Bird Watching in Rwanda
Bird watching in Rwanda is one of the underrated safaris in East Africa however, this country is home to about 703 bird species. For any keen birders, this is one of the destinations you should definitely look out for. Of the 703 bird species, 29 of these are Albertine rift Endemics. It is argued that Rwanda is the best destination for Afro Montane birding in the region. The country is small and this means the birding sites are not far from each other and therefore you can visit a lot of sites in a short time.
Apart from the Albertine Rift endemics, Rwanda is also home to some Lake Victoria Basin Endemics. I am sure some of them will make it to your wish list. Our biggest focus on birding safaris to Rwanda is Nyungwe National Park in the western sector of the country and Akagera National Park in the eastern sector of the country.
Best Bird watching Sites in Rwanda
Nyungwe National Park
Nyungwe National Park covers an area of about 970 sq Km and it was gazetted in 2004. It is home to about 322 bird species and over 13 primates call this home. These include; Silver monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, Vervet monkey, Chimpanzees, Olive baboon, Golden monkey, Dent’s Mona Monkey, Owl-faced monkey/ Hamlyn’s monkey, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Red-tailed monkey, Blue Monkey and Angolan Colobus Monkeys
Some of the bird species you expect to find here on a bird watching safari in Rwanda are: the Red-collared Babbler and Rwenzori Turaco, Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Nightjar, Grauer’s Warbler, Regal, Blue-headed and Purple Breasted Sunbirds, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler and Neumann’s Warbler, Kungwe Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush and Willard’s Sooty Boubou, the Congo Bay Owl, Albertine Owlet and Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Rockefeller’s Sunbird.
There are other animals to expect are mammals. Gere are some of the mammals to expect; Giant Forest Squirrel, Two-spotted Palm Civet, Genet Servaline, Large-spotted Genet Giant Forest Hog, Bush Pig, Tree Hyrax, Lestrade’s Duiker, Leopard, Golden Cat, Serval Cat, Wild Cat, Side-striped Jackal, Mountain Sun Squirrel, Boem’s Squirrel, Lord Darby’s Flying Squirrel, Black-fronted Duiker, Yellow-backed Duiker, African Civet, , Slender Mongoose, Marsh Mongoose, Ichneumon Mongoose and Congo Clawless Otter.
Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park covers an area of about 1122 sq km and is home to about 490 bird species that have been located here in the recent times. It’s known for its big 5 African experience as well other than birding. This park is filled with a lot of rolling hills; woodlands and wetland which makes it a favorable are birds to breed.
Some of the birds you expect to see here are: Northern Brown-throated Weaver; Papyrus Gonolek; White-Winged Swamp Warbler; Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-collared Oliveback, and Grey-crowned Cranes. The red faced barbets will probably be one of the highlights of this birding site. You will do a boat cruise on Lake Ihema and have a change to explore the water species here as well.
Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes National Park covers an area of 160 Sq Km and its home to about 200 bird species recorded here. It’s also home to the highest peak of Mountain Karisimbi. The famous endangered mountain Gorillas also reside here. There also about 17 of the 29 Albertine Rift Endemics.
Some of the birds to expect here is the African Pitta that migrates here seasonally. Others are: African long-eared owl, Red-faced woodland warbler, Ruwenzori apalis, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori double-collared sunbird, Dusky turtle dove, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Handsome francolin, Lagden’s bush-shrike, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori turaco, Scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird and Strange weaver.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Gishwati-Mukura National Park covers an area of about 34 sq Km and its home to about 232 birds species recorded here. This park is still new and much of the information about what happens here is still scanty. The authorities are working to organize the park and soon every tourism option will be available as soon as possible.
Lake Kivu is one of the best safari stop overs on a bird watching safari in Rwanda. Being a lake, the area supports a lot of fishing birds like the White-breasted Cormorant, Pied Kingfishers and Osprey. Other species include; Double-tooth Barbet, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Familiar Chat, Brown-throated Wattle-eye and Spot-flanked Barbet.
Kigali being an organized city, it has a lot of natural habitat for birds. It’s been recognized as one of the cleanest cities in the world. You will definitely see a lot of birds as you go through Kigali. Here are some of the birds you expect to see: White-collared Oliveback, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Bat Hawk, Narina Trogon, Lesser Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeybird, Black Cuckoo-Shrike, Olive-bellied, African Swamphen, Red-chested Sunbird and Bronzy Sunbirds, African Goshawk, Palm Nut Vulture, Crested Barbet, Grey-backed Fiscal, Rüppell’s Starling and Black-headed Weaver.
Best Time to Visit Rwanda for Bird watching
With over 703 bird species, Rwanda is one of the best birding countries in the region. The best time to visit Rwanda is January, February, and March. These are the dry months. This period is also low season and has low tourist numbers, making it easy to move around easily.
In the months of August to November are wet months and not the best time to visit the Rwanda since the roads become abit impassable.
What to carry for bird watching safari in Rwanda
Activities of birding are usually away from the cities and into the rural areas of the country and that require specific equipment. Therefore, minding what you carry for this safari is very important. Here are some of the essentials you need to carry on your bird watching safari to Rwanda: long sleeved shirts, pants of neutral colors, Water proof day pack/Field bag, Hiking boots, Field guidebook, Cameras, Pair of binoculars/ Scope, Chargers and other important Cables, Wide –brimmed hat, Light rain jacket, Flashlight and Medication.