18 days Rwanda and Uganda birding safari

This 18 days birding safari covers the top birding spots in Rwanda including the three national parks; Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park and Volcanoes National Park. It then extends to Uganda for birding and gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park which is the number one birding spot in Africa according to the Africa Birding Club.

Tour itinerary

Day 1 – arrival in Rwanda for your birding safari

Today you shall arrive in Rwanda for your birding safari. Depending on your arrival time, if in the morning you may afford time for some birding around Kigali or simply go on a sightseeing tour of Kigali City.

Day 2 – travel to Akagera National Park and afternoon birding safari and boat cruise

You will depart from Kigali at 7am and travel to Akagera National Park in the east of Rwanda. Akagera National Park protects the only savannah environment in Rwanda which is characterized by mountain landscapes (hence the tag – “land of a thousand hills”) and many forests. Therefore this birding trip to Akagera will produce the only savannah birds as well as animals on this 18 days Rwanda and Uganda birding safari. With a bird list of about 535 species, Akagera National Park has the highest number of birds of all the Important Bird Areas in Rwanda and this is due to diversity of habitats ranging from savannah, grassland, mountain, forest, and wetlands.

The journey to the park is about 2.5 hours, but may make some stops to spot birds along the way.

Immediately after checking into Akagera National Park you shall begin the birding safari in the south of Akagera National Park which has thick acacia bush and woodland and savanna habitat. Zebras and antelopes some of the common animals in this part of the Akagera which does not many animals compared to the north due to the thickness of the vegetation.

Later after lunch you shall go for a boat trip on Lake Ihema which is the biggest lake in the park. Expect spotting a number of water birds and animals such as hippos and crocodiles. Akagera National Park offers some of the best shots of the African Fish Eagle on Lake Ihema and other water bodies in the park!

Optional: night safari

After sunset you can go for a night game drive to look for the nocturnal species such as the nightjars and animals such as hyena, leopard

Day 3 – birding and big game safari in Akagera National Park

You will have early breakfast and by 7am you will be setting off for a full day birding and wildlife tour in Akagera National Park. You will cover more tracks in the southern areas of the park, covering a range of habitats and landscapes including grasslands, forest, swamps and lake shores.

Day 4 – birding and overnight in the north of Akagera National Park

Today you shall go birding to the north of the park, going through several bird and animal rich spots of Akagera. You are driving the whole length of the park from the south of the park where you were based to the north. The north of the park has vast plains for easy animal viewing, such as the Kilala plains which is the main animal watching spot of Akagera due to the openness and big volume of animals. You will overnight in the north of the park overlooking the beautiful Kilala plains.

Day 5 – birding in or outside Akagera and departure to Kigali

Today you shall have early morning birding and safari experience in the beautiful Kilala plains, expect to see plenty of animals and birds. The Kilala plains which has huge herds of antelopes, buffaloes, zebras,etc… grazing in the lush grasslands attracts the cats such as lions and hyenas which you may spot while on the early morning hunt. After the safari you shall check out and leave for Kigali. Alternatively you could go birding at some wetlands and villages outside Akagera before continuing back to Kigali.

Day 6 – travel to Nyungwe National Park and canopy walk

Today you shall travel to Nyungwe National Park in the southwest of Rwanda and go about exploring this ancient mountain forest that is rich with many Albertine rift endemic bird species. More than 300 bird species have been recorded in Nyungwe National Park and this includes a whooping 27 Albertine rift endemic species which is the highest number of any park in the Albertine rift valley. Nyungwe will also provide many forest specials. Nyungwe national park is also a primate haven with 13 species recorded here which includes chimps and several monkeys.

The journey to the Nyungwe National Park is about 5 hours drive. You will stop over along the way for lunch.

You will get to the park in time to do the canopy walk in Nyungwe forest. The canopy walk has become an iconic experience in Nyungwe that one cannot miss on the trip to the park. The canopy walkway hangs about 50 meters above the ground giving you access to the canopy of the forest and incredible views across the forest. The walkway also gives you eye levels views of birds and monkeys in the canopy.

Day 7 – birding in Nyungwe forest

Today you shall start your birding in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Nyungwe National Park is popular for its many Albertine rift endemic birds, and it is in fact the best place to look for these endemics. Nyungwe has several trails access different areas from swamps, think jungles to high altitude. You will spend the full day on the birding trail. Expect to watch other wildlife as well such as monkeys

Day 8 – birding in Nyungwe National Park

Today is another day spent on another the birding trail in Nyungwe National Park.

Day 9 – chimpanzee trekking and birding in Nyungwe National Park

Today you shall go for the chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park. Nyungwe is home to more than 500 chimps. You will be up for early breakfast at about 4.30am and report to the briefing point at Gisakura where you shall set off from and drive to the tail head to start the trek into the forest to find the chimps. You will spend an hour with the chimps in Nyungwe. Return to lunch and later go back to the jungle to continue birding in Nyungwe, perhaps just scanning the edge of the forest.

Day 10 – travel to Volcanoes National Park/Musanze

After breakfast you shall check out and travel north to Volcanoes National Park in Musanze. You will travel along the scenic Lake Kivu and occasionally making some stops to take in the scenery or spotting birds.

Day 11 – birding in Rugezi Swamp (IBA)

After your breakfast at 6.30am you shall go birding in the Rugezi swamp which is an Important Bird Area situated among the rolling highlands and the foothills of the Virungas. Rugezi Swamp is also the only RAMSAR wetland in Rwanda and thus cannot be overlooked when birding in Rwanda. The swamp shall provide many wetlands and high altitude species. You will also extend into the gardens and bushes to add onto your list.

Day 12 – birding in Volcanoes National Park

Today you shall go birding and trekking in the Virunga mountains of Volcanoes National Park which is another home of the Albertine rift endemics and high altitude species. Volcanoes National Park has about 200 birds species including 15 Albertine rift endemics. You may also bump into the gorillas and beautiful golden monkeys which are endemic to the Albertine rift as well.

Day 13 – optional golden monkey trek and travel to Bwindi National Park

After breakfast you shall check out and travel to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

Optional: golden monkey trekking

Today you go for the golden monkey trek in Volcanoes National Park to get up close with these stunning monkeys. The monkeys live in the base of the volcanoes in the bamboo forest and trek is therefore light and short. You are allowed 1 hour to observe them.

Day 14 – birding in Bwindi forest (Buhoma sector)

Today you shall start your birding experience in Bwindi National Park that is expected to produce more Albertine rift endemics and forest specials. Bwindi National Park has 23 Albertine rift endemics.

Day 15 –gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park

Today you shall take time off birding and go for the Uganda gorilla trekking adventure, one of the best wildlife adventures in the world. Bwindi National Park has about 459 gorillas. You will set out to track a habituated gorilla family assigned to you by the park after your briefing at 7am. You will spend 1 hour with the gorillas after finding them and return to the lodge for relaxation.

Day 16 – birding in Bwindi forest (the Neck)

Today you shall continue birding in Bwindi in forest. You leave the Buhoma sector, birding along the “Neck” on the way to the Ruhija sector

Day 17 – birding in Bwindi forest (Ruhija & Mubwindi Swamp)

Today you shall birding in the Mubwindi swamp, one of the spots that cannot be missed because it provides the best chances of seeing the Granuer’s Broadbill, one of the most sought after Albertine rift endemics in Bwindi forest.

Day 18 – transfer to Kigali and departure

Today you shall transfer back to Kigali to catch your flight back home.

Share This!