Are you in Uganda for a birding safari or living within Kampala and you are looking for an easily accessible destination for bird watching?, then try Makanaga Bay Swamp where you are likely to encounter the shoe bill storks.
Makanaga Bay is one of the most spectacular swamps, situated on the shores of Lake Victoria and is one of the awesome birding spots with several Swamp and aquatic bird species to look out for. With several beautiful bird species that call this swamp home, it is undeniably one of the well known birding sites within the Pearl of Africa, rewarding bird watchers with perfect viewing opportunity for one of Uganda’s most admired and sought-after bird species-the elusive shoebill stork. Much as Makanaga Bay is a home to some shoebill storks, it isn’t as popular and visited as the Mabamba Swamp (one of the Swamps on the Lake Victoria). This is an advantage for Makanaga Bay because the fact it is not as popular as Mabamba Swamp, it makes it less disturbed and more favorable/perfect for bird species like the Shoebill stork very interesting but shy bird specie). It will also be interesting to know that less fishing takes place on this site too, meaning there will be more food for the Shoe bill stork and other bird species that feed on fish. The Swamp is characterized by mudflats and water lilies which all contain unique bird species and the former are filled with a wide range of bird species and provide such breathtaking bird sightings.
Based on testimonies of other bird watchers, Makanga Swamp has proved to give the best spotting place for the rare shoe bill stork, and on many occasions tourists have sighted more than 5 shoebills in a single birding session. This magnificent Swamp can be accessed by boat (especially motor boats) from Kamengo and Namugobo Landing Sites, taking between ten and fifteen minutes to ride though the dense maze of papyrus which is sometimes challenging, Miscanthus and floating water hyacinths (lilies).
Besides the shoebill storks that are known to be found within the Makanga Swamp, other notable bird species you should look out for during a birding safari here include the yellow-billed ducks, Long-tailed Cormorants, Black-winged Terns, Spur-winged Goose, Gull-billed Terns, Great Cormorants, Common Squacco Herons, Spur-winged lapwings, Black-winged stilt, white-faced whistling Duck, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers often seen foraging and perching on papyrus and trees, Little and Great Egrets, Wood and Common Sandpiper and birds of prey like the African Fish Eagles and the Black kites often sighted in-flight. The African Jacana is mostly spotted moving on floating water lilies while feeding.
The best time to visit this Swamp for most rewarding shoebill sighting experience is between 7am and 8am because this is when there is literally no human activities especially fishing hence birds take advantage of this and you will find then foraging.
How to Reach the Makanga Bay Swamp
Tourists who wish to visit this site have to drive from Kampala using the Kampala-Masaka highway (taking about 1 to 2 hours) up to Kamengo Trading Center where you will branch offer on your left hand and drive for another 20-30 minutes until you reach the Namugobo Landing Site, where your birding experience will start from.
In conclusion, if you are a bird enthusiast looking to explore riveting bird species in a secluded environment, visit the Makanaga Bay and be rewarded with breathtaking views of exceptional bird species such as the rare Shoebill stork and Papyrus Gonolek among others.