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Mabamba Swamp in Uganda

Mabamba Swamp in Uganda

Mabamba is an exciting travel birding and biodiversity destination that sits on an estimated area of 2424 ha. It is basically a prime wetland birding site located on the northern fringes of Lake Victoria, northwest of the Entebbe peninsula.  As a matter of fact, the wetland is also part of Waiya bay south of Nakiwogo within wider Wakiso district situated in a small village called Kasanje.

This swamp derived its name after a lungfish locally known as “Emamba” which inhabit its waters, and they form the staple of the shoebill’s diet. The swamp is also famous for the shoebill with over 12 shoebill storks (locally called “Boolwe”). As a matter of fact, it is Uganda’s most sought-after bird by Uganda birding tourists as well as nature lovers.

The mysterious shoebill is also known to occur in mainly four countries. These include; Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zambia, however, best seen at Mabamba swamp in Uganda. In 2006, the Ramsar Convention on the wetlands awarded Mabamba swamp the status of a wetland of international importance since it contains globally threatened species. The swamp is also a Ramsar site and Important Bird Area (IBA). Additionally, the swamp hosts over 300 bird species with huge flocks of Palearctic migrants every year from October to March.

What to do at Mabamba swamp

Shoebill tracking

Visiting Mabamba wetland gives tourists 90% chances of seeing the rare shoebill stork at a closer point of view. Even though you can see these exceptional birds at any time of the day, the best time to see them is in the morning hours. Since this is when they practice their unique hunting behavior known as collapsing feeding on the different kinds of fish. As you navigate the swamp, pay attention on both sides because you will not only spot the shoebill but also other different wildlife like the sitatunga. In fact, our knowledgeable guide will help you identify the flora and fauna at this place.

Other bird species to spot include; white-winged warble, blue swallow, black-headed weaver, papyrus gonolek, swamp flycatcher, pallid harrier, pigmy goose, grosbeak weaver, northern brown-throated weaver, Clarke’s weaver, palm-nut vulture, papyrus yellow warbler, African water rail, blue breasted bee-eater, winding cisticola, goliath heron, African fish eagle, long tailed cormorant, yellow billed duck, malachite kingfisher, glossy ibis, white-winged tern, hamerkop, great cormorant, grey-headed gull, white-faced whistling-duck, knob-billed duck, little stint, etc.


You will also meet local fishermen and discover that there was a time when the local community used to be enemies with the birds as they competed for the same fish resource. However, today many local people have been trained as tour guides who now strive to preserve both the birds and the swamp. The lungfish is one of the most sought-after fish by the local fishermen, creating competition with the shoebill. These fishermen had long held a superstition that seeing a shoebill resulted in a poor catch that day so they hunted and killed them leading to the decline in their number and almost rendered them extinct in the wetland. Besides, other fish species include, mudfish, tilapia etc.


If you wish to watch different species of birds, canoe tours can be arranged where you can enjoy watching these birds. You can also enjoy a tour of the nearby islands on Lake Victoria. Make sure when you board the canoe, you have your life jackets on for safety reasons with your binoculars not to miss the different colorful birds.

Best time to visit

This swamp is visited all year round but dry months are much preferred as the water levels are low in months of June to September and December to February.

How to get there

The easiest route is through Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe where you take a motorized boat to the swamp.


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