UGANDA THE BIRDERS’ HAVEN
During your birding Safari in Uganda, Outback Adventure Safaris will take you through some spectacular birding tour sites for your perfect East African holiday and Ugandan holiday in particular while carrying out your bird watching. Uganda boasts of an incredible bird list with about 1046 recorded and confirmed species of birds, representing over 10% of the world’s bird list and over 50% of all the birds found on the African continent.
Though not holding many country endemics, the unusually high number of bird species per square kilometre, and the ease to the variably lush vegetation makes Uganda amongst the top birding destinations in the whole world. For all those taking their first birding trip outside the Americas, Europe or Asia, you will most likely double your life list of birds.
Our Bird watching trips can ably cater for small groups of only 6-8 participants. Quality is paramount to us – we prefer to use superior accommodation (where available at the top birding sites) and vehicles. Despite our focus on small groups and the fact that we focus on superior quality, our prices are competitive.
Uganda, the Pearl of Africa has earned the name of a Birder’s haven with an estimate of 1,067 species of birds beating the US and Europe combined. A regional awareness event called the African Birding Expo is normally organized in Mid-November at Entebbe Botanical Gardens in Entebbe, attracting thousands of avid-tourists from around the world. Such events are aimed at cultivating a bird watching culture in schools and homestead’s so that they create a bigger bird watching community both locally and internationally. The Government of Uganda is currently targeting close to 100,000 avian tourists per year for the next 10 years, to reap a number of benefits for the local tourism industry.
NATURE OF OUR UGANDA BIRD WATCHING SAFARIS
Our main focus is on finding the important birds (most especially the endemics, migratory and specials). Our trip lists, are very important to us and we also understand that birding tours can be tiring, so we prefer to add a day or two in order to make your Uganda birding experience feel less of a marathon which fact makes avid birders enjoy the birding tour. This gives us backup time, in case some birds don’t appear as expected, and also allows time to stop for mammals and other interesting things along the way.
We also run a good number of Uganda Birding Photo Tours, which need a different approach to a typical birding tour more space in the vehicles for camera gear, the correct tour pace for great photo shots, angling the vehicle correctly, and constantly thinking about lighting. If you contact us, you will find that we are very enthusiastic and highly efficient at sharing detailed information with you. It is our contagious enthusiasm for birding (and for the natural world as a whole) that spurs us on to give outstanding service. We do offer bird watching trips for beginners, intermediate and advanced birders on birding tours to many countries,
Mabamba Ramsar Wetland Site (IBA)
Mabamba Ramsar wetland site is one of the gazetted important birding areas (IBA’s) in Uganda and a wetland of International Importance. The Mabamba wetland bay located on the fringes of Lake Victoria within the peri-urban areas of Entebbe in Kasanje Sub-county, Wakiso District in the western part of the Entebbe Peninsular. Mabamba Swamp is home to famous though rare Shoebill Bird species and also habitant to close to 300 marine bird species (native and migratory) notably the Papyrus Gonolek one the papyrus endemic birds; the Blue Swallow a migratory from South Africa; also, the famous Sitatunga the only animal found in the wetland.
Access to the Mabamba Bay shoebill tracking site and the general Mabamba Ramsar wetland is by Canoe Boats or Ferry services through the Nakiwogo Fishing and Landing site. From visitors’ tourists or birding, visitors take a 15-minute boat ride to Kyanvubu Swamp Bay (Buwaya Fish Landing site) where they take a car drive for approximately 45 minutes to the Ramsar site in Mabamba.
Other species of interest in this IBA Wetland include: Malachite Kingfisher, Africa Jacana, Lesser Jacana, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Swamp Flycatcher, Black Crake, Fan Tailed Widow Bird, Long Toed Lapwing, Africa marsh Harrier, Africa Fish Eagle, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Osprey, Palm Nut Vulture among other species.
What to expect: Marine Boat rides, Shoebill tracking, Nature Walks, Papyrus Gonolek, Blue swallow among other Lake Victoria water bird endangered species in Uganda.
Nkima Forest Lodge Mabamba
This site is located in the southern part of Entebbe situated in its own patch of indigenous forest on Nansubuga Hill overlooking Mabamba Bay Wetlands (IBA). The area is a birding hot spot in Uganda given its natural botanic setting making a sanctuary for Forest birds’ species.
Prominent bird species at Nkima Forest Lodge include; Western banded snake eagle, Brown snake eagle, Black and white casqued Hornbill, Great Blue Turaco, Little Green bill, White-spotted fluff tail, White-browed Robin-chat and Red Headed love bird among others.
On top of the numerous bird species, Nkima Forest as the name suggests is home to Primate Monkey Habitats notably the; Red-Tailed Monkey, Vervet monkey, Black and White Colobus monkey. The forest also is home to a variety of Butterflies and Insects as well as small mammals like Squirrels, Mongoose, Bush Bucks etc.
The Makanaga Wetland is located adjacent to Lake Victoria along Masaka Road with incredible bird viewing sites for the most sought-after Shoebill Stalk bird as well as a variety of water-habitant birds. Makanaga wetland is one of the few known birding sites IN Uganda offering a good viewing opportunity of one of Uganda’s most sought-after birds; The Shoebill.
The Shoebill is the main attraction at Makanaga Wetland while other species include; Spur-winged goose, wood and common sandpiper, yellow billed duck, white-faced whistling duck, black-winged stilt, long-tailed and Great cormorants, Spur Winged Lapwing, Little and Great Egret, Thousands of Cull-billed Terns, Black-winged Terns and Grey-headed gulls among other bird species.
Botanical Garden’s Entebbe
This was established in 1898 and located on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, experiences an annual rainforest of 1623 mm and an altitude of 1134m. The gardens are set on 40.7 hectares, has a correction of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperatures zones besides shrubs and other botanical flora/plants regenerated naturally over the year. Visitors can take either morning or evening bird watching tour at Entebbe Botanical Gardens for an introduction to the afro- tropical bird species of Uganda. Entebbe Botanical Gardens is a good destination for Birding where by Palm-nut vulture and grey parrots are residents and the main attraction is Great Blue Turaco and Ross’s Turaco. The gardens are home to close to 431 species of trees of which 199 indigenous to Uganda, 122 of medicinal value, 110 exotic species. The gardens are located close to the Entebbe Botanical Beach Hotel and it’s here that you can find 3 species of monkey primates like Vervet Monkey, Reptiled Monkey, Black and White Colobus Monkey. Apart from Birding/Bird Watching there is Biking, Nature Walks, Music Festivals, Monkey feeding, Games, camping etc.
Other species of interest at Entebbe Botanical Gardens are: Grey Parrot, Bat Hawk, Palm Nut Vulture, Orange weaver, Grey plantain eater, African Paradise flycatcher, Red-Bellied Paradise flycatcher among others.
Lutembe Ramsar Wetland Bay (IBA)
Lutembe bay is a Ramsar wetland on the edge of Lake Victoria. Lutembe bay is one of Uganda’s 33 IBA and since 2006 a Ramsar Listed wetland of international importance. Access to the birding site is by admission and can be reached via Entebbe Main highway in Katabi Town Council, Wakiso District. The bay is notable for its population of as many as 1.5m white-winged terms.
For the centuries, Lutembe bay has been hosting both native and millions of paleatic migrant birds. The bay is regular stopover for migrant birds from the southern hemisphere and stands as one of the remarkable birds watching sites in the Lake Victoria Basin. Lutembe birding site acts as a host of both residents and millions of paleatic migrants especially the enormous flocks of white-winged terms and grey-headed gulls. A range of the other species of interests includes; Hottentot Teal, Caspian Tren and Temminck’s Stint among others.
Lake Mburo National Park
The park has about 313 different bird species including 8 of the 12 species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome that occur in Uganda, the elusive Shoebill stork and White-winged Warbler. If you’re a Bird Enthusiast, then you will enjoy your African safari to Lake Mburo National Park. The park is also famous among Uganda National parks because of its richness in the biodiversity of animal and plant lives which can only be viewed clearly if you take a boat trip. The crocodiles, Hippopotamuses, and birds like Pelicans, Black Crake, Common Squacco, Striated, Goliath, Purple, Black-headed, Grey, and Black-headed Herons, Great White and Pink-backed Cormorants, the African Fish Eagle, Shoebill and a number of other species are some of them.
This attractive park of rolling hills and open grassy valleys, interspersed with thickets, woodlands, and rich wetlands, is the only place in Uganda where the Impala still occurs and is the best place to see large herds of Eland (Africa’s largest antelope). Other antelope species that may be sighted in the park include Topi, Bushbuck, Sitatunga, Common Duiker, Klipspringer, Oribi, Defassa Waterbuck and Bohor Reedbuck. It is among the only two Ugandan national parks where Burchell’s zebra still occurs.
The best bird-watching spots in Lake Mburo National Park include the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti and the roadsides between Rwonyo camp and the Jetty. There are also ideally-situated viewing platforms at the salt lick, in Miriti Valley, and in Rubanga Forest. In Lake Mburo National Park the species observed at these locations include the Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Brown-chested Lapwing, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitar bill, White-headed Barbet, Red-faced Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-winged Tit and Finfoot among others.
Rubanga Forest Reserve
Rubanga Forest can be visited using a vehicle or on foot. This is a real draw for keen birders, and prior arrangement should be made with the warden. The rare Red-faced Barbet only seen in Lake Mburo National Park is one of the forest’s featured species.
Murchison Falls National Park
This includes Murchison falls national park and the Budongo forest extension. The park alone is home to over 460 bird species including the peculiar shoebill stork that is normally seen on a boat ride along the marshy stretch of the Nile River towards the Delta. Birds like Abyssinian ground hornbill, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl. Marsh tchagra, pennant-winged nightjar, African crake, red-throated bee-eater, standard winged nightjars, Speckle-breasted woodpecker, standard-winged nightjar, bronze-tailed glossy starling, dusky babbler, yellow-bellied hyliota, Brown-rumped bunting, Heuglin’s masked weaver, black-backed cisticola, orange- winged pytilia, parasitic weaver, ring-necked francolin, and a wide variety of raptors and water birds are found here.
Semliki National Park
This lowland tropical rainforest is popular for attracting and hosting the eastern Congo Ituri forest species. Most species found here are not well represented in any other Ugandan lowland forests. The most interesting bird species here include among others; Crested Malimbe, capuchin babbler, Zenker’s honeyguide, Chestnut-bellied helmet shrike, Bates nightjar, red-eyed puff back, Hartlaub’s duck, yellow-throated nicator, Xavier greenbul, swamp palm greenbul, chestnut owlet, eastern-bearded greenbul, fiery- breasted bush-shrike, forbe’s plover, Gabon Woodpecker, grant’s bluebill, Grauer’s cuckoo-shrike, long-tailed hawk, orange-tufted sunbird, pale-fronted negrofinch, red-bellied malimbe, Sassi’s olive greenbul, dusky nightjar, spotted honeyguide, white-crested hornbill, and white-bellied kingfisher.
Kibale Forest National Park
Home to 13 primate species including the chimps, Kibale is another excellent hub to spot many birds including some of the Albertine rift regional endemics. The stunning black bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin, Cassin’s spine tail, green-breasted pitta, African Pitta, Abyssinian ground thrush, Red-winged francolin, Black-eared ground thrush, Red-faced crimsoning, grey-headed olive back, speckle-breasted woodpecker, white-naped pigeon, black-bellied seed cracker, white-collared olive back are some of the bird species one should look for in this forest.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park boasts of having the richest biodiversity than any other national reserve in Africa. It is the second biggest after Murchison falls conservation area with the highest number of recorded bird species than all the African national parks and most probably the whole world, with a total of more than 611 bird species. It is home to 54 raptors, hosts every water bird found in Uganda, savanna, woodland and forest birds. The rare Baudouin’s snake-eagle, broad-tailed paradise whydah, collared palm-thrush, semi-collared flycatcher, Wahlberg’s honey-guide, Caspian Plover, speckle-breasted woodpecker, Blue Quail, fan-tailed grass-bird, short-tailed pipit, Lowland akalat, Madagascar lesser cuckoo, striped crake, yellow-bellied wattle-eye, Madagascar pond heron, etc. are all found here.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
It takes pride with its total of 357 bird species recorded; 23 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift, and 14 species recorded nowhere else among them the brown-necked parrot, African green broadbill, white-bellied robin chat, African Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsoning, dusky long-tailed cuckoo, yellow-footed flycatcher, purple-breasted sunbird, Lagdens Bush-shrike, dusky crimsoning, dwarf honeyguide, Oberlander’s ground thrush, Kivu ground thrush, papyrus yellow warbler, African green-broadbill, Grauer’s rush warbler, purple-breasted sunbird, short-tailed warbler, white-tailed blue flycatcher and Frazer’s eagle owl. The park is a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site partly because of inhabiting half of the world’s only remaining mountain gorillas.
Budongo Forest Reserve
Budongo Forest is famous for providing prime forest birding in the whole of Africa. Birding along the Royal Mile has been rated by many as the no. 1 birding spot in the entire African continent. Working through mixed flocks of African greenbuls, skulking alethes and the elusive illadopses is so fascinating. Xavier’s greenbul, Madagascar lesser cuckoo, Black-shouldered nightjar, Nahan’ Francolin, Puvel’s Illadopsis, crested francolin, chocolate-backed kingfisher, Ituri batis are amongst the many specialities found here. The Kanio Pabidi and the Busingiro sections of this Forest reserve are far much re-assuring!
Kidepo Valley National Park
Uganda’s untapped wilderness spectacle of unique habitats with associated fauna and flora. Driving through this park is like exploring the Masai Mara and the Serengeti of 100 years ago. The birdlife is rich with a recorded bird list of 486. There over 60 bird species listed here and have not been recorded in any other Ugandan National Park. The park is outstanding for its birds of prey of 58 species recorded, 14 are believed to be endemics to the region. Among those are Verreaux’s eagle, Egyptian vulture, lesser Kestrel and pygmy falcon. Other interesting species include birds like the Karamoja Apalis, Kori bustard, red-billed hornbill, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbill, Abyssinian nightjar, brown-rumped bunting, Quail plover, Black-breasted Barbet, black-faced firefinch, brown-backed woodpecker, Clapperton’s francolin, Emin’s shrike, heuglin’s wheatear, Jameson’s firefinch, orange-winged pytilia, red-winged pytilia, ring-necked francolin, swallow-tailed kite, and three-streaked tchagra.
Other Bird watching Destinations include: Imaramagambo Forest, Mgahinga Mountain National Park for the stunning Rwenzori Turaco;
Mabira Central Forest Reserve
Mabira Central Forest Reserve is one of Uganda’s largest surviving Natural Forests covering an area of 306 sq. km. The forest is a natural habitat of 312 species of trees including the Diphasia angiogenesis which is not known elsewhere in Uganda and five species which are of international conservation concern, the Cordia Millenii, Militia Excelsa, Irvingia gabonensis, Entandrophragma angolense, and Lovoa swynnertonii. The Warbhugia Ugandenesis which has medicinal properties and known to cure over forty ailments; and the vulnerable prunus Africana are also here.
This is the most significant forest reserve in central region Uganda with a close to the capital city and is habitat to over 315 bird species on record with 74 of the 144 species of Guinea-Congo Forests biome that occurs in Uganda. Mabira Central Forest Reserve hosts some of the Eastern Congo Biome Species. The forest has well-established birding trails that include the Red-tailed Monkey, Turaco and the Buttress trails will ease life for you in your search for Nahan’s Francolin which is an IUCN Red list’ endangered species, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, White-spotted Flufftail, Afep Pigeon, Grey Parrot, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black-shouldered Nightjar, Sabine’s Spinetail, Cassin’s Spinetail, Blue-throated Roller, African Dwarf-kingfisher, White-bellied Kingfisher, Forest Woodhoopoe, African Pied Hornbill, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Speckled Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Green-breasted Pitta, African Shrike-flycatcher, Jameson’s and Chestnut Wattle-eyes, the Forest Robin, Fire-crested Alethe, Red-capped Robin-Chat, the Speckle-breasted, Yellow-crested, Brown-eared, Grey and the Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Cassin’s Honeyguide, Red-tailed Bristle bill, Little Greenbul, Honeyguide Greenbul, Sooty Boubou, Grey-green Bush-shrike, just to mention but a few.