12 days birding and wildlife tour in Rwanda

This 12 day Rwanda birding tour covers Rwanda’s top birding and wildlife destinations. Rwanda is a tiny country of size 26,338 square kilometers but has a prolific bird list of about 750 species. The small size of Rwanda makes it easy accessing the birding hotspots, and in only 12 days of birding you will visit 4 major Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Rwanda covering a range of habitats ranging from savannah, wetland, mountain and forest.

You will have an experienced birding guide on this birding and wildlife trip and you also make use of local site guides at the birding spots, in available

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival in Rwanda

Today you will be received by your bird guide in Rwanda upon landing at the Kigali International Airport and be transferred to your hotel for relaxation.

If you arrive in the morning, you can go for a birding tour in Kigali later in the afternoon. Lake Nyarutarama and its surrounding bush and woodland are a bird hotspot in Kigali City that you will visit to record some local birds.

Day 2 – transfer to Akagera National Park and afternoon boat ride

After breakfast you shall drive to Akagera National Park (IBA) for the only savanna birding in Rwanda as it is the only park in Rwanda with savannah habitat. With more than 525 bird species registered the park has the highest number of bird species of all the protected areas in Rwanda. The huge bird list is because of the park’s diverse habitats which include savannah, mountain and swamp. The birding trip in Akagera provides many savanna birds and raptors, plus some water birds.

On arrival in the park via the entrance in the south of the park you shall do a game drive and explore the acacia dominated woodland and bush in this part of the Akagera.

After lunch you shall go for the boat ride on Lake Ihema in the afternoon. The boat ride offers sightings of water birds and animals such as Hippos and Crocodiles.

Day 3 – full day birding and safari in Akagera National Park

Early rise and set out for a full day of birding and safari in Akagera National Park. You will explore more tracks in the park for more birds and animal sightings.

Day 4 – another full day of birding and safari in Akagera and overnight in the north of the park

Today you shall have another day of birding in Akagera but you will head to the more savanna north of the Akagera where you expect to see more savanna birds and a lot more of animals than seen in the south. The drive will take you to the Kilala plains which is the main animal watching area of the park as many grazers converge in the plains for grazing.

You will overnight in the north overlooking the Kilala plains.

Day 5 – morning birding in Akagera and transfer to Volcanoes National Park

Today you will go for early morning birding and safari in the Kilala plains. This is the best time to be in the Kilala plains as you have a chance of spotting the lions and other cats still on the hunt.

After breakfast you shall check out and leave for Volcanoes National Park in the mountainous north of Rwanda.

Day 6 – Birding in rugezi swamp (IBA)

Today you shall spend the day birding in the Rugezi Swamp for a day of water birds and garden birds. Rugezi Swamp is the only RAMSAR  wetland in Rwanda. The swamp has 43 resident species of bird that include a number of globally threatened species and one Albertine rift endemic, Gthe rauer’s Swamp Warbler that if lucky may tick off the Albertine rift endemics list. Other species include; Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Grey-crowned Crane, Carruther’s Cisticola, etc… The surrounding gardens and settlements will supplement your Rugezi Swamp list with garden species.

Day 7 – birding in Volcanoes National park

Today you shall go birding on the slopes of the magnificent Virunga Mountains. Volcanoes National Park which is Rwanda’s part of the Virungas, has about 200 bird species recorded so far and of these 15 are Albertine rift endemics. You will trek through bamboo and hagenia forest on the slope of Mount Bisoke and record several Albertine rift endemics and mountain specials. Along the trail you also stand a chance of spotting some wildlife such as the gorillas, golden monkeys, duikers, etc…

Day 8 – optional golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes and travel to Nyungwe

Today you shall travel to Nyungwe National Park in the south of Rwanda.

Optional activity

You can do the golden monkey tracking adventure in the Volcanoes National Park and then depart for Nyungwe. The beautiful golden monkeys are endemic to the Albertine rift valley. They live in the bamboo forest at the bottom of the Virunga Mountains. The trek is light and finding the monkeys is not difficult and within 30 minutes may find a large troop of up to 100 individuals. Are allowed only one hour to be with them and they are great for photography.

Day 9 – birding in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Today you will start off your forest birding experience in Nyungwe National Park. Nyungwe National Park protects a mountain forest that is said to have existed since the ice age. There are about 310 birds species recorded in Nyungwe and out of these are 27 Albertine Rift endemic species which is the highest number of Albertine endemic birds for any park in Africa. Setting off from Gisakura you will explore the Kamiranzovu trail

Day 10 – birding in Nuyngwe National Park

Today is another full day of birding in Nyungwe National Park, taking on another trail and increasing your bird list and primates as well.

Day 11 – Chimpanzee tracking and birding in Nyungwe National Park

Today you shall go for the chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe national Park. Nyungwe national park is popular for its many primates with 13 species recorded of which include the chimpanzees. There are about 500 chimps in Nyungwe and two groups have been habituated for the chimpanzee tracking adventure in Rwanda.

The chimp tour in Nyungwe starts at 4.30am by meeting the park guides at Gisakura ranger station, and after briefing you shall drive to the starting point of the chimpanzee trek. After an amazing encounter with man’s closest relatives you shall return to the lodge for lunch or relaxation and before going for birding later in the afternoon

Day 12 – canopy walk in Nyungwe and transfer to Kigali for your evening flight

After breakfast and checking out you shall go for the canopy walk adventure in Nyungwe National Park. The canopy walk tour starts from Uwinka park office, setting off along the Igishigishigi trail before setting onto the canopy walkway. The canopy walkway which is suspended 50 meters from the ground offers stunning views across the mountain forest and eye-level sightings of chimps and birds in the canopy.

After canopy walk you shall depart for Kigali to catch your evening flight.

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