Rwanda Birding Tours 

Although birding in Rwanda can be done any time of the year

12 Days Birding Rwanda And Gorilla Trekking Safari

12 Days Birding Rwanda And Gorilla Trekking Safari- Rwanda has four national parks that are good birding areas according to Birdlife international. These parks are Akagera national park, Volcanoes national park, Nyungwe forest national park, and Gishwati Mukura national park. The other birding areas in Rwanda include swampy areas, wetlands, and agricultural lands that are outside protected areas. These birds are easy to see most especially in Akagera national park which is mainly made up of savanna and woodland. Nyungwe forest national park offers the best site for the Albertine endemics that are found nowhere else in Rwanda.

Key bird species to sport on your 12 Days birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking safari

Shoebill, Great Blue and Ruwenzori Turacos, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Broad-billed Roller, Malachite Kingfisher, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Klaas’s Cuckoo, African wood Owl, Chestnut Owlet, Olive Woodpeckers, Collared Pratincole, Emerald spotted wood-dove, Little grebe, Mountain Masked Apalis, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Northern pintail, Handsome francoline, White-headed Black Chat, black-bellied bustard, Secretary bird, Western banded eagle, Red-chested flufftail, African finfoot, African hawk-eagle, Fan-tailed Widowbird, and Caruther’s Cisticol.

12 Days birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking safari highlights

Day 1: Arrival for birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking safari

Day 2: Transfer to Akagera national park – Rwanda birding tours

Days 3 – 4: Birding in Akagera national park – Rwanda birding tours

Day 5: Birding Nyungwe forest national park – Rwanda birding tours

Days 6 – 8: Albertine rift endemics – Rwanda birding tours

Day 9: Birding to Lake Kivu – Rwanda birding tours

Day 10: To Volcanoes national park for gorilla trekking

Day 11: Volcanoes national park – Rwanda gorilla trekking

Day 12: End of 12 days birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking safari

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrival for birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking safari

Today you arrive in Rwanda also known as “The land of a thousand hills”. A representative of Africa adventure vacations will be ready at the airport to pick you and transfer you to the booked hotel. If you arrive early you have an opportunity for a short Kigali city tour.

Meal plan: Dinner

Accommodation: Kigali Marriott hotel – luxury, Heaven boutique hotel – mid-range, Yambi guesthouse – budget

Day 2: Transfer to Akagera national park – Rwanda birding tours

After morning breakfast at your hotel, we start on our journey to Akagera national park located in the east of Rwanda on the borders with Tanzania. We will do birding in the marshy area for bird species such as hamerkop, cattle egret, long-crested eagle, pied cow, sacred and hadada ibis, black-headed weaver, augur buzzard, and veillots black weavers. We shall arrive at your booked lodge later in the evening and check-in for dinner and an overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Magashi camp – luxury, Ruzizi tented camp – mid range, Mutumba campsite – budget

Days 3 – 4: Birding in Akagera national park – Rwanda birding tours

We shall spend two days inside Akagera national park birding. Akagera national park is home to about 525 bird species living in savannah and woodland areas among which include shouldered robin chat, brown snake eagle, pearl spotted owlet and red-faced barbet, etc.

In the afternoon we drive to Lake Ihema and take a boat cruise on the lake for African fish eagles, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Rufous-bellied Heron, Slender-billed Weavers, Greater Swamp Warblers, and Swamp Flycatcher. More species include Goliath, Black-headed, and Squacco Herons, Water Thick-knee, Little Bittern, Grey Crowned Crane, African Openbill, African Wattled Plover, African Darter, Black tern, Long-toed and Senegal Lapwings, and Malachite Kingfisher, etc.

While birding in Akagera national park we might come across animals like buffaloes, elephants, rhinos, zebras, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, cape eland, duikers, and many more.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Magashi camp – luxury, Ruzizi tented camp – mid range, Mutumba campsite – budget

Day 5: Birding Nyungwe forest national park – Rwanda birding tours

After morning breakfast, we start on our journey to Akagera national park with some stopovers for birding and photography. In the swampy marshes and papyrus in Nyungwe, we search for the white-winged warbler, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, and grauer’s swamp warbler before reaching your booked lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: One & Only Nyungwe house – luxury, Nyungwe top – view lodge – mid-range, Gisakura guest house – budget

Days 6 – 8: Albertine rift endemics – Rwanda birding tours

Nyungwe forest national park hosts the remaining large montane forests on the continent of Africa and rich in bird species most especially the Albertine rift endemics.

We shall have 3 days in Nyungwe forest national park birding and some of the species we shall look out for include the Handsome Francolin, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Great Blue and Rwenzori Turacos, Chestnut Owlet, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Olive and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, Stripe-breasted Tit, Red-collared Babbler, Neumann’s Short-tailed Warbler, Doherty’s Bush-Shrike, Archer’s Robin-Chat, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Mountain Masked, Black-faced, and Collared Apalises, Rwenzori Batis, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher, and Purple-breasted and Regal Sunbirds, etc.

Optional: Chimpanzee trekking and canopy walk

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: One & Only Nyungwe House – luxury, Nyungwe Top – View Lodge – mid-range, Gisakura Guest House – budget

Day 9: Birding to Lake Kivu – Rwanda birding tours

After the morning breakfast, our driver will pick you up from your lodge and transfer you to Lake Kivu located northwards and, on your way, you will have stopovers for birding in the forested areas, marshes, and agricultural areas. The journey to Lake Kivu might take you a full day depending on how active the birding en route is. Lake Kivu is the largest freshwater lake in the country and will provide the much-needed rest and opportunities for birding along the shores on arrival that evening.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Lake Kivu, Serena – luxury, Inzonzi Lodge – mid-range, Paradise Malahide – budget

Day 10: To Volcanoes national park for gorilla trekking

The Virunga Volcanoes region shared between DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda are home to rare endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Volcanoes national park is where Dian Fossey an American primatologist was buried after her death on 26th December 1985 by unknown poachers. The drive from Lake Kivu in Gisenyi to Musanze or Kinigi is about one hour but with stopovers for birding, it can take several hours. We will have a stopover at a patch of the forest for opportunities of seeing Narina’s Trogon after which continue to our lodge for an overnight stay before gorilla trekking the following day.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel – luxury, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge – mid range, Garden Place Hotel – budget

Day 11: Volcanoes national park – Rwanda gorilla trekking

After early morning breakfast, our driver will transfer you to Kinigi for a briefing from the park rangers. The briefing helps you know about the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking. After the briefing, you will be allocated a gorilla family and a ranger to lead you into the jungle. Trekking can last for a few to several hours depending on where the mountain gorillas last nest the previous night – you need to be physically fit to enjoy this experience. Once you find these animals, you spend an hour with them while observing their behaviors, watching them do their daily activities, taking photos, and recording videos for memories.

How you spend the rest of the day will depend on the time you finish and get back from trekking. You can choose the rest of the afternoon having nature walk around the lodges which host a lot of different bird species.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel – luxury, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge – mid range, Garden Place Hotel – budget

Day 12: End of 12 days birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking safari

After morning birding around your lodge area, you will start on your return trip to Kigali with stopovers for birding along the way. On arrival at Kigali city, you will continue to the airport for your flight back home. Thank you for birding Rwanda and gorilla trekking with us.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Lunch

Tour includes

Transport

Park entrance fees

Boat trip

Gorilla trekking permit

Game drives

Birding fees

Bottled water

Accommodation

Meals

Service of an English-speaking bird guide

All mentioned activities except for the optional ones

Tour excludes

Extras at the accommodation i.e. drinks, telephone, laundry, etc.

Tips to porters, site guides, and driver/ guide

Insurance

International flights

Visa

Optional activities

Packing list for birding in Rwanda

To have the best birding safari in Rwanda, you must travel well prepared with good binoculars used to stop birds that are far, cameras to take amazing photos of Rwanda and beautiful birds, a portable voice recorder to record voices and sounds of different birds, birding books to help you identify species you spotted, drinking water and food, insect repellants, hides and other clothing.

What’s the best time for birding in Rwanda?

Although birding in Rwanda can be done any time of the year, there are some months which are favorable for birders.  It’s good to know that Rwanda has two seasons that is the dry season and the wet season.  Dry season is the best season to go for birding in Rwanda because there are a thousands of wintering and Palearctic migrant birds that are always escaping the harsh winter conditions in Europe and the Arctic’s coming into the country. The dry seasons in Rwanda happen in the months of December, January and February.

Code of conduct while on a birding safari in Rwanda.

These are rules and guidelines you should follow while birding

Don’t chase away birds from their hiding places, let them come out themselves

Avoid using flash cameras while recording birds

Keep a distance away from the birds so as not to expose the chicks from danger

Don’t litter in the sanctuaries

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