A journey to Opeta Shoebill watching site is a daunting affair in the rainy seasons. But despite that, it remains a gazetted Site in eastern Uganda, a home to the rare bird species found in Katakwi District. The wetland lies south of the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and serves as a dry-season refuge for both wildlife from the park and domestic cattle of the surrounding Karamajong and Pokot people.
Lake Opeta is one of Uganda’s 33 Important Bird Areas and since 2006 a Ramsar-listed wetland of international importance.
At this time of the year, it’s a real hurdle to gain entry to Opeta. It involves winding through the muddy path. Anything less of that denies you easy access to this site, which habours the Shoebill stork. The bird watching is at its peak at the end of the year, when rains and accumulated waters at the roadsides recede.
The dream among the tour guides in this area, to make Opeta a vibrant tourist destination for bird watching, is visible. A well maintained tourist resting shade built by Conserve Uganda is evident.
Despite being a remotely perceived tourist destination, Opeta presents a serene environment that by far is admirable by tourists on a holiday vacation. The winds blowing through its green marshes from Karamoja and from the glaring Mt Elgon, brings a cool atmosphere allover Opeta’s greenery vegetation.
A watching expedition, involves venturing out for longer travel distances on rickety boats, snaking through water marshes into the heart of Opeta’s waters covered by a green and purpling water lilies.
The narrow waterways cutting through the marshes provide a gateway to the hidden homes of the birds, before opening up into the larger and deeper fresh waters of this lake, where fishing is also the major activity. The transparent marshes, we travel through, provide easy visibility at the low lying level bed of the floating vegetation, sights of the Fox’s waiver birds( Uganda’s only endemic bird species) are common.
Classified as a bird watching site by the ministry of Tourism, Charles Ichohor, the executive director Conserve Uganda, says Opeta remains home to the famous iconic shoebill, though lately their visibility has become rare.
The fascination about the bird is that its solitary nature extends to its breeding habits, with often its nests typically occurring at less than three nests per square kilometre.
At a very close range, the bird can easily be recognized by its special feathers, in flight, its unique beak is impossible to be seen, its features are distinctive medium in blue –grey colors, its tail is as of the same color as its wings, with its poorly formed viewing conditions, its size and wingspan distinguishes it from other birds.
As most people may say, the journeys to Success is not that easy and this will apply to all ways of life, it will really be hard to reach the habitant of such rare but it will be magic when to set sight on then. Try Out a bird watching Safaris In Uganda and have a memorable story to tell.