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Birding Experience in Mt. Rwenzori National Park

Birding Experience in Mt. Rwenzori National Park

Located in southwestern Uganda along the border with Democratic Republic of Congo at 1000km2 the park was gazetted in 1991 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was listed a heritage site between 1999 and 2004 because of the insecurity and lack of resources in the park. Also known as ‘Mountains of the Moon’, the park protects the highest parts of 120km long and 65km wide Rwenzori mountain range and is renowned for its stunning mountain scenery, diverse ecosystems and unique flora and fauna.

Mount Rwenzori National Park is home to over 220 bird species, including several Albertine Rift endemics. The park’s diverse habitats, ranging from montane forests to alpine moorlands, provide a haven for a wide variety of birdlife. Birders will be surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Rwenzori Mountains. The park’s lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks create a stunning backdrop for birding excursions offering birdwatchers the chance to spot a diverse array of avian species in a stunning natural setting. Mount Rwenzori National Park encompasses a range of habitats, from lowland forests to Afro-alpine zones and each habitat supports its own unique bird species, offering birdwatchers the chance to explore diverse ecosystems within a relatively compact area.

The park has enough avian life including 17 endemics making it a key place for birding, expect birds like Rwenzori turaco, Ruwenzori nightjar, archer’s robin-chat, handsome francolin, strange weaver, olive woodpecker, grey-chested illadopsis, red-throated alethe, collared and masked apalis, shelley’s and dusky crimsonwing, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori double-collared, stripe-breast tit, Rwenzori batis, western green tinkerbird, bushshrikes, warblers,  white starred robin, flycatchers, bee-eaters, barbets, sunbirds and many more.

Mount Rwenzori National Park offers several trails that are suitable for birding enthusiasts. These trails traverse a variety of habitats, allowing birdwatchers to explore different ecosystems and encounter a wide range of avian species.  Trails like Central circuit trail one of the most popular trails, passes through a variety of habitats including the montane forest, bamboo zone and alphine moorland with birds like Rwenzori turaco, handsome francolin and Rwenzori batis to be seen; Buremba-ibanda trail is the one of the shorter trails that lead to different peaks and valleys providing a birder with an opportunity for viewing birds for example; alphine chat, bush shrike, malachite kite, White-tailed Blue Monarch, Rwenzori Apalis, and Dusky Crimsonwing and more; Nyakalengija nature trail near the park entrance through the montane forests and offers a chance to spot birds like olive pigeon, African greenbul, mountain illadopsis; Mahoma trail which also starts at the headquarters leading to the Mahoma falls. Birders on this trail can see birds like Rwenzori turaco, blue-headed sunbird, barred long-tailed cuckoo and more; Rwenzori Mountains trail leading to different peaks and valley primarily used for mountain climbing with perfect viewing chances for species like sunbirds, bush shrikes, alphine chats and more. With local guides, the trails will enable a birder enjoy the experience with the information needed readily available.

One can go birding any time all throughout the year, however the best times to go birding are during the dry seasons of December-February and June- August as the weather is more predictable with clear skies and less rainfall making it easier to explore and spot birds. Also one can do some birding during the breeding season of March-May as birds are out and more active in a bid to mate and nest. The Park offers a unique blend of adventure, natural beauty, and birdwatching opportunities that are sure to delight both novice and experienced birders alike.

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