Mabamba Bay Swamp

Mabamba Bay Swamp

Mabamba Bay swamp

Mabamba Bay swamp is a wetland on the edge of Lake Victoria, northwest of the Entebbe peninsula.

Mabamba bay swamp is located 48 km from Kampala and 15 km from Entebbe west of Entebbe International  airport along the shores of Lake Victoria.

Mabamba bay swamp shoebill
Mabamba bay swamp shoebill

Mabamba is one of Uganda’s 33 Important Bird Areas and since 2006 a Ramsar-listed wetland of international importance. Key protected bird species in Mabamba are the shoebill, the blue swallow and the papyrus gonolek.

An extensive marsh stretching through a narrow and long bay fringed with papyrus towards the main body of Lake Victoria – the only swamp close to Kampala where one can easily find the globally-threatened Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex).

The site supports an average of close to 190,000 birds and is part of the wetland system which hosts approximately 38% of the global population of the Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea), as well as the globally-threatened Papyrus Yellow Warbler and other birds of global conservation concern.


The major habitat types in Mabamba wetland are open water, papyrus swamp, marsh and Miscanthus swamp.

Mabamba Bay Wetland System is adjacent a Medium-altitude moist semi-deciduous forest. It is a complex papyrus swamp connected to Makokobe, Kasa and Kasanga papyrus swamps.

In the immediate surroundings one also finds Savannah mosaics of medium altitude, and Medium-altitude moist evergreen forests (Piptadeniastrum – Albizia – Celtis).

It is part of Waiya Bay south west of Nakiwogo Bay. The marsh is dominated by Cyperus papyrus and Miscanthus sp. occasioned with Loudetia phragmatoides. The bay has patches of Nymphae anouchali, Cladium mariscus and Cyperus papyrus which form the open water fringing vegetation and sometimes with drifting papyrus swamp islands.

While C. papyrus dominates the swamp edges it gives way to Miscanthidium violacea interspersed occasionally with Loudetia phragmatoides in the deeper water towards the open water.


Mabamba Bay swamp hosts a number of small rodents but the Tropical Vlei Rat (Otomystropicalis) has been recorded as being rare in the Bay. Among the shrews Crociduraselina and Mylomys dybowskii have also been recorded as being uncommon.

The collection of butterflies from Mabamba bay is enormous with over 200 species recorded. Abisaraneavei, Acraea aganice, Acraea aurivilli, Acraea consanquinea, and Bicyclus sebetus are some of the very rare butterfly species that have been only recorded in Mabamba Bay and nowhere else in Uganda.

Over 190 different bird species are known from only the swamp, among which are wetland-dependent and Papyrus endemic species.

65% of the people in Mabamba thrive on fish protein value. Fishing activities in wetland and around Mabamba, is important as it employs about 506 people in various activities of fish mongering, fishing, boat building, and repairs, local fish processors and other artisanal fishery activities.

Three Tilapiine species, Orechcromis niloticus (Nile Tilapia), Oreochromis leucostictus and Tilapia zillii (Zilli’s Tilapia) were introduced in Lake Victoria in 1950s, and Nile perch, Lates niloticus during the 1960s.

As Mabamba wetland system is one of the many wetlands north of Lake Victoria, it acts as a spawning ground for fish species. Later in adult stages, the fishes migrate to the open water body where they are easily trapped by fishermen operating.


According to the State of Environment Report (2002), the climate system falls within the Lake Victoria climatic zone.

The air currents such as the southeast and northeast monsoons passing over Lake Victoria influence the climate of Mabamba Bay Wetlands System. The system has distinct seasons: the rainy and dry season. The area receives bi-modal high rainfall ranging between 2000-2500mm (State of Environment Report, 2002).

Mabamba Bay Wetland System experiences evapo transpiration ranging between 1,450 – 1,600 mm (State of Environment Report 2002). The mean minimum temperature is 17.4°C and the maximum mean temperature is 26.7°C.

The Mabamba swamp is becoming a popular tourist destination with many bird and nature lovers visiting the area.

How to get to Mabamba swamp for shoebill stork watching

Mabamba swamp is mainly accessed from Entebbe through Nakiwogo landing site 3 kilometers from Entebbe town and 6 Kilometres from Entebbe airport.

Mabamba swamp is surrounded by Lake Victoria which separates it from Entebbe international airport.

  1. From Nakiwogo landing site, you can take a scheduled ferry crossing from Nakiwogo to Buwaya and from Buwaya to Nakiwogo with a loading capacity of 12 vehicles and 300 passengers per trip.

From Buwaya, drive for 5-15 minutes to Mabamba swamp depending on the weather and the road conditions to start off your shoebill watching birding excursion in Mabamba swamp

  1. Another way to get to Mabamba swamp is through a motorized boat from Nakiwogo landing site which takes you directly to the Mabamba bay area where you meet a smaller motorized canoe to take you through the swamp in search of the shoebill stork.

The channel trails in the mabamba swamp are too small and shallow for a big boat the reason small motorized canoes are used.

Accommodation in near Mabamba swamp

  1. Nkima Forest Lodge

Nkima forest lodge is a mid range eco friendly lodge nestled atop  Nansubuga hill within an indigenous forest covering 40 acres overlooking the Mabamba bay in Wakiso.

The forest is popular with red-tailed and vervet monkeys where the lodge derives its name Nkima meaning monkey in the local language Luganda

The lodge is located within a walkable 1.6 kilometre distance from Mabamba landing site perfect for a hot lunch after your shoebill watching tour in the mabamba swamp.

The lush green forests around the lodge gives you a perfect moment to bond with nature and relax from a long day.

  1. Mabamba Lodge

Mabamba lodge is located 5.3 Km from Buwaya the docking point for the ferry from Nakiwogo The drive from Mabamba lodge to Mabamba swamp takes 5 to 15 minutes depending on the road and the weather.

Mabamba lodge is located 2.3 Km from Mabamba landing site on Mabamba swamp

  1. Sazi Pine Village Buwaya

Sazi Pine village offers a camping area and accommodation near Mabamba swamp

  1. Plastic bottles house

Plastic bottles house offers eco friendly accommodation near Mabamba swamp near Entebbe for our easy access to Mabamba swamp for your shoebill watching tour.

More hotels, lodges, homestays and airbnbs can be booked around Entebbe within easy reach of Entebbe international airport, Nakiwogo landing site and Mabamba swamp

A 1 day trip to Mabamba bay swamp can be organised for you by Bujuku Eco Tours before or after your Uganda safari

Need a custom organised Uganda trip by a Uganda tour operator, contact us here;

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