The Ten Best Places for Birding in Uganda

Discover the best birding spots in Uganda with this easy guide and start planning your bird watching safari.

As most avid birders will tell you, birdwatching can require a little patience, a keen eye, and a willingness to explore off the beaten path.  Of course, having an incredible birding destination certainly helps, too.

That’s what makes Uganda a favorite for birding safaris in East Africa.  Uganda is home to over 1,050 bird species—that’s 10% of all bird species found on earth.  The list of bird species found in Uganda includes 24 Albertine Rift endemics. 

And a bird watching safari in Uganda doesn’t have to stop there.  Depending on your itinerary, you can easily add in game drives to see wildlife (think elephants, Cape Buffalo, lions, and more), and treks to see the famed gorillas, chimps, or Golden monkeys of Uganda. 

Ready to discover the best places for bird watching in Uganda? 

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #1

Search for Shoebill Storks in Mabamba Swamp

Though the wetlands are home to approximately 260 bird varieties, the Mabamba Swamp is most famously home to the Shoebill stork. This elusive bird is renowned for its statue-like ability to hold still as it hunts lungfish in the swamp, snapping them up in its hooked beak.

Set out in the morning to explore the swamp by small boat as your guide expertly maneuvers through the reed-lined channels along the border of Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest freshwater lake.  In addition to the shoebill, look out for the blue swallow, pallid harrier, papyrus gonolek, swamp flycatcher, Viellot’s weaver, grosbeak weaver, palm-nut vulture, black-headed weaver, pigmy goose, lesser jacana, and white-winged warbler, among others.

Mabamba has been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, and it has also been distinguished as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.

Bird species include: Shoebill stork, Viellot’s weaver, grosbeak weaver, palm-nut vulture, black-headed weaver

Also great for: Relaxing in Entebbe before or after safari

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #2

Go on the Ultimate Birding Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

With more than 600 species recorded, Queen Elizabeth has the longest birding checklist of any protected region in East Africa.  Birds include the African finfoot, Caspian plover, black bee-eater, Great white pelican, African skimmer, Papyrus gonolek, red-chested sunbird, and Shoebill. 

Head out on game drives on the Kasenyi Plains or Ishasha Sector, explore on foot with a nature walk in the Maramagambo Forest, or set off by boat along the Kazinga Channel for a chance to see many of the bird species in the park.  With its diversity of bird life and variety of activities, this is easily one of the best birding spots in Uganda.

Bird species include: Caspian plover, black bee-eater, Great white pelican, African skimmer, Papyrus gonolek

Also great for: Game drives & boat safaris for wildlife viewing

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #3

Wildlife and Bird Watching in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest national park and is named for its mighty waterfall—arguably the most powerful in the world.  The list of bird species here doesn’t disappoint either, with over 450 species including the Grey crowned crane (Uganda’s national bird), Giant Kingfisher, Giant Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Nightjar, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, and Back-bellied Bustard, among others.  Murchison is also home to the Shoebill, which is best sighted in the dry season between January-March.

Birding safaris in Murchison Falls are most commonly done on game drives or launch cruises.  Set out by boat to see the Bottom of the Falls, looking for birdlife along the way, or ask us about a delta cruise designed specifically for birding.  Or, head to nearby Budongo Forest Reserve for a nature walk.

Bird species include: Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Nightjar, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing

Also great for: Game drives for wildlife viewing, boat rides to see Murchison Falls

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #4

Birding and Primates in Kibale National Park

Often called the “Primate Capital of the World,” Kibale Forest is home to 13 different primate species…and over 370 species of birds.  One of the best spots for bird watching here is the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary—a community-driven conservation project where visitors can set out on a guided nature walk over the course of several hours for a chance to spot some of the primates and birds found here. 

Bird species include the African pitta, African pied wagtail, Great blue turaco, tropical boubou, and purple-breasted sunbird.  Four bird species found in Kibale have not been found in any other park in Uganda—these include the blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin, Masked apalis, and Cassin’s spinetail.  Whether you’re planning on tracking chimpanzees or breaking out the binoculars for bird watching, Kibale National Park is one of the best birding spots in Uganda.

Bird species include: African pied wagtail, Great blue turaco, tropical boubou, and purple-breasted sunbird

Also great for: Chimpanzee trekking, nature walks

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #5

Birding Walks and Gorilla Treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is best known for its once-in-a-lifetime gorilla treks…but it’s also one of Uganda’s best birding spots.  The park is home to an estimated 350 species, including 90% of all Albertine Rift endemics and 14 birds not recorded anywhere else in the country.

Birds to look for in Bwindi include the African broadbill, black-faced warbler, African emerald cuckoo, regal sunbird, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, crowned hornbill, African green pigeon, and African harrier hawk.  Head out on a birding walk in Bwindi for a chance to spot these incredible species against the backdrop of one of Africa’s oldest rainforests.

Bird species include: black-faced warbler, African emerald cuckoo, regal sunbird, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, crowned hornbill

Also great for: Gorilla trekking, cultural visits

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #6

Volcano Views and Birding Safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Set among the breathtaking Virunga Mountains, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is home to more than 180 bird species, including 12 Albertine Rift endemics.  Set out on the trail to spot species such as the speckled mousebird, African paradise flycatcher, cape robin-chat, blue-headed coucal, and Alpine swift.  The park also offers a chance to track both the rare mountain gorilla and Golden monkeys. 

Bird species include: speckled mousebird, African paradise flycatcher, cape robin-chat

Also great for: Gorilla trekking, Golden Monkey trekking, cultural visits

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #7

Birding Safari & Nature Walks in Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo is known to have 350 recorded species of birds, including the Papyrus Gonolek, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, African Fin foot, Red-shouldered cuckoo shrike, and Nubian woodpecker.  Explore the swampy valleys or the woodlands of Lake Mburo National Park, or set out on a boat cruise on the lake to spot kingfishers diving for a catch and African Fish Eagles perched high on branches along the lake.

Bird species include: Papyrus Gonolek, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, African Fin foot

Also great for: Game drives & boat safaris to spot other wildlife, Nature walks

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #8

Off-the-beaten Path Birding in Semliki National Park

Tucked in a remote corner of western Uganda, Semliki National Park boasts over 450 bird species—including Ross’s Turaco, Blue-billed malimbe, White-crested hornbill, and Grant’s bluebill.  The recorded species also include some of Africa’s most sought-after bird species, including the Nkulengu Rail, Lyre-tailed Honey guide, Congo Serpent Eagle, Black-wattled Hornbill and Long-tailed Hawk are found in Semliki national Park. 46 of the Guinea-Congo Biome species found in Semliki are found nowhere else in East Africa.  Other activities include visiting the local hot springs, nature walks, and game viewing in the Semliki Wildlife Reserve. 

Bird species include: Nkulengu Rail, Lyre-tailed Honey guide, Congo Serpent Eagle

Also great for: Game viewing in the nearby wildlife reserve

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #9

Stunning Views and Abundant Bird Life at Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi (“place of many little birds”) is believed to be one of the deepest lakes in Africa and is aptly named—the lake is home to over 200 recorded bird species.  These include the African Harrier Hawk, slender billed baglafetch, white-tailed blue monard, Swamp fly catcher, herons, egrets, and weaver birds.  In addition to birdwatching, visitors can explore the lake’s numerous islands, canoe or go boating on the lake, or set out on nature walks in the area. 

Bird species include: white-tailed blue monard, Swamp fly catcher, herons, egrets, and weaver birds

Also great for: Boat rides & leisure along the lake, beautiful views

BEST BIRDING SAFARI SPOT #10

Birdwatching and Adventure in Mabira Forest

Set in eastern Uganda between Kampala and Jinja, Mabira Forest boasts 315 species of birds, including species such as the Purple-throated cuckoo shrike, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, White-spotted Flufftail, Afep Pigeon, Grey Parrot, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black-shouldered Nightjar, and Sabine’s Spinetail, among others.  74 species of Guinea-Congo biome can be found here as well. Travelers can set out on a nature or birdwatching walk, or enjoy a little adventure through mountain biking or ziplining. 

Bird species include: Purple-throated cuckoo shrike, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, White-spotted Flufftail, Afep Pigeon

Also great for: Nature walks, biking, ziplining

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