Cheap Rwanda Birding Safari

The Shoe bill Balaeniceps rex. An African endemic family, with one species of rather limited distribution., considered as globally vulnerable ( IUCN, 2010)

It is very uncommon resident. It occurs in the Middle Akagera Basin and it were occasionally observed along the Nyabarongo River, in Bugesera region. It inhabits most typically extensive areas of floating meadows and edges of tall reed beds or papyrus, where it hunts solitarily along channels or small patches of open water. It is a quiet bird, moving very slowly and able to stand motionless for long periods. In the Akagera swamps its main food item seems to be a small catfish Clarias liocephalus, in the flooded plains the larger catfish Clarias gariepinnus. It never penetrates inside tall vegetation. It lives solitarily or in pairs, sometimes in loose groups of five or six birds, and concentrations of up to 10 birds have been watched along a single channel. The species can be seen throughout the year, but its numbers seem to vary seasonally

Geography

The Kagera and Ruvubu rivers, part of the upper Nile

At 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 sq mi), Rwanda is the world’s 149th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Haiti or the state of Maryland in the United States. The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 metres (3,117 ft) above sea level. Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.

The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80% of the country’s area draining into the Nile and 20% into the Congo via the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika. The country’s longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east, and southeast before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source of the Nile. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda’s western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park.

Lake and volcano in the Virunga Mountains

Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda; these mountains are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the Albertine branch of the East African Rift; this branch runs from north to south along Rwanda’s western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga volcano chain in the northwest; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest point, at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft). This western section of the country, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests eco-region, has an elevation of 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation.[94] Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 27 °C (81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies geographically, with the west and northwest of the country receiving more precipitation annually than the east and southeast.Global warming has caused a change in the pattern of the rainy seasons. According to a report by the Strategic foresight Group, “at times, the total number of annual rainy days is reduced with short periods of more intense rainfall. Other times, frequent torrential rainfall on a daily basis exceeds the total monthly quantity. Also, there are times when there is a late onset of rainfall or an early cessation of the same.”

In prehistoric times montane forest occupied one-third of the territory of present-day Rwanda. Naturally occurring vegetation is now mostly restricted to the three National Parks, with terraced agriculture dominating the rest of the country. Nyungwe, the largest remaining tract of forest, contains 200 species of tree as well as orchids and begonias. Vegetation in the Volcanoes National Park is mostly bamboo and moorland, with small areas of forest. By contrast, Akagera has a savanna ecosystem in which acacia dominates the flora. There are several rare or endangered plant species in Akagera, including Markhamia lutea and Eulophia guineensis.

The greatest diversity of large mammals is found in the three National Parks, which are designated conservation areas. Akagera contains typical savanna animals such as giraffes and elephants, while Volcanoes is home to an estimated one-third of the worldwide mountain gorilla population. Nyungwe Forest boasts thirteen primate species including chimpanzees and Ruwenzori Columbus arboreal monkeys; the Ruwenzori Columbus move in groups of up to 400 individuals, the largest troop size of any primate in Africa.

There are 670 bird species in Rwanda, for Rwanda Birding Safari, with variation between the east and the west. Nyungwe Forest, in the west, has 280 recorded species, of which 26 are endemic to the Albertine Rift; endemic species include the Ruwenzori Turaco and Handsome Francolin. Eastern Rwanda, by contrast, features savanna birds such as the Black-headed Gonolek and those associated with swamps and lakes, including storks and cranes.