Rwanda is home to some of the most beautiful avian fauna in the world, from the white-tailed blue flycatcher with its white belly and contrasting dusty blue plumage, to the red-faced barbet with a striking red face, soft grey body, and hints of cinnamon color on its wings, to the subtle speckled plumage of the red-throated wryneck. Despite its relatively small size, this Central-East Africa country boasts more than 650 bird species, offering our guests a superb birding safari experience in Africa.

In fact, it is second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the number of species endemic to the Albertine Rift. This high degree of diversity remains despite the shrinkage in bird habitat, which has resulted from resettling refugees and setting aside land for agriculture in recent decades. If you’re like many visitors, a mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda may be the top priority for your adventure bush travel, but you will be delighted to know that there is plenty of other wildlife to see on the way to the gorilla forest.

Volcanoes National Park is home to an estimated 178 avifauna species, such as the cinnamon bracken warbler, Grauer’s rush warbler, Archer’s ground robin, Rwenzori batis, black and white manikin, white-tailed blue-flycatcher, and many more, both resident in Africa and migratory! Best of all, 13 species and 16 subspecies are endemic to Rwanda’s mountains, the Rwenzoris and Virungas.

The next birdwatching stop on your tour is Nyungwe National Park, host to 310 Rwandan avian species including the round-bodied handsome francolin, which displays soft grayish-blue plumage on its head and neck that blends into reddish tones on the wings, as well as the Archer’s robin-chat, which has a red-orange chest, grey-blue wings, and a distinct white stripe on a black head. Another eye- catching species is the masked mountain apalis, with a ruddy green body, black head, and belly dappled with white feathers. The Rwenzori turaco, blue-headed and regal sunbird, red-faced woodland, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Neumann’s and Grauer’s warblers, striped-breasted tit, strange weaver, and so many others can often be seen right from the road. Other prime spotting locations include the Nyabarongo River, where papyrus gonoleks and Garuer’s swamp warblers are often seen, and on the steep terrain of the forest trails at Uwinka, known for sightings of great blue turaco, white-tailed crested flycatcher, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Shelley’s and disky crimsonwing, collared apalis, and too many others to mention. If you venture out in the evening, your guide may help you spot Albertine owlets, Rwenzori nightjars, and even possibly a Congo bay-owl.

The vast savannah plains of Akagera National Park offer a classic wildlife safari holiday, where bird lovers will be excited to seek out some of the 500 species found in this part of northeastern Rwanda. The mixture of species found in areas dominated by papyrus and acacia include the gorgeous grey-backed fiscal with a monotone color palette of soft grey, dense black, and pure white; the African stonechat with dark, rust-colored feathers complemented by a back head and white body; the lesser honey guide, displaying beautiful golden plumage; and the blue- headed coucal, sporting a blue-black head, dark cinnamon wing tips, and white belly.

The most breathtaking feathered inhabitant of Akagera National Park, and perhaps in all of Central Africa, is the splendid African starling, with glossy iridescent feathers that shimmer in changing colors of fuchsia, cobalt blue, rich purple, and teal. Seeing this bird is the highlight of many guests’ birdwatching trips. The park is also known as one of the easiest places to observe shoebill. Other species include brown parrots, flappet larks, white-winged widowbirds, lappet-faced and white-headed vultures, African hawk eagles, western banded snake eagles, and many others.

Even your beach getaway at Lake Kivu offers the chance to expand your birding journal by locating some of the estimated 60 winged species present there. With so many avian species filling practically every part of Rwanda, Serenity Adventure safaris can easily fit guided bird walks into any wilderness vacation.