Rwanda: A birdwatcher’s Paradise

January 27, 2020
Gorilla blogs

If you are a lover of birds, Rwanda, with its more than 700 species of birds in a small area (250km east-west by 150km north-south) is the perfect destination for you. Its dense forests and mountains provide a suitable habitat for hundreds of rare species, allowing it to support more bird species endemic to the Albertine Rift than any other country outside the DRC.

Rwanda has such a high concentration of birds that you are sure to catch a glimpse of some rare avian at all times of the year, in any part of the country- even the capital. The lover of birds, armed with a camera and binoculars will see enough birds in the gardens of Kigali’s larger hotels to fill the heart with joy.

Birding in the country

But the real birding magic happens when you venture deeper into the country. Visit the Akagera National Park and you will be rewarded with the sight of the mysterious and elusive Shoebill stork; indeed, this is one of the easiest sites in the region where it can be seen.

In addition, Akagera supports a mixture of acacia and papyrus species, including red-faced barbet, Bennett`s woodpecker, papyrus gonolek, white-headed, black and familiar chats, Carruther`s and Tabora cisticolas, white-winged and broad-tailed warblers and miombo wren-warblers.

Head out to Nyungwe National Park in the South West of Rwanda and feast your eyes on the 322 bird species that call this stunning forest home. Our favourites are the Red-collared Mountain Babbler (Turdoides rufocinctus) and the pristine Kungwe Apalis, which are only easily accessible here.

Nyungwe also hosts several Albertine Rift endemics including the Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Archer’s Robin-chat, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Grauer’s Rush, Neumann’s and Grauer’s Warbles and dozens of others.

Other areas that are ideal for bird watching include: around the country’s lakes and wetlands; the newly created Gishwati-Mukura Forest Reserve; and, even the Volcanoes National Park which is the only place in Rwanda where you can find the Scarlet-Tufted Sunbird.

From November to March, resident birds are supplemented by flocks of Palaearctic migrants, making it the best time for birders. But for photographers, the wet months of March to May also hold their charm since the sky is less hazy and makes for great photography.

No matter when you choose to visit, Rwanda will give you the best bird experience you could ever hope to enjoy anywhere.

Let’s go birding!

Talk to our staff at Amazing Gorilla Safaris for ideas on how best to incorporate bird watching into your gorilla or safari tour.  Or even better, you can arrange for a separate birding excursion where you can enjoy watching Rwanda’s beautiful birds to your heart’s content.

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