Uganda is arguably the best birding destination in the whole of Africa. There are more than 100 different species of birds present in Uganda, which make up around 50% of all bird species in Africa.
For the avid birder, Uganda is definitely a destination where you get to check the biggest number of birds off your list.
In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best places to visit in Uganda for bird watching. With each place, we mention the number of species so that if someone can't visit all of them, they can choose which place suits them best.
Best birding places in Uganda
1. Mabamba Bay Wetland | 260 Species
Mabamba Bay is located on the shores of Lake Victoria and is well known as one of the best places to see the illusive shoebill stork. Mabamba was listed as a RAMSAR site of international importance and is one of Uganda's 33 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) because it protects rare bird species.
Birding in Mabamba bay is done on a small locally made boat through the swamp. Mabamba is home to around 300 different bird species.
Mabamba's location near Kampala and Entebbe as well as the presence of the shoebill makes it an ideal birding destination for anyone who doesn't have enough time for birding around the country.
2. Queen Elizabeth National Park | 600 Species
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda's most popular safari destination for savannah wildlife. The park is also home to around 600 different bird species.
The park has a variety of ecosystems that make it a good home for many different bird species. One of the best places for birding is the Kazinga channel where so many birds can be seen along the shores.
3. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park | 350 Species
While Bwindi is known as the home of mountain gorillas, its rich ecosystem is also home to very many birds. The rainforest is home to some rare bird species - some of which only live in the Albertine rift valley ecosystem.
Bwindi is home to more than 350 bird species and birding can happen all year round. The Ruhija sector of Bwindi is a very good spot for birding, and birding here is very satisfying.
4. Lake Bunyonyi | 200 Species
In the local language, Bunyonyi translates to "place of many birds". Lake Bunyoyi is found in Southwestern Uganda, just 7 kilometres out of Kabale town.
Lake Bunyonyi has become a popular relaxation spot for tourists who are coming from the gorilla tracking in the nearby Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. Birding on lake Bunyonyi can be done with a local boat on the lake as well as hiking through the local villages.
Lake Bunyonyi is home to more than 200 bird species.
5. Semuliki National Park | 435 Species
Semuliki National Park lies on the rift valley floor along Uganda's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ecosystem of Semuliki is a blend of East African Jungle as well as Central African Jungle.
The park is popular for its hot springs which attract both locals and foreign visitors. Semuliki is home to more than 430 different bird species with several rare species that belong to both East and Central African ecosystems.
6. Murchison Falls National Park | 550 Species
Murchison Falls National Park is very popular for its incredible wildlife safari game drives as well as boat cruises along the Nile. With more than 550 different species of birds, Murchison is a great birding hotspot, especially around the Nile River.
The boat cruise on the Nile presents great opportunities for spotting birds and mammals that can be found along the river bank.
7. Lake Mburo National Park | 315 Species
Lake Mburo is the easiest savannah national park to access from Kampala. The park is well known for the large population of zebras which can sometimes be seen grazing near the Kampala Mbarara highway.
Lake Mburo is located along the Kampala Mbarara highway which leads to other attractions in southwestern Uganda such as Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Besides the zebras and other wildlife in the park, lake Mburo is home to around 315 different bird species. The best birding spots are around the lakes as well as the forested areas.
8. Rwenzori Mountains National Park | 177 Species
The Rwenzori Mountains are probably Uganda's most outstanding gem of beauty and nature. While much of the tourism to the Rwenzori is rightfully for climbing to the snow-capped peaks 5000 meters above sea level, there is a lot more.
Understandably most of the birds are in the lower climatic zones where the temperatures are not completely cold. The park is home to more than 175 different species of birds including some endemics that can not be found anywhere else.
The staggering beauty of Rwenzori makes it worth visiting whether for birding, hiking, or summiting Margherita Peak.
9. Kidepo Valley National Park | 470 Species
Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda's most isolated wilderness found in North Eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya and South Sudan. While the park is well-known for wildlife viewing game drives, it is also a great habitat for more than 470 bird species.
Kidepo has a thriving population of Ostriches which can be visited any time of the year. In Kidepo, birders also get to see some birds of prey that are not present elsewhere in Uganda.
10. Kibale National Park | 370 Species
Kibale National Park is well known because of the wild chimpanzees that call it home. It is one of Uganda's top destinations and the thick rainforest makes an ideal home for primates as well as birds.
There are around 370 different bird species in Kibale National Park which can be seen all year round.
The great advantage of going to Kibale for birding is the park's close proximity to other birding spots like Queen Elizabeth and Semuliki National Park, as well as the community-run Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.
11. Mabira Central Forest Reserve | 315 Species
Mabira Central Forest is the biggest natural rainforest in Central Uganda. Mabira is located along the highway from Kampala to Jinja. This makes it an ideal stop for people going to Jinja for white water rafting, or those who would like some forest birding without going very far from Kampala.
While Mabira doesn't appear in Uganda's top destinations for popular wildlife, birders love going to Mabira and find it quite rewarding.
With more than 1000 different bird species, Uganda is truly a birders paradise. Whether you want to see birds on a short safari or a long one, any of the above places will present great bird-watching opportunities.
Beyond bird watching, these destinations are great for other travel activities such as gorilla tracking, chimpanzee tracking, wildlife viewing game drives and boat cruises. Combining these activities would make the holiday so much more in terms of experiences.