Birding safaris in Uganda

Uganda has been described as an important birding destination by popular birders from all corners of the world due to the various species of birds that inhabit its forests, wetlands, lowlands and highlands. There are several important bird areas in Uganda that birders often visit to see rare bird species such as the grey crowned crane, shoebill, great blue turaco, graver’s broadbill, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black bee-eater, piapias, African spoonbill, African paradise flycatcher, African fish eagles, hadada ibis, yellow-billed ox pecker, African open bill and so on. Uganda therefore has several important birding areas where various bird species can be spotted and these are as explained below;

  • Mabamba wetland: This charming wetland is located in the west of Entebbe town, on the northern shores of Lake Victoria. The wetland is a celebrated Ramsar site and an Important Birding Area (IBA). Mabamba is home to over 300 bird species and it is just 47.9 kilometers which is an approximate of 1 hour and 28 minutes’ drive from Kampala city Centre on Entebbe – Kampala Rd.

The woodland is a home to the famous and popular shoebill that most tourists enjoy watching as it hunts fish in the swamps. Several other bird species incorporating African fish eagles, cinnamon, egrets, grey crowned cranes, black bee-eaters, marabou stocks, African jacana, hammerkop, African fin foot and standard winged night jars can be watched here.

  • Mabira forest: This forest is one of the largest natural remaining forests in Uganda and it covers an area of approximately 300 square kilometers. It is located in the eastern part of Uganda and it is just 56.8 kilometers about an hour and 57 minutes’ drive from Kampala city center along Kampala – Jinja Rd. The forest has gazetted areas for bird watchers, well equipped with state-of-the-art binoculars that allow visitors to see pretty bird species even at a far much longer distance.

Several bird species inhabit the forest and they have families in their nests that bird watchers enjoy observing. The Forest is a home to over 600 bird species which encompass African finfoot, great blue turaco, secretary bird, eastern plantain eater, black bee-eater, marabou stocks, Africa darter, African paradise flycatcher, African open bill and piapacs.

  • Budongo forest: This tropical dense rainforest is located in western Uganda in the northwest of Kampala city centre as you head to Murchison Falls National Park. It is approximately 194.4 kilometers from Kampala which is about 3 hours and 40 minutes’ drive. The forest being dense provides a nice habitat for various bird species that can be watched by bird enthusiasts.

Several spots in the forest have been gazetted to help visitors watch these birds with no hustle which improves the overall experience of the tourists. It is a habitat to over 800 bird species including; cinnamon, egrets, grey crowned cranes, great blue turaco, African fish eagles, secretary birds, pin-tailed whydah, black-headed gonolek, African darter and marabou stocks. 

  • Ruhija sector: This self-accepting place is located in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest of Uganda and it is approximately 501.5 kilometers from Kampala city Centre which accounts for about 9 hours and 53 minutes to get to this high-powered place via Mbarara – Masaka and Kabale road. The place not only has breathtaking views but also a home to over 400 bird species which can be observed in the well-positioned birding spots that have been gazetted by experienced researchers and rangers to allow bird watchers to observe birds they have always dreamt of. The bird species in this sector include but are not limited to African jacanas, bar-tailed frogon, Doherty’s bush shrike, black-headed gonolek, African spoonbill, African paradise flycatcher, secretary bird, grey crowned crane, African fin foot and standard winged night jar.
  • Lake Mburo National Park: This beguiled national park has its tagline as Whispers in the wild and it’s a home to over 300 bird species. It is located in southwestern Uganda just 239.8 kilometers which is approximately 5 hours and 3 minutes’ drive from Kampala city center along Masaka – Mbarara road. The national park is a birders haven with birds such as saddle-billed stock, secretary birds, marabou stocks, shoebill, egrets, cinnamon, piapac and eastern plantain eaters.
  • Lutembe Bay wetland. This marvelous wetland can be found on Lake Victoria just 26.9 kilometres from Kampala city which accounts for a 57 minutes’ drive via Kampala- Entebbe road. It is 3.5 km off Kampala – Entebbe road. The wetland is a celebrated Ramsar site and a popular birding destination one of the reasons why it was designated as an Important Birding Area (IBA). Over 200 bird species inhabit this wetland and they include; brown-throated wattle-eye, cinnamon, shoebill, cranes, egrets, great blue turacos, etc.
  • Semuliki National Park: Nestled in Western Uganda in Bundibugyo district, the park harbors over 300 bird species and has since been named the birders’ haven. The birds in this forested area of wonders are piapias, egrets, cinnamon, secretary birds, African fish eagles, hadada ibis, African paradise flycatchers, shoebill and marabou stocks.

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