10 days Albertine rift birding and primates tour in Rwanda

During this 10 day Rwanda birding and primates tour you will explore the mountainous Albertine rift region that cuts across the western half of Rwanda. The Albertine rift is a belt of exceptional endemism that cuts across 5 African countries and Rwanda lies within its epicenter. Out of the 44 Albertine rift endemic birds, 29 Albertine rift endemic birds have been recorded in Rwanda. The mountain forests in the Albertine rift valley are also known to harbor many primates some of which are endemic to the Albertine such as the endangered Mountain Gorillas. You will encounter a number of monkeys on the birding trails.

The prime destinations covered on this 10 days birding tour in Rwanda are Nyungwe Forest National Park situated in the south of Rwanda which has the highest number of Albertine rift endemic birds and Volcanoes National Park in the north famous for the mountain gorillas.

You will have an experienced Rwandan bird guide for your 10 day birding trip, and, at almost every birding spot you will make use of the local guide if available.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival in Rwanda and optional birding in Kigali

On arrival at Rwanda’s Kigali International Airport, you will be met by the tour driver and be transferred to your hotel in Kigali City to relax and shake off the jetlag.

If you arrive in the morning you can spend the afternoon birding around Kigali. You would visit Lake Nyarutarama and take a walk around it to observe water birds, and also scan through the bushes and woodland near the lake for more birds.

Overnight at: Heaven Boutique Hotel

Day 2 – travel to Nyungwe forest national park and afternoon canopy

Early rise for breakfast and by 7am set off to Nyungwe Forest National Park in southwestern Rwanda. Nyungwe Forest National Park is the prime destination for Albertine Rift endemic birds, harboring 27 out of the 44 Albertine rift bird species. Nyungwe is also home to one of the highest species of primates in Africa with 13 species registered in the park. Expect to encounter several monkey species along you birding trails in Nyungwe.

After you settle in at the lodge you will head out for the afternoon canopy walk tour in Nyungwe Forest. The walk way hangs through the forest canopy 50 meters above the ground and 200 meters long. The walkway provides breathtaking views over Nyungwe, and also eye-level sightings of canopy wildlife such birds and monkeys. The canopy walk has become iconic for Nyungwe and thus one not to miss out on your trip to Nyungwe Forest Park.

Overnight at: Nyungwe Top View Hill Lodge

Day 3 – Full day Birding in Nyungwe Forest

After an early cup of coffee and tea head off for whole day birding in Nyungwe Forest, covering birding trails from the area around Gisakura, Karamba, and Karmiranzovu. The visit to Karmiranzovu provides a good chance at the Grauer’s Swamp Warbler. This area has many of Angolan Colobus Monkeys and monkey species which you may see along the birding trails

Day 4 –Birding in Nyungwe Forest – Mt. Bigugu trail

Today will be spent on the higher altitudes further into the Nyungwe Forest National Park. You will take on a full day on the Bigugu trail and will hike to the Mt. Bigugu (2950m) the highest point in the park. Bigugu trail is very productive for Albertine endemics including the much sought-after Red-collared Mountain-babbler. The Mt. Bigugu hike will also expose you to exhilarating views of the Nyungwe Forest.

Day 5 – Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park

You will be up by 4.30am and report to the park office at Gisakura to meet the park guides for briefing and then head off for the chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park. Nyungwe National Park has a chimpanzee population of about 500 individuals making it one of the best places for the adventure to see the chimps in their natural habitat. You will return from the chimpanzee trekking at about noon, have lunch and later can continue with birding.

Day 6 – travel to Volcanoes National Park

Today you shall leave for Volcanoes National Park in the north of Rwanda. You will travel along the beautiful Lake Kivu and can make occasional stops along the way for some birding along the lake.

Overnight at: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Day 7 – Birding in Rugezi Swamp

After breakfast you shall travel to Rugezi Rwanda which is one of Rwanda’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and taking a local canoe you set out to bird on this wetland that has many water/swamp birds. The swamp has one Albertine Rift Endemic, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler.

Day 8 – Birding in Volcanoes National Park

Today you will ascend onto the lush Virunga Mountains for a hiking and birding adventure. Volcanoes National Park has about 200 bird species that have been identified in the park and among these are 15 Albertine Rift endemic birds. You will hike along the Lake Ngezi trail on Mount Bisoke going through bamboo and hagenia forests. The trail is normally very productive for Albertine rift endemics.

Day 9 – Optional gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Today you shall for the famous gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park and come face to face with the endangered mountain gorillas which are endemic to the Albertine rift valley.

Day 10 – Departure

Today you shall transfer back to Kigali for your afternoon flight.

Optional activity

You can go for the golden tracking tour in Volcanoes National Park before departing for Kigali. The golden monkeys are endemic to the Virungas and the Albertine rift valley. The monkeys live the bamboo forest in the lower zones of the mountains which makes the trek easy and finding the monkeys may take as little as 30 minutes. The monkeys are very striking and great for photography

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