Mabamba swamp is found in Uganda, a country well-known as birder’s paradise with over 1000 bird species and Mabamba bay swamp being one of the best destinations for birding.
This lush wetland derives its name from the Luganda word ‘mamba’ which means lungfish.
Mabamba wetland is situated at the Entebbe peninsula on the north-western shores of Lake Victoria, about 40km from Entebbe town. It is ranked among the ten best birding areas in Uganda with rare bird species like the shoebill stork, papyrus gonolek, blue shallow and the sitatunga which is an aquatic antelope.
The swamp is a designated Ramsar Wetland Site of international importance to ensure conservation, safeguarding and sustainable use of the wetland and the flora and fauna found there.
This has turned the swamp into a birders’ hub due to its amazing population of birdlife, over 260 bird species including unique birds like the shoebill stock with a yellow bill that resembles a battered shoe. Birding in Mabamba is done on a canoe where you navigate waterways through the lily pads and papyrus swamps.
The shoebill which is the main attraction in this destination can be spotted in only four countries in Africa - Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zambia. This makes it the only way out to experience the best of birding day more enjoyable.
A full day of exploration in Mabamba rewards you with a great experience because you will encounter the rarest of all swamp and water birds such as Angola Swallow, Grey-rumped Swallow Olive bellied Sunbird, , Yellow-billed Duck, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Fish Eagle, Long-tailed Cormorant, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher, Glossy Ibis, Swamp Flycatcher and other numerous migratory birds from Europe.
The swamp is also home to other creatures such as the monitor lizards, fish species like the lungfish, sitatunga, water cabbages, papyrus, and water lilies among others.
The best time visit Mabamba swamp.
Mabamba swamp is a true birder’s haven and therefore, finding the best time to visit is the best way to experience this lush wetland. As you know that the main activity carried out here is birding, the best time to do birding in during wet season when migratory species are present, but also dry season is ideal when water levels are low and grass is shorter. Dry season happens between December - March and June - August.
Most tourists wonder what to carry as they head for a birding experience in the Mabamba wetland. Therefore, you need to know that a pair of binoculars is crucial to view distant birds, a raincoat in case it rains, a hut to protect you from sunshine, drinking water to keep you fresh, birding book for reference, insect repellent to protect you from insect bites and maybe sunglasses to protect you from sunlight.
How to access Mabamba bay swamp?
You can access the Mabamba wetland from either Kampala or Entebbe by vehicle or by boat from Entebbe. The drive to Mabamba from Entebbe (40km) or Kampala (48km) takes approximately one hour depending on the number of stops while birding enroute. You need to leave your hotel very early to beat traffic and also before the sun is too much which reduces bird activity.
In case you use the boat from Entebbe; upon arrival, leave the speed boat and join the canoe to access possible location of the shoebill and get off the noise of the motor engine. Therefore, the best way is through sleeping in Entebbe and use the speed boat to catch up with a canoe in the morning.