Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa with over 750 bird species making it one of the best birding destinations. Birdwatching safari in Rwanda can be done in different places and these include volcanoes national park, Nyungwe forest national park, Akagera national park, Gishwati-Makura national park, Lake Kivu, and Kigali city. Rwanda is located in the Albertine rift region that is dominated by savannah grassland, afro montane forests, swamps, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and savannah grasslands that host over 750 bird species.
Best places to do birdwatching safari experiences in Rwanda
Kigali: Kigali is one of the greenest cities in Africa with amazing birding areas in Africa. The city has several birding spots where you can visit and explore several birding species in their habitats such as lakes, wetlands, forests, grassland, and much more. The birding spots in Rwanda include Umusambi Village Nature Reserve, Nyarutarama Lake, Mountain Kigali Forest, and Nyabarongo Wetlands.
The birding activities in the above areas expose you to birds such as African paradise flycatcher, southern black flycatcher, red-chested cuckoo, thick billed seedeater, common bulbul, yellow-fronted canary, yellow-billed duck, hottentot teal, hadada ibis, African hobby, tawny-flanked prinia, white-browned coucal, common moorhen, spur-winged geese, yellow wagtail, winding cisticola, black kite, pygmy kingfisher, white-faced whistling duck, and red-billed teal among others.
Volcanoes national park: Volcanoes national park is home to over 200 bird species that have found their home in the tropical forests of the park. The park has several bird-watching spots where you can encounter these bird species with the help of a guide. Some of the birds in volcanoes national park include handsome francolin, African long-eared owl, grauer’s swamp warbler, archer’s robin chat, dusky turtle dove, brown-necked parrot, dusky crimsonwing, doherty’s bush shrike, strange weaver, lagden’s bush shrike, Rwenzori turaco, scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, red-faced woodland warbler, Rwenzori double -collared sunbird, and Rwenzori apalis among others.
Nyungwe forest national park: Nyungwe forest national park is one of the best birding places in Rwanda with about 310 bird species of which 31 are endemic to the Albertine region. Birds in Nyungwe forest national park include Rwenzori batis, handsome spurfowl, Common stonechat, blue-headed coucal, stripped pipit, Rwenzori turaco, tropical boubou, yellow ramped tinker bird, neumann’s warbler, red collared mountain babbler, chestnut owlet, white-bellied robin, grauer’s swamp warbler, blue turaco, Kivu ground thrush, short-tailed warbler, black-faced rufous warbler, dusky Crimsonwing, archer’s robin cat, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, and purple-breasted sunbird among others.
Akagera national park: Located in the northeastern park of Rwanda, Akagera national park hosts over 525 bird species making it one of the best birding destinations in Rwanda. Birds in Akagera include Amur falcon, white-winged swamp warbler, hamerkop, African jacana, papyrus gonolek, blue-shouldered robin-chat, beaudouin’s snake eagle, tabora cisticola, African grey hornbill, booted eagle, crested barbet, cardinal woodpecker, browned-chested lapwing, grasshopper buzzard, grey crowned crane, cabanis’s bunting, red-faced barbet, northern brown-throated weaver, carruther’s cisticola, white-faced whistling duck, long-tailed cormorant, goliath heron, black-headed weaver, denham’s bustard, shoebill stork, eleonora’s falcon, blue checked bee-eater, black-headed weaver, dimorphic egret, and yellow-billed eremomela.
Gishwati-Makura national park: Gazetted in 2014 to protect the remaining species of chimpanzees and other wildlife, Gishwati-Makura national park is home to over 232 bird species that have been so far recorded in this park. Birds in this park include Abyssinian ground thrush, white-headed wood hoopoe, strange weaver, marital eagle, Rwenzori batis, old world warblers, purple-breasted sunbird, mountain yellow warbler, red-throated alethe, Dusky Crimsonwing, and grey crowned crane among others.
Lake Kivu: Lake Kivu is another important birding area in Rwanda located on the borders of DR Congo and Rwanda. There are several bird species that have been so far recorded around the shores of Lake Kivu and these include Holub’s Golden Weaver, grey-rumped swallow, lesser-stripped swallow, African fish eagle, spot-flanked barbet, common bulbul, African black swift, black saw-wing, common kestrel, yellow-throated greenbul, tropical boubou, long-tailed cormorant, red chested sunbirds, African pied wagtail, Holub’s golden weaver, spotted yellow-throated greenbul, scarlet-chested, chin-spot batis, cardinal woodpecker, African pied wagtail, bronzed sunbirds, striated heron, colorful southern red bishop, white-tailed blue flycatcher, little bee-eater, hadada ibis, and crimson-rumped waxbill among others.
What to pack for birdwatching safari experiences in Rwanda?
For the best bird watching safari experience in Rwanda, you need a birding book, a pair of binoculars, a camera, a drinking water bottle, portable voice recorder, waterproof hiking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellents, rain jacket, long-sleeved clothes, face mask, sanitizer, and energy-giving snacks.
Best time to go for birdwatching safari experiences in Rwanda
Birding watching in Rwanda can be done at any time of the year. However, there are months that are better than the rest and these are months between December and February. During these months, there are so many birds in the park including the migratory ones that come into the country escaping harsh winter conditions in Europe.
Since there is little or no rainfall in the months between December and February, the roads leading to the park are passable, the birding trails are dry, and the vegetation in the park is short giving clear views of birds. Birders can still visit Rwanda for birding activities in the other months that are not mentioned because the parkas are open throughout the year.
Accommodation on bird watching safari experiences in Rwanda
Akagera national park – Karenge Bush Camp, Magashi Safari Camp, Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, Akarenge Game Lodge, Magashi Tented Camp, Ruzizi Tented Camp, Vintage Cottages, Akarenge Game Lodge, Akagera Resort and Country Club, Nyagasambu Real Beach Hotel, and Akagera Rhino Lodge among others.
Volcanoes national park – Bisate Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, One $ Only Gorilla’s Nest Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Camp, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Volcanoes Hotel, Villa Gorilla, and Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel among others.
Nyungwe forest national park – Nyungwe Forest Lodge, One & Only Nyungwe House, Gisakura Family Hostel, Nyungwe Top View Hotel, Gishwati Lodge, Peace Guest Hotel, Comoran Lodge, Golden Monkey Hotels, and Uwinka Campsite among others.
Kigali city – One Click Hotel, Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel, Kigali Marriott Hotel, The Retreat, Hotel Des Mille Collines, Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel, Kigali Serena Hotel, Five to Five Hotel, The Nest, and Grand Legacy Hotel among others.