However, when it comes to birding, Rwanda is also among Africa’s most exciting destinations with over1450 species of birds of which 27 of these are Albertine Rift endemics.the most highlights include; the red faced Barbet, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Shoebill Stork,Papyrus Gonolek, and Miombo Wren-Warblers. Rwanda has also got 7important birding Areas that include; Akanyaru Nyabarongo, Rugezi Swamp, and the Cyamudongo. Rwanda’s location within the Albertine Rift also makes it ideal as well as stunning for the bird lovers. Bird watching in Rwanda can be appeal to every level visitor. Birding is also experienced throughout the year with the bird migrant bird season from December to February.
There are many birding destinations in Rwanda and some of these include;
Akagera, the wetlands and the lakes of this park are home to the common shoe bill stork and is also one of the easiest sites within the region where it can be spotted. More so Akagera also supports a mixture of the acacia as well as the papyrus species that include the Bennett’s Woodpecker, Red-faced Barbet,White-headed, Papyrus Gonolek, White-headed, Black and familiar Chats, Tabora Cisticolas, Miombo Wren-Warblers. White-winged and Broad-tailed Warblers etc. in the south west of the country, you will find Nyungwe National Park and it’s a virgin forest and one of the largest forest reserve that is remaining in Africa and is also home to more than 300 species of birds and 27 species are endemics.
Most of the forest is fully unexplored with access of it being difficult, since it is so steeply high and has got deep valleys. However, there is an excellent winding tarmac road that passes through the forest and follows the crest of the mountains. The road is also one of the few areas in the whole world which allows the tourists to look directly into and also down on the rain forest canopy. Also along this road, you will find most of the Albertine rift endemics and these include; Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Rwenzori Turaco, Strange Weaver, Rwenzori double-collared, Stripe-breasted Tit, Mountain Sooty Boubou,Handsome Francolin, Grauer’s Rush, RwenzoriBatis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Archer’s Robin-chat, Neumann’s and Grauer’s Warbles, Masked Mountain Apalis, and and a full range of purple-throated, blue-headed and regal Sunbirds. A specialty is the Red-collared Mountain Babbler, which has its only easily accessible site here,as does Kungwe Apalis.
You can also find a good forest track forbidding just near Gisakura Forest Guest House and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Tourism and conservation campsite at Uwinka were you will find some species including; the Kivu ground Thrush, the red throated Alethe, the collared Apalis, the shelley’s and dusky Crimson Wing. The other species include; Lagden’s bush shrikes, white bellied robin chat, the white tailed Bluefly Catcher, barred long tailed cuckoo, great blue Turaco and the white bellied Crested flycatcher.
The Rugezi swamp is located away in a flooded valley which is near Gicumbi and the Ugandan border which is 100 square kilometres and the swamp is recognised as both a Ramsar wetland and the important bird area, it’s really visited by the tourists and its home to over 43 different bird species, these include; the great endangered Grauer’s swamp warbler. The other species include; papyrus Gonolex and the famous papyrus yellow warbler.Most part of the swamp is covered with vegetation and the area is so pretty with open water at the southern end of the marshes called Lake Nyagafunzo that attracts many herons, egrets, cranes and pelicans.
The Akanyaru wetland is also a birdingspot in Rwanda, it covers over 300 sqkm over a narrow long band which is 80kmalong the Akanyaru River, and this wetland starts from the south and extends to Rwanda – Burundi border and cross its way to the village of Ntarama where the Akanyaru joins with the larger Nyabarongo River. This area is also less visited than any other birding site with in the country and the papyrus is dominated by the swamp and it has been recognized as an important birdlife area and home to over 54 bird species including; the papyrus yellow warbler, papyrus Gonolex,the great snipe, Malagasy pond hero and then the pallid harrier.
Lake Kivu is also another birding site and its 150km winding into the coastline on the Rwanda side , its far away the largest water body with in the country and it has got many coves, cliffs, islets, beaches as well as the islands that provide ample habitats for many birds. In order to view some of these species, you will not even leave the compound of your hotel. You will carry a pair of binoculars to any part of the lake side lodges and you will view many fish eagles, pelicans, cormorants, the kingfishers, the pin tailed Whydah, Malachite Kingfisher, double toothed barbet, and the iconic crested crane.
Kigali city is also a birding spot and at the Nyarutarama lake near the golf course with in Kigali, you can spot the famous African Reed warbler as well as the great sedge warbler, the Common Waxbill, the grey backed fiscal, great sedge warbler, red rumped, the tropical boubou, the African spoonbill, the yellow billed stork, the mosque swallows,the yellow white pelican, the common moorhens, the grey heron and the yellow backed weavers.