Makanaga Wetland – another great Shoebill spot

Makanaga is a wetland on Lake Victoria, that is considered a part of the Mabamba Ramsar site & Important Bird Area (IBA). It is well known as another place to see the famous Shoebill in Uganda.

Makanaga swamp is not as popular as the Mabamba wetland which is the first choice for Shoebill watching trips and wetland birding in Uganda, but it has proved to provide great if not better sightings of the Shoebill and many wetland birds on the vast open mudflats and marshes.

Shoebill in Makanaga wetland

Makanaga is easy to navigate on a motorized canoe and access the vast mudflats that host huge flocks of wintering birds from Oct to May, while the marshes harbor many secretive birds such as herons, crakes, rails, and warblers among others.

How to get to Makanaga Wetland

Makanaga is situated in Mpigi District. It takes one and half hours’ drive from Kampala and Entebbe to get there.

To get there, you drive along the Kampala – Masaka highway to Kamengo town in Mpigi District. This is about one and half hour drive depending on the traffic condition on the road.

In Kamengo, turn off at Butoolo and drive for about 15 minutes – 20 minutes to Namugobo landing site.

Another option that requires less driving but is probably longer a journey is taking a boat trip from Mabamba wetland

Birding in Makanaga wetland

After branching off at Butoolo in Kamengo Mpigi District the dirt road to Namugobo landing site goes past fields, gardens, woodlands, and bushlands that can give you a number of bird sightings. You can establish your birding trail to start on this road and you will tick off many garden, woodland, and grassland species.

You will arrive at Namugobo land site and it is here your water birding starts. You will take a local motorized wooden canoe to Makanaga. The water channel from the landing site is goes through a thick bush of papyrus reeds and this place offers one of the best sightings of the Papyrus Gonolek which will respond to the call and come out in full view for a few seconds before dashing back into the papyrus.

You will continue birding through the papyrus marshes as you make your way to Makanaga area where you will find huge flocks of birds on mudflats, including terns, gulls, sandpipers, stints, egrets, cormorants, ducks, geese, etc…

Special bird sightings in Makanaga

The Shoebill is a common sighting in Makanaga wetland and the mudflats can present the best views of it. In times when the Shoebills are rare in Makanaga they will have moved to the neighboring Mabamba wetland.

The Caspian Tern is an occasional vagrant from the coastal areas where it’s a migrant July to April. It has been spotted a few seasons and usually visits around March to April

The Papyrus Gonolek, a Lake Victoria Basin biome endemic, is one of the prized wetland birds for many birders and the wetland offers great chances at spotting it.

The Southern Pochard is also one of the birds bringing birders to Makanaga wetland.

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