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The Uganda Tourist Board and a variety of sponsors hosted the first African Birding Expo from November 18 - 20, 2016.  I was invited to tour the country and attend the Expo as part of an international delegation, a great honor for me and my colleagues.  For 11 days we traveled to National Parks and other natural areas in the western half of the country, finishing up at Entebbe, where the Expo was held at that city’s spectacular Botanical Garden.

I didn’t know much about Uganda prior to my visit, and indeed most travelers don’t think of this country as a wildlife tourism destination.  That’s about to change.  Uganda is a superb destination, and the country has begun international promotions highlighting its natural attractions.  The southwestern part of the country features high mountains and luxuriant rain forests, habitat for mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, a dozen other primate species, and an amazing variety of birds.  Savannah habitat dominates the north and east, the classic African plains that are home to elephants, lions, giraffes, leopards, various antelopes, and a different set of birds.  There are terrific wetland habitats surrounding Lakes Victoria, Edward, George, and Albert.  While the country is small, about the same size as Oregon, nearly 1100 species of birds have been seen here, about half of the total for the entire African continent.  I tallied about 400 species on my visit, and others in our delegation saw many more.

The people of Uganda impressed me in many ways.  We met friendly, hospitable people everywhere we went.  The country’s infrastructure is good and is being rapidly upgraded.  Road construction projects slated for completion in 2018 will link all of the country’s National Parks by modern, paved roads, and there are excellent lodges around all of the parks.  Ugandans love birding, we saw locals out birding at many of our destinations, and the Ugandan guides we met have world-class birding skills.  In moves that are very unusual for Africa, the women of Uganda are being empowered, trained and employed in many professions.  There is a growing cadre of women working as birding and nature guides, and a very active Uganda Women Birders club (check out their FaceBook page). 

The second African Birding Expo is already being planned, and it will also be hosted by Uganda and held at the Entebbe Botanical Garden.  It promises to be bigger and better than the first event.  If you can head to Uganda from Nov. 17 to 19, 2017, you’re sure to enjoy a spectacular event.

The gallery below features some of the highlights of the first half of my visit to Uganda.  Another gallery, found here, covers the second half of the trip.  I’m hoping to plan one or more small group birding and wildlife tours to this exciting new destination.  Send me a message if you might like to come along, and watch this site for announcements of new scheduled trips to Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa.”

The Inaugural African Birding Expo, November 2016