Birding Safaris in East Africa. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania & Rwanda

East Africa’s natural biodiversity is well known for the animals that roam the savannah and the primates that inhabit the forests. Even more diverse is the birdlife.

With more than 1000 different species of birds, East Africa is a perfect destination for birders at all levels. Whether you want to bird in the swamps, forests, savannahs or any mix of ecosystems, you will find many birds, some of which are rare and nonexistent anywhere else in the world.

Some of the popular birding areas are well known for their scenery and wildlife. Here are some of the unmissable places to visit for birding in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.

 Bwindi Impenetrable N.P  Nyungwe National Park  Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
 Ngorongoro Conservation Area  Samburu National Reserve  Akagera National Park
 Masai Mara National Reserve  Volcanoes National Park  Nakuru National Park
 Queen Elizabeth National Park  Serengeti National Park  Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Our birding safari packages are designed to take you to all the best places where you will easily find birds in their natural environment. Take a look at some of these safari packages, and let us know what is inspiring your next great African birding safari.

Additionally, feel free to reach out to us for a fully custom-made safari. This can be designed with all your needs, budget, and schedule as the basis.

Birding Safaris F.A.Qs

Frequently Asked Questions about bird watching safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania

What are some top places for birding in East Africa?

Rich as it is in wildlife, landscapes and cultures, East Africa is extremely rich with bird life. There are more than 1400 different species of birds that you can find in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Uganda has the most birds of any African country, with a total of more than 1000 species.

From savannahs, forests, wetlands avid birders know that East Africa is the place to visit for unparalleled experiences. Here are 10 places worth visiting for birding in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.

  • Mabamba Wetland, Lake Victoria – Uganda
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Uganda
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda
  • Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda
  • Nyungwe National Park – Rwanda
  • Akagera National Park – Rwanda
  • Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya
  • Nakuru National Park – Kenya
  • Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area – Tanzania

Why is Uganda the best country for birding in Africa?

Uganda is regarded as the best country for birding in Africa because the small country is home to more than 1000 different bird species – around 50% of all African birds. Uganda’s geography is made up of many lakes, rivers, swamps, forests, mountains and expansive savannahs.

In these various ecosystems, you can find birds both common and rare, including some that won’t be found anywhere else in the world. Whether you are on safari or moving through Uganda’s town, the variety of birds around you is unlike anywhere else.

Beyond the nature, Uganda has a well developed tourism infrastructure that makes visiting any part of the country easy and customizable to the visitor’s choices.

What are some interesting birds to look out for on a birding safari?

With a bird list of more than 1400, the interests of many people will be different. Whether you want the popular ones or want to narrow down on a specific area or ecosystem, your choices are quite endless.

Here are some of the birds we think you will find interesting and will inspire you to plan for your birding adventure in Eastern Africa. They are not shown in any order but you can do further searching to see their pictures and learn about them.

 Shoebill  Flamingo  African Fish Eagle
 Grey Crested Crane  Marabou Stork  African Spoonbill
 Hamerkop  Sacred Ibis  Pelicans
 Ostriches  Great Blue Turaco  Secretary Bird
 Martial Eagle  Saddle-billed Stork  Great Cormorant
 Kori Bustard  Kingfishers  Vultures
 Long-tailed Widow Bird  Hornbills  Montane Nightjar

 

Will I definitely see the shorbill stork?

Given that shoebills live freely in their wetland habitat, we can’t give a 100% guarantee that you will see the shoebill. And no one can – unless they are lying.

With that in mind, we can assure you of a more than 90% likeliness of seeing the shoebill. For birding, these are good odds. Uganda is the best place in the whole world where you can see the shoebill stork, with high level guarantees especially in Mabamba Wetland of Lake Victoria.

Further more, the shoebill can also be seen easily in Lake Mburo, Semuliki and Murchison Falls National Parks, as well as the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

If your sole interest is in seeing the shoebill, take a look at our 1 Day Mabamba Swamp Shoebill Birding Tour which can be done independently or as an addition to a longer safari in Uganda.

When is the best season for birding safaris?

The climate in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania is generally tropical with 2 main seasons distinguished by the rain or sunshine. In the savannah, the seasons are very distinct but this is not the case in forested, mountainous and swampy ecosystems.

Birds love water and you can find them all throughout the year, but the best period is during the rain season. While the actual rain will make most of the small birds hide, the general overcast sky provides opportunities to do bird watching for longer periods before they see shelter from the sun.

The heavy rains of April might be a bit more challenging but all the other rain season months are idea for birding. The additional advantage is that the parks have no crowds, making it much perfect for birding.

This point of seasons doesn’t matter much for swamp, mountain and rainforest ecosystems because their microclimates make it possible for rain at any time of the day, regardless of seasons. Which means that they are quite perfect all year through.

What's the best time of day for bird watching?

The best time of day for birding in during the morning hours. This is when birds are most active as they feed and try to catch the early morning sun (and worm).

As the sun rises higher, the birds will be easier to find near water sources where it is still relatively cool.

Depending on which environment your are birding in, some birds might be easier to see and photography than others as the day goes on. This is because the early morning calls help you know where to look and what to look for.

How long should a birding safari be?

A birding safari can be a long or as short as you like. It depends on what you are interested in, your schedule, your budget among many other factors that affect your travel.

A short 1 day birding tour can be done on its own or as part of a bigger trip. For example, a longer safari focusing on wildlife, gorillas, or mountain climbing can have a dedicated day or half day for some birding. This works especially for a group where most people are not necessarily avid birders.

Longer birding safaris are more dedicated to bird watching and planned to follow the pace that is right for birding.

This flexibility makes possible for you to enjoy a birding safari – short or long, and check some of birds off your list.

What should you pack for a birding safari?

What you pack for any safari should always depend on which places you will visit and what activities you are partaking in. Similarly, what you pack for your birding safari will be determine by the details of the entire trip.

The following are general packing list items you should think about, and finalize with your itinerary and safari planner.

  • A camera with back up battery and cards, and long lenses
  • Comfortable clothing and walking shoes 
  • Binoculars
  • Wide-brimmed hat to protect from the sun
  • Sunscreen to protect you from the scotching sun
  • Your regular medication as advised by the doctor
  • A light jacket/poncho incase it rains