommodation. After checking into your room, grab your binoculars because your guide will take you to the nearby Entebbe Botanical Gardens – a lakeside paradise of blooms, lush vegetation, gnarled old trees native to Uganda and troops of stunning pied colobus monkeys. Expect to kick-start that lifer list with many avian jewels that call the gardens home.

Right at the entrance in the tall trees, one usually finds a pair of Verreaux’s eagle owls. Closer to the water’s edge, the key birds to see are orange-tufted and red-chested sunbird and orange weaver. The latter breed in the bushes on the shores of the lake along with slender-billed, northern brown–throated, yellow backed, Jackson’s golden–backed, black-headed and the stunning Vieillot’s black weavers. Along the lake’s edge one can find long-tailed cormorant, common squacco and black-headed herons, hamerkop, African open-billed stork, grey-headed gull, various terns, giant and pied kingfishers, and swamp flycatcher. Collared pratincoles are often present, and the stunning black headed gonolek and red- chested sunbird 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 assault on Mabamba Swamp in search of shoebill.

Dinner and overnight in Entebbe.

Mabamba Swamp is a short drive from Entebbe, and one of the most reliable places to view shoebill, the most sought-after bird in Africa.

This wetland is a large marshland crisscrossed by many channels that provide the perfect habitat for countless waterbirds besides shoebill. Here, other marsh species such as swamp flycatcher, winding cisticola, malachite kingfisher, black-headed weavers, yellow-billed duck, long-toed lapwing, African jacana and blue-headed coucal, banded martin, grey-rumped and Angola swallows, African pygmy goose, rufous-bellied and purple heron, blue-breasted bee-eater, black crake, African marsh harrier, fan-tailed widowbird are not hard to find. Occasionally one can also be rewarded with the rare and endangered blue swallow.

The crowning glory of the morning will be finding and quietly observing the magnificent shoebill.

After our morning adventure, we proceed towards Kibale National Park. We will spend most of the afternoon getting there but will be able to bird along the way. You will arrive in the late afternoon or early evening at Kibale Forest Lodge.

Dinner and overnight in Kibale.

Our start today in Kibale National Park will be pre-dawn – essential as we have to listen for the first territorial calls of green-breasted pitta. Breeding pittas are easier to locate, as they call often, but non-breeding birds require much harder work - you will scour the best territories and nesting areas, hoping to find one feeding on the ground. Later, hopefully with this gem in the bag, you will continue to bird Kibale, its prolific forest edge and adjacent birding areas.

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

The towering Kibale Forest has the highest primate concentration and species diversity of any reserve in East Africa. Primate highlights might include sightings of central African red colobus, handsome L’Hoest’s monkey and the scruffy grey-cheeked mangabey. You will embark on a chimpanzee trek while in Kibale, where the chances of finding our closest living relatives are excellent.

In the early evening, you can do a night search for 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 three galago species and various small carnivores and ungulates.

Dinner and overnight in Kibale.

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

A walk through Bigodi Swamp will be in the cards at some point this morning. This lovely community project offers a pleasant boardwalk through the marsh and a great chance to seek out specialities such as white-spotted flufftail, yellow-spotted barbet, hairy-breasted barbet, yellow-billed barbet, 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 and black-crowned waxbill among others.

After lunch you will be driven back to Entebbe, while birding en-route, and perhaps even a second visit to Entebbe Botanical Gardens.

Tonight, we dine and overnight at The Boma in Entebbe

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

After breakfast you will be transferred to Entebbe International Airport for your departing flight.

End of services.

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