The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Africa (and its islands)


Saturday 16th August – Wednesday 27th August 2025

Leaders: Thibaut Chansac and a top local bird guide

12 Days Group Size Limit 6


Birdquest’s Udzungwa & Rubeho Mountains birding expeditions in Tanzania explore these two rarely-birded mountain ranges, part of the famous, endemic-rich Eastern Arc. This is definitely ‘The Other Tanzania’, far from the well-known safari route from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti, but the area where by far the greatest concentration of Tanzania’s endemic and other speciality birds occur.

Tanzania, with its wealth of large mammals and remarkably rich avifauna, has long been regarded as a classic destination for both the birder and the wildlife enthusiast. In fact, almost 25% of the country is either a national park or a game or forest reserve.

However, there is another side to Tanzania that is often overlooked by those whose images of the country have been formed by the stream of marvellous wildlife films featuring the wonders of the northern parks. For this exciting country is, depending on the taxonomy followed, home to nearly 40 endemic bird species and also a significant number of near-endemics, many of which are rare or endangered. New discoveries continue to be made, with no less than eight endemic species having been found here since 1981, although two of these are still waiting to be officially described!

During the expedition, we will certainly be treading where few other birders have ventured before and our efforts will undoubtedly be rewarded with views of some of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets.

During this special expedition, which we pioneered, to the remote Udzungwa and Rubeho Mountains, there is a remarkable opportunity to take part in a real birding adventure that explores a truly remote region, home to some very special endemic and near-endemic birds (two of which are only recently described to science!). Camping is necessary but is quite comfortable in our fully outfitted camps.

First, we travel from Dar-es-Salaam on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast to Mikumi and then southwestwards to Iringa, with Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill and Ashy Starling along the way.

From the Iringa area, we will trek into the scenic Udzungwa Mountains to two different sites. At one of these, much to the scientific world’s surprise, a new species of partridge, Udzungwa Forest Partridge, was discovered as recently as 1991. These mountains are also home to such specialities as Yellow-throated Greenbul, Swynnerton’s Robin, the superb White-winged Apalis, the endemic Iringa Akalat, Moreau’s Sunbird, Forest Double-collared Sunbird, the endemic Kipengere Seedeater, Yellow-browed Seedeater and yet another recent discovery, the gorgeous endemic Rufous-winged Sunbird, not to mention the secretive Dapple-throat, now placed in its own bird family alongside just two close relatives.

Further west lie the even more rarely-visited Rubeho Mountains, where we will be wanting to see the endemic Rubeho Forest Partridge in particular, as well as Rubeho Warbler and perhaps Rubeho Akalat.

There is also a superb supporting cast that includes many of the more widespread Eastern Arc specialities of Tanzania.

Birdquest has operated Tanzania birding tours since 1983.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of a good standard. In the Udzungwa & Rubeho Mountains, we shall be camping in remote areas. The camps, which are arranged by our expert local safari outfitters, will be simple but quite comfortable. Road transport is by Landrover or Toyota 4x4s with opening roof hatches. Road conditions are variable.

Walking: The walking effort is sometimes easy or moderate but there will be some fairly demanding hiking in the mountains.

Climate: Most days will be warm or hot, dry and sunny, but overcast conditions are fairly frequent and there is likely to be some rain. At higher altitudes, temperatures are cool to warm (it can even get quite cold at night).

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our Udzungwa & Rubeho Mountains birding expedition are worthwhile.


  • An adventurous expedition to some little visited localities in Tanzania
  • Finding the recently discovered Udzungwa Forest Partridge in the Udzungwa Mountains
  • Hunting in the Udzungwas for retiring species such as Iringa Akalat, Kipengere Seedeater and the secretive Dapple-throat, all of which present some exciting challenges
  • Exploring the remote Rubeho Mountains for Rubeho Forest Partridge, Rubeho Warbler and Rubeho Akalat


  • Day 1: Morning expedition start at Dar-es-Salaam. Drive to Mikumi.
  • Day 2: Drive to Iringa area.
  • Days 3-8: Exploring the West and East Udzungwa Mountains. 5 nights camping and 1 lodge night in Iringa area.
  • Day 9: Drive to the Rubeho Mountains.
  • Days 10-11: Exploring the Rubeho Mountains. Camping.
  • Day 12: Rubeho Mountains, then drive to Dar-es-Salaam for evening expedition end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2025: provisional £3760, $4990, €4490, AUD7380. Dar-es-Salaam/Dar-es-Salaam.

Single Supplement: 2025: £150, $210, €180, AUD310.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.


Tanzania (Udzungwa & Rubeho): Day 1  Our tour begins this morning at Dar-es-Saaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania. From there we will travel southwestwards to Mikumi for an overnight stay.

Tanzania (Udzungwa & Rubeho): Day 2  Today we will continue southwestwards from Mikumi to the Iringa area for an overnight stay.

Along the way, we will visit some beautiful habitat in a valley draped in acacias and punctuated by bizarre-looking baobabs. Here we should find two localized Tanzanian endemics, Ashy Starling and Tanzanian (or Ruaha) Red-billed Hornbill, as well as Grey Kestrel, Meyer’s (or Brown) Parrot, Spot-flanked Barbet, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and Western Violet-backed Sunbird. We may also get lucky and find a third endemic, Yellow-collared Lovebird.

Tanzania (Udzungwa & Rubeho): Days 3-8  During these six days we will explore the Udzungwa Mountains of eastern Tanzania, camping for a total of five nights in two different locations, with a night at a comfortable lodge in the Iringa area in between the two camping sessions.

The Udzungwa Mountains National Park covers an area of 1900 square kilometres (734 square miles), reaches an altitude of 2579m (8462ft) and supports a biologically diverse flora and fauna. No roads enter the park and the thick and tangled forests do not give their secrets up easily. In order to have a realistic chance of seeing some very special birds, we shall need to trek twice into the heart of the park where we shall set up camp.

The beautiful forested slopes of the Udzungwas hold a number of rare and little-known birds. In 1983 the very attractive endemic Rufous-winged Sunbird was first described from the park. The sunbird is reliant on certain trees being in flower and is usually to be found in different habitat to the partridge. To this day the species has been seen by relatively few people owing to its restricted distribution, hard-to-reach location and its little-understood movements, but we have a very good chance of seeing it during our visit.

Notoriously, on 4th June 1991 a new species of partridge was discovered in a cooking pot by some visiting ornithologists at the end of an exciting day in the field! They realized quite quickly that they could not identify what they were about to eat and the hunt was then on to find a live version of the ‘kwale ndogo’ (or ‘small partridge’) that the cooks had earlier caught by the camp and then prepared for the evening meal! It turned out that a local ornithologist was also aware of the existence of this new bird for science. Eventually, live birds were found and it has transpired that this endemic gamebird, now formally described and named Udzungwa Forest Partridge, is most closely related to the Southeast Asian hill-partridges. We shall, of course, be making considerable efforts to see this remarkable bird.

The near-endemic Dapple-throat (formerly Dappled Mountain Robin) is a retiring and skulking denizen of the undergrowth which will very likely demand much patience and determined searching. Nowadays it has a special interest as it has been placed in its own bird family alongside its relatives, Spot-throat and Grey-chested Babbler (formerly known as Grey-chested Illadopsis). It is one of those birds that can be very close while singing, yet very hard to spot, perhaps only dashing out from its hiding place with a whirr of wings before disappearing again.

Other special, restricted-range birds of this part of Tanzania include the endemic Yellow-throated Greenbul, the pretty Swynnerton’s Robin, Black-lored and Churring Cisticolas, the superb White-winged Apalis, Chapin’s Apalis of the race strausae, the rather sombre-coloured, endemic Iringa Akalat,  the endemic Moreau’s Sunbird, Forest Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow-browed Seedeater, the uncommon endemic Kipengere Seedeater and scarce Lesser Seedcracker.

More widespread species we may encounter in the mountains or on their drier fringes include Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, African Grass Owl, Square-tailed Nightjar, Narina’s Trogon and Green-backed Honeybird, although all these are rather uncommon. More reliable are African Broadbill, Singing Cisticola, Slender-billed Starling, Abyssinian Thrush and Yellow-crowned Canary. Areas of heathland are home to Brown Parisoma and Brown-headed Apalis.

The scarce Iringa Red Colobus, now thought to number no more than 450 individuals, occurs in these forests alongside Angola Pied Colobus, and we stand a reasonable chance of encountering both of these striking primates during our visit.

Tanzania (Udzungwa & Rubeho): Day 9  Today we leave the Udzungwas behind and travel to the equally remote Rubeho Mountains.

Tanzania (Udzungwa & Rubeho): Days 10-11:  The second important focus of our explorations will be the Rubeho Mountains, situated to the northwest of the Udzungwas, where we will be particularly wanting to see two more endemic specialities of the Eastern Arc  Rubeho Forest Partridge and Rubeho Warbler. Rubeho Akalat is also a possibility.

The local Southern Fiscals here are of the form marwitzi, sometimes split as Uhehe Fiscal.

Tanzania (Udzungwa & Rubeho): Day 12  Today we will return to Dar-es-Salaam international airport, where our tour ends this evening.


by János Oláh

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Other Eastern Africa birding tours by Birdquest include: