Birdwatching in Uganda is a popular and rewarding activity due to the country's rich biodiversity and abundance of bird species. Uganda is often referred to as the "Pearl of Africa" and is home to more than 1,060 bird species, making it one of the top birding destinations in Africa. Here we share some of the birding sites you may visit. Of course you can still go birding allover the country.
Mabamba Swamp, located just 36 km southwest of Kampala on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, is a wetland of immense ecological importance. This expansive 16,500-acre marshland, designated as both a Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area, boasts a remarkable array of flora and fauna.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Mabamba Swamp is its critical role in conserving globally threatened bird species. It serves as a vital sanctuary for the Blue Swallow, Papyrus Gonleks, Pallid Harriers, and Papyrus Yellow Warblers. Astonishingly, this wetland supports an astounding 75% of the global population of Blue Swallows, making it an essential habitat for their survival.
The wetland’s unique features include open waters and extensive patches of miscanthus and papyrus. These characteristics seamlessly extend into the main body of Lake Victoria, augmenting the overall ecological significance of the area. This Wetland System nurtures diverse plant and animal species, playing a crucial role in maintaining the biological diversity of the region. Moreover, it consistently attracts and sustains a population of 20,000 or more water birds, enhancing the area’s ecological richness.
Mabamba Swamp’s reputation as a birding hotspot is well-deserved. It is renowned for its large congregation of White-winged Black Terns and serves as a prime habitat for more than 300 other bird species. Moreover, it holds the distinction of being a preferred location to spot the majestic Shoebill Stork, captivating birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Mabamba Swamp stands as a testament to the importance of wetland conservation. With its Ramsar and Important Bird Area designations, this remarkable ecosystem not only supports significant bird populations but also safeguards the delicate balance of nature, ensuring the preservation of biological diversity in the region.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve since 1979, is a remarkable destination for bird enthusiasts. This expansive park, covering 1,978 square kilometers, is Uganda’s second largest and offers a diverse array of habitats that attract an impressive variety of bird species.
With a staggering 600 species, Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts the highest number of bird species of any park in Africa. This remarkable diversity includes an astounding 114 species of Palaearctic migrants, making it an unparalleled location for observing these captivating wintering birds.
Several factors contribute to the park’s exceptional bird biodiversity. Firstly, its strategic location in the Albertine Rift Valley and its position on the North-South flyway for migratory birds create a favorable environment for passage migrants. As they journey across the equator, these birds find a haven in Queen Elizabeth National Park, making it an ideal spot to witness their remarkable journeys.
The park’s variety of habitats further enhances its appeal to avian life. Vast savannahs, woodlands, swamps, and riverine forests provide a rich tapestry of ecological niches for different bird species to thrive. This diverse range of habitats supports an abundance of food sources, ensuring the park remains a vital feeding ground for its resident and migratory bird populations.
Among the numerous species of interest found within Queen Elizabeth National Park are African Skimmers, Lesser Flamingos, Great White Pelicans, Lappet-faced Vultures, Martial Eagles, and Black Bee-eaters. These remarkable birds, along with countless others, contribute to the park’s reputation as a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Best Time to Visit: Queen Elizabeth National Park can be visited throughout the year, but the best time for birding is during the dry seasons from December to February and from June to September. During these periods, bird activity is higher, and the chances of spotting migratory species increase.
Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest and oldest protected conservation area spanning an impressive 4,500 square kilometers, is a treasure trove of biodiversity. The park’s vast size and diverse range of habitats create ideal conditions for a remarkable array of bird species, including congregations of African Skimmers, Rock Pratincoles, and globally threatened species, some of which are Palaearctic migrants. With over 425 bird species, Murchison Falls National Park is a paradise for bird enthusiasts.
Situated along the Victoria Nile, the park is flanked by the magnificent Karuma Falls on its eastern side and the stunning Lake Albert on the western side. The crowning jewel of the park is Murchison Falls itself, also known as the Kabalega Falls named after Omukama Kabalega who resisted colonialism. This awe-inspiring waterfall cascades from a height of 43 meters, thundering into a narrow 7-meter water-rock gorge, creating a breathtaking spectacle.
To fully immerse yourself in the park’s birding wonders, indulge in a variety of activities such as birding during launch trips, wildlife viewing on exhilarating game drives, and exploring the wilderness on foot during a captivating walking safari. These experiences offer unique opportunities to spot a multitude of bird species in their natural habitats while enjoying the surrounding wildlife.
Murchison Falls National Park is not only a haven for birds but also home to a diverse array of wildlife. The park boasts an impressive population of 78 large mammal species, including majestic elephants, graceful giraffes, and powerful lions. Additionally, it is inhabited by several primate species, such as Patas Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Colobus Monkeys, and Chimpanzees, adding to the park’s overall ecological richness.
For the best birding opportunities, it is recommended to visit during the wet season, which occurs from March to May and October to November. During this time, migrant birds flock to the park, and resident birds engage in active breeding and nesting behaviors, creating a vibrant and captivating birding spectacle.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, nestled in the picturesque southwestern region of Uganda, stands as an unparalleled destination for bird enthusiasts. This awe-inspiring park, spanning an expansive area of 330 square kilometers, holds the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site while boasting the richest faunal community in East Africa.
While Bwindi is renowned for its remarkable population of endangered mountain gorillas, it is also a haven for the highest concentration of Albertine Rift endemics within the region.
Immerse yourself in the mystique of Bwindi’s ancient rainforest as you embark on a quest to discover its extraordinary avian treasures. Prepare to be captivated by the elusive Dusky Crimson Wing, the vibrant African Green Broadbill, the striking Handsome Francolin, the regal Rwenzori Turaco, or the charming Rwenzori Batis
Seek out the enchanting Shelley’s Crimson Wing, the elusive Dwarf Honeyguide, the melodious Red-throated Alethe, the captivating Kivu Ground Thrush, the charismatic Archer Robin-chat, and the captivating Short-tailed Warbler. Other species you may see are the elegant Collared Apalis, the charismatic Black-faced Apalis, the mysterious Rwenzori Nightjar, the agile Chapin Flycatcher, the alluring Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, the delightful Striped-breasted Tit, the resplendent Regal Sunbird, and the intriguing Strange Weaver.
While Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is celebrated for its avian wonders, it also offers captivating encounters with other remarkable wildlife. As you traverse the park’s diverse landscapes, you may have the opportunity to witness the majesty of primates, including gorillas.
Additionally, keep a keen eye out for sightings of majestic elephants, graceful duikers, elusive bushbucks, and a myriad of intriguing reptiles and amphibians that contribute to the park’s rich biodiversity.
Kibale National Park stands as a premier destination for birdwatching in Uganda. Located in the scenic western part of the country, this renowned park is celebrated for its remarkable avian population, boasting an impressive record of over 375 bird species. Birding enthusiasts from all corners of the globe flock to Kibale National Park to witness and capture the diverse array of birds that grace its verdant landscapes.
The park showcases a rich assortment of bird species, both resident and migratory. Prepare to be captivated by the elusive African Pitta, the resplendent Green-breasted Pitta, the melodious Grey-throated Flycatcher, the charismatic African Grey Parrot, the majestic African Crowned Eagle, the vibrant Great Blue Turaco, and a host of other enchanting species.
Kibale National Park encompasses a variety of habitats, including tropical rainforests, swamps, grasslands, and woodlands. Each habitat supports a unique assemblage of bird species, catering to different ecological preferences. The park offers well-maintained trails that provide optimal birdwatching opportunities.
A must-visit spot is the adjacent Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, which features a network of wooden walkways, allowing visitors to venture into the swampy areas and observe a plethora of bird species up close.
For the ultimate birding experience, plan your visit during the dry seasons, which span from December to February and from June to July. During these periods, bird activity reaches its peak, and the trails are easily accessible, ensuring optimal birdwatching conditions.
While exploring Kibale National Park in search of avian wonders, you may also encounter other captivating wildlife species.
Keep your eyes peeled for the playful chimpanzees swinging through the treetops, the agile monkeys leaping from branch to branch, the majestic elephants roaming the park’s expanse, and an array of fascinating reptiles that add to the park’s biodiversity. Kibale National Park’s reputation as a primate hotspot makes it a thrilling destination for both bird and primate enthusiasts.
Situated in close proximity to Kibale National Park, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary stands as a remarkable community-based organization dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity and the advancement of local communities through eco-tourism and environmentally sustainable enterprises.
Immerse yourself in this breathtaking sanctuary, where the resplendent Great Blue Turacos captivate alongside an impressive array of 200 bird species and eight diverse monkey species.
Embark on one of their captivating community loops, where you can observe magnificent birds and playful monkeys while gaining invaluable insights into wetland conservation. Prepare to be enthralled, as these walks never fail to impress.
Renowned for its unparalleled biodiversity, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a haven for bird enthusiasts. With species thriving within its boundaries, including rare and endemic treasures, this sanctuary boasts an extraordinary birdlife. Serving as an essential habitat for both resident and migratory birds, the wetland ensures their continued survival and mesmerizes visitors with their vibrant plumage and enchanting melodies.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary proudly hosts an impressive collection of avian wonders. Among the notable species awaiting discovery are the awe-inspiring Great Blue Turaco, the striking Papyrus Gonolek, the delightful White-winged Warbler, the charming Yellow-spotted Barbet, and countless others. As you explore this natural wonderland, you will also encounter an abundance of primates, butterflies, and various other captivating wildlife species.
The local community plays a vital role in safeguarding the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. Managed by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED), a dedicated community-based organization, the sanctuary thrives with the support of tourism-generated funds. By partaking in the sanctuary’s activities, you contribute directly to local conservation initiatives and community development projects, ensuring the long-term preservation of this ecological gem.
Nestled near the Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo Forest reigns as the largest Mahogany forest in the region. Budongo Forest is teeming with a plethora of birding treasures, including the elusive Lemon Bellied Crombec, the resplendent white-thighed hornbill, and the enchanting Puvel’s Illadopsis. Another prized resident is the captivating Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, adding to the forest’s allure.
Located on the breathtaking escarpment northeast of the mesmerizing Lake Albert, Budongo Forest Reserve is a highly sought-after birding destination in Uganda. The reserve offers two exceptional birding trails that promise unparalleled experiences: the renowned Royal Mile and the captivating Busingiro Road Trail.
These trails showcase a myriad of remarkable species, including the magnificent forest giants, the striking Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, the elusive Ituri Batis, the endearing Dwarf Kingfisher, the vibrant Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, and the regal Rufous-crowned Eremomela.
Delve deeper into the forest’s wonders and encounter more unique species, such as the melodious Forest Robin, the graceful African Shrike Flycatcher, the captivating Chestnut Wattle Eye, the swift Sabine’s Spine-tail, and the striking Yellow-crested Woodpecker.
Besides birdwatching, the reserve offers an array of activities to immerse yourself in nature’s grandeur. Among the other species that call Budongo Forest home, are the playful black-and-white colobus monkeys and the delightful blue monkeys.
Covering a compact area of 370 square kilometers, Lake Mburo National Park may be Uganda’s smallest savannah park, but it boasts a remarkable diversity of habitats that contribute to its rich birdlife. With an impressive count of 313 bird species, including some not recorded in any other Ugandan park, Lake Mburo is a paradise for birding enthusiasts.
The park’s unique blend of great acacia woodlands, swamps, and open grasslands creates a perfect haven for a wide variety of wildlife species, as well as being a prime spot for viewing water birds and papyrus endemics.
Lake Mburo National Park is home to over 350 bird species, each offering a fascinating spectacle. Keep an eye out for notable species such as the regal African Fish Eagle, the elusive African Finfoot, the striking Brown-chested Lapwing, the charming Papyrus Yellow Warbler, the vibrant Yellow-breasted Apalis, the enchanting African Scops Owl, and the rare African White-winged Warbler.
The park provides several birding hotspots where visitors can enjoy a diverse range of avian encounters. The tranquil lakes within the park, including Lake Mburo, Lake Kacheera, and Lake Warukiri, attract a plethora of water-associated bird species, including elegant herons, graceful egrets, nimble African Jacanas, and the elusive Shoebill Stork.
The swampy areas and papyrus reed beds offer ideal habitats for specialized species like the Papyrus Yellow Warbler and the Papyrus Gonolek. The acacia woodlands and open savannahs, on the other hand, are frequented by majestic raptors, vibrant hornbills, colorful barbets, and skillful weavers.
For optimal birding experiences, the dry season from June to August and December to February is considered the best time to visit Lake Mburo National Park. During these periods, numerous migratory bird species visit the park, and the vegetation is less dense, enhancing bird spotting opportunities.
Additionally, birding can be enjoyed during game drives, boat safaris, and even horseback riding excursions, adding an element of adventure to your birding experience.
Nestled in the northeastern region of Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park stands as a haven for birdwatchers worldwide. This renowned park is celebrated for its extraordinary bird population, boasting a staggering record of over 475 bird species within its borders. Nature enthusiasts and ornithologists flock to Kidepo Valley National Park to witness and study its captivating birdlife.
The park showcases a remarkable diversity of bird species, including a multitude of rare and endemic treasures. Among the notable inhabitants you may encounter are the enchanting Karamoja Apalis, the fascinating Fox’s Weaver, the majestic Kori Bustard, the majestic Ostrich, and the endemic Kidepo Valley National Park Apalis.
Kidepo Valley National Park encompasses a stunning tapestry of habitats, ranging from expansive savannah grasslands to verdant woodlands, from lush riverine forests to rugged rocky outcrops. These diverse environments provide a fertile ground for an array of bird species, each uniquely adapted to their specific habitat.
Numerous areas within the park have gained popularity among birdwatchers. The Narus Valley, in particular, boasts an abundance of birdlife, offering remarkable sightings at every turn. The Apoka Rest Camp, Kanangorok Hot Springs, and the meandering Kidepo River also serve as excellent vantage points to observe the park’s diverse avifauna.
For the ultimate birding experience, plan your visit during the wet seasons, which span from March to May and October to November. During these periods, the park becomes a vibrant tapestry of life as migrant birds arrive, and the vegetation flourishes, providing ample food sources for the avian inhabitants.
Situated just 54 kilometers east of Kampala, the bustling capital city of Uganda, Mabira Forest stands as a prominent birding destination in central Uganda. Encompassing an expansive area of over 300 square kilometers, this magnificent forest beckons birdwatchers with its remarkable bird diversity.
With a staggering 315 bird species, including 74 species from the Guinea-Congo forest biome, Mabira Forest offers a haven for birdwatchers. The forest’s well-established trails provide easy access to its diverse habitats, allowing visitors to indulge in birdwatching, nature walks, butterfly watching, exhilarating zip-lining experiences, and invigorating cycling excursions.
Mabira Forest is a treasure trove of colorful and unique bird species. Among its captivating avifauna are the majestic Great Blue Turaco, African Pied Hornbill, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, African Paradise Flycatcher, and an abundance of stunning sunbird species. Birding enthusiasts will also be thrilled to spot sought-after species like Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Grey Longbill, Leaf Love, Paradise Flycatcher, Sooty Boubou, and Purple-throated Cuckoo Shrike.
The best time for birdwatching in Mabira Forest is during the early morning hours when bird activity is at its peak. It’s important to keep in mind that the rainy season, typically spanning from March to May and October to November, may result in muddy trails and slightly more challenging bird sightings. Nonetheless, the enchanting bird diversity continues to captivate visitors throughout the seasons.