Birding Safaris Uganda

Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to bird watchers not only to because of the unusually number of species recorded within its borders, but also because Birding Safaris Uganda offers easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach elsewhere. Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity-1,008 species recorded in an area similar to that of Great Britain can be attributed to its location at a transitional point between the East African savanna, the West African rainforest and the semi-desert of the north.

The key to Uganda Safaris diversity is its variety of habitats: arid semi-dessert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda covers an altitude from 650 to 5000m.

Analytical of Uganda’s intermediary position is the fact that only one bird is endemic to the country, the rather ordinary Fox’s weaver. However, if you take only East Africa into consideration, then approximately 150 bird species (more than 10% of the regional checklists) are found only in Uganda. Uganda Birding Safaris list includes seven of the 20 horn-bill species recorded in the region, five out of 14 honey guides, seven out of 20 hornbill species recorded in the region, five out of 20 bush family as well as 13 members of the thrush family, 11 warblers, ten flycatchers, eight sun birds, eight weavers, eight finches, four tinker birds, four pigeons, 3 kingfishers, 3 sparrow hawks, 3 cuckoos and 3 nightjars.

Most of these Uganda’s specials are West African and Congolese forest birds that should be very difficult to see elsewhere for the simple reason that the other countries in which they occur are poorly developed for Tourism. The rain forests of Western Uganda must be seen as the country’s most important bird habitat, and that is the greatest interest to bird watchers (bird watching), particularly if they are already familiar with typical East African birds. The most alluring forests in Uganda with localized species is Semliki, Budongo Forest, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest. However, Kibale is the Uganda’s spot for forest birds and the nearby Magombe swamp. Even the relatively tame botanical gardens in Entebbe will throw up several interesting species.

Therefore you want to see or watch a wide range of birds in Uganda for tour enthusiasts, try to visit Entebbe (water and forest birds), Lake Mburo (water and acacia associated birds), Queen Elizabeth (Over 600 species are recorded), Murchison Falls (a best place in East Africa to see the Papyrus-associated shoe-bill) and Kidepo (over 50 raptors recorded).

Below is a List of Some of the Bird Species in Uganda

  • Ostrich, It the World’s largest bird and its restricted to Kidepo Valley National Park.
  • Pelicans, these are water birds and commonly found in Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • African darter, it’s a snake bird with an elongated rufus neck extended in a serpentine fashion.
  • Goliath heron, this commonly seen during boat trips in Murchison Falls NP.
  • Hamerkop, This is a medium sized water bird seen on the Mweya Peninsula in QENP
  • Saddle billed stork, this is the largest and most hand some of several storks usually seen in pairs on game drives in Murchison falls.
  • Marabou stork, this is a Macabre carrion-eating stork common in rural and urban Environments especially in down town Kampala.
  • Shoebill, Unmistakable large grey swamp-dweller and is the main motivating factor behind many ornithological tours to Uganda. They are mainly seen in Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Mabamba Swamp and in Murchison falls.
  • Flamingos, astonishing and sociable pink-white algae eaters commonly seen in large concentrations in Katwe and Flamingo crater lakes in QENP.
  • African Fish Eagle, Unique grey snake-eating raptor.
  • Helmeted guinea fowl
  • Africa Jacana; common in most wetlands in Uganda
  • Grey crowned crane; Uganda’s national bird common in swamps and grasslands
  • African grey parrot; they are mostly seen in any forested habitat.
  • Great blue turaco; found I forested areas including Entebbe Botanical gardens
  • Ross’s turacco
  • Eastern grey plantain-eater
  • African emerald cuckoo
  • Coucals
  • Verreaux’s eagle-owl; largest owl species in Uganda and mostly seen during night drives.
  • Pennant/standard winged nightjars; mostly seen on the road to the top of Murchison falls after dusk.
  • Pied Kingfisher;
  • Giant Kingfisher.
  • Malachite Kingfisher;
  • Red-throated bee-eater; breeds in tall sandbanks on Lake Albert and the Nile below Murchison falls.
  • Lilac-breasted roller
  • Hoopoe
  • Black and white casqued hornbill
  • For-tailed drongo
  • Piacpiac; commonly found in Jinja and Murchison falls
  • African Finfoot
  • Jackson’s francolin
  • Denhams bustard
  • African skimmer
  • Blue throated roller
  • Black bee eater
  • Forest/white headed wood hoope
  • African pied hornbill
  • Chocolate-backed kingfisher
  • Papyrus gonolek
  • Red headed bluebill and many more…….

Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Classified as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by Birding International, Queen’s great variety of habitats mean it is home to over 600 species. This is the greatest of any East African national park and a phenomenal number for such a small area. The park’s confluence of savanna and forest, linking to the expansive forests of the DR Congo allow visitors to spot East as well as Central African species.

Present in the park is numerous water birds, woodland and forest dwellers in the Maramagambo Forest, 54 raptors and various migratory species. Key species include the Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Pink-backed Pelican, African Broadbill, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Corncrake, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, Shoebill, Bar-tailed Godwit.

For the best birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park, don’t miss these birding hot spots:
Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge area and Katwe Area Tours can be booked through Katwe Tourism Information Center.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park

Both the game drives and the launch trips offer an opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife, including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemics. The park’s main birding attraction is the Shoebill, best sighted in the dry season from January-March.

The commonest species found in the plains include the Marabou Stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Secretary Birds, Black-bellied Bustards, Open-billed Storks and Widow Bird.

Closer to the river where there are more thickets and woodlands, the commonest bird varieties include the Swallow-tailed and Red-throated Bee-eaters – particularly in the Nyamusika Cliffs; Woodland, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers; Francolin; Hornbills, Grey heron; Hamerkop; Shrikes; Flycatchers; Cuckoos; Woodpeckers; Crombecs and Warblers. The riverbanks are also home to ducks, geese, stilts and plovers.

The park’s main birding attraction is the Shoebill, best sighted in the dry season from January-March.

Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi a varied habitat which is Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal home for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.

Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija

Birding in Semuliki National Park

Birders who make it to Semuliki will be rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birding. Sempaya and Ntandi provide excellent viewing of the birds including the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos. The area around Kirumia River is another top birding spot. The shoebill stork is regularly seen at close quarters on Lake Albert and forest walks are good for tracking water birds.

Birding in Mount Elgon National Park

Excellent birding opportunities exist around Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre, in particular in the secondary forest and thick shrub along the loop trails extended to cover Cheptui Falls. It supports the African Goshawk; Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, African Blue Fly-catcher, Chinspot Batis, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Dohertys and Luhders Bush-shrikes, Baglafecht Weaver, Cinnamon Bee Eater, Moustached Tinkerbird, Hartloub`s Turaco, Tacazze Sunbird, Olive- and Bronze-naped pigeons, Black Kite and Black-collared Apalis.

Birding in Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo’s key birding spots include swampy valleys and viewing platforms near the salt licks and in the forest. Species found at these locations include the Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard and Brown-chested Lapwing.

The best birding 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. 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 Scimitarbill, 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 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 of the forest’s featured species.

Birding in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The best birding in Mgahinga also takes in some of its most beautiful scenery – in the gorge between Mts Gahinga and Sabinyo, through the bamboo forest, and in the montane forest, where the beautiful Rwenzori Turaco may be observed.

The three to four hour Gorge Trail between Gahinga and Sabinyo can provide a spectacular sightings of the Dusky turtle Dove, Cape Robin-chat, Kivu-ground Thrush, Olive Thrush, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bronze Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Black-headed Waxbill and Streaky Seedeater.

Other good birding areas are at the bamboo belt at about 2,500m above sea level, and the tall montane forest at 2,660m. The Rwenzori Turaco is mostly sighted at around 2,700m. Along the Uganda-Congo border and on level ground, the Chubb’s Cisticola, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Banded Prinia and Doherty’s Bush-shrike are vocal yet inconspicuous inhabitants of the tangled vegetation at the forest’s edge.

Birding in Kibale Forest National Park

Bird watching tours start at 7am at kanyanchu. Bigodi wetland sanctuary, located just outside the park, is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms.

You are advised to book in advance. Rare species include the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Oliveback and Papyrus Canary.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, located just outside the park, is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms. These could include the White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, White-breasted Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill among others.

Birding in Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Bird Watching In Uganda opportunities are greatest in the montane forest. Bee-eaters, robins, sunbirds and barbets are some of the 217 species found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

It’s understandably, few species choose to make their home in the inhospitable world of the high Rwenzori. Bee-eaters, Robins, Sunbirds and Barbets are some of the 217 species found in Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Other species to watch out for include the Rwenzori Turaco and Long-eared Owl; while higher up on the slopes, Bearded Vultures, Swifts and Black Eagles may be seen circling for prey.

Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park

Apoka Rest Camp is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding experience. Birding can also be done on the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys.

Apoka Rest Camp is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding experience. Birding can also be done on the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys. Among the birds seen are the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin, which is found only in Kidepo. The activity can be arranged both in the morning and evening.

Birding in Mabamba Swamp

Mabamba swamp is located on the fringes of Lake Victoria towards western Uganda. The Shoebill is known to occur in mainly four countries i.e. Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zambia but it is best seen at Mabamba swamp.  You can access Mabamba wetland from either Kampala by car or Entebbe by boat. The drive to Mabamba from Entebbe or Kampala takes approximately one hour depending on the number of stops birding. You need to leave your hotel really early to beat the traffic and also before the heat from the sun is too much which reduces bird activity. You can access the swamp by boat on from Entebbe, once you arrive you leave the speed boat and join the canoe to access the possible location of the shoebill.

For a seasoned birder you have opportunities for many other bird species in the community and at the swamp. There are numerous water birds including migratory birds from Europe. Some of the bird species to look out for in addition to the Shoebill include; Angola Swallow, Swamp Flycatcher, Olive bellied Sunbird, Grey-rumped Swallow, Blue breasted Bee-eater,  African Jacana, African Fish Eagle, Long tailed Cormorant, Yellow billed Duck, Malachite Kingfisher, Glossy Ibis, White-winged Tern, Hamerkop, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Knob-billed Duck, Little Stint, Great Cormorant, Grey-headed Gull, Spur-winged Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Madagascar Bee-eater, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Sooty Chat, Weyns’s weaver, Grosbeak weaver, Crowned Horn bill, African Pied  , Common Squacco Heron, Red-billed fire finch etc.

For the best Uganda Birding Safari experience, Saso Uganda Safaris is the best tour operator in Uganda organizing affordable Uganda Safari Tours in different destinations. Our Uganda Travel Tips that we provide is well articulated and you won’t miss any necessary things or equipment in your trip.

Our tour has a wide range of Uganda Accommodation either you would like to go camping, or on classic lodges, Saso Uganda Safaris will ensure that you African safari is memorable and unforgettable.

Impressed? Want to know more? Contact Us today for any inquiries or bookings to our Uganda Safari Packages!

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TOP UGANDA SAFARI FAQS

You need a visa to enter Uganda. You can either get a visa on arrival at the airport, or before you travel. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the evisas website. You can also apply for these, and other types of visa, at the Uganda High Commission in London.

The charge for the visa on arrival is US$50 in cash while the charge for processing the E-visa application yourself via the correct Uganda government website (http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html) is US$52.53 including credit card fee.

Single Entry Visa is allowed to USA,UK and other European countries travellers who wish to stay in Uganda for a short period. … Foreigners who travel to a Uganda for tourism purpose or business purpose or medical purpose. The applicant needs to mention the purpose of his visit. Uganda tourist visa and Uganda work visa are the single-entry visas.

The official processing duration for a Ugandan visa as per the official Ugandan Consulates’ site is 14 business days. However, this duration does vary between 2 and 15 days depending on the Embassy to be contacted.