Uganda | Birding Ecotours | Uganda – Shoebill, Green-breasted Pitta, Albertine Rift Edemics, Gorillas and Chimps 2019

This tour allows one to find the most important birds and primates that Uganda has to offer. Shoebill is almost guaranteed. Over 20 Albertine (Western) Rift endemics are also sought, including one of Africa’s most fabulous turacos, Ruwenzori Turaco, and of course the “must-see” African Green (Grauer’s) Broadbill.

We have not yet missed Green-breasted Pitta on any of our trips – Uganda has become the classic country for finding this otherwise very difficult bird. We also look for other range-restricted birds, such as Red-faced Barbet that is also found in a remote part of Tanzania excluded from most birding tours to that country. Ross’s Turaco, Great Blue Turaco (almost twice the size of other turacos), and various other birds are virtually garden birds here in Uganda, “the Pearl of Africa”. Other highlights of our Uganda birding tour are a great many primates such as Uganda Red Colobus, Eastern Black-and-white Colobus, Eastern Gorilla, and Chimpanzee, not to mention the spectacular scenery, including such famous places as Lake Victoria (the continent’s largest lake), Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and last but not least the Virunga volcanoes. The five-day extension is good for a host of more widespread African birds, Lion, with some luck Leopard, and fabulous sites such as Murchison Falls, where the Nile is forced through a narrow gap.

Please note that this trip is moderate in terms of fitness required, except for some days that are considered quite strenuous, such as the day of gorilla trekking and the day hike into Mubwindi Swamp and back. Chimpanzee trekking and looking for Green-breasted Pitta can also involve quite a lot of walking. You are welcome to opt out of any activities if you don’t feel you’ll manage them.

Top Five Birds

  1. Shoebill
  2. Green-breasted Pitta
  3. Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill
  4. Ruwenzori Turaco
  5. Great Blue Turaco

Ethics

At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Chris Lotz from Birding Ecotours said to us…

What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?

We like to support specific people we know well, where small donations can have a big impact. For example, we paid about about US$600 to a Ugandan birding guide so he could get to the British Birdfair to drum up business for himself when he was going through a tough time. His wife had just died tragically in a freak accident.

We also paid for one of Uganda’s top guides to train ten Ugandan women to become birding guides, a year or two ago. We are Gold Sponsors of the African Bird Club, and we pay them about US$1000 per year for this – the money goes straight to their small conservation projects across Africa. Donations like the above come from our 10 % of annual net profits before owner’s salary that on principal we donate to conservation projects and local communities.

The bulk of the cost of each tour also goes straight to site guides, local drivers, ecotourism accommodation facilities in rural areas, etc. (so the majority of clients’ tour money goes towards conservation/ecotourism anyway, but 10 % of our net profits are also donated to conservation). A sample list is shown below: Below we list some of the contributions we have made over the last few years.

We then also aim to offset our carbon footprint by donating to NGOs that plant native trees in areas that need reforestation (where destruction of bird habitats is a problem). We’re talking to someone in Ecuador about this right now, and have paid for tree planting in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province previously.

Also, various members of the team give a great deal of their TIME as volunteers – for example, Chris heads up the South African official BirdLife South Africa bird checklist, which takes many hours each year. And several of us act as volunteer guides for The Biggest Week in American Birding (in association with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory) and for Columbus Audubon.

How does the tour support local people?

It supports local people in numerous ways, including:

  1. We pay a local driver for driving the tour
  2. We pay a local birding tour ground operator to book the hotels and arrange the logistics for us
  3. The hotels and lodges are generally in rural areas and they benefit greatly from our business – they quite literally survive because of birding/nature tours to Uganda
  4. The owners and managers of the hotels, lodges, restaurants, etc. that we use are Ugandan. But it is not only them who benefit; it is also the cleaning staff, chefs, etc. Each establishment supports a lot of staff from rural areas, and its these birding tours that pay their salaries by supporting their continued existence
  5. Out of the 10 % of annual profits we as a company make, we also sometimes donate money to Ugandan people.

What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?

Our guides are always telling clients all about which birds are threatened and what can be done to help slow the extinction rate of birds. We actually find that a great many Ugandan people try very hard to get into bird guiding, because the site guides, drivers, etc. we use are clearly making money from this business. These folks are actually the ones spreading the word to a great many other Ugandan people about the value of ecotourism. The more of our Ugandan birding trips we manage to run each year, the more this happens.

Review

Birding Ecotours really go the extra mile to ensure that everything is tailored to your needs. Despite some of us with disabilities we ‘dipped out’ on very, very few birds.

Being amongst hundreds of Carmine Bee-eaters on the Okavanga River was my most memorable moment. The bee-eaters came just before Perl’s fishing owl and dally egret on the same bit of River. It was one of those moments which I am not ashamed to say brought a tear to my eye… wonderful to be amongst such beauty and a privilege to get that up close and personal. We toured for five weeks and had a brilliant time… Bo Beolens, Birding Ecotours, Southwestern Africa 2006.

• Experience of the tour = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to conservation = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to local communities = 5/5
• The education the tour = 4/5

Images

Contact

Tour Operator | Birding Ecotours
Contact Name | Chris Lotz
Contact Email | [email protected]
Website | https://birdingecotours.com
Tour | https://birdingecotours.com/tour/birding-tour-uganda-gorillas-and-chimpanzees-in-19-days-2019?type=country&where=Uganda

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