Rwanda is home to many species of birds, many of which are endemic to the region. Many are highly sought after by avid birders due to their rarity.
Rwanda is perhaps most famous for its turbulent past and genocide in 1994, but since then this country has become one of the most peaceful destinations in Africa. Despite it being a small country, it also has over 650 species of birds 44 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley, making it a unique birding destination in Africa.
Akagera National Park
Perhaps the best spot in Rwanda for avid birders is the Akagera National Park in the east of the country. The park is mostly made up of savannah and papyrus swamps which are the source of the Nile River. The park is home to over 525 species of birds and is probably the best site in Africa to look for the rare Ring-necked Francolin. One of the most sought after birds in Africa - the Shoebill can also be seen in the papyrus swamps within the reserve.
The acacia woodlands are home to the Red-Faced Barbet and Souza's Shrike. Also commonly seen are Brown parrots, Sooty Chats and White-winged black tits. The beautiful swamp regions are also home to the Swamp Fly-catcher, Carruther's Cisticola and the Papyrus Gonolek. Along the edge of the swamp, the Brown-chested Lapwing can also be seen. The best time to visit is in the dry season from May to September.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
The Nyungwe Forest National Park at 970 square kilometres is one of the largest protected areas of mountainous rainforests remaining in Africa. It is best known for its many species of primates, but is also a wonderful spot for birding, as many Albertine Rift Endemics can also be seen. The Park is home to 275 species of birds, many of which can be found nowhere else in the world. There is a tar road that runs through the park as well as a camping site and several accommodation options.
The park is made up of steep mountain slopes and due to the terrain large tracts of the forest remain unexplored, though there is a system of well laid out trails. These hikes are very scenic but can be arduous to complete. They will reward avid twitchers with sightings of the Rwenzori Turaco, the Mountain Black Boubou and the Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher. You might be lucky enough to see the rare Grauer's Rush Warbler or the Kungwe Apalos.
Many beautiful Sunbirds can be see including the Ruwenzori Double-collared, Purple-Throated, Blue headed and the Regal Sunbird. The Nyungwe Forest is the only site in which the much sought-after Red-collared Mountain Babbler can be seen. Along the roadside you can keep an eye open for Shelley's Crimsonwing and the Dusky Crimsonwing. One of the prettiest sights is the Great Blue Turaco.
Parc National Des Volcans
This park is most famous for being the last refuge of the Mountain Gorilla and Golden Monkeys; the Parc National Des Volcans is part of the Virunga volcano chain. The park contains a variety of habitats and has over 180 species of birds. It is home to many Albertine Rift endemics such as the Handsome Francolin and the Rwenzori Turaco and both the Dusky and Shelley's Crimsonwings.