Mabamba Swamp, Lake Victoria – Uganda

Mabamba Swamp, Lake Victoria – Uganda

Mabamba Swamp, found on the shores of Lake Victoria is a well-known destination for birding, especially for the elusive shoebill stork.

The best place in Uganda to see the famous shoebill stork in its natural habitat is the Mabamba Swamp located west of Entebbe. Getting here is quite easy as it takes about 1 hour to drive here for the 40km distance from Entebbe town.

It’s also advisable to take a boat tour across Lake Victoria, reaching Mabamba Swamp by boat rather than the road which allows you to see most of the other birds.

Mabamba Swamp
Shoebill stork in Mabamba Wetland

The shoebill stork can be easily seen in the morning when they stalk their main prey. A one-day birding trip to Mabamba Swamp is available and can be arranged by any tour operator/agent.

Uganda has over 1000 species of birds which makes it a favorite place for birders from all over the world. The famous shoebill stork can be found in many other places like the Nabajuzi swamp in Masaka, the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Semuliki National Park, Lake Kyoga, and the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

The shoebill survives on a diet of mainly lungfish, water snakes, frogs, and puddle fish. This is the reason why it’s normally found in swamps. It’s also found in UWEC Entebbe Zoo and u can take a closer look at it while there.

Other birds that can be spotted around Mabamba Swamp include; the African jacana, Blue-breasted bee-eater, Long-tailed cormorant, Papyrus gonolek, Hammerkop, and Grey-headed Kingfisher, Northern brown-throated weaver bird, little egret, and many others.

It takes about 1 hour to drive on dirt roads from Entebbe to Mabamba Swamp, Mabamba Swamp is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus towards the western main body of Lake Victoria. You will then access the swamp in a local fishing boat / Canoe with a local guide.

Mabamba Swamp Birding on local wooden canoe.
Mabamba Swamp Birding on a local wooden canoe.

We highly recommend the boat tour across Lake Victoria.

Reaching Mabamba by boat, rather than by car, allows you to see many of the birds that you may otherwise miss. Sometimes even the shoebill may elude you in the canoes only to be seen as you approach, or leave, by the bigger boat.

The best time to visit is in the late morning hours and afternoon. Pack a nice lunch if you are going for the day, a pair of binoculars, a hat, sun protection, insect repellant, a light rain jacket, a backpack for all your items, a long-sleeved shirt, and trousers.

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