Rwanda is another known destination for birding in East Africa and Africa at large. Birding sites in Rwanda are mainly located in the Albertine rift valley which contains dense forests in the west, grassland plains, swamps, lakes, rivers, and mountains which are all good habitats for birds.
Rwanda shelters an approximate of over 700 bird species and it being a small country covering an area of around 26,338 square kilometers, bird watching is quite an easy and simple activity as the birds are always in the vicinity for tourists to spot them. It is believed to have the highest concentration of birds per square kilometer in Africa which is a stunning attribute for bird watchers.
Out of over 700 bird species, 29 are Albertine rift endemics and these can be seen from ecosystems in the Albertine rift in western and north western Rwanda
Where to do Rwanda birding safaris from?
Birding in Rwanda can be carried out in the different national parks and other birding spots as listed below.
Nyungwe Forest National Park.
This is one of the must go places for bird lovers when they visit Rwanda. This national park has got the largest unspoiled natural forest reserve in Africa making it a suitable habitat for over 300 bird species of which 27 are Albertine rift endemics like the Rockefellers’ sunbird, Chapin’s fly catcher, Rwenzori batis, strange weaver, red-throated alethe, handsome francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Mountain Sooty boubou, Rwenzori hill babbler, among others.
There are also a variety of other bird species like the Guinea Congo Forest biome species, blue turacos, Ross’s turacos, coqui Francolin, long-tailed cisticola, bubbling cisticola, among others, and a specialty specie of the Red-collared Mountain Babbler which has its only accessible site there.
The park is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda and has got numerous birding trails like the Igishigishi trail where there is a canopy walkway, and several birds are seen lining up on the metal rods of the walkway.
Volcanoes National Park.
This park is popularly known for gorilla trekking safaris, but tourists can equally carry out birding expeditions alongside gorilla trekking adventure. The park is surrounded by dormant volcanos, most of them lushly vegetated which makes this place a perfect habitat for birds.
Bird population in this park total up to 200 species of which 17 of them are Albertine rift endemics. Bird species here can also be found in Nyungwe National Park, although Volcanoes National Park is the only place where to find the Scarlet-tufted sunbird in Rwanda.
Akagera National Park.
Located in eastern Rwanda, Akagera National Park is composed of savannah grasslands and lush wetlands, rivers and lakes that are habitats to water birds and other bird species like elusive shoebill stork, papyrus gonolek, carruther’s, tabora cisticolas, bennett’s woodpecker, red-faced barbet, black-bee eaters, cinnamon breasted, black cuckoo and strange weavers among others.
This is one of the biggest and deepest lakes in Rwanda, offering tourists a view of the water birds that gather around its shores. Some of the bird species found around this lake include the fish eagles, pelicans, cormorants and Pin-tailed whydah among others.
These can be spotted during boat cruises or just a mere nature walk along the shores of this verdant lake which is surrounded by vast beaches, cliffs and cloves, this is a whole different experience as well.
Some of the wetlands that are well known for birding tours in Rwanda include Rugezi, Akanyaru and Nyabarongo. Rugezi Marsh is well known for the grauer’s swamp warbler, grey crowned cranes, papyrus canary, and papyrus yellow warbler bird species. The wetlands have a papyrus cover that is best habitat for water birds and other bird species.
Other than these birding spots, bird watchers can also visit Kigali city as it has maintained the green cover in the city which act s as a home for the birds, Giswati-Mukura National Park west of Rwanda, just north of Lake Kivu among other places to enjoy unmatched views and take spectacular photography of bird species.
East Africa as a region is one of the top bird destinations for tourists mainly supported by its eco-system and favorable climate. Any bird lover should not skip checking out some of the top birding spots East Africa has to offer.