Best Birding Destinations in Uganda

Best Birding Destinations in Uganda are quite many in number and travelers will find the best of all in this article so they can choose wisely. Uganda the pearl of Africa is blessed with over 1060 bird species making it the best in organizing birding tours as compared to other countries. The fact that Uganda harbors some unique and rare bird species such as the rare shoebill stork which is the major bird that attracts birders into Uganda and is found in several and different locations making them the best birding destinations in Uganda. These include Lake Mburo national park, Murchison falls National Park, Mabamba Swamp with in Entebbe, Ziwa rhino sanctuary, Semliki wild reserve among others.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls National park being the largest and oldest park situated in the northeastern part of Uganda has several activities that entice the visitors to have a tour in order to discover all the hidden secrets within the park ranging from birding, boat cruise, top of falls, game drives, and sport fishing, among others. Murchison Falls Park has water birds, endemic to rift valley bird species, migrant birds and forest birds which can all be encountered during the birding tour.

Well, taking a birding tour in Murchison Falls Park is one of the best and fascinating activities that every visitor on a Uganda tour especially birding tour ought not to miss out on. Murchison falls park harbors over 450 bird species including the rare shoebill stork which is everyone’s dream to watch. Since the rare shoe bill stork enjoys feeding on the water creatures such as fish, then it is easily spotted in Murchison falls park along the Victoria Nile. The best time to spot the rare shoebill stork is by taking a delta Launch cruise as you will be in a position to sight more number of this bird species. 

Murchison falls also harbors some nocturnal mammals which are easily sighting during a night game drive such as Nightjars. The best birding spots in Murchison falls park include; Kaniyo Pabidi which is always the starting point for birders, Budongo forest, and also in Rabongo forest with offers several sightings of different bird species such as the Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Marabou stork, blue spotted doves, Grey Crowned Crane, Black headed lapwing, Giant Heron, Back-bellied Bustard,  open billed stork, weaver dwarf kingfisher birds, black bellied bustard, malachite kingfisher, African black crake, Squacco heron, goliath heron, black headed lapwing, fish eagle, African skimmer, great blue turaco, African jacana, silver birds, blue napped mouse bird, African pied wagtail, Fork tailed Drongo, speckled tinker bird, white casqued hornbill, yellow spotted barbet, African shrike flycatcher, Cassin’s hawk eagle, Guinea Congo, Pygmy Crake, Western Greenbuls, yellow footed flycatcher, chocolate backed kingfisher, swamp flycatcher, yellow crested woodpecker, Olive breasted Greenbuls, Secretary Birds, yellow browed cameroptera and all others making Murchison falls the best destination for birders since it harbors the largest number of bird species in Uganda compared to other birding sites.

Birding in Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park harbors over 300 bird species that rank it amongst the best destinations to visit while on a birding tour. It is located in the western part of Uganda along Masaka – Mbarara road best known as the smallest park in Uganda whose biggest area is covered with lakes. Birding tours in Lake Mburo national park are carried out in different spots include the valleys filled with the swamp, areas around the Rwonyo camp where several mammals gather to lick the salt like rock, and in Rubanga forest where most forest birds are spotted. The rare bird species which can never be seen in any other park in Uganda except in Lake Mburo national park are the Red-faced Barbet that are commonly seen in Rubanga forest since it prefers to dwell in areas filled with acacia tree species. 

Other common bird species spotted in Lake Mburo national park include the Grey Crowned Crane “which is also the Uganda’s National bird that is used on the national flags standing on one leg representing that Uganda is moving forward”, Ross’s Turaco, Yellow-breasted Apalis, African scoops owl, Cuckoo-shrike, Nubian Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied Heron, Brown Parrot, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Rare Shoebill, Yellow-rumped tinker bird, Red-headed Lovebird, African Wattled Lapwing, Bare-faced go-away-bird, Black-bellied bustard, Nubian Woodpecker, Southern ground hornbill, Saddle-billed stork, blue-headed Coucal, Papyrus yellow warbler, and papyrus Gonolek among others that are worth watching while on birding tour, game drive and forest walks with in lake Mburo national park.

Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park

Several visitors flock Bwindi time in time out purposely to trek and habituate mountain gorillas forgetting that the park also harbors about 350 bird species including some endemic species. Major bird species recorded in Bwindi impenetrable national park include Western Green Tinkerbird Chestnut-throated Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Collared Apalis, Regal Sunbird, Short tailed Warbler, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Fine-banded Woodpecker, African Wood Owl, Handsome Francolin, Red-headed Bluebill, Blue-headed Sunbird, Common Bulbul, African Emerald Cuckoo, among others. The best way to watch several bird species in Bwindi is by taking the Waterfall Trail in the Buhoma sector and also taking a swamp trail with in Ruhija sector.  However, most of these birds can be seen alongside Gorilla trekking and Batwa experience.

Birding in mabira forests

Mabira forest is one of the tropical forests that exist along Kampala Jinja highway just near the main road and it harbors about 45% of bird species that are seen in different parks in Uganda with over 300 bird species that call mabira forest their home including some rare species such as Nahan’s Francolin which is termed as endangered bird species, Purple-throated cuckoo shrikes, IIladopsis, and some other unique species which are seen in very few and limited destinations around the country

Other bird species seen during birding in mabira include; Black-headed heron, European Honey-Buzzard, Reed cormorant Marabou stork,  Hooded vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Hadada ibis, Yellow-billed kite, Red-eyed dove, African Harrier-Hawk,  Crested Guinea fowl, Helmeted Guinea fowl, Crowned eagle, African Green-pigeon, White-spotted Flufftail, Speckled Mousebird, Ring-necked Dove, Grey Parrot, Olive Sunbird, Black Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Great Blue Turaco, Diederik Cuckoo Little Swift, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Angola swallow Yellow-throated Longclaw, African Pied Wagtail, African Emerald Cuckoo Klaas`s Cuckoo,  Narina Trogon, Striped Kingfisher, African Pygmy Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater, African Pied Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Black-and-white- casqued Hornbill, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Least honeyguide, Yellow-whiskered Greenbuls, Cameroon Sombre Greenbuls, Forest robin, African Thrush, Black-throated Apalis, Brown-throated wattle eye, Red-chested sunbird and many more that dwell in mabira forest. A birding tour in mabira forest can easily cooperate with the Zip lining and forest walks where you can be in a position to spot some primates such as monkeys and other mammals, butterflies and different plant species that reside in the forest to maximally explore the entire mabira forest

A birding tour to mabira forest can also be joined with a tour to Jinja to spot the exact source of the Nile river, and visiting the falls for a breath taking what water rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, quad biking, sport fishing among others.

Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National park harbors over 600 bird species making it the best destination for birders while on a Ugandan birding tour. The vegetation cover of Queen Elizabeth ranging from savannah woodland, and savanna grassland which harbors both endemic species, raptor species, and the forest species and migratory species. The best birding spots in Queen Elizabeth national park include Along the Kazinga channel where several water birds are spotted, in the mweya peninsula, Maramagambo forest, Kasenyi plain, Lake Kikorongo, ishasha sector, and around Katunguru Bridge. All these areas offers wide range of different bird species including the rare shoebill stork, African Skimmer, the Pink-backed Pelican,  Flycatcher, the Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler, Black-rumped Buttonquail, the Martial Eagle, greater Flamingo, African Jacana, Wattled Plovers, Fish Eagle, Squacco Heron, white-backed Pelicans, Black Crake and the Knob-billed Ducks along the impressive Kazinga Channel in the park, African fish eagle, swamp fly-catcher, long-tailed cormorants, Martial Eagle, Black- rump, papyrus Gonolek, Grey Woodpecker, black & African Emerald Cuckoos, speckled Tinkerbird Hairy breasted Barbet, purple-headed starling, thin-tailed Nightjars, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl and many more. While enjoying your birding tour in Queen Elizabeth national park, don’t forget to add tree-climbing lions on your tour bucket.

Birding in Kibale forest national park and Bigodi Wetland sanctuary

Kibale forest national park is not only the home to primates but also considered to be amongst the best birding destinations in Uganda due to the nature of its vegetation cover that attracts several birds which harbors over 375 bird species that flock the forest for food. The major bird species that attracts several birders to Kibale forest national park is the Green-breasted Pitta, Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s spine tail, blue-headed bee-eater Papyrus Canary, the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler among others.  The best way to have a glimpse and learn more about different birds in Kibale forest national park is by taking a combined guided forest walk in Kibale forest and swamp walk with in Bigodi wetland situated with in Magombe swamp which harbors over 135 bird species including the rare shoebill stork. In this wetland be sure to spot both migratory bird species and the endemic bird species.

Several bird species in Kibale forest park and Bigodi wetland sanctuary  include Abyssinian ground thrush, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black bee-eater, Black-capped Apalis, African Pitta, Purple-breasted sunbird, Blue-headed bee-eater, Red-faced woodland warbler, Yellow-rumped tinker bird, Ruwenzori Apalis, Western Nicator, Brown IIladopsis, Scaly-breasted IIladopsis,  Red-chested owlet, Yellow-spotted Barbet , Black-eared ground thrush, Brown IIladopsis, Crowned eagle, Green-breasted Pitta, Dusky Crimsonwings, Black Bishop, African pitta, Masked Apalis, Grey parrot, and many more that make a birding tour to Kibale forest national park a once in lifetime enjoyment. Birding in Kibale forest national park starts from Kanyanchu where the park headquarters are situated.

During birding, keep eyes wide open to nature for the probability of sighting some primate species, mammals, tree species and several butterfly species.

Birding in Mabamba swamp 

Mabamba swamp is located along Lake Victoria and is best known as the best birding destination especially for visitors on Entebbe tour. Several birds seen with in Mabamba swamp include the rare shoebill stork, Goliath Heron, king fishers, papyrus Gonolek, weaver birds, pygmy goose and many more that make this swamp the best place for birders. 

Birding in Kidepo valley national park

The wilderness of Kidepo valley national park filled with valleys, mountain ranges, terrains and vegetation creates suitable conditions for the birders. This park harbors over 480 bird species including Ostrich which is the largest bird in the world making it the second-best place for the birding just after Queen Elizabeth national park. Also known to be amongst the best birding destination in Africa. 

Birding in Kidepo starts from Apoka Rest Camp which is the best birding spot in Kidepo valley national park and leads birders deep in the thick blush as they watch different bird species with in the wilderness. Other birding tours in Kidepo are carried out in Narus valley and Namamukweny valley

Here are some of the bird species that are present in Kidepo valley national park such as Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Clapperton’s Francolin, Karamoja Apalis, Secretary Bird, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton’s and Heuglin’s Francolins,  Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, White-crested Turaco, Standard-winged Nightjars, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Superb Starling, bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Silverbird, Black-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Shrike, Nubian Woodpecker, Broad-tailed Warblers, Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Red-cheeked Cordon-blue, Black Coucal, and many more that are worth watching. Also, raptors and migratory birds are easily seen with in the park

Birding in Mgahinga National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla national park is also well known for harboring only one habituated Nyakagezi Gorilla family available for trekking at any given period of time. However, the park is also home to over 115 bird species which are seen during birding, other birding are seen during the guided nature walks, during the Batwa trail and also during the gorilla trekking with in the park. These bird species recorded include Dusky Turtle Dove, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Rwenzori Batis, Handsome Francolin, Dusky Crimsonwings, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Sunbirds, Kivu Ground Thrush, Mountain Masked Apalis and many more that are worth watching once in a lifetime.

Birding in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is known as the home for the white Rhinos that was gazetted in 2005 to bring back the Rhinos in Uganda and complete the top five in the pearl of Africa. However, the nature of the park full of thick vegetation cover, and some wetlands make it prominent for birders to visit. The sanctuary is also home to rare shoebill stork which most visitors on Ugandan tour especially birders ought not to miss out. Other bird species recorded in Ziwa rhino sanctuary include the African fish eagle, African Jacana, Black-headed Gonolek, Bat Hawk, pygmy kingfisher, Grey Hornbill, African Darter, Black-crowned Waxbill, African pied wagtail, doves and many more that can be seen during birding in the sanctuary or even during the Rhino trekking.

Best Birding Destinations in Uganda
Rare Bird Species in the Best Birding Destinations in Uganda

Birding in Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park was first gazetted as a forest reserve and later turned into a national park located in Congo border harboring over 400 bird species including the unique species that are found in few areas within in Uganda such as Guinea-Congo forest biome species which are also found in Budongo forest and Yellow-footed Flycatcher that make Semliki the best place for birding in Uganda and East Africa at large. Other bird species available in Semliki national park include, Spot-breasted Ibis Yellow-throated Nicator, Black- Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill , Casqued Wattled Hornbill , Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Fire-crested Alethe, White-crested Hornbill, Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Blue-headed Crested-flycatcher, Xavier’s Greenbuls, Red-bellied Malimbe, Crested Malimbe, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Black Dwarf Hornbill, and many more that dwell in Semliki national park.

The best birding season is during the months of June to September when the fruits are in plenty for bird to enjoy, and another season is from November to April when the migratory birds are usually seen in areas with in Uganda. However, Uganda is always open for birders at any given period of time since the country lies along the equator with the most favorable climatic conditions.

Planning a birding tour in Uganda, then Achieve Global Safaris is here to make your dream come true as we well know the best destinations that will make you feel like Uganda is a truly birders’ paradise with the recorded 1060 bird species thus all you need is to get your backpack well stocked with all that birders need such as Binoculars, insect repellant to protect you against insect bites, sunglasses for protecting your eyes from direct sunlight, good waterproof hiking boots, and long-sleeved attire and finally enough drinking water which is always provided by the tour operator throughout the entire trip.

Apart from birding, Uganda offers other activities such as gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, game drives, boat cruise, top of the falls, mountain climbing, hiking among others making Uganda the best place to visit for a fascinating experience.