Bird watching safaris
Bird watching safaris in Uganda and Rwanda are very popular because both countries, are special with some endemics. However, in terms of number and variety of species, Uganda is the best destination as the country has variety of species and most of its bird watching sites are well developed for tourism, with a great number of Important bird watching sites. Rwanda is located in the Albertine rift and the it is open for bird watching all year round. Although during Dec to Feb Rwanda receives some migrant species, making this time the best time for bird watching safaris in Rwanda.
Bird watching safaris in Uganda Rwanda can be organised as a combo, or you can opt to concentrate on each country at a time. Below we have listed some of the sites you should consider visiting whilst on a bird watching safari.
Bird watching sites in Uganda and Rwanda
Uganda has over 1000 different species of birds, with half of the Africa’s birds. Uganda has diverse biomes that contribute to the existence of these birds to include; savannah, wetlands, forests, and so much more. Below have listed some of the best birding spots in Uganda.
Mabamba wetland in Entebbe
Mabamba wetland is the very first place you can visit once you land in Uganda. Mabamba is located in Entebbe best known to be a home to the rare Shoebill Stork bird. One of the most sought after birds worldwide. More to the shoebill stork, there are so many other different bird species especially wetland endemics. The wetland has 260 different species of birds including some migrant species. In addition to the elusive shoebill stork you can watch out for the birds like the white winged warbler, grey herons, the goliath heron, the Jacanas, among so many others. There are also some migrant species like blue swallow, there are also ducks. The wetland is also home to the sitatunga antelope and migrant birds like the Blue swallow. The wetland is just perfect if you have one day to spare. Click here to check out our 1 days bird watching safari Mabamba wetland.
Queen Elizabeth national park.
Although Queen Elizabeth park is known for wildlife, this is also classified as an important bird area. The park has a variety of habitats, which contribute to the large numbers of birds, with 600 different species. Making Queen Elizabeth one of the best places to spot as many as 200 different species of birds in a day. While in Queen Elizabeth national park, you should check out sites like the Kazinga channel, Maramagambo forest, Ishasha sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katwe area and the Kasenyi area. You will need about 4 full days to explore all the above mentioned sites. Check out our 4 days bird watching safari in Queen Elizabeth park.
Visit Bigodi wetland near Kibale forest park
Bigodi wetland sanctuary is also among the best birding spots in Uganda. It’s located in Fortportal and shares boundary with Kibale forest park. This therefore means, birds from Kibale forest and animals too visit the wetland. This swamp is part Magombe swamp and managed by Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental development. Bigodi has got an amazing biodiversity which means, it has lots of different vegetation cover, different primate species which find refuge in the swamp after crossing from Kibale forest and also several bird species.
The Bigodi walk through this wetland, is often done as an additional activity to the chimpanzee trekking done in Kibale forest. The Bigodi swamp is a home to over 138 different bird species that live in there and according to the records, there are over 50 new species have relocated from different areas to this swamp. There are seasonal / migrant birds too and thus making the adventure more interesting.
Some of the birds, you should expect to see in Bigodi are; Hammer cocks, Flycatchers, white breasted negro finch, black bishop, kingfishers and so much more. If you are lucky, you might also spot the shoebill stork.
Visit Lake Bunyonyi.
Lake Bunyonyi just like the name suggest is a home to hundreds of different bird species. Bunyonyi is local word that means many small birds. This the deepest lake in Uganda found between districts of Kabale and Kisoro in south western Uganda. Lake Bunyonyi lies in the valley and its one of the best places you can visit for and amazing birding adventure. There are about 20 small islands within this lake and every one of them is a home to different bird species and a few small primates for example monkeys.
Lake Bunyonyi is a great tourism destination for the bird lovers. You can go for a guided bird tour, ride a boat along the lake to Muko, listen to the sound of birds from tree branches on the islands, there are several bird within the swamps as well and keen bird watchers will be able to see hundreds of bird species in that one boat ride trip.
Echuya forest reserve
Like the others mentioned, this is a great bird watching site, in the south west of Uganda. This reserve is a montane rainforest originally part of Bwindi and Mgahinga forests. It is mainly covered by bamboo trees therefore also a source of bamboo for commercial purposes.
This forest has over 150 bird species living in there and out of these, 18 species are endemic to this forest like the Grauer’s Swamp warbler, among others and it is ranked as Uganda’s most significant forest habitat due to its very unique flora and fauna.
We can always organize for you a one day guided bird watching safari in this forest and you can search for birds. The guide will help you identify bird species, and some of the bird to expect include the Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Strip-breasted Tit, Regal Sunbird, Collared Apalis, and yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, among so many others.
Bwindi Forest National park.
Despite being the home to gorillas, Bwindi forest national park is also ahome to a great number of birds –that is up to 350 different species of birds, including 23 endemics. 90% of the endemics are from the Albertine rift. Bwindi is also home for 7 of the IUCN red data list.
Bwindi forest has a number of trails that you can take in search for birds. Some of these include the Mubwindi Swamp trail, the Buhoma water fall trail and so much more. Some of the birds that are easy tosspot in Bwindi are Short-tailed Warbler, White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, the African Emerald Cuckoo, Red-headed Bluebill, Common Bulbul, and Blue-headed Sunbird.
Birding sites in Rwanda.
Rwanda is an array of lakes, volcanoes, mountains, rivers and forest and so much more. Therefore, providing a range of habitats of plenty of birds to survive. Despite being a small country Rwanda has over 700 different resident and visiting bird species. Of the 700 bird species 27 are Albertine rift endemics and some of the important birding sites are Nyungwe national park, volcanoes national park and Akagera national park, Cyamudongo, Rugezi swamp and so much more.
Sites for bird watching safaris in Rwanda
Nyungwe national park,
Nyungwe forest national park is one of the oldest forests in the worlds and thus hoem to 310 different species of birds. Hence making it the best place to go whilst on a bird watching safari in Rwanda. Some of the birds to watch out for are the Rwenzori Turaco, the Rwenzori batis, the blue-headed sunbird, the Grauer’s swamp-warbler, red-collared babbler, and plenty of other birds including the rarely spotted Albertine owlet,
Akagera national park
Akagera national park is the place to go for the tradition wildlife safari because of the recent introduction of lions, and rhinos thus increasing the variety and numbers of wildlife in the park. The park has a number of habitats including savannah, forest and wetlands and this explains why there are 525 different species of birds in Akagera national park. Some of the most sought after species in Akagera include; Sousa’s shrike, the white-collared oliveback, and the red-faced barbet. Along River kagera and the different wetlands and lakes, you can spot the Carruther’s cisticola and papyrus canary.
Volcanoes National park.
Like Bwindi national park, Volcanoes national park is known to be a home for gorilla and golden monkey trekking. However, the park which is also home to the highest point of Rwanda – Mt. Karisimbi volcano and plenty of birds amounting to 165 species with 17 endemics. Guided nature walks through the forest along the volcanoes routes, can be organised to search for birds and also for an opportunity to view volcanoes.
Other sites that are worth including in your bird watching safaris and tours are Nyarutarama lake /Lovers Lake, Nyagarongo wetland, Rugezi and Akanyuru wetlands which has also been declared important birding areas by the Birdlife International.
In conclusion both countries, have many sites for birding and therefore, there are a variety of safari options that the clients can opt for.