Mabamba Swamp is one of the best birding grounds in Uganda the pearl of Africa where a birder will raise the pair of Binoculars only to watch a giant rare shoebill stork standing tall displaying its 8 foot height within the papyrus reeds and offers a warm welcome to the birders in this stunning swamp.
About Mabamba Swamp;
The Swamp is situated about 12 kilometers away from Entebbe along the Northern part of Lake Victoria the Africa’s largest Lake and 2nd largest in the world. Mabamba Swamp is an eye catching wetland that attracts both bird lovers and many other adventurous travelers while on a Uganda safari. Mabamba Swamp is mostly famous for its unbeaten birdlife with over 300 species of birds thrilling in this wetland including the rare shoebill stork which is as well spotted in other countries like Rwanda, Zambia and South Sudan but the best encounter with this bird is within The Swamp in Uganda the pearl of Africa.
In the year 2006, Mabamba Swamp obtained a tittle as a RAMSAR as an important international wetland due to the fact that it harbors the endangered and globally threatened species of birds making it an Important Birding Area (IBA) known world-wide.
The Shoebill in Mabamba Swamp,
Shoebills are named after their shoe tip shaped beak and Mabamba Swamp is undoubtedly one of the best stop for tourists who have an urge to spot the rare shoebill stork in its natural habitat and the strategic location of this swamp is an added advantage in that tourist can decide to start or end their safari from there upon arrival or awaiting departures since it’s in vicinity of Entebbe international airport, the only international airport in Uganda the pearl of Africa.
Shoebill has been classified under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered bird species probably one day it will be no more in the wild thus a chance to spot this bird is such a rewarding and exciting moment in any birder’s life.
The major diet of the rare shoebill is the Lungfish and Mabamba Swamp is a home to a lot of these fish species and for this reason, shoebills are always seen at these swamp hunting for their meal as they compete with fishermen who also rely on catching these lungfish putting the lives of the shoebill at a great risk. However, there is an ongoing Mabamba Wetland Eco-Tourism Association that enables the local community members to be part of the conservation since they act as the guides and earn a living from the money collected from tourists who visit Mabamba Swamp for birding safaris to watch the shoebill stork.
Birding and birdwatching in Mabamba Swamp
As stated earlier on, The Swamp is an Important Birding Area where one is on a sure deal of spotting the shoebill. The highest chances of seeing a shoebill in Mabamba Swamp is during early morning hours. The tourists take on a guided canoe ride deep into the swamp as you watch the stunning ecology of the swamp while encountering with other different bird species as you search for the rare shoebill. Apart from the shoebill, you will spot many more bird species such as Malachite Kingfisher, African marsh harrier, Swamp Flycatcher, Yellow billed Duck, African Fish Eagle, Long tailed Cormorant, Spur-winged Goose, glossy ibis, Grey-rumped Swallow, Blue breasted Bee-eater, Olive bellied Sunbird, African Jacana, Grey-headed Gull, Olive bellied Sunbird, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Spur-winged Lapwing, Yellow-rumped Tinker bird, Crowned Horn bill, African Pied, Red-billed fire finch and Common Squacco Heron among others.
Birding safari at Mabamba swamp can be enjoyed as a one day safari either from Kampala/ Entebbe.
The swamp is easily accessed either from Entebbe by boat or from Kampala /Entebbe by road.
By road, it takes about 1 hour drive on a road from Kampala/Entebbe depending on the traffic jam encountered along the way and depending on the stopovers to watch other bird species.
By boat, one can decide to use a speed boat from Entebbe to Mabamba and then join a canoe for birding deep into the swamp to search for the shoebill.
Where to stay around Mabamba Swamp,
For those who need an overnight around The swamp during birding, below are some of the hotels and lodges nearby the swamp and they include;
- Protea Hotel Entebbe
- Karibu Guesthouse
- Boma Hotel Entebbe
- Lake Victoria Serena Hotel
- Grand golf resort etc.
Interested in birdwatching at Mabamba swamp, ensure that you pack the basic equipment for the birder including a pair of Binoculars, a birding book if you have and ensure that you hire a local guide at Mabamba and penetrate deep into the papyrus swamp to enjoy the breath taking adventure as you hunt for the rare shoebill stork and many other water birds and migratory birds. Birding in Mabamba swamp is most enjoyable when the water levels are minimal and there is availability of food for the shoebill otherwise they are found of migrating in search of food.