Tourists who love birdwatching in Africa must also know that Rwanda is the place of great surprises. Over 700 different species of volatiles, 30 of which are endemic and some very rare too. Many birds of Rwanda are mountain birds, which is very difficult to see in the African environment. So you can book an inclusive safari that will lead you to admire both mountain gorillas and mountain birds. Birds fly over ancient volcanos, here, over beautiful lakes too. And if you are patient and lucky you shall come back home with the picture of your life! Endemic birds of Rwanda are often small ones, though very colourful. You can also spot some typical African birds – like the fish eagle, the shoebill – but, remember: the smaller … the rarer!

Endemic birds of Rwanda and where to find them

The Rift Valley – Abertine Rift – and the Lake Victoria Basin are the best places where birdwatchers can find endemic volatiles, in Rwanda. The difficult environments have helped these birds to grow isolated and so untouched for ages. Birds you will spot here are hard to see outside Rwanda. These regions are home to handsome francolins, Rwenzori turacos, Albertine owlets, mountain masked apails, Kivu ground thrush.

Akagera National Park is the best place to spot a lovely rare bird, red-faced barbet of Rwanda. The same region is home to warblers, shoebills, African finfoot, Verreux eagles. Still in the Rift Valley, and more precisely at Buhanga- Volcanoes National Park, birders can admire the African pittas as they rest there during their long migrations. Jacanas, fish eagles and palm nuts vultures are not really endemic. But you can find them as well in their perfect Rwandan habitats along the lakes’ shores.

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red faced barbet -photo by Derek Keats

Not just endemic: other birds to admire

Besides the typical Rwandan birds, there are many African, migrants and also marine birds populating these regions. Birdwatchers could spend months taking photos to all of them. You shall go to Nyungwe National Park in order to spot purple breasted sunbirds, Grauer’s swamp warblers and Neumann’s warblers. Birds of prey can be spotted everywhere over the beautiful Rwandan mountains, especially Congo Bay owls, African eagles, vultures.

On the mountains also live scarlet-tufted sunbirds while you must visit the wetlands in order to admire papyrus gonoleks, papyrus canary, white-backed ducks and other marine birds like them. The good news is that also Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is a small paradise for birds. In the city you can spot grey-headed bushshrikes, bat hawks … even grey-crowned cranes.

What to wear, what to bring

Being them endemic or not, the birds of Rwanda are very interesting and living in many different environments. This is why it is necessary to be well informed about climate and what to wear. Light shirts, long trousers and boots, jackets and hats shall never be lacking in your bag. You might also need some camouflage clothing because small birds have a very long sight! Make sure you always have insect repellent and sunscreen. Never forget binoculars, or telephoto lens – most birds you will see are small and having a nest high on the trees. Voice recorders and guide to the species might help too.

Best period for birdwatching in Rwanda

Every month is good for birding safaris in Rwanda, but the best recommended period is from December to March. This is the time when both endemic local birds and migrating birds can be seen together. So it is the perfect chance for birders, both new and expert ones.

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african pitta photo by Derek Keats