Bird watching in Rwanda is very rewarding with bird lit of over 750 species! Since it’s a small country with an area that covers an area of 26,338 sq km, Rwanda also contains the highest concentration of birds of covering a small area and spending a short time out on the birding trail. There is also easy access and the views to these rare and hard to see the bird species.
The habitats are also diverse and then include; the Albertine rift montane forests in the western region and the grassland plains as well as the swamp along the eastern border. There are also many swamps, wetlands, rivers and the lakes that are all around through the grassy hills of the central region and across Rwanda. The country also account for most of the Albertine Rift endemic species and 27 of which are found in Nyungwe Forest National park.
There are also the breath taking land scape of the grassy hill as well as the misty volcanoes that is inhabited by the rare and the amazing wildlife like the mountain gorillas and the other primates making Rwanda o ideal for the birding lovers.
When to go bird watching in Rwanda?
Birding is all year round but the period from December to February is for the migrant birds during which Rwanda hosts many of the wintering a well as the Palearctic migrants. Birding infrastructure like the trails, accommodation and the roads that lead to the birding trails that have been developed. The professional bird guides have also been trained and are available to lead birding tours in Rwanda. Many of the birding pot in Rwanda have knowledge able site guides.
Where to go birding in Rwanda?
- Birding around Kigali City
Kigali city is the main entry point into Rwanda via the Kigali international Airport and this offers your first birding activity in Rwanda. There are also renowned birding pots within the city that for the visiting new birders provide a good introduction to some local birds of Rwanda.
- The albertine eco region
This albertine region also composes of a chain of mountains that were formed through the upliftment and volcanic activity. It also extends across the western half of Rwanda and also covers five other countries. The albertine is also regarded as the centre of the afro montane habitant and is also a belt of the exceptional faunal and floral endemism which includes; over 40 bird species, 34 mammals, 117 butterflies, 16 reptiles, 34 amphibians as well as the 27 albertine rift endemics.
- Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes also protects Rwanda’s part of the Virunga mountain range and also includes five volcanoes including mount Muhavura, sabinyo, bisoke, Gahinga and the famous Karisimbi. The park is also famous for the mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys and it’s mostly visited for the treks to see these engendered and the endemic primates and hikes to the volcanoes. This national park also has over 165 bird species, 7 endemic to the area. This must be visited for birding to catch the rare species and also enjoy the breath taking scenery of the virunga and an opportunity to meet the gorillas.
- Nyungwe National Park
This is a tropical mountain rain forest and also lies on the outh wetern slope of the highland region which forms the great divide between the Congo and the Nile drainage systems. This park also gives protection to this region’s largest montane rain forest and is also home to 310 species of birds. Nyungwe is also the most popular birding destination in Rwanda, most especially being sought out for the many albertine rift endemics and has over 27 of them. The most common here include; the red collared babbler, the rwenzori Turaco, the handsome spurfowl, Grauer’s swamp warbler and the blue headed sun bird.
- The Akagera National park
This national park also lies in the north east of the country outside the high rising albertine belt. It also covers grasslands of savannah. A mixture of the rolling grassland crossed with the broad leafed and the acacia woodland, these lower lying lands are also divided by the akagera River.On the 525 species, some of these include; the red faced barbet, the white collared oliveback and the Sousa’s Shrike. The national park is a mosaic of the wetlands and the lakes along the course of the Akagera River and the eastern boundary.
- The wetland and the Marshes.
Rwanda’s wetland and the marshes also cover 10% of the country. The protected ones include Akanyaru, Rugezi, and the Nyabarongo wetland were many waders and the water species can be seen.
About Volcanic Hiking in Rwanda
Rwanda also takes the biggest share of the virunga mountains volcanoes that is 5 out of the 8 that distance the three neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. These 5 volcanoes include; Gahinga, Muhavura, Sabinyo, Karisimbi and Bisoke, all of which lie in the volcanoes National park, which is Rwanda’s prime tourist destination and home of the much endangered mountain gorillas.
Hiking safaris are also available on each of these volcanoes apart from mt sabinyo that has many craters and has been declared so dangerous to climb as for now. It’s also however available for hiking from the Ugandan side and shows debatably the best views of the virunga volcanoes chain.
For the nature lovers, the virunga mountains are also a true paradise filled with the lush green forest, rare mountain vegetation , the crater lake, wildlife species like the elephants, buffaloes, golden monkeys, mountain gorillas, the endemic birds of the albertine rift, the sceneries of the mountainous land scape and the extensive volcanoes. These also offer the unequalled African jungle adventure and one of the best scenery on the African continent!
In the course of these hikes, you are also chanced with meeting the habituated mountain gorillas and you will also be given a minute to view them minus taking photos to keep it fair for those that paid for the pricey gorilla trek safari permit. The golden monkeys are also found here during the hike.
The available Hiking trails in Virunga Mountain of Volcanoes National Park
- Mount Bisoke Volcano crater lake Hike
Mountain Bisoke lies on the border with DRC and it’s a dormant volcano, this mountain has got massive Crater Lake at the top that measure about 400m in diameter and also lies on the Rwandan side. It’s the most popular of the trails and must be done for hiking lovers. It’s active and unconditionally doable for the experienced hikers or the climbers, requiring some basic fitness. There is also a good number of the habituated mountain gorillas in Mt Bisoke and you also have a chance of meeting these on your way up. You will also meet the golden monkey and at the summit, the view of the Crater Lake is so amazing. You will also view the peak of Mt Mikeno in the DRC. This hike take 6 hours, 4 hours going up and 2 hours coming down.
- Lake Ngezi trek- Mt Bisoke Volcano
Lke Ngezi is another beautiful cater lake on the side of Mount Bisoke, together to mountain Gahinga. This is a much shorter and easier hike that takes only 3 hours, 2 to the lake and 1 to make it back.
- The Dian Fossey grave site trail hike.
The Dian fossey is also a famous researcher and primatologist who dedicated her life to the conservation of mountain gorillas. She also paid the price for these primates and was buried with them, at her research centre, the Karisoke Research Centre along Mt Bisoke near Mt. Karisimbi. This trail also leads to the research centre which is beautiful though challenging. It needs 2 hours and will reward you with a possible meeting with the mountain gorillas, birds, orchids and the golden monkeys.
- Mountain Karisimbi
Kariimbi is at 4507m and it’s the Africa’5th highest mountain that has snow during some months of the year. This is an active 2 day hike, and camping is done at 3700m at the end of the first day’s ascending. The one day hikes are also present at Muhabura and Gahinga.