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Birding and photography

Uganda birding safaris tour offers a feast of rare and colorful species, and the chance to improve dramatically on your species life list. More than 1,065 bird species inhabit a range of habitats – from montane forests to wetlands, agricultural lands, lakes, and savannahs.

Uganda is on the equator, and the endemic species-rich Albertine Rift valley separates the west of the country from DR Congo and Rwanda, so expect impressive biodiversity. In no particular order, here are arguably the best birding safaris tour spots in Uganda:


Where to go for Birding Safaris in Uganda

1. Mabamba Marsh at Lake Victoria

Mabamba Marsh is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the highly – prized shoebill. Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater body in Africa and is home to about 260 bird species.

Look out for the shoebill, blue swallow, pallid harrier, papyrus gonolek, swamp flycatcher, pigmy goose, lesser jacana, white-winged warbler, Viellot’s weaver, grosbeak weaver, palm-nut vulture, black-headed weaver, northern brown-throated weaver, Clarke’s weaver and Carruthers’scist cola.

2. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi is the heart and soul of Uganda birding safaris tour destination, the make-and-breaker of bird lists and the home of many endemic and rare bird species. This forested heaven boasts about 350 species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda.

The forest trails around Buhoma are ALIVE with opportunity as you stand your best chance to catch a glimpse of olive long-tailed cuckoo, bar-tailed trogon, dusky tit, Abyssinian (Kivu) ground thrush, white-bellied robin-chat, equatorial akalat, grey-chested illadopsis, red-throated alethe, white-bellied crested flycatcher, white-eyed slaty flycatcher, the enigmatic Chapin’s flycatcher, white-browed crombec, Neumann’s warbler, black-faced prinia, handsome francolin, Jameson’s anti pecker, black-faced rufous warbler, northern double-collared sunbird, Wilcock’s honeyguide, black bee-eater, black-billed weaver, magpie manikin and newly described Willard’s sooty boubou.

3. Murchison Falls National Park – Birding Safaris in Uganda

Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest and largest national park, named after the mighty waterfall of the same name – formed as the mighty Nile River is forced through a 7-metre gap in the rocks. The park is home to about 450 bird species, and birding can be done on a game drive, via a boat trip (on the Nile) or a nature walk. Habitat types include forest, swamp, riverine woodland, palm savannah and acacia-dotted plains.

The riverine thickets hold white-crested turaco, double-toothed barbet, red-throated bee-eater, Heuglin’s francolin, brown babbler, silver bird, buff-bellied warbler, black-headed batis, and bare-breasted firefinch. Puvel’s illadopsis can also found near the chimp researchers’ camp. There is plenty of open palm Savannah, which is an excellent haunt for Abyssinian ground-hornbill, Senegal lapwing, Shelley’s rufous sparrow and the strange-looking priapic. The Nile delta is of course home to the near-mythical shoebill stork. Night drives can produce a plethora of species such as pennant-winged and standard-winged nightjar and greyish eagle-owl.

4. Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a birdwatcher’s haven, with about 600 bird species across a variety of habitats – from sprawling savannah to dense forest, lakes and wetlands.

Moving from Ishasha to Mweya you will do well keeping an eye out for African crake, blue-throated roller, flappet lark, sooty chat, black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, northern black flycatcher, black-headed gonolek, mous tached grass warbler, red-chested sunbird, and slender-billed weaver. And along the banks of the Kasinga channel, you can expect grey crowned-crane, hamer kop, African jacana, flocks of African skimmer, gull-billed tern, as well as grey-headed and lesser black-backed gulls.

5. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Birding Safaris in Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to about 180 bird species, including some of the spectacular Albertine Rift endemics. It is located in the southern part of Uganda, bordering Rwanda and DR Congo and comprises dense highland forest on the slopes of 3 extinct volcanoes.

Mgahinga offers excellent bird viewing opportunities along the gorge trail, bamboo trail and farm/community trail. The bird species to look out for include Kivu ground thrush, handsome francolin, dusky crimson wing, red-throated alethe, blue-headed causal, Rwenzori nightjar, Rwenzori batis, Archer’s robin chat, black-headed waxbill, western green tinker bird and stripe-breasted tit.

6. Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park, in the Albertine Rift Valley of western Uganda, has about 440 species in its riverine, forest and grasslands avian habitats.

It hosts Guinea-Congo biome species in its lowland forest. The species to look out for include the Congo serpent-eagle, long-tailed hawk, African piculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue-billed malimbe, yellow-throated nicator, black dwarf hornbill, Nkulengu rail, piping hornbill, yellow-throated cuckoo, dwarf honeyguide, orange weaver, white-crested hornbill, red-billed dwarf hornbill, black-watt led hornbill, lyre-tailed honeyguide, capuchin babbler and swamp palm bulbul.

7. Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest is a prime birding safaris tour spot with about 375 bird species, including six Albertine Rift endemics. It is an excellent birding spot with habitats ranging from wet and dry tropical forest to woodland and savannah. The number one sought-after bird in the Kibale Forest is the green-breasted pitta. This “mega” has recently become available, though finding it still takes a good measure of luck.

IThe Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary within the park is a great haunt for specials such as speckled tinker bird, speckle-breasted woodpecker, white-spotted fluff tail, snowy-crowned robin-chat, Boscage’s bush shrike, and western nectar. Nearby patches of papyrus support the shy and cautious white-winged swamp-warbler.