Shoebill Tours in Uganda

Shoebill Tours in Uganda

Shoebill Tours in Uganda,  Shoebills are without doubt the most sought for birds by avid-birders on Uganda birding safaris. Shoebills are elusive prehistoric birds whose history dates back to the dinosaur times. They share a lot with pelicans, especially on the way they lay eggs and also their DNA.

An elusive shoebill stork features a shoe-like bill, grey plumage- which is brown when still young. The foot-long bill like a dutch clog is what makes shoebills unique. The bill measures about 5 inches wide with sharp edges and on its end, there is a sharp hook.

Shoebills are huge in size, measuring about 40 to 50 inches or more. The male shoebills are heavier than the females although the difference is slightly small. Unlike other birds, shoebills have wider wingspan and short necks. Their shoe-kind of bills is uniquely designed and by nature, they are capable of killing and eating their prey, especially fish. At times, they feed on rodents, turtles and smaller birds although this is on rare occasions.

Shoebills communicate by clattering their bills. They also make mooing sounds as a way of communicating to each other but this isn’t common. Where do shoebill storks live? Here is the list of different locations where shoebills can be spotted on Uganda birding tour;

Mabamba Wetland

Mabamba Wetland is amazingly the most visited spot when it comes to shoebill tours in Uganda. Lying on Lake Victoria, the Africa’s largest freshwater Lake, Mabamba Wetland/Swamp is home to significant shoebill storks and other aquatic birds. It is easier to get to this charming wetland on a motorized boat or canoe ride from the Entebbe side. You can go for the morning or afternoon shoebill tour or birding excursion on Mabamba Swamp.

Besides shoebills, Mabamba Wetland is rich in other bird species. These include grey crowned cranes, long-crested eagle, grey plantain eaters, cattle egrets, common bulbul, Carruther’s cisticolas, Gull-billed terns, grey-headed bulls, white-winged black terns, papyrus gonoleks, blue swallow, malachite kingfishers, and more.

Lugogo Swamp

Lugogo Swamp is reachable via the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This swamp holds over 300 bird species which makes it an ideal location to find not only shoebills but also other bird species. Bird watching in Lugogo Swamp is perfectly done with assistance from an experienced guide.

Delta point –Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP)

Lying in Northwestern Uganda, Murchison Falls NP isn’t only visited for wildlife viewing but also for bird watching. It hosts over 451 bird species which include shoebill storks. This is one of Murchison Falls N/Park’s most looked-for birds for birders on a birding tour in Uganda. The Delta point is where birders can enjoy the sight of shoebills while in this protected area.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park offers amazing wildlife tours as well as excellent birding safaris. Accessible within 4 hours’ drive from Kampala city center, Lake Mburo NP is home to over 350 bird species and include shoebill storks. Other park’s birds include tabora cisticolas, hairy-breasted barbets, brown-chested lapwings, blue-breasted kingfishers, African scops owl, African finfoot, Southern ground hornbills, papyrus gonoleks, white-winged swamp warblers, mosque swallow, greater painted-snipe, blue-headed coucal, yellow-rumped tinker bird and more.

Toro-Semliki Reserve

Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve/Park is a remarkable birding spot, home to more than 441 bird species. This nature birding sanctuary holds a significant number of shoebill storks making it the best place to find these elusive species of birds.

Makanaga swamp

Located about 60km from Entebbe and accessible along the Kampala-Masaka road, Makanaga Swamp is another important birding spot to view shoebill storks. It receives fewer guests making it the best for birders in need to explore shoebill stork in locations with less crowds.

Lwera Swamp

Located along the Western circuit, Lwera Swamp offers the best shoebill sightings. It is an excellent spot for tourists on a gorilla tour to Bwindi National Park and they want to combine birding safaris in their package or bird watching and wildlife tours in Lake Mburo National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth NP –The Southern sector

Ishasha area is most popular for not only the rare tree-climbing lions, but also for spotting shoebill storks. It is the Southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park and visitors can combine birding and normal game drives.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre –Uganda’s Zoo

Most famous by many as Entebbe Zoo, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center shelters a significant population of rescued animal species. It also hosts shoebill stork and its strategic location in proximity to the airport makes it the best place to start your Uganda safari upon arrival.

The best time to travel for birding in Uganda

Birding tours in Uganda are available all year-round. The amazing bit about it is that bird-watching can be combined with other safaris such as gorilla trekking, game drives, boat cruise, nature walking and others. The best time to consider visiting Uganda for shoebill stork trekking or birding in general is around May through September. For a memorable birding trip, make sure that you have a pair of binoculars, good camera, field/birders book, etc.