Birding Safaris in Uganda

Birding Safaris in Uganda are amazingly good as they allow tourists to see many Rift Valley endemic species of birds. some of these birds are restricted to the country while others are migratory. Uganda’s amazing tropical climate, diverse vegetation, and a variety of water sources have made it one of the top hosts for birds in Africa. Different birds migrate to the country from different parts of the world annually due to its favorable climate. With over 1,080 recorded bird species contributing to about 50% of the species in Africa and 11% worldwide, there’s no doubt in calling the pearl of Africa a birder’s paradise. Bird watching is carried out in the various national parks, water bodies, and forests spread across the country.

There are 34 Important Birding Areas in Uganda (IBA) that have been declared and protected, these areas are also fully equipped with trained local guides to help you identify different bird species; they are also knowledgeable about them and can locate them easily.

Top Birding Destinations in Uganda

Birding safaris in Uganda are specially designed such that enthusiastic bird lovers get to enjoy a memorable experience. Here are some of the top birding destinations in Uganda.

Mabamba Bay Wetland

Located along the boundaries of Lake Victoria, this wetland mostly attracts water birds such as the rare Shoebill stork found in only a few areas in Uganda. To get close to various bird species, one needs to use a canoe to access the different sections of the wetland. Other bird species to look out for are Black-headed Heron that feeds on fish, Swamp flycatchers, Papyrus Gonolek, Black Kite, African Marsh Harrier, Malachite Kingfishers, and Pied Kingfisher. This is the best spot to see the Shoebill stork in Africa.

Lake Mburo National Park

Located in Western Uganda, the park is famously known for Zebras however it also boasts over 351 bird species that can be seen in different parts of the park, especially Lake Mburo. Others can be seen during game drives and horseback rides. Some birds to be spotted include African Fish Eagles, Bee Eaters, Crested Francolin, Brown Parrots, red-necked spurfowl, Nubian woodpeckers, trilling cisticola, Bronze tailed starlings among others.

Semuliki National Park

With over 441 bird species located within the forest and along River Semliki, you will come across some species like the Great Blue Turaco, Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Dwarf Honeyguide, and Purple breasted Sunbird, to mention but a few.

While here, you can also visit the Sempaya Hot Springs. The Park is also home to birds that are endemic to the Rift Valley region, mainly in Western Uganda.

Mount Elgon National Park

Located in Eastern Uganda, this area has over 300 bird species that can be spotted flying over the mountain, Sipi Falls, and also the caldera at the summit of the extinct volcano. Part of the various bird species is the endangered Lammergeyer.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Majorly known for the existence of mountain gorillas, the forest cover is largely a nest to over 350 bird species such as the Fraser’s Eagle, Collared Apalis, White-bellied Robin-Chat, African Green Broadbill, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco among other bird species. This is the best spot for bird watching in Africa as stated by the African Bird Club. Birding can be combined with gorilla treks and hikes.

Kibale Forest National Park

Largely covered with dense forests that not only shelters chimpanzees but birds too. Kibale forest is a popular destination for chimpanzee trekking, however with over 375 bird species it is a hot spot for bird watching where a variety of birds like Grey-throated Flycatcher, Little Greenbul, Purple breasted Sunbird, Crowned Eagle, White Naped Pigeon, Black bee-eater, Red-chested owlet and so many others.

Murchison Falls National Park

Over 450 bird species have been found to thrive in one of Uganda’s largest national parks. The Park consists of one of Uganda’s mighty falls known as the Murchison Falls which are about 45 meters long consisting of River Nile waters that plunge downstream through a narrow 7-meter-wide gorge.

A variety of birds can be spotted during game drives, boat rides to the bottom of the falls, nature walks and treks in the Budongo forest. Some of the resident birds include Giant Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eater, Abyssinian Ground Horn Bill, Swamp Flycatchers, Goliath Herons, African Quail Finch, and Northern Red Bishops among others. Bird-watching is one of the most sought-after activities in the park. In Budongo Forest, the Royal Mile and Busingiro trails are the major trails used to watch most of the birds.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

A popular destination among bird lovers, this area has a variety of spots in which different bird species can be spotted. Sections of the Kazinga channel, the Mweya peninsula, and the Kasenyi area are some of the different areas that are habitant to over 600 bird species recorded to exist in the park. Among these are Martial Eagle, Slender tailed Nightjars, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Black-headed Gonolek, Malachite, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Sedge Warbler, Gabon Nightjars, White-winged Terns, etcetera. The best views are enjoyed during boat cruises on the Kazinga channel or wildlife game drives.

Rwenzori National Park

Also known as the “Mountains of the Moon” due to its snowcapped peak Margherita which is also the highest point in Uganda. This area is popularly known for mountain climbing but is also home to a variety of animals including 177 bird species that can be spotted during the hikes. Rwenzori Turaco, Long Eared Owl, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Golden Winged Sunbird, and Archer’s Robin-Chat are some of the birds that can be spotted here.

When to do birding safaris in Uganda?

Uganda birding safaris can be done any time of the year since all the above mentioned destinations are open all-year-round. Birding safaris in Uganda can be done during weekends and public holidays. However, it is important to note that some  of the bird species in Uganda are migratory in nature. This implies that they can be seen in particular places in specific seasons. Talk to a professional Uganda bird guide for more advise regarding your birding safari or adventure. 

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