1 day Mabamba swamp shoebill tour

mabamba shoebill

This is a quick trip to Mabamba wetlands to look for the Shoebill for those that just want to see the Shoebill, but it will also be a full day birding excursion for birdwatchers who want to see the Shoebill and tick off a number of wetland specials and other birds of Uganda one can find in this area. This large pre-historic looking bird is such a marvel that wildlife lovers want to see it on their safaris or during a business visit in Uganda. For birdwatchers the Shoebill is a special sighting that is often number one on their wish lists of birds to see and photograph in Uganda.

Few places in Uganda can give you sighting of the Shoebill and Mabamba wetlands is by far the best that will give you the highest chances. It is also the most accessible, being located on the shores of Lake Victoria, an hour’s drive from either Entebbe or Kampala. Mabamba is a RAMSAR wetland and Important Bird Area (IBA) hosting more than 300 bird species of which include 7 of Uganda’s 12 Lake Victoria Basin restricted species.

Your 1 day Mabamba Shoebill trip itinerary will be as follows:

You will be picked up at 7am or earlier depending on where you are staying in Kampala or Entebbe. Drive to Mabamba in Buwaya which is about 1 hour, longer if we go birding along the way. Cultivations, gardens, marshes and bushlands that we drive past can provide some good bird sightings.

On arrival our boat man and site guide shall be waiting, we will immediately get into the motorized wooden boats/canoes and begin exploring the water channels to find the Shoebill as first priority. The search may not last an hour before finding the Shoebill. Local fishermen who go out at dusk may help provide information if they spotted the Shoebill.

Early morning is the best time to look for the Shoebill because at this time it is hunting for the lungfish. It hunts by standing still in one place for long periods waiting for fish to cross so it catches it with its big powerful shoe-shaped beak! This way the Shoebill gives great display/views as you can get within a couple of meters of it and it won’t mind as its attention is focused on getting fish.

After spending time with the Shoebill we may proceed to explore different water channels and tick off several wetland species for a couple of hours.


Birding walk in Nkima Forest

After birding in Mabamba swamp where you will spend 3 or so hours, you can do some forest birding in the nearby Nkima Forest. It is a small forest patch on a hill overlooking Mabamba wetlands, about 2km away (20 minutes walk or 3 minutes drive). Not a massive forest but its rich with some forest specials and being small means it is easy to cover. White-tailed Flufftail is one of species to look out. It responds to the call and will give you quick views before disappearing back into the undergrowth.

Other than birds Nkima forest has other wildlife including monkeys (“Nkima” is local language word for monkey), bush babies, squirrels, etc… You can observe and learn different species of trees which are labeled with tags.

Other Mabamba tours for birders

1 day Mabamba and Mpanga forest birding tour

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