Though Uganda is famously known for mountain gorillas, game viewing tours, white water rafting, mountain climbing and many other forms of tourism, it is also a wonderland for birders. Uganda ranks among the best birding destinations in Africa and the world over.
There are birds everywhere in Uganda. Different from the primates and other wildlife which require one to travel to particular places to spot them, for the birds are everywhere and it’s not very hard for birders to spot exotic birds in this hidden Eden. Uganda shelters over 1,050 bird species found across a range of habitats ranging from forests, swamps and agricultural lands, to lakes and savannahs.
However, many of the mythical birds live only in these tropical forests with rare sightings and it is believed that some of the birds living in the remote forests of Uganda may not even be classified as of yet. Travelers on their birding safaris in Uganda leave the country very excited, impressed and overwhelmed by varied species of birds. Are you in search of the best birding experience in Uganda’s forests, don’t look past these.
This is the biggest forest in central region of Uganda and still one of the few remaining natural forest in the country. Located in Buikwe district along Kampala – Jinja highway, Mabira forest covers over 305 square kilometers protecting a spectacular diversity with more than 312 trees including the endangered species, 315 bird species with the rare ones, 218 species of butterflies, 93 moths and 23 small animals like the squirrels and monkeys.
It offers a splendid introduction to the rich forest bird list of Uganda. It is just a one hour drive away from Kampala making it very accessible by even the tourists with limited time. Even if one only birds Mabira for half a day, approximately 100 bird species can be spotted, so Mabira forest is highly recommended for birders especially those planning for birding adventures across Uganda, it would be the best starting point.
Its major birding area is at Najjembe village which also has the visitor information center. An early morning start is the most recommended one to have a chance to spot the early birds going to feed. Take a nature walk in the forest as you spot different bird species, butterflies and incredible tree species as guided by the experienced forest ranger. The most common birds spotted in Mabira are Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, White-spotted Flufftail, Afep Pigeon, White-bellied Kingfisher, Forest Woodhoopoe, African Pied Hornbill, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Speckled Tinker bird and many others.
On addition to birding, you can also do zip lining, mangbey monkey trekking and also mountain biking. Indeed, if any birder must miss any birding spot in Uganda, then it shouldn’t be mabira forest.
Bwindi impenetrable Namirembe forest
This forest was voted Africa’s best birding spot by Africa Bird Club basing on the rare bird species found here and the park’s conservation efforts for proper maintenance of the birding trails with in the forest making the whole birding experience very easy and enjoyable.
The impenetrable forest of Bwindi is a dwelling place to about 350 species of birds with 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. Species that are mostly sighted include the African green broadbill, Chapin’s flycatcher, Shelley’s crimsonwing, handsome francolin, mountain-masked and collared apalis, white-bellied robin chat, black billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, western bronze-naped pigeon, purple-breasted, blue-headed and regal sunbirds.
Birding here takes place along the main Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo-zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail found in Ruhija. Lucky birders also have a chance to encounter with the gorillas while on their hunt for the precious birds of Uganda. Bwindi forest is a must do birders’ haven.
With two main sections; Kaniyo Pabidi in Murchison Falls National Park, the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas in south of the park, Budongo forest lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift valley protecting the largest natural forest area in the whole of East Africa. It is a haven for more than 350 bird species and the most sought-after birds in this area are the Cassin’s spine tail, chestnut-capped flycatcher, Ituri batis, Nahan’s francolin, black-collared lovebird, brown twinspot, chocolate-backed, blue-breasted and African dwarf kingfishers.
The forest’s location on the nice looking escarpments north of Lake Albert has enabled it to rank among the best listed forests for birding in Uganda. You can also do chimp trekking here for those birders who also love primates. It’s one destination that no birder should ever miss.
Mpanga Central Forest Reserve
It is also another paradise for birds in Uganda located in Mpigi district covering 453 hectares. It is one of Uganda’s best birding spots close to Kampala with very many forest bird species. Most birds are observed in flight and along the forest edge, via the well maintained trail that runs the entire length of the forest and climaxes at a water stream which sometimes hosts the Shoebill, and many other water species.
Birding in this forest can take up to 3 hours with a reward of over 50 bird species. The most common bird species observed at Mpanga Forest include; Long-tailed Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Black-headed Heron, Purple Heron, Hadada Ibis, Egyptian Goose, Black Kite, Palmnut Vulture, Lizard Buzzard, African Harrier-Hawk, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, plus many more others.
Generally, Uganda is a bird rapture. Some birding safaris also go to Mgahinga mountain forest, Kibale forest, Maramagambo and Kalinzu forests. Have you been looking for a country with various options for awesome birding experiences? Uganda is the correct answer.