Mabamba swamp situated on Lake Victoria is one the wetlands of international importance as listed by the Ramsar convention and a great spot for bird watching in Uganda, mabamba swamp stretching through a vast area of 16500 hectares is an extensive marsh which stretches through the long narrow bay and fringed with papyrus towards the western side of Lake Victoria in mpigi district. Mabamba swamp is ranked at a status of an unprotected area sheltering numerous bird species including the globally threatened species, rare species and Lake Victoria basin biome species.
Mabamba swamp is an important bird area and one of the best bird watching marshy areas situated along the northern shores of Lake Victoria, the swamp filled with small channels of marshy filled water and lagoon is situated 57 kilometers from Kampala the capital city of Uganda and one hour’s drive from Entebbe. Since the swamp is situated along Lake Victoria it receives the similar kind of vegetation as the lake and areas surrounding it, the climate consists of average rainfall range of 1200 – 1500mm, average minimum temperature of 17°C and average maximum temperature of 26°C.
Mabamba swamp has grown into one of the most fascinating and spectacular bird watching sites in Uganda as it is a home to over 260 bird species, the swamp is a home to the rare fascinating shoe bill which can only be seen in two locations in Uganda that Murchison falls national park and mabamba swamp itself. Mabamba swamp is a famous strong hold for migrant blue swallow bird species, every year over 100 individuals of these birds are recorded to be present in the swamp. Mabamba swamp is also a home to four globally threatened bird species that is white winged warbler, blue swallow and pallid tarrier. Other bird species found in this swamp include Goliath Herons, Spur-winged White-winged Warbler, Gull-billed Terns, Whiskered Terns, Grey-headed Gulls, Papyrus Gonolek, yellow-backed weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, White-winged Black Terns, Pygmy Geese, Malachite kingfisher, Papyrus Canary, Northern Brown-throated weaver, Carruther’s Cisticola, Blue-headed Coucal, lesser Jacana, Papyrus gonolek, Orange weaver, black Egret, goliath heron, Black Crake, African marsh harrier Black-faced Rufous Warbler, African jacana, purple swamp hens, spur-winged geese, hammerkop, village weaver birds palm nut vulture and many more.
The rare shoe bills in mabamba swamp are regularly recorded and seen in pairs or threes in the water filled marshes 2 kilometers north east of mabamba bay at Nakowongo area, as you visit mabamba swamp for bird viewing experience you are led by an experience birding guide as engage in safari activities like
Shoebill canoe tour
On this safari you board a canoe and sail on the swamp in your search for the fascinating shoe bill which is an amazing experience, as you ride on the canoe the first thing to lay your eyes on will be the massive beak and brilliant large eyes on the shoes in the marshes. Shoe bills are fond of this bay because it consists of plenty of fish most especially lung fish which is their most loved food, on the canoe ride you can also spot other bird species which include hammerkop, papyrus gonolek, yellow-billed ducks, spur-winged geese, African jacana, and purple swam hens. You not only get to enjoy the shoe bills but you also get to enjoy the beautiful floating vegetation, the calm water and the scenic surrounding.
From the swamp you can also take visit the woodland and savanna trail which leads up to the sand mining quarry where you will encounter other species of birds, though birds can be spotted at any given times, they are best seen during morning hours as leave their nests to feed.
Apart from bird watching you can also participate in other activities enjoying the sunset and meeting the local fishermen.
The best time to visit Mabamba bay is during the dry season as canoeing is easier if compared canoeing during the wet season which is very challenging and difficult.