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Observations from July 2011: Red-collared Babbler and Red-faced Barbet! (click here)

Rwanda Birding Tours

Our African Bird Club Conservation Fund Tour to Rwanda in July 2011 focussed on two of this small country's best sites: Nyungwe and Akagera. We've described the best of these sites in our articles published in the ABC Bulletin and Africa Birds & Birding. Our upcoming tours to Rwanda focus on the Albertine Rift endemics at Nyungwe, as an extension of our Uganda Specials Tour.

Nyungwe Forest is the largest block of Afromontane forest on the continent and an excellent network of trails allows excellent chances for Albertine Rift endemics such as Red-collared Babbler, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Kungwe Apalis, Ruwenzori Turaco, Dusky Crimsonwing and more (see our article). Heading to the eastern lowlands, Akagera National Park has the third highest bird list of any park in Africa.

An optional extension to track Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is also available.

This little-visited country is an excellent birding destination, offering wetlands, highland forest and savannas contained within its narrow borders. The ABC Conservation Tours donate a portion of profits to the ABC Conservation Fund.

Our 2013 and 2014 Rwanda tour itinerary will focus only on Nyungwe National Park, and will be run subsequent to the Uganda specials tour.

Click here for the trip reportstour dates, costs and practical information.

Red-collared Mountain Babbler seen in Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest © Ray Tipper.
Red-collared Babbler seen in Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest © Ray Tipper.

Detailed itinerary 2013

Day 1: Arrive in Kigali and drive to Nyungwe National Park

We meet in Kigali, Kigale and from there head south towards Butare, and finally west on a road that passes through Nyungwe National Park. We will be based at Gisakura on the western, lower edge of the reserve during our stay and will stay here during four nights.

Days 2-4: Nyungwe Forest

The best birding in Rwanda is to be had in Nyungwe Forest Reserve; no fewer than 25 Albertine Rift endemics have been recorded here. We have three full days to explore these endemic-rich highland forests. The list of possible species is long, but highlights should include Handsome Francolin (difficult to see), flocks of noisy Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, chattering White-headed Woodhoopoes, a gaudy Bar-tailed Trogon or Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater and several endemics such as Kivu Ground Thrush, Strange Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing and Red-throated Alethe. Overhead we’ll watch for raptors, as both Buzzard and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle occur. The area holds of great diversity of warblers, many of which are hard work to see. Among these area noisy Chubb’s Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, Banded Prinia, Ruwenzori, Chestnut-throated, Mountain Masked, Black-throated, Grey and Kungwe (rare) Apalises, the unusual Grauer’s Warbler, swamp-loving Grauer’s Rush-Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-browed Crombec, striking Neumann’s Short-tailed Warbler and Red-faced Woodland Warbler. However, the undoubted stars of Nyungwe are Red-collared Mountain-Babbler, Ruwenzori Turaco and Purple-breasted Sunbird. The Turaco is rather common and can even be seen crossing over the tarred road that runs through the forest. However, the other two species are more challenging. The babblers are scare, but rove around in noisy parties, carefully gleaning moss and bark on branches of trees. The sunbirds set up territories around flowering Symphonia trees, where the males compete for attention.

Other likely species include: Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Great Blue Turaco, Red-chested Owlet, Mountain, Montane Oriole, Grey Cuckooshrike, Pink-footed Puffback, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, Ruwenzori Batis, , White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, White-starred Robin, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Stuhlmann’s Starling, Slender-billed Starling, Sharpe’s Starling, Striped-breasted Tit, Eastern Mountain Greenbul, , Mountain Illadopsis, Ruwenzori Blue-headed Sunbird, , Stuhlmann’s Double-collared Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, and Thick-billed Seedeater.

Day 5: Nyungwe Forest to Kigali and depart

Today we return to Kigali and depart.

Giant Lobelia towering over Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest © Callan Cohen.
Giant Lobelia towering over Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest © Callan Cohen.

l'Hoest Monkey is ofte seen on the ground. While easiliy seen in Rwanda, it is more secretive in Uganda. Photo taken by Callan Cohen on a birding tour in Rwanda.

Purple-breasted Sunbird (c) Callan Cohen
This Purple-breasted sunbird was photographed on a Birding Africa tour in Rwanda, but it has also been seen on our tour to Uganda.

Gorilla seen at Buhoma on a Birding Africa Tour in UGANDA © Callan Cohen. Gorilla tracking can also be done in Rwanda. Gorilla can be tracked on Birding Africa Tours in Rwanda and Uganda. This photograph was taken at Bwindi Impenerable Forest on a Birding Africa tour in Uganda © Callan Cohen.

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent. †We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

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