With the 9 days Rwanda bird watching safari, expect to see more than 700 different bird species have been recorded in Rwanda. Given the size of the country, this is a huge number of birds. Of all the bird species in Rwanda, more than 40 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Ecoregion. This means they are present only in the areas within the western arm of the great East African rift valley.

While Rwanda’s tourism industry is well known for mountain gorillas, the land of a thousand hills still has much more to offer in terms of other wild animals as well as birds.

In this tour, you will get to explore all of it. From the well-talked about mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park to the incredible forest of Ngunwe with its birds and chimps as well as the Akagera national park for the big 5.

While the focus of the tour is bird watching, you will still get to enjoy all the other experiences – while you tick off your bird list. Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest is a good additional option for those who want to observe how chimpanzees in the wild go about their lives.

The 9-day safari will start and end in Kigali. Go through the full itinerary to get a clearer picture of how the entire trip flows from one place to the other.

Summarized Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival in Rwanda
  • Day 2: Whole day birding in the Akagera National Park
  • Day 3: Birding to Volcanoes National Park for mountain gorilla trekking
  • Day 4: Rwanda Gorilla trekking – Volcanoes National Park
  • Day 5: Birdwatching Tour to Nyungwe Forest National Park
  • Day 6: Birding Nyungwe Forest National Park of Rwanda – (Optional chimpanzee tracking)
  • Day 7: Another day birdwatching Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda
  • Day 8: Transfer to Kigali for the last night
  • Day 9: Last day & Departure
birding in Rwanda
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Itinerary for the 9 days Rwanda bird watching safari

DAY 1: Arrival in Rwanda
Upon your arrival in Kigali, you will be welcomed by one of our experienced Safari guides. Your guide will brief you shortly about the entire tour before you head to your first destination – Akagera National Park.

The park is found in the Eastern part of Rwanda. The Swamp, Savannah and montane vegetation zones make great habitat for many species of birds, and animals.

While in Akagera, you will spot several of the more than 500 bird species including rare favourites such as the shoebill, Papyrus Gonolek among others.

Apart from the birds, you will many African Safari animals such as elephants, hippos, buffalo, lions, rhinos, zebras and so much more. You will also see some monkeys and baboons.

Bird species to look out for.

Lesser Kestrel, Great Snipe Sauza’s Shrike, Arnot’s Chat, Long-tailed Cisticola, African Palm Swift, Little Swift, Mottled Swift, Black-headed Waxbill, Black-crowned Waxbill, Red-collared Mountain Babbler, Archer’s Robin-chat, Collared Apalis, Crowned Eagle, Slender-billed Starling, Grauer’s Scrub-Warbler, Common Bulbul, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove

Overnight at Akagera Game Lodge (Full Board)

bird watching in RwandaDAY 2: Whole day birding in the Akagera National Park
Birding is not a 1-day affair – especially in a place such as Akagera National Park. On your bird list, you will probably have checked of some common birds that you saw on the way. Today is when you dive in deeper.

After your breakfast in the morning, you will go out and start looking to check off more birds on the list. With more than 500 species, this day should be as exciting as it will be challenging.

You will see many more species including; White-crowned Black Chat, Familiar Chat, Greater Blue-eared Starling, African Open-billed Stork, Egyptian Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, Spur-winged Plover, Black Crake, Long-tailed Cormorant, Great Cormorants, Goliath Heron, African Marsh Harrier, Bateleur, Red-faced Barbet, Long-tailed, Trilling, Tabora, Rattling and Winding Cisticolas, Miombo Wren Warbler, Green-capped Eremomela, Red-faced Crombec, Amethyst Starling, Senegal Lapwing, Water Dikkop, Brubru, Brown Parrot, Red-necked Spurfowl, Broad-tailed Warbler, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Sooty Chat, White-winged Black Tit, Flappet Lark, Souza’s Shrike, Crested Barbet and many more.

Besides the birds, you will see plenty of other wildlife such as Giraffe, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Reedbuck, Waterbuck, zebra, baboons, eland, lion, leopard among others.

After you long, but definitely rewarding day, you will head back to the lodge and rest for your final night in Akagera.

Overnight at Akagera Game Lodge (Full Board)

DAY 3: Birding to Volcanoes National Park for mountain gorilla trekking
You will enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the lodge after which we head out for Volcanoes National Park. The drive will go through some birding spots and the undulating scenery that is the Rwanda countryside.

You will arrive at your lodge in Volcanoes National park in the late afternoon. After checking in, you can relax around the lodge or check out the neighbourhood of the park for a short time.

You will rest for the night and prepare yourself for the next day’s adventure of gorilla trekking. Since gorilla tracking is a rather tiring activity, an early night means you will be feeling much fresher in the morning.

Overnight at Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge (Full Board)

DAY 4: Rwanda Gorilla trekking – Volcanoes National Park
You will wake up very early for breakfast and head to the tracking point. At the starting point, you will be briefed about the entire gorilla tracking activity – as well as caution, rules and regulation.

For your tracking exercise, you will be headed by the park personnel who are well informed about the gorillas and any other wildlife, plants that you will encounter. Feel free to let your curiosity run – and ask them questions.

A very important part of gorilla tracking is following the guidance of the ranger.

As already mentioned, the tracking exercise isn’t an easy one. Moving through the thick rainforest is breathtaking – in the literal sense. Getting to see the endangered mountain gorillas is much more than gratifying. You will spend some time with the gorillas – and observe how they go about their ‘normal day’ after which you will head back to the starting point.

While the highlight of the day will be seeing gorillas in their wild habitat, you will also spot many special birds in the rich ecosystem that makes up Volcanoes. In the afternoon, you can do a bit of leisurely bird watching in the park.

After such an exciting day, you will rest and prepare for your next destination – which is Nyungwe Forest National Park

Overnight at Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge (Full Board)

DAY 5: Birdwatching Tour to Nyungwe Forest National Park
Today you will enjoy a nice morning breakfast from the lodge afterwhich you will leave for Nyungwe Forest National Park in the south. The drive take around 5 to 6 hours and you will reach your lodge in Nyungwe in the afternoon.

As you head south from volcanoes, you will be surrounded by beautiful scenery made up of undulating hill, village homesteads and local crop & animal farms. You can stop along the way for pictures.

Overnight at Nyungwe Top View Lodge (Full Board)9 days Rwanda bird watching safari

DAY 6: Birding Nyungwe Forest National Park of Rwanda – (Optional chimpanzee tracking)
After early morning breakfast, you will set off with the safari guide for your first day of birding. This day will involve a lot of movement in search of the birds. You will need to be well hydrated, therefore it is advisable that you don’t leave the water bottle behind.

While on your 9 days Rwanda bird watching safari Keep an eye out for these species and more. Rwenzori Hill-babbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Northern Puffback, White-starred Robin, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Kivu Ground-Thrush, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher, Red-chested, Regal Sunbird, Rockefeller’s Sunbird, Miombo Rock-Thrush, Mountain Masked Apalis, Black-faced Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Collared Apalis, Grauer’s Warbler, few Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Ruwenzori Turaco, Great Blue Turaco, Handsome Francolin, Olive Woodpecker, Mountain Greenbul, Dusky Crimsonwing, Thick-billed Seedeater, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Variable Sunbird, Waller’s Starling, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is situated in south-west Rwanda between Lake Kivu and the border with Burundi. The stretch of mountains which split the park give it 2 distinct climate and biodiversity sections. As a result, Nyungwe is rich with birds that wouldn’t have otherwise been living in the same habitat.

With more than 270 bird species, you can be sure that Ngungwe is a hotspot. There are some species that are endemic to the Albertine rift ecoregion as well as some bird that originate from the Guinea-Congo Forests.

After the long day, you will come back to the lodge for some much-needed rest and recuperation.

Overnight at Nyungwe Top View Lodge (Full Board)

DAY 7: Another day birdwatching Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda
In your 9 days Rwanda bird watching safariYou will, again, wake up early and have your morning breakfast before heading back to look for birds. This second day is for the species that you missed the previous day.

As well as seeing the birds you already saw, you will also add some more to your checklist. By taking a different approach from the previous days, you will be able to get even those missed before.

By waiting for nightfall, some nocturnal species such as the Rwenzori Nightjar, Albertine Owlet and Red-chested Owlet might be spotted.

Overnight at Nyungwe Top View Lodge (Full Board)

DAY 8: Transfer to Kigali for the last night
You will leave Nyungwe in the morning and drive to Kigali. The journey will take you an estimated 3 hours to drive from Nyungwe Forest National Park to Kigali City.

While in Kigali, you will visit some birding spots that are near Kigali. You will also pay a visit to the Murambi Genocide Memorial as well and the National Museum.

You will rest and relax for the night at your chosen Kigali accommodation.

Stay at Chez Lando (Full Board)

DAY 9 of 9 days Rwanda bird watching safari: Last day & Departure
Depending on the time of your outbound flight, your safari guide will be available to drive you to Kigali International Airport for your flight.

If there is a significant amount of time before your flight, you might opt for a half-day Kigali city tour or visit the local crafts shops for souvenirs.

Trip Includes

  • Airport transfers
  • All ground transfers by 4 WD safari vehicle
  • Accommodation and meals as per the itinerary
  • Park entrance fees
  • One gorilla trekking permit Rwanda per person
  • Guides allowances throughout the safari
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Ranger fees
  • Kigali Genocide tour – Time permitting

9 days Rwanda bird watching safari Trip Excludes

  • Airfare to and from Rwanda
  • Visa to Rwanda
  • Airport tax
  • Travel / Medical / Baggage insurance
  • All beverages [both alcoholic and non-alcoholic]
  • Any activity, meal or accommodation NOT mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tips
  • Telephone bills
  • Souvenirs, other items of a personal nature