The Mabamba Bay wetland is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay fringed with papyrus towards the western part of Lake Victoria. Mabamba is a ramsar site which was declared in 2006 to protect the endangered shoebill from fishermen and also an important birding area. Mabamba Bay is one of the 10 best birding spots in Uganda. Birding Watching at Mabamba Swamp is done from a motorized wooden boat ridding through the thick marshes of papyrus. The wetland hosts more than 300 bird species.
Mabamba is popular for the Shoebill Stork one of the most famous bird species. The swamp is also rich with lung fish which is a favorite food for the birds. The shoebill, also known as whale head is a very large stock like bird which derives its name from the shoe-shaped bill. The shoe bill stock has outstanding prehistoric looks. It is usually about 150cm tall and weighs up to about 40 pounds. One could easily call the shoebill a flying shoe because of the shape of its bill. African Pearl Safaris has got a number of well planned birding safaris that take birding enthusiasts to visit Mabamba Swamp.
With a life span of 50 years, the Shoebill Stork interestingly forms a monogamous relationship. The parent bird nests on the ground, lays 2 eggs and both participate in the incubation period. The Shoebill find their food in the swamp feeding on lung fish, sometimes supplemented with frogs, puddle fish, occasional baby crocodiles and water snakes. The Shoebill stocks tend to be nocturnal, they don’t have webbed feet although are primarily water birds. They are mostly solitary birds and have got territories. They are normally silent birds and usually seem sluggish on the ground. Despite the Shoebill being famous at Mabamba Swamp, there are other bird species that can be seen while birding for example swamp fly catcher, African purple swamp hen, African water vail, pallid harrier, African gym goose, white faced whistling duck among others.
Uganda Safaris to Mabamba Swamp give bird watchers enough time to encounter a number of bird species, especially the Shoebill Stork. The bird is easily seen in the morning while they stalk their prey but may be spotted all day. The tours to see the shoebill at Mabamba start at 7:30 am or at your preferred time of the day the tour is by boat across Lake Victoria to the swamps. It enables you have a great view of Entebbe airport and the beaches. The best time to tour is morning and evening hours. In order to enjoy the trip, one is advised to come along with a pair of binoculars, hat, sun protection cream, insect repellant, rain jacket, long sleeved trousers and shirts.
Mabamba Swamp can be reached by a number of routes from Kampala or Entebbe via Nakiwogo landing site. It takes an hour’s drive on dirt roads from Entebbe to Mabamba Swamp. The swamp can be accessed in local fishing boats/canoes with a local guide. There is available accommodation or tourist in Entebbe for example UWEC leisure accommodation, lake heights hotel, sienna beach hotel.
In conclusion, the swamp is one of the most exciting places with the endangered species Shoebill, it’s one of the most interesting places to visit while on birding safaris to Uganda.
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