Destination Kivu Belt

Birding in Gishwati Forest

Birding in Gishwati Mukura National Park

Gishwati Mukura Nationa Park is a unique montane rainforest which offers a unique habitat for birds and is home to several of the Albertine Rift Endemics. In total over 230 species of birds have been recorded in the forest. As Gishwati Mukura National Park is an official Rwandan national park, all activities need to be done accompanied by a professional guide. Guides in Gishwati Mukura National Park have been working for a long time and are very professional. It is not normally possible to get a guide and enter the park on the spot, pre-booking is recommended.

For entrance to Gishwati Mukura National Park you need to get an official permit. The official permit makes sure that the money from tourism is reinvested in the conservation of the forest. Contact the park office for information, booking and buying a permit. As you will most likely want to go bird watching in the early morning, it is best to book and pay for all permits before the day of the activity. You are required to stay at the Forest of Hope Guest house to enter the park.

Birds of Gishwati Mukura National Park

Gishwati Forest serves as a very important habitat for numerous birds. A total of 209 different species of birds can be found in Gishwati Mukura National Park. Out of these birds, 20 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley and 10 bird species can be found on the IUCN Red List, meaning that they are a rare and threatened species.

Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Species of Gishwati Mukura National

As Gishwati Mukura National Park is located in the Albertine Rift of the African Rift valley, there are many special bird species which can only be found here. Some of these species are endemic to the montane forests of the Congo-Nile divide and can therefore only be found in either Gishwati Forest, Mukura Forest or Nyungwe Forest. Several of these endemic bird species can be found in Gishwati Mukura Forest. 

Regal Sunbird Gishwati Forest
Regal Sunbird Gishwati Forest

Strange Weaver

The strange weaver is an Albertine-Rift commonly found in Gishwati Mukura National Park. It is yellow with a slightly olive-yellow toned back. The wings are less distinctly black than other weaver species which have a more olive-brown tone. The head is black and flows down to a chestnut throat in males. The strange weavers are endemic to these montane forests where they can be found in groups throughout the undergrowth and bush.

Purple-breasted Sunbird

This sunbird has a long tail and perhaps the most beautiful colorations of any sunbird. During the mating season the male turns into a lush bronze, violet, copper, purple, red, blue and green. The head turns into a copper purple and the lower body a deep blue. The Purple-Breasted sunbird can be found in the middle and upper canopy where it normally feeds of flowering trees.

Abyssinian Ground-Thrush

This large bird has an olive belly and a distinct orange breast. The wings are brown with two distinct white bars. The eyes are black with a white ring. The top of the bird is dark brown which extends down the tail. This bird is shy and can be seen hopping on the ground in the undergrowth I search of insects or singing from a perch in a tree.

Black-faced Apalis

This small, shy bird is olive green and light brown with a black head and a white patch on the side of the neck. It is easily distinguished from other Apalis species by the black head. This bird can only be found in thick forests at high elevation of more than 1500m where it is mostly found in the middle growth and canopy.

Grauer’s Swamp Warbler

Dark-olive bird with lighter and slightly banded belly. This is endemic to high elevated forests of the Albertine rift where it can be found above 1600m. This elusive bird can usually be found in thick undergrowth where it is hard to spot and well camouflaged.

Rwenzori Turaco

This is one of the most iconic of the Albertine Rift endemics. It can be found throughout the remaining montane forests of the Congo-Nile divide along Lake Kivu. It is a rather large bird with super colours of green, red and blue. Can be found in large groups who swoop through the forest canopy.

Handsome Francolin

Large ground-dwelling francolin which is easily distinguished by the red skin around the eyes. This bird can be found on the ground of Gishwati and Mukura Forests where it normally patrols in pairs or larger family groups. 

Contact Information and Booking

Gishwati Mukura National Park is managed through a collaboration of Rwanda Development Board, the organization Forest of Hope and Wilderness SafarisAll activities in and around Gishwati Forest are organized through Forest of Hope Association. Visits to the park are normally combined with a stay at the Forest of Hope Guest House

Booking of park entrance, Forest of Hope Guest House and community-based experiences:

RDB Park Office, general information only, no booking:

  •  Chief Park Warden Gishwati-Mukura National Park, +250788449008

Good to know:

  • All visits to the park are organized through the Forest Of Hope Association
  • All Gishwati hikes are classified as hiking in protected area/National Park
  • Animals live in their natural habitat Guideand permit are needed

Many of the websites and contacts about Gishwati Forest online are not official park websites and the information is sometimes wrong and not reliable

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