The Mabamba Wetland is a popular birding destination in Uganda, famous for its iconic Shoebill stork. Mabamba Wetland is part of the larger Lake Victoria basin. It is situated about 40 kilometers southwest of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. The wetland covers an area of approximately 16,500 hectares and is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Mabamba Wetland Excursions are popular on most birders’ itineraries, especially for the iconic Shoebill stork sightings. The Mabamba Wetland Excursions are short one day birding safaris to the Mabamba swamp located on the shores of Lake Victoria.
To reach Mabamba Wetland, you can take a 1-2 hour drive from Kampala, depending on the traffic conditions. The wetland can be accessed through a small village called Kasanje, which is located near the shores of Lake Victoria. From the village, you can explore the vast diversity with the help of experienced local guides. The guide can lead you through the wetland on foot or arrange for a small traditional canoe called a “mokoro” to navigate the narrow channels and shallow waters. These canoes are typically propelled using paddles or long poles. Birding safaris in Mabamba is by far the most done activity in the swamp due to its rich diversity of bird life.
Mabamba wetland can act as both a starting point or ending point for your birding safari in Uganda since it is one of the nearest birding destinations from both Entebbe and Kampala. For any bird lover, Mabamba Wetland Excursions are a must-include when you are planning your visit to Uganda. Acacia Birding safaris will allow you to explore this bio-diverse wetland with opportunities to combine your Mabamba Wetland Excursions with a visit to other top birding destinations in the country.
The Mabamba wetland swamp is renowned for its amazing bird population with over 260 different species registered in the wetland. Because of its rich diversity of birdlife especially water birds, the wetland was designated a Ramsar site and Wetland of international importance in 2006. Some of the popular bird species that give the wetland its status include the papyrus Yellow Warbler, Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rex), Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea), and Sitatunga (swamp antelope) among others.
Mabamba Wetland Excursions/Bird-watching Safaris to Mabamba Wetland are a must-include for bird lovers who are just about to have a long Birding Safari in Uganda. Since Mabamba Wetland is located near Entebbe and Kampala, it is a perfect stop or starting point for your safari. The Mabamba Wetland is recognized internationally as an Important Bird Area (IBA). It is one of the best places to visit for Uganda birding safaris.
One of the main draws of visitors to this wetland is the iconic and endangered Shoebill stork that can only be seen in a few places including Murchison Falls National Park and Mabamba Wetland.
The wetland offers a great refuge for this iconic bird – providing it with breeding space and feeding grounds. While on birding safaris in the Mabamba wetland, you can spot the Shoebill all day. The other threatened bird species in Mabamba include the Papyrus Gonolek, Blue Swallow, Pallid Harrier, and White-Winged Warbler. Mabamba Wetland Excursions will allow you to spot these rarely-seen species during your Uganda Birding Safaris.
The shoebill stork, also known as the whale head or shoe-billed stork, is a large bird that inhabits the wetlands of tropical East Africa. It is a very unique and distinctive species, with a massive bill that resembles a shoe, hence its name. The body of the shoebill stork is covered in long, shaggy feathers that are slate-grey in color, while its legs and feet are black. The shoebill stork has a very distinctive physical structure. Its bill is large and broad, with a sharp hook at the end. It is about 25 cm long and almost looks like a boot from the side. Its wingspan is around 230 cm, and it weighs between 4 and 7 kg. It has long, strong legs that enable it to wade through the shallow water of its habitat. Its feathers are thick and shaggy, which helps it to stay dry in the wetlands.
The shoebill stork is a solitary bird when it comes to breeding. During the breeding season, they build their nests on trees or papyrus stems in the swamps. The female lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated for around 30-35 days. The young are cared for by both parents and they stay with them for up to 4 months until they learn to fly and become independent.
The shoebill stork is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is due to habitat loss and degradation caused by human activities such as agriculture, fishing, and human settlement. Hunting and poaching for its meat and feathers have also contributed to their decline in numbers.
If you are planning a birding excursion to Mabamba, some of the bird species that you can expect to see during safaris include;
Here is how you can get to Mabamba Swamp and Wetland for your Mabamba Wetland Excursions
By Road: The most convenient way to reach Mabamba wetland from Kampala is by road. You can hire a taxi, or private car, or take a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) from Kampala.
Once you have arrived at the junction, you will need to traverse the remaining 3 kilometers on a rough, unpaved road leading to the wetland.