Top birding destinations in Rwanda
Top birding destinations in Rwanda : Rwanda the land of a thousand hills is an excellent tourist destination more famous for mountain gorilla trekking but this amazing Rwanda is more than mountain gorillas, it is a birding haven with many destinations where a variety of colorful bird can be spotted. Rwanda as a country is situated in the Albertine’s rift dominated by afro-montane forests, savannah grassland plains, swamps, rivers, wetlands and lakes which hosts an estimated population of 750 bird species.
The following are the best destinations where you can get to spot a variety of birds
Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park is a famous tourist destination in Rwanda with many attractions, the park is an important birding site. Nyungwe forest national park is situated in in the southwestern region of Rwanda stretching through the border of Rwanda and Burundi with kibira national park in the south, Lake Kivu and democratic republic of Congo in the west.
Nyungwe forest national park is an important birding site hosting approximately 300 bird species, birds in the park are spotted while on nature/forest walk and chimpanzee trekking in the park. birds in Nyungwe forest national park include Albertine owlet.
Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed sunbird, Buff-throated apalis, Dusky crimsonwing, Dwarf honeyguide, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Handsome francolin, Kivu ground thrush, Mountain masked apalis, Neumann’s warbler, Purple-breasted sunbird, Red-collared babbler.
Red-faced woodland warbler, Red-throated alethe, Regal sunbird, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Ruwenzori apalis, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori turaco, Shelley’s crimsonwing, strange weaver, Stripe-breasted tit, Yellow-eyed black flycatcher and many more.
Akanyaru wetland is situated in southern region of Rwanda near the border of Uganda and Rwanda, this wetland is a fantastic birding site hosting approximately 54 bird species. Bird species spotted in Akanyaru wetland include Madagascar Squacco heron, guinea Congo forest biome, pallid harrier, less kestrel, less swamp, papyrus gonolek and many more.
Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes national park is a perfect birding site, this perfect birding site and a great tourist destination in Rwanda the land of a thousand hills. The park is situated is situated in north western region of Rwanda, this park stretches a round five magnificent Virunga volcanoes that is karisimbi, bisoke, muhabura, gahinga and sabyinyo covering an area of 160 square kilometers.
Volcanoes national park is dominated by both bamboo trees and grassland which hosts approximately 187 bird species which are spotted while on birding expedition, amazing colorful bird species in volcanoes national park include 16 species endemic to Albertine rift such as handsome francolin, Rwenzori turaco, archer’s ground robin, red-faced woodland warbler, dusky crimson wing and red-faced woodland warbler.
Other bird species spotted in volcanoes national park include Rwenzori batis, dusty crimson wing, francolin, strange weaver, collared apalis, cinnamon bracken warbler, tripe-breasted Tit and a full range of blue-headed and regal Sunbirds, Grauer’s rush warbler, white-tailed blue-fly catcher, Mountain Sooty Boubou, purple-throated, Rwenzori double-collared, black and white manikin, archer’s ground robin and many more
Akagera national park
Akagera national park is a fascinating tourist destination situated in the eastern region of Rwanda, this park is dominated by savannah, montane and swamp vegetation and the park is also crossed by river kagera which are host high concentration of birds. Akagera national park is a perfect birding destination covering an area of 1,112 square kilometers, what make the park amazing is that it is a collection of lakes, wetlands, rolling hills and savannah vegetation.
Akagera national park is a habitant to approximately 310 bird species, the best spots for bird watching in Akagera national park is around Lake Ihema and its islands, marshes ad wetlands. Among the colorful bird species in the park there is endangered papyrus Ganalex and it is the best destination to spot elusive necked francolin in Africa. Bird watching species in Akagera national park is organized in 2 sessions that is morning and evening birding experience, morning birding safari is the most fantastic experience where spot many bird species as they are just waking up from their nests.
Bird species spotted in the park include African Darter, African Wattled Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Common Squacco Heron, Crowned Lapwing, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Great Egret, Grey-backed Fiscal, beautiful lilac-breasted roller, crested barbet, black headed gonolek, ross’s turaco, Heuglin’s robin-chat, grey hornbill, black-headed weaver, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Jacana, White-browed Coucal, Fork-tailed Drongo, Saddle-billed Stork, Long-crested Eagle, White-faced Whistling Duck, Woodland Kingfisher, Palm-nut Vulture, Grey-crowned Crane and many more.
Rugezi mash is situated in north region of Rwanda near Gichumbi, this marsh is the only designated Ramsar site in Rwanda. Rugezi mash is a birding haven supporting many bird species such as Grauer’s swamp warbler, grey crowned cranes, papyrus canary, and papyrus yellow warbler. In the south region of the marsh there is the is open waters of lake Nyagafunzo, this lake supports boat rides which is the best way of sighting the birds.
Kigali city is the capital city of Rwanda covering an area of 730 square kilometres, the city is famed for its tidiness and green cover dominating the city. Kigali city and its vegetation cover hosts a massive population of birds which are estimated to be approximately 750 species which are spotted while in the city, bird species in the city include African grey horn bills, brown throated wattle eye, African rock pigeon, cardinal woodpecker, hammerkop, cinnamon chested bee eater, pied crow, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Hadada Ibis, Lesser-striped Swallow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cardinal Woodpecker, Northern Fiscal (Common Fiscal), African Harrier-hawk (Gymnogene) and many more .
Birds in Kigali city are sighted while on a nature walk in the city and Kigali golf course. 00000
Gishwati-Mukura national park
Gishwati-Mukura national park is a newly established national park and a tourist destination in Rwanda situated in western region of Rwanda above Lake Kivu, the park is dominated by thick forest trees which host 232 bird species including Albertine Endemic species. Bird species in Gishwati-Mukura national park include Red-throated Alethe, Ruwenzori Turaco, Strange Weaver, Ruwenzori Batis, Regal Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, the Grey Crowned Crane, Stripe-breasted Tit, Martial Eagle, white headed wood hoopoe, mountain yellow warbler, Old world warblers and many more.
Lake Kivu is one of the great lakes in Africa situated on the border of democratic republic of Congo and Rwanda in the western corner of Rwanda, Lake Kivu stretching over an area of 27000 square kilometers is a fantastic birding destination numerous bird species. Lake Kivu stretching through cyangugu (southern side), kibuye (central region) and Gisenyi (northern side) is not only a remarkable birding site in Rwanda it is also a well-known birding site in the world
Lake Kivu hosts approximately 750 bird species which are spotted most especially on the shores of the lake, many bird species are always spotted on the shoes shores of Lake Kivu such as common kestrel, African Pied Wagtail, Tropical Boubou, Common Waxbill, spotted Yellow-throated Greenbul, Speckled Pigeons, Chin-spot Batis, Ashy Flycatcher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Bronzed Sunbirds, African Pied Wagtail, White tailed Blue Flycatcher, colorful Southern Red Bishop, Red-chested sunbirds, Hadada Ibis, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Scarlet-chested, Spectacled Weaver, Striated Heron, Common Waxbill, Black-headed Heron, Red-billed Fire finch, Little bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Canary, Sacred Ibis, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Variable Sunbird, Bronzed Manikin, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Bronze Sunbird, White-browed Robin-chat, Long-tailed Cormorant, Speckled Mouse birds, Grassland Pipit, Olive Pigeons, African Black Swift, Angola Swallow, Mosque Swallow, the Black Crake, Common (Rock) Kestrels, swifts, African fish eagles, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Pin-tailed Whydah, Grey-rumped Swallow , Common Bulbul, Spot-flanked Barbet, Red-rumped Swallow, Black Saw-wing, Lesser-striped Swallow, Black-crowned Waxbills, Holub’s Golden Weaver and many more.
Birds in Lake Kivu are usually spotted while on a boat cruise and nature walks.
Packing list for birding safari in Rwanda
For a fantastic birding safari in Rwanda you need appropriate items/ gadgets which will help you have the best experience, birding as an activity is very difficult activity if you do not have the right equipment’s but if you have the right gadgets it is the best experience you ever get.
Most birds in Rwanda tend to stay in thick forested which requires you as a tourist to carry a binocular to help you spot many birds from a distance, birds are generally shy animals which always fly away upon the presence of a human being. This is why you need a binocular so as to view birds without interrupting them.
A camera is always an appropriate device to carry with you on a birding safari in Rwanda, a good camera will help you take amazing bird species. These pictures will give you memorable moments to finesse about from your birding safari in Rwanda.
Portable voice recorder
Various bird species in the forest make different beautiful sounds which are worth recording, this requires you as a birding tourist to carry a sound recording device so as not to miss these intoxicating sounds.
Drinking water and parked lunch
Bird watching safari is a very time consuming activity which can take approximately a full day, this requires to carry bottled refreshing water, energy giving snacks and packed lunch which you can eat on a break while on the safari.
Birding books on Rwanda
For a wonderful and fantastic experience you need birding books, these books help you be informative and identify the birds easily, these books have a collection of birds with most of their details. These book are easily got from offices of national parks, and major birding sots in Rwanda.
Bird watching takes place in thick forests which are filled with many biting insects like mosquitoes, bees, wasps, Tse-Tse flies and many others which flood the forest for fruits that’s why you need insect repellant lotion to save you from insect bites.
As part of your packing list clothes and their color play a great role to your experience, these clothes are referred to as hide in birding luggage. These clothes help tourists appear like they are part of the green environment thus getting close to the birds without being noticed or even attracting bird’s attentions. Must birds fly away upon sense human presence but with camouflage clothes you can approach the birds without them noticing you, apart from hides (camouflage clothes) you need comfortable clothes.
On the birding safari you also need hiking shoes and pointers.
How to behave while on birding safari in Rwanda
- The way you behave while in the forest for bird watching safari greatly determine the experience you will get and the number of birds you will be able to see, as it is known a good birder never chases a bird or even try flushing them from their hiding spot instead they allow them to appear on their own will.
- Control your movements while in the forest: as your walk through the forest always be careful of your movements, do not run aimless or even chase birds out of their nests. Careless acting amidst the forest will only scare away the birds and also endanger them.
- Recording and talking pictures of the birds is very much unavoidable but so as not to scare away the birds always switch off your cameras’ flash light most especially in breeding season.
- Do not get too close to nests/ nesting colonies, this is not to alert birds and little chicks residing in the nests to danger and diseases. Getting too close to the birds is only allowed to only researchers who get to touch the eggs, most tourists are forbidden form touching the eggs because the birds do abandon the egged if touched.
- Do not throw rubbish in the forest. Respecting and conserving the environment is the most priority every one tourist should honor as the forest are habitants to the birds, always throw your rubbish in designated areas so as not to destroy bird sanctuaries.
- Always follow the rules and regulations given to you by the birding guide.
Best time for bird watching in Rwanda
Bird watching in numerous spots of Rwanda is done throughout the year but the most interesting and unforgettable birding safari in Rwanda is done in the month period of December to February. What makes this period excellent for bird watching is that many colorful bird species migrate from other destinations/ countries primarily due to winter they are experiencing in the months of December to February, in the most many birds are seen in the park which will leave you astonished.
For more information visit