Shoebill Birding at Makanaga Bay Swamp – Lake Victoria

Makanaga Bay, one of the swamps on the shores of Lake Victoria is an incredible birding site for the shoebill birding and lots of swamp & water birds. It is one of the few known birding sites in Uganda offering a good viewing opportunity of one of Uganda’s most sought-after birds, the Shoebill.

Shoebill Birding at Makanaga Bay Swamp - Lake Victoria

However, it isn’t as popular and thus less traveled by birders since most of whom go to Mabamba, another of the swamps on Lake Victoria. This however plays a big advantage to Makanaga by keeping it less disturbed and more favourable for birds, especially the Shoebill which is such a shy bird! There is less fishing at the site too, meaning more food for Mr. Shoebill and other fish-eating birds.

Going by our previous birding tours, Makanaga Swamp has proved to return the best results for the Shoe-bill. On many occasions we have sighted more than 2 – 4 Shoe-bills in a single session.

The swamp is accessed by a motor boat from Namugobo Landing Site, Kamengo. The 10 Р15 minutes boat ride goes through a thick maze of Papyrus, Miscanthus and floating water lilies.

birding makanaga swamp - shoebill birding

The boat ride through the marshes can be challenging sometimes.

At Makanaga bay swamp, lots of birds can be seen on the ‘islands’ of mudflats, and water lilies, some resting others foraging. The mudflats are especially such great vantage points for clear sightings of the Shoebill & so many other waders including: Spur-winged Goose, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Yello-billed Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Little and Black-winged Stilt, Long-tailed & Great Cormorants, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little & Great Egret, Common Squacco Heron, thousands of Black-winged Terns, and Gull-billed Terns.

The African Jacana is commonly sighted moving on floating water lilies while foraging. Malachite & Pied Kingfishers are commonly sighted fishing and perching on papyrus and trees, meanwhile birds of prey, the African Fish Eagles and Black Kites are a constant sight in flight.

Shoebill at Makanaga Swamp - shoebill birding

This clear view of the Shoebill at Makanaga Swamp is not easy to come by elsewhere.

birds on mudflats in Makanaga Swamp - shoebill birding

The mudflats are filled with a variety of birds and offer such incredible bird sightings.

For a more rewarding Shoebill birding experience, it is advisable to get to Makanaga swamp as early as possible, preferably between 7:00 am to 8:00 am when there is almost no human activity (fishing) and birds are actively foraging.

How to get to Makanaga Bay Swamp

Drive from Kampala on the Kampala – Masaka Highway for approximately one hour, get to Kamengo trading centre, and branch off on your left for another 15 to 20 minutes before getting to Namugobo Landing Site. At the moment there is no proper establishment to cater for an impromptu birder at the landing site. You need to make advance arrangement for a birding boat.

We organise a 1 day birding tour to Makanaga Swamp, in the company of a bird guide that is very knowledgeable about waders and is a regular to the site. To book, Email: tours@adventure-travellers.com OR Tel: +256 782 118 037


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