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The Grounds Of Hotels At Karongi, Rubavu, And Rusizi Provide Excellent Opportunities For Rwanda Bird Watching. Keep A Look Out For The Double-tooth Barbet, Which Frequents This Area, As Well As The Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Familiar Chat, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, And Spotted Barbet. Furthermore, The Kinunu Region Provides Good Birding Chances For The Most Regularly Seen Species.

Rwanda birdwatching adventures 2024

Rwanda is a bird enthusiast’s delight, with an astonishing 703 bird species dispersed across varied habitats, including 29 Albertine Rift Endemics. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, with some of the greatest highland birding experiences in Africa.

Rwanda stands itself as a top destination for African Montane bird observation, with excellent eco-tourism prospects. The country’s good road network, emphasis on safety, and diverse ecosystems make it an ideal location for birdwatchers. Furthermore, Rwanda’s small size allows birders to visit many birding areas in a single trip, providing access to some of the continent’s most sought-after bird species.

Rwanda has 703 bird species as of November 2018, with new discoveries added to the list since 2010. Among the exceptional resident species, the 29 Albertine Rift Endemics and other Lake Victoria Basin Endemics are must-sees for bird enthusiasts.

Rwanda’s unique (endemic) Birds.

Rwanda has no bird species that are completely unique to the country. However, it is home to 29 Rift Valley endemic birds. These birds may be found in the high-altitude rainforests around Nyungwe National Park, as well as Volcanoes and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks.

Albertine boubou
Albertine owlet
Archer’s robin-chat
Black-faced apalis

Ruwenzori batis
Ruwenzori batis

Blue-headed sunbird
Congo bay owl
Dusky crimsonwing
Grauer’s swamp warbler
Grauer’s warbler
Handsome francolin
Kivu ground thrush
Kungwe 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 double-collared sunbird
Ruwenzori nightjar
Ruwenzori turaco
Schouteden’s swift
Strange weaver
Stripe-breasted tit
Willard’s sooty boubou
Yellow-eyed black flycatcher

Best Time for Bird Watching in Rwanda

Rwanda is a fantastic destination for birdwatching all year, with a concentration on the local species. Between January and June, when most species are loud, Nyungwe offers the greatest bird-watching in Rwanda. However, April might be difficult owing to severe rains. Hiking and gorilla trekking are easier during the dry season, which lasts from June to September.

While many birders will focus on Nyungwe National Park in the country’s west and Akagera National Park in the east, Rwanda offers other outstanding birding chances throughout. Even the capital city of Kigali offers wonderful birding experiences, making it a fully inclusive destination for bird enthusiasts of all ages. Let’s look at the top sites to go bird-watching in Rwanda.

Birding at Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe National Park, a beautiful tropical highland rainforest, is home to an astonishing 322 bird species, 13 monkey species, and diverse plant life. Notably, 29 bird species are unique to this park. The famed Red-collared Babbler is a must-see bird that can only be seen in Rwanda. Other notable discoveries include the Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Nightjar, Handsome Francolin, Grauer’s Warbler, and other sunbird species. Birdwatchers may readily observe these and other species thanks to professional bird guides and a well-maintained network of paths.

Those with more time and luck may be able to see Kungwe Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush, and Willard’s Sooty Boubou. Nyungwe’s rarer species include the elusive Congo Bay Owl, Albertine Owlet, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, and Rockefeller’s Sunbird, all of which have been documented but are seldom observed. Night treks in Nyungwe, which will soon be accessible, provide an opportunity to see the park’s reclusive nocturnal species.

Birding at Volcanoes National Park: More Than Gorillas

Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda’s tallest peak, is located in Volcanoes National Park, which is surrounded by dormant volcanoes and rich vegetation. While the park is well-known for its mountain gorillas, it is also a popular destination for bird watchers, with over 200 different bird species. 17 of these can only be found in the Albertine Rift Endemics category.

The birds you’ll see here are comparable to those at Nyungwe National Park. However, the intriguing Scarlet-Tufted Sunbird is a distinct feature of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. If you want to see this stunning bird, the best place to do so is on a walk to Mt. Bisoke’s summit. To add to Rwanda’s attractiveness for birdwatchers, the park’s environs include a number of lakes that may entice them with a fast and interesting side excursion. The Buhanga Eco-Park is nearby and might be a good site to see the African Pitta during its yearly migration.

Birdwatching in Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is a stunning savannah wildlife reserve with undulating hills, lakes, marshes, and woods. While it provides the conventional experience of an African Big 5 safari, its varied range of habitats makes it an excellent location for bird viewing in Rwanda. Up to date, 490 bird species have been identified in Akagera. The park offers an adventure that is comparable to other regional sites. Nonetheless, its small structure provides easy access to a variety of habitats, making it a great location for compiling an outstanding Rwanda bird-watching list.

The Red-faced barbet, which is only found in a few areas, is a popular bird among Rwandans. It may be spotted near Akagera Game Lodge and Muyumbu Campsite. Other notable species are Carruthers’ Cisticola, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Papyrus Gonolek, White-Winged Swamp Warbler, White-collared Oliveback, and stately Grey-crowned Cranes. Another coveted sighting is the Shoebill, a common bird in the area. Furthermore, Akagera has robust raptor populations and an abundance of waterbirds.

Birdwatching in Gishwati-Mukura National Park

Gishwati-Mukura National Park, Rwanda’s newest national park, is located in the country’s western region and focuses on restoration. While still under progress, it shows promise for bird aficionados, with 232 species in Gishwati and 163 in Mukura. Both regions have Albertine Rift endemics and forest-bird specialties.

Birding Around Lake Kivu’s Shores

A visit to Lake Kivu provides a beautifully tranquil rest during your bird-watching tour in Rwanda, as well as its fair share of thrilling moments. The lake is home to robust populations of White-breasted Cormorants, as well as the breathtaking sight of Pied Kingfishers and Osprey migratory fishing. Along the lake’s shore, you’ll see some of Rwanda’s most common land-based bird species.

The grounds of hotels at Karongi, Rubavu, and Rusizi provide excellent opportunities for Rwanda bird watching. Keep a look out for the Double-tooth Barbet, which frequents this area, as well as the Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Familiar Chat, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, and Spotted Barbet. Furthermore, the Kinunu region provides good birding chances for the most regularly seen species.