Important Birding Areas (IBA) In Rwanda

Important Bird Areas (IBA) In Rwanda

December 31, 2021
Safari Tips

Are you looking for an exciting birdwatching tour and safari in Important Bird Areas (IBA) Rwanda? Yes, Rwanda is regarded as a top birding destination in Africa with over 703 bird species, 29 Albertine Rift Endemics, diverse habitats and several Lake Victoria Basin Endemics, which should be on any birder’s wish list.

The Albertine region is a series of mountains that were formed as a result of upliftment and volcanic activity. It stretches across the western half of Rwanda, and other five other countries African countries including Uganda. The Albertine region is known to be center of the Afromontane habitat with unique faunal and floral endemism, hosting 40 bird species, 117 butterflies, 34 mammals, 34 amphibians, and 16 reptiles.

The following is a list of Albertine rift endemic bird species found in Rwanda; Handsome Francolin, Ruwenzori Turaco, Congo Bay Owl, Albertine Owlet, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Dwarf Honeyguide, Ruwenzori Batis, Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Stripe-breasted Tit, Grauer’s Warbler, Neumann’s Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Ruwenzori Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Kungwe Apalis, Red-collared Babbler, Kivu Ground Thrush, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Archer’s Ground Robin, Red-throated Alethe, Blue-headed Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Rockefeller’s Sunbird, Strange Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing and Shelley’s Crimsonwing.

Are you looking for the best time to go birdwatching in Rwanda? Yes, from the birders, point of view, birding tours can be done throughout the year since most birds are resident species however, the best time to book a birding trip in Rwanda is from January to June especially if you are looking at exploring Nyungwe forest national park. April is extremely wet and at times makes logistics a bit challenging.

During dry season that is from June to September forest trails tend to be drier and hiking is less difficult. This is also the best time for gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes national park and wildlife viewing in Akagera national park. Migrant species are present from November to April.

The following are key Important Bird Areas (IBA) In Rwanda you should consider if planning to book a birdwatching trip;

Nyungwe forest National park

Birdwatching in Nyungwe Forest National Park is an exciting activity that you shouldn’t miss on your tour. Nyungwe forest is one of the best important bird areas in Rwanda that can not disappoint any twitcher. The forest hosts over 310 bird species and 29 Albertine Rift Endemics. Currently, the price for birding in Nyungwe forest national park is $50 per person per day however, if you are planning to bird the forest not less than three days, birders pay $50 for the first day and $25 per person per day for the remaining days.

Birding in Nyungwe forest national park is done in the following trails; Bigugu trail, Karamba trail, Gisakura trails and Kamiranzovu trail. And please don’t forget to carry the Binoculars, Field guide book i.e. “Birds of East Africa is recommended”, weather friendly Notebook and pencil, Raincoat, Hiking shoes, Camera and Snacks during your birding tour to Nyungwe forest.

The following is a list of bird species in Nyungwe forest national park; Albertine owlet, Archer’s robin-chat, Ruwenzori batis, African paradise flycatcher, Chinspot batis, Long-crested eagle, Crowned hornbill, Eastern mountain greenbul, Buff-throated apalis, Dusky crimsonwing, Kivu ground thrush, Dwarf honeyguide, Blue-headed sunbird, Handsome francolin, Neumann’s warbler, Ruwenzori turaco, Purple-breasted sunbird, Red-collared babbler, Red-faced woodland warbler, Red-throated alethe, Regal sunbird, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Mountain masked apalis, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Ruwenzori apalis, Shelley’s crimsonwing, Strange weaver, Ruwenzori nightjar, Stripe-breasted tit, Yellow-eyed black flycatcher among others.

Besides birding in Nyungwe forest, the park features a number of tourist activities like chimpanzee tracking, Canopy walk, The Angolan Colobus Monkeys tracking, Camping, tropical waterfall visits and Natural Trail Hiking.

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is the only savannah national park in Rwanda with amazing rolling savannag grassland & hills, lakes, wetland and woodlands. The park is a home to the African Big 5 animals, this compliments any birding safari experiences in the country.

AKagera national park hosts over 490 bird species including the Red-faced barbet that can be spotted around Akagera game Lodge and Muyumbu campsite. Other range restricted bird species are; Papyrus Gonolek; Northern Brown-throated Weaver; Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-Winged Swamp Warbler; White-collared Oliveback, Shoebill and Grey-crowned Cranes.

Birds are always advised to take a boat trip at Lake Ihema to look out for water birds such as the African Finfoot, which regularly seen from the deck at the Ruzizi Tented Lodge. A night drive is also recommended to give you an opportunity to spot several nocturnal birds in Akagera national park like Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and several Nightjar species.

Today, we bring you a list of bird specie in Akagera national park; African fish eagle, Squacco heron, African harrier hawk, African jacana, Bateleur, Eleonora’s falcon, Booted eagle, Amur falcon, Yellow-bellied eremomela, Brown-chested lapwing, Cabanis’s bunting, Carruthers’s cisticola, Crested barbet, Denham’s bustard, Dimorphic egret, Grasshopper buzzard, Shoebill, Papyrus gonolek, Red-faced barbet, Red-winged francolin, Ring-necked francolin, Shelley’s francolin, Short-tailed pipit, Slate-coloured boubou, Blue-shouldered robin-chat, Beaudouin’s snake eagle, Northern brown-throated weaver, Sooty falcon, Souza’s shrike, Striped pipit, Tabora cisticola, Western reef heron, White-winged swamp warbler among others.

Apart from birding in Akagera, the park features several activities like game drives, boat cruise, spot fishing and community encounters.

Akanyaru wetlands

Akanyaru wetlands is among the important bird areas in Rwanda located in the southern part of the country along Rwanda – Birundi border and not far from Butare. The wetlands receive an average rainfall of 800 mm per year.

The swamp is fed by river Akanyaru which is main tributary of river Nyabarongo. It’s a home to several water birds hence attracting hundreds of visitors for birdwatching trips in Rwanda.

Akanyaru wetlands is composed of different vegetation cover that ranges marshy habitats to papyrus swamp. The early successional stages are dominated by floating vegetation of Leersia hexandra, Pistia stratiotes, and Oryza barthii. The Intermediate stage is a mixture of Miscanthidium violaceum, Typha australis, Cladium jamaicense and some papyrus while the More complex habitats are occupied by Typha australis, Cyperus latifolius, Miscanthidium violaceum, Cyperus denudatus, and Echinochloa pyramidalis. The papyrus of the wetland, either stretches as pure stands or combined with shrubby vegetation.

Being one of the best birding places in Rwanda, Akanyaru wetland is a home to over 54 bird species including the papyrus Gonolek, Carruthers’s Cisticola, papyrus yellow warbler, White-winged Swamp-warbler, Malagasy pond heron, great snipe, Red-chested Sunbird, lesser flamingoes, pallied harrier, lesser krestel, Black-lored Babbler, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, White-collared Oliveback, Papyrus Canary among others. The most common animal seen here is the Sitatunga.

Besides birdwatching, visitors can engage in several other activities like fishing from the Akanyaru river, boat cruise, cultural tours among others.

Birding in Akanyaru wetlands can be done all year round and this can be a one-day tour or multi day trip.

Other important bird areas in Rwanda include; Nyabarongo wetlands, Gishwati-Mukura National Park, Rugezi Marsh and Volcanoes National Park.

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