Bird watching in Rwanda – best experience
Rwanda isn’t only known for the rare mountain gorilla trekking adventures but also for bird watching experiences. With more than 750 distinct bird species that thrive in various habitats in this spectacular country, bird lovers need to worry as all their travel needs will be covered here.
Bird watching in Rwanda and Uganda is one of the most enjoyed activities one needs to be prepared to stay out for long hours and have some considerable hiking is certain areas. For example while birding in Rwenzori Mountains, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Nyungwe national park and Volcanoes national park, there is a considerable amount of hiking up and down the mountainous areas.
Bird watching in Rwanda is an enjoyable activity because of the easy to see the birds and the short distance traveled between the protected areas. Rwanda is home to over 700 bird species, which are scattered between protected areas, swamps, and agricultural lands. Birding has developed in recent times with more and more people picking interest in recent past with increased bird watchers visiting this beautiful country. Most of the birding happens in the 3 protected areas of Akagera national park, Nyungwe national park and Volcanoes national park. More birding is along swamps along the highways and agricultural lands in the villages. For bird lovers, Rwanda is best visited from the month of December to February when most of migrant birds flock into the area especially the wintering and Palearctic migrants.
Bird watching in Rwanda, Where to go birding in Rwanda and Tours
Bird watching in Kigali city
Just at the entry point to Rwanda through Kigali International Airport, you will be amazed with bird encounters of most bird life. There are many common birding spots in the city for the birders that gives a good introduction to some of the birds in Rwanda. The Nyarutarama Lake also known as Lover’s Lake at the border to Kigali Golf Course offers incredible nature walks and birding encounters. There are many local bird species to be spotted around this place. There is also Nyabarongo wetland which also provides walking trails and best birding site. For visitors within Kigali city, never miss out to spot bird species like the African grey hornbill, African rock pigeon, brown throated wattle eye, cardinal woodpecker and many more.
Bird watching in the Albertine Eco- region
This albertine region has a chain of mountains that were formed through the uplift as well as volcanic activity. It goes across the western half of Rwanda, and covers five of other countries. The albertine is called the centre of the Afromontane habitant and is also a strap of exceptional flora and fauna endemism. This area consists of mountain ranges which were formed due to up life and volcanic eruptions. It extends across the western half of Rwanda and also occupies about five other states. The Albertine comprise of more than 40 birdlife, 34 mammals, 117 butterflies, 34 amphibians and 16 reptiles.
Bird Watching in Volcanoes National Park
While this park is best known for mountain gorilla tracking, bird enthusiasts are never left out. The park comes along with the might Virunga Massifs of Mount Muhavura, Sabinyo, Karisimbi, Bisoke and Gahinga. Besides its famous apes-the golden monkeys and mountain gorillas, over 200 species of birds thrive within the park, 17 of them are endemic to the area. The notable bird species to spot out in this park include the dusky fly catcher, Chubb’s Cisticola, dusky fly catcher, red billed fir finch, cinnamon chested bee eater and many more. It is must visit for bird watching to catch the rare species and also enjoy the breathtaking Virunga scenery and a chance to encounter the Gorillas.
Bird watching in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Described by Birdlife International as “the most important site for biodiversity conservation in Rwanda,” the Nyungwe National Park is home to roughly 310 bird species, 27 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Although actually spotting birds in the park’s forests may be challenging, the bird songs you’ll hear during the trek will surely make it more enjoyable. Nyungwe forest is a tropical mountain rain forest that lies on the south western slopes of the highland region that also forms a diverse Congo and Nile drainage system. Some of the species include; the red collared babbler, Regal sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Spurfowl, Grauer’s swamp, the Blue headed sun bird, and the Albertine Owlet.
Bird Watching in Akagera National Park
This park is one of the magnificent savanna grassland protected areas in East Africa. This park has got a mixture of rolling grassland scattered with broad leafed and the acacia woodland, these lower lying lands are divided by the Akagera River. There are 525 bird species and these include; Sousa’s shrike, the white collared Oliverback and the Red faced Barbet. This park has a mosaic of the wetlands and the lakes and these are along the course of the Akagera River and the eastern boundary. Some species in the wetland are Papyrus Canary, the shoebill, Papyrus Gonolex and the Carruther’s Cisticole.
Bird watching in Marshes and the Wetlands
About 10 percent of Rwanda is covered by wetlands and marshes and refuges Akanyaru, Rugezi and Nyabarongo wetlands which offer refuge to most of waders and aquatic birds.
A. Rugezi Swamps: Tucked away in a flooded valley near Gicumbi and the Ugandan border, the 100 sqkm Rugezi Swamp is, despite being recognized as both a Ramsar Wetland and Important Bird Area, very rarely visited by tourists, and the reed-and-papyrus marshes here are home to some 43 different bird species, including several endemic to the Albertine rift mountains, such as the endangered Grauer’s Swamp-warbler.
B. Akanyaru Wetlands: Covering 300 sqkm over a narrow, 80 km-long band along the course of the Akanyaru River, the Akanyaru Wetlands start off in the south straddling the Rwanda – Burundi border, and wind their way north to the village of Ntarama, where the sluggish Akanyaru joins the much larger Nyabarongo River. Though they’re probably less-visited than any other birding site in the country, the papyrus-dominated swamps here have been recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International and are home to more than 54 species, including the vulnerable Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek, along with examples of Great snipe, Pallid harrier, and the Malagasy pond heron
Rwanda features many spots where visitors can go for bird watching and this makes Rwanda one of the top bird watching destinations in Africa. With variety of incredible birding sites, we believe that you will have a chance to make your dreams come true while on safari in Rwanda with Karisimbi Safaris. Each of the destinations listed above features distinct bird species as well as other incredible attractions that are worth exploring.