When you think of a trip to Rwanda, expect to see more than just mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park or the big game in Akagera National Park. With over 750 bird species that call this magical country a home it is of no doubt that Rwanda is remarkably one of the best and perfect destinations for bird watching. It is famous for its intense concentration of bird species per square kilometers in Africa and for bird lovers, you have a great opportunity to sight at diversity of bird species and most interestingly, you spend less time and cover small area while on birding trail. You can also easily spot out the unique birds in this stunning country.
What ranks it among a few incredible birding sites in Africa is the fact it is composed of several bird habitats that range from the Albertine Rift montane forest in the western area, grassland plains to swamps on the eastern border area. Besides, there are many rivers, lakes, through the grassy hills of central region and across Rwanda. Although there are no endemic birds exclusively to Rwanda, it inhabits variety of the Albertine Rift endemic species about 44 of them, of these, 27 can be spotted within Nyungwe Forest National Park. Besides tracking mountain gorillas and many primates in Rwanda, you can also embark on birding safari and you will be filled with ultimate experiences.
When to go for bird watching in Rwanda
Birding safaris in Rwanda can be done at any time of the year however, for incredible sights, usually December to February is ideal period for this tour as it rewards you with amazing sights at several migrant birds especially the wintering and Palearctic migrants. The most interesting part of it is that, even most bird watching infrastructures like trails, areas of stay, roads that take you up to the main birding sites have been developed. In addition, there are well trained and professional guides to take you through your birding exploration in Rwanda.
Where to go for bird watching in Rwanda
What makes this country an ideal birding destination is the presence of its many bird watching areas which also come with distinct bird species and they include among others; Kigali capital city. You can start your birding exploration in Kigali city which is main entry point to Rwanda through Kigali International Airport. It provides the first bird watching experience while you are on safari in Rwanda.
This capital alone boasts of diverse and unique birds that are worth spotting while you are on your birding tour. While here, the notable birding sites include Nyarutarama Lake which rewards birders with variety of birds including the white faced whistling duck, spur winged geese, black headed heron, grey capped warbler and many others; Nyabarongo wetland which features birds like little egrets, squacco turaco, spur winged geese, yellow billed stork a mention but a few. The other site is Mount Kigali which comes with birds like southern black flycatchers, red chested cuckoo, African paradise and many others.
The Albertine eco-region-this mainly consists of chain of mountain which came as a result of up lift and volcanic activity. It extends across the western half of Rwanda and covers about 5 other states. It is heart if the afro montane habitat and a belt of rare fauna and flora endemism with about 40 species of birds, 34 mammals, 34 amphibians, 16 reptiles and 117 butterflies. Over 27 Albertine rift endemic birds exist in this region.
Volcanoes National Park-which is situated suitably in the northwestern side of Rwanda and mainly popular for mountain gorillas and golden monkeys as well as numerous bird species that make up a total of about 200 with 27 of them endemic to the area. Nyungwe forest national park on the other hand lies suitably on the southwestern side of highland area which makes up the great divide between the Congo and the Nile drainage systems. About 310 bird species call this forested protected area a home and they include among others the red collared babblers, Rwenzori Turaco, Regal sunbird, handsome spur fowls, Rwenzori Batis, Grauer’s swamp warbler, blue headed sunbird, Albertine owlet a mention but a few.
Akagera National Park-this lies strategically in the north east side of Rwanda just close to border area with Tanzania and mainly features the savanna woodland and open grassland species comprising of about 525 bird species. They include papyrus canary, papyrus gonoleks, shoebill stork, Caruthers’s cisticola a mention but a few. In addition, there are also numerous wetlands and marshes that make up about 10 percent of this landlocked country with major ones being Rugezi and Akanyaru wetlands.
In conclusion, Rwanda offers more than primate adventures. For birders, Rwanda is that one destination you shouldn’t miss to include in your travel plan.