Shoebill Birding – Mabamba Swamp

Mabamba Swamp is home to the highly sought-after Shoebill stork(s) and most highlighted as one of the best places in Uganda to spot the Shoebill as an endangered species in its natural habitat.


  • Pick up and drop off at your hotel in Kampala/Entebbe.
  • A Boat ride in the morning or afternoon looking for the Shoebill & a variety of other bird species .
  • English speaking driver guide with an onsite birding guide and boat captain.
  • Packed Lunch with bottled water or Soda.

Detailed 1 Day Shoebill Birding Tour – Mabamba Swamp

Day Tour

Pick-up at your hotel within Entebbe or Kampala and drive to the harbor. You will have a brief then proceed to enter the boat and then wear up your life-vests.

Boat-ride across the lake with beautiful view of Entebbe, the airport, fishermen and lots of birds, especially on approaching the swamps.

At Mabamba or Bussi we disembark the bigger boat and enter the smaller canoes for the Mabamba Swamps. The canoes will take a maximum of 3 persons excluding the driver and guide.

After some minutes in the canoe the papyrus reads opens up into the big grassy swamps. Most of the times this is where the Shoebill can be spotted.

After about two hours, it is time to return out of the swamps and shift to the bigger boat, transfer to the main land then to your vehicle for the journey back to Entebbe/Kampala.

Sometimes the Shoebill may also be seen from the shores in the lagoon while coming into or when returning to Entebbe. Whatever the case may be, the boat trip through the lagoon is usually very rewarding for all of its birds.

Mabamba Swamp & Shoebill Watching Tour Overview

Mabamba Swamp is one of the best places in Uganda to spot the highly sought-after shoebill Stork(s) in its natural habitat. Regularly featured on tourism brochures, these appealingly grotesque birds look like they’ve crawled straight out of the swamp (which they literally have), with their out-of-proportion features and massive dirty-yellow bill that resembles an old battered shoe. Birdwatching is mostly via canoe, where you’ll navigate waterways comprising lily pads and papyrus swamp. Among the 260 species in the region, other notable birds include the papyrus yellow warbler, pallid harrier and blue swallow.

What to Expect

After breakfast, you embark on the drive from your place of stay in Kampala/Entebbe to Mabamba Swamp around 50km from Kampala the capital of Uganda. The drive to Mabamba is an experience of its own offering chances of exploring various bird species like Papyrus Gonolek, White Shouldered Tit, Red Cap, Western Banded Snake Eagle, White Winged Warbler, White Spotted Fluftail and Weyns Weaver.

Upon arrival in Mabamba Swamp, you get to the canoe and head to the swamp in the company of a local person worth expertise in paddling through the narrow water channels surrounded by dense swamp vegetation.  The Shoebill stays in the papyrus but will also rarely stay on land overlooking water. Each wooden boat at Mabamba Swamp will carry at least 3-persons for easy bird watching with a birding guide and a boat captain and each session will take at least 3hrs depending on the luck of the day but a full day birding excursion is also done.

Birding in Mabamba on Lake Victoria swamp features counts of birds including the rare and the Vulnerable Shoebill stork, the Allen’s and Purple Gallinule, Grey herons, Jacanas, Ruffaus Squaco, the globally threatened Pallid Harrier and Bellied Heron. Other species like blue swallow, ducks and egrets among other birds can be explored. The swamp dwelling Sitatunga antelope may be explored during the swamp tour. You have picnic lunch and then return to Kampala arriving in the evening to mark the end of the excursion.


  • Pick up and drop off at your hotel in Kampala/Entebbe.
  • A Boat ride in the morning or afternoon looking for the Shoebill.
  • English speaking driver guide with an onsite bird guide and boat captain.
  • Canoe Boat Fees.


  • Tips and all items of personal nature.
  • All drinks taken at the lodges.

Budget Accommodation

Luxury Accommodation

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