Birding in Lake Kivu
Birding in Africa is one of the most popular activities for visitors. With so many bird species in Africa it is no wonder that birding in Africa is one of the main reasons for visiting. There are many well-known sites for birding in Africa Ranging from Southern Africa’s migratory streaks to the Rainforests of Congo.
East Africa with its two separate Rift Valleys has many great places for birding and almost 100 endemic species. One of the best kept secret places for birding in Africa is the Albertine Rift Valley. The Albertine Rift Valley is the Western part of the Great Rift Valley and passes between Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. The Albertine Rift Valley encompasses the largest and oldest montane rainforests in Africa as well as several of Africa’s Great Lakes. The Albertine rift Valley has a total of 37 endemic bird species, making it one of the most unique regions for birding in Africa.
The peaceful and tranquil Lake Kivu makes a welcoming stopover on a birding tour as well as being home to impressive numbers of , African Fish Eagles and Pied Kingfishers. Lake Kivu, its islands and the surrounding gardens and vegetation are have a total of 301 recorded bird species, including attractive species such as and . migrate all the way from northern Africa and Europe to Lake Kivu where they can be found from October – April.
A great destination for birding on Lake Kivu are the islands in the archipelago outside Karongi. There are plenty of boats available to rent for a small fee. Napoleon Island close to Karongi is home to a very impressive colony of fruit bats and also has some good birdlife including and . Outside Karongi you will also find Monkey Island and Peace Island, both of which have a good degree of indigenous vegetation and a great bird life. Lake Kivu is in Western Rwanda in the Kivu Belt Region. For bird watching, it is ideal to combine a visit to the lake with a visit to Gishwati Forest and Nyungwe Forest, two of Rwanda’s national parks.
Close to Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s newest protected area, Gishwati-Mukura National Park. This park comprises two patches of high-altitude forest and is only a short drive from Rubavu and Karongi. There are currently extensive conservation efforts to restore the habitat between these important habitats. The forests hold good birdlife Gishwati 232 species and Mukura 163 species, including several Albertine Rift Endemics and montane forest specialists. Gishwati is also home to a troop of Chimpanzees, which are being habituated. Various tourism options will be available here in the near future.
There are three main towns to stay along Lake Kivu: Rusizi, Karongi and Rubavu. These offer numerous hotels in close proximity to the lake. For a more rural setting, Kinunu is a paradise amongst the coffee plantations at the the edge of Lake Kivu between Karongi and Rubavu. Kinunu offers great accommodation options at or . Further north, just outside Nyamasheke Town is the tranquil Kumbya Eco Lodge and in wonderful natural setting next to the lake.