Birding safaris in Uganda
Uganda is one of the top ranked countries for birding safaris in that it harbors over 1040 bird species that have been recorded which makes it a birding haven in Africa. Uganda is not only the best birding destination but also blessed with unique and breathtaking attractions and activities that visitors on a safari can engage in such as gorilla trekking which is the most popular activity carried out in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park, lion research tracking, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park, mountain climbing, boat cruise, game drive, white water rafting among others.
Uganda has various biodiversity such as water bodies, mountains, forests, vegetation like savannah, rainforest, woodland, swamps among others which act as habitats for bird species. During your birding safari in Uganda you will have an opportunity to view unique and endemic bird species such as the pre-historic shoebill stork, African green broadbill, grey crowned crane, great blue turaco among others.
Birding destinations in Uganda
Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls national park is the largest and most visited national park located in northwestern Uganda 305km from Kampala capital city. Murchison falls national park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors over 450 bird species including water birds, savannah birds and those endemic to the Albertine rift. birding in Murchison falls can be done during the game drive, nature walk in Budongo forest, boat cruise to the bottom of the falls and Nile Delta and you will be able to spot rare and occasional bird species such as the elusive shoebill stork, goliath heron, black headed lapwing, yellow fronted tinker bird, black billed barbet, grey headed kingfisher, African darter, long toed plover, silver bird, pied kingfisher, martial eagle, long tailed nightjar, yellow billed stork, secretary bird African jacana, swamp flycatcher, blue headed coucal among others.
Queen Elizabeth national park
Queen Elizabeth national park is the second largest national park in Uganda located in southwestern region in Kasese, Kamwenge, Rukungiri and Rubirizi districts. The national park is famously known for the tree climbing lions which are found in Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park and it’s the best birding destination in that it harbors over 612 bird species including water birds, woodland, forest dwellers, migratory bird species among others. The national park has several birding sites for birding including Mweya peninsular, Kasenyi plains, Katwe area, Maramagambo forest, Lake Kikorongo, Ishasah sector, Kazinga channel, Katunguru bridge among others. on your birding safari you will spot out bird species like African skimmer, white tailed lark, pink backed pelican, papyrus Gonolek, martial eagle, black bee-eater, white winged warbler, black bellied bustard, African wattled plover, rufous napped lark, hooded vulture, pygmy kingfisher, blue naped mouse bird, swamp nightjar, blue breasted kingfisher, African emerald cuckoo, broad tailed warbler, black headed batis, honeyguide greenbul, southern red bishop, common greenshank, helmeted guineafowl, Senegal plover, double toothed barbet, black crake, African shoebill, gull billed tern, knob billed duck among others.
Lake Mburo national park
Lake Mburo national park is the smallest national park located in western Uganda. Though it’s the smallest national park, it has rich biodiversity including a wide range of animal species including the giraffes, zebras, warthogs, giant forest hogs, bushbucks, waterbucks, Oribi, eland, topi, impala, buffaloes, crocodiles, hippos, hyenas among others. Lake Mburo national park is a habitat of over 350 bird species with migratory and some species endemic to only Lake Mburo national park. There are various birding sites in the park such as the viewing platforms at the salt lick, Miriti valley, Rubanga forest, Warukiri valley, Rwonyo camp roadside among others. bird species which can be spotted on your birding safari include ross’s turaco, bare faced barbet, Nubian woodpecker, long tailed cisticola, yellow breasted Apalis, grey crowned crane, red headed lovebird, brown chested lapwing, African fish eagle, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black bellied bustard, papyrus gonolek, red faced barbet, yellow rumped tinker bird, hairy breasted barbet, African finfoot, shoebill stork, grey crowned crane, white winged tit, long tailed cisticola, emerald spotted wood dove, red shouldered cuckoo-shrike, Nubian woodpecker, bare faced go away bird among others.
Kibale forest national park
Kibale forest national park is located in western Uganda about 5 to 6 hours’ drive from Entebbe airport. The park is also known as the primate capital in that it harbors 13 primates including the highest number of chimpanzees which is about 1500 individuals. Some chimpanzees in the park have been habituated hence ready for trekking. Chimpanzees are the second most visited primate attractions in Uganda after the mountain gorillas. Kibale forest national park harbors over 375 bird species with some endemic to only the park such as the green breasted pitta, Cassin’s spin tail, blue headed bee-eater, masked Apalis, Nahan’s francolin among others. There are birding spots for birding in Kibale national park such as Bigodi wetland sanctuary, viewing platforms, along the broad walk during nature walk among others. on your birding safari look out for bird species like purple breasted sunbird, grey throated tit flycatcher, black billed turaco, grey winged robin, speckled tinker bird, little greenbul, superb sunbird, black bee-eater, white collared olive-back, papyrus canary, brown crowned tchagra, black crowned waxbill, black bishop, brown throated wattle eye, yellow spotted barbet, hairy breasted barbet, white spotted flufftail, western nicator, white tailed ant-thrush among others.
Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in south western Uganda in Kanungu district and the most visited national park in Uganda due to the endangered mountain gorillas. The national park is a home of about 19 habituated gorilla families which are visited on daily basis during gorilla trekking and it’s also the only destination in Africa where gorilla habituation process takes place. Bwindi impenetrable national park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda in that it’s a home of over 360 bird species with 90% bird species endemic to Albertine rift and14 species not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. The park was voted top Africa’s birding site in 2011 which makes it a birding paradise. Birding in Bwindi impenetrable national park is commonly done along different trails such as Buhoma waterfall trail, Mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhija, bamboo zone among others and you will be able to spot bird species like broadbill, ross’s turaco, black bee-eater, handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis, red faced woodland warbler, white tailed crested flycatcher, yellow whiskered, grey cheeked hornbill, double toothed barbet, blue spotted wood dove, brown capped weaver, dusky twin spot, African goshawk, African wood owl, African pygmy kingfisher, white throated greenbul, archer’s robin chat, African emerald cuckoo, African hawk, kivu ground thrush, giant kingfisher among others.
Semuliki national park
Semuliki national park is situated in southwestern Uganda in Bundibugyo district within the western arm of the rift valley on the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is one of the birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors about 441 bird species with 5 Albertine rift endemic species, 46 guinea Congo biome bird species which are not found elsewhere in East Africa. There are various birding sites in the park such as along River Semuliki, Sempaya, Ntandi, Kurumia trail among others. on your birding safari in Semuliki national park you can look out for various bird species such as white tailed hornbill, capuchin babbler, blue headed crested flycatcher, white billed kingfisher, yellow throated cuckoo, spot breasted ibis, red rumped tinker bird, black throated coucal, swamp palm bulbul, rufous sided broadbill, lyre tailed honey guide, fire crested alethe, blue billed malimbe, orange cheeked waxbill, chestnut breasted negrofinch, maxwell’s black weaver, black dwarf hornbill, African piculet, the elusive shoebill stork among others.
Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park is an isolated national park situated in north eastern part of Uganda in Kaabong district at the border of Uganda with Sudan and Kenya. Kidepo valley national park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors over 470 bird species with about 60 species endemic to only the park which makes it a birders paradise for bird lovers. There are bird spots where you can see various bird species such as at the water hole which is situated at the edge of Apoka Rest Camp, along Narus and Namamukweny valley among others. during birding in Kidepo valley national park you can look out for bird species such as African swallow tailed kite, golden pipit, yellow necked spur fowl, black breasted barbet, scarlet chested sunbird, pygmy falcon, fox kestrel, white bellied bustard, superb starling, four banded sand grouse, standard winged nightjar, little green bee-eater, grey flycatcher, rufous crowned roller, slate coloured boubou, Bruce’s green pigeon, Abyssinian ground hornbill, grey capped social weaver, red fronted barbet, speckle fronted weaver, beautiful sunbird, singing bush lark, straw tailed whydahs, secretary bird, Kori bustard, ostrich, among others.
Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in southwestern Uganda in Kisoro district and is one of the best birding destinations as well as he one of the most visited destinations due to the endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The national park is a home of two habituated gorilla families namely Nyakagezi and Hirwa family. Hirwa family migrated from Volcanoes national park in October 2019 and both families can be trekked on daily basis. Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of over 180 bird species including species endemic to the Albertine rift. bird species in the park include Rwenzori Batis, cape robin chat, Rwenzori turaco, western green tinker bird, handsome francolin, regal sunbird, bronze sunbird, dusky turtle dove, black headed waxbill, grey capped warbler, speckled mouse bird, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori nightjar, yellow billed kite, fire finch stonechat, double collared sunbird, paradise flycatcher, dusky crimson wing, alpine chat, yellow vented bulbul among others. Birding in the park can be done following different trails such as gorge trail which is situated between Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo, Montane forest, bamboo trail
Mabamba swamp is a one of the famous birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors over 300 bird species including the rare and sought after shoebill stork, migratory and endemic species. Birding in Mabanba swamp is done from a motorized wooden boat where by you will ride through different trails, thick marshes among others. during birding in Mabamba swamp you can look out for bird species like black headed heron, African fish eagle, blue checked bee-eater, goliath heron, malachite kingfisher, red eyed dove, swamp flycatcher, yellow billed tinker bird, white browed cuckoo, spur winged goose, speckled mouse bird, saddle billed stork, pied king fisher, papyrus Gonolek, great blue turaco, double toothed barbet, common squacco, black crowned night heron, African pygmy goose, African fish eagle, cattle egret, grey parrot, yellow billed duck, spur winged goose, swamp flycatcher among others.
There are other birding destinations in Uganda like Rwenzori national park, Mabira forest, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Kaniyo Pabidi forest among others therefore visitors who want to view different bird species on a birding safari have a wide range of birding destinations to choose from.
When to go for birding safaris in Uganda
Birding can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is from March to May and September to November. this is also known as the breeding season for birds therefore you will be able to view colorful bird species, migratory birds during the months of November to April and a wide range of bird species during September in that there will be abundant food for the birds because it’s the fruiting season.
What to pack for a birding safari in Uganda
- Long sleeved shirt and trousers, these will protect your body because birding destinations in Uganda are in the jungle or forest therefore long sleeved clothes will protect your body from getting injuries, insect bites.
- Hiking shoes, the shoes should be comfortable to keep your feet dry especially during the wet season and most birding destinations like Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Kibale national park have wet grounds and it can rain anytime of the day regardless of the season.
- Water proof jacket, this will protect you from rainfall in case it rain while birding.
- Hat and sunglasses, the hat will protect your body from direct sunlight during birding in destinations like Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo valley national park among others.
- Field guide book, this is a bird guide book that will help you to locate and identify various bird species that live in a particular destination.
- A pair of binoculars, the binoculars will help you to identify the birds while up in the trees or while flying in the air.
- Camera and extra batteries, the camera will help you to capture the moments during your bird watching safari in Uganda.
- Energy snacks and drinking water, these will give you energy during birding activity and also keep you hydrated.
- Insect repellent, this will protect you from insect bites while in the jungle such as tsetse flies, safari ants among others.
- Backpack, the backpack will be used to carry all your essentials such as snacks, guide book, camera, binoculars among others.
Birding safari in Uganda can also be combined with other thrilling activities such as gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park, mountain climbing, nature walk, boat cruise, game drive among others which give you unforgettable experiences on your safari in Uganda.