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Birding. Bird Watching in Uganda & Rwanda

Birding in Uganda

Uganda is a country rewarded with amazing birdlife and over 1000 species of birds have been recorded, making it an important birding destination.

We’d say the evergreen vegetation, rainy & dry seasons, rainforests, and hilly landscapes contribute to this since some of the rare species are found in swamps & forests. An example is a famous Shoebill which can only be seen in a few places in Uganda i.e. Mabamba swamp and the river banks of Victoria Nile in Murchison Park.

This activity is certainly interesting and fascinating for most bird-watchers & among them are researchers, photographers, nature lovers, students, etc. The beauty of Uganda is amazing and one can tell that this is why a great number of rare bird species can be found here.

Bird Watching in Bwindi Impenetrable NP

In the southwestern part of Uganda lies one of Uganda’s oldest forests and home to over 350 species of birds including 23 endemics. The Bwindi Impenetrable forest is a world-class tourist destination and thousands of visitors across the world come here to enjoy Birding and other amazing activities like gorilla trekking.

Common birds found include African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue, White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, and Red-headed Bluebill. The common areas to find these birds are around the waterfall trail in Buhoma and Mubindi Swamp trail in the bamboo zone, Ruhija.

 

Bird Watching in Queen Elizabeth NP

Queen Elizabeth National Park’s great variety of habitats makes it one of the greatest of any East African national park with over 600 bird species recorded here. Birders can be able to spot central African species as well.

Numerous water birds were spotted along the water channels, plus woodland & forest dwellers in the Maramagambo forest and other various migratory species.

Queen Elizabeth National Park’s birding spots will give you the best chances to see most of these birds and they include; the famous Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi plains, Mweya Peninsula, the Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector (also famous for tree-climbing lions), Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge and the Salty Lake Katwe.

Birding

Bird Watching in the Kibale National Park

Known as a Primate Capital, Kibale National Park is also another place to see a great variety of forest birds. Over 372 species are found in this rainforest and visitors can enjoy seeing them during the day & night of nature walks.

Most Bird watching tours start at 7:00 am in the morning at the Kanyanchu tourist center and take about 2 hours, accompanied by an experienced guide. Some of the rare species found here include the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Olive back, and Papyrus Canary.

The nearby Bigodi Wetland, located just outside Kibale is another famous birding area with about 138 species seen during the guided walks.

Many bird species are seen along with the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms, especially the Great Blue Turaco. Others include; White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Black-crowned Waxbill, etc.

 

Other famous Birding Places in Uganda include; Lake MburoKidepo Valley, Mabira forest, Budongo forest, and Botanical gardens in Entebbe.

Bird Watching in Murchison falls national park

While at Murchison Falls National Park, you will have an opportunity to come across a distinct number of birds including the savannah forest birds, water birds, Albertine-rift endemics, etc. These can be easily spotted while on a game drive within the park or on a Launch trip on the Nile.

Murchison Falls is Uganda’s biggest & oldest national park with vast scenery and many attractions including the falls. Rabongo forest offers options for nature trails to see a great number of birds sighted around the Kaniyo and Pabidi areas.

The famous shoebill bird can be spotted on the Nile river banks and mostly during the dry season i.e. January to March.

Other common bird species spotted around the plains and close to the river banks include; Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Francolin, Hornbills, Grey heron, Hamerkop, Shrikes, Flycatchers, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Crombecs, Warblers, etc.

Bird Watching in Mabamba Swamp

One of the few places in Uganda where visitors will be able to spot the famous Shoebill bird in its natural habitat. Located just a few miles from Entebbe town, the Mabamba Swamp is a famous birding destination for most birders who come to Uganda.

Visitors can enjoy seeing this huge bird in the morning when it’s trying to stalk its prey.

A day trip to Mabamba is an amazing excursion as visitors are transferred to the swamp on the boat across Lake Victoria – Uganda’s largest freshwater body. Other birds like the Papyrus gonolek, Hammerkop, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Northern brown-throated weaver, and many others can be spotted at Mabamba Swamp.

Mabamba Swamp

Bird Watching in Semuliki

Semuliki National Park is also known as the true birders’ haven with over 435 bird species spotted around Sempaya and Mandi areas making it an excellent opportunity for anyone opting for a bird-watching tour.

Most visitors who have been to Semuliki have been rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birds. Additionally, the area around Kirumia River is another top birding spot.

Visitors to Semuliki can also have a chance to see the shoebill regularly found at close quarters on Lake Albert. Birders can also come across great water birds during some of the nature walks.

Common species found include the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Great blue, and Ross’s Turacos.

 

Bird Watching in Lake Bunyonyi

Bird-watching is the main activity around Lake Bunyonyi since the name itself means ‘place of many little birds’. A huge number of bird species (200+) can be noticed here.

A boat ride across the lake to Nyombi swamp will get you to see a selection of bird species. Both Uganda and International bird species which usually migrate from the European continent during times of winter are recorded here.

Birding in Rwanda

Rwanda is amongst Africa’s most exciting destinations when it comes to birding and within this relatively small and compact country, there are over 1450 bird species of which 27 are Albertine Rift endemics.

Rwanda’s location in the Albertine Rift makes it an ideal and stunning landscape for bird enthusiasts. Bird-watching in Rwanda can appeal to every kind of visitor including nature lovers, researchers, serious birders, etc.

Bird watching tours in Rwanda are throughout the year with a migrant bird season starting December to February.

About seven Important Birding Areas (IBAs) are in Rwanda including the three National Parks i.e. Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, and Nyungwe Forest National Park. The other IBAs are at: Rugezi Swamp, Akanyaru, Nyabarongo and Cyamudongo.

Highlights include the Red-Faced Barbet, Shoebill Stork, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Papyrus Gonolek, and the Miombo Wren-Warblers.

 

Bird Watching in Akagera NP

With more than 500 bird species recorded at Akagera National Park, birding safaris are popular among regular visitors to this park.

Located northeast of Rwanda near the Tanzania border, the park has many forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains, and rolling highlands. Birding tours to Akagera will reward you with several endemic species and other rare gems.

 

Bird Watching ing in Nyungwe Forest NP

Another birder’s paradise with over 300 bird species including 16 endemics. Visitors can enjoy nature walks and canopy walks to Nyungwe forest to see a great variety of these birds spotted along the trails.

Nyungwe is one of Africa’s most beautiful rainforests and its lush green scenery and mist make it a memorable experience for anyone coming here.