Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is central Africa’s largest protected wetland and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. Akagera has an inspiring conservation story as it is now a home to lions and rhinos, and is the only Big Five park in the country. With poaching essentially halted, the park’s key wildlife populations have increased. Wildlife in Akagera National Park is almost unrecognizable today compared to just 20 years ago when it was on the verge of being lost forever.
Rwanda after the genocide were still battling for their own survival and turned to the forests for timber, wildlife for protein and the wild savannahs for their livestock and the park’s wildlife was displaced by tens of thousands of long-horned cattle. The park’s value was diminished to the point of non-existence rendering Akagera’s story of revival, even more remarkable. Just two hours’ drive from Kigali, it is a beautiful and convenient savannah landscape to visit, and an easy site to add on to before or after visiting the gorillas. The diversity of habitats is unique including lakes, marshes, savannah, mountains and woodland makes for spectacular scenery.
After years of preparation, effective law enforcement and management, Akagera National Park returned to grace in 2017 with 18 Eastern black rhinoceros after a 10-year absence, 02 new male lions were also translocated to Akagera to enhance the genetic diversity of the growing pride, which has now tripled since their reintroduction in 2015.
Wildlife and Birdlife in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is home to a variety of wildlife including elephants, buffalos, giraffe, zebras, leopards, hyenas, lions, bushbucks, Topis, Orbis, water-buck, roan antelope, duiker, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, impala and the Cape eland antelope. Lake Ihema is a sanctuary to schools of hippos and crocodiles, primates like olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, blue monkeys and bush babies seen on nocturnal drives
Akagera National Park is blessed with a wide variety of habitats which are home to over 500 bird species including shoebill, papyrus Gonolek, African Wattled Plover, Giant Kingfisher, Senegal Lapwings, Squacco Herons, African Open bill stock, Grey Crowned Crane, African Darter, Long-toed, Water Thick-knee, fish eagles, Cattle Egret, Hamerkop, Sacred and Hadada Ibis, Augur Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, and Pied Crow. Black-headed and Viellot’s Black Weavers, Grey-backed Fiscals, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Caruther’s Cisticola.
Activities/ Attractions in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park offers a variety of tourism activities, some of these activities you can not experience elsewhere in any national park in Rwanda and they include:
These are the main attractions to the park where you take a driving safari with a driver and a guide. Though this national park is small as compared to many other savannah parks in Africa, it is a gem of Rwanda with a landscape so stunning and you can see many different animals within a short time.
The lions were re- introduced recently and as such, alongside the already diverse wildlife is so diverse including giraffes, Impalas, Topis, the Zebras, bush bucks, African swallows, eland, the vervet monkeys, warthogs, baboons, Mongoose, the hippos, the crocodiles, elephants, the defassa waterbuck, the oribi, reedbucks, the roan antelopes, sable, buffalos and many more.
Safari Nocturnal Drive
Guided night drives that commence at sunset are a fantastic way to cap off your day in the park. Night drives offer the best chance of seeing nocturnal wildlife, from lions to leopards which are among the most sought-after sightings.
Safari Boat Trips
Travelers seeking a variation on the typical safari should consider a boat trip on Lake Ihema, where you can drift along the forest-fringed body of water in the midst of hippos and crocodiles. For serious birders, a boat trip is a must. Outings take place four times a day—at 7.30am, 9am, 3pm and 4.30pm. Non-scheduled, private trips can also be arranged.
Lake Shakani is the perfect site for sportfishing. Spend a relaxing day fishing from the shores of the lake before cooking your catch over an open fire at your campsite. Please bring your own equipment.
The Community Guides have developed several cultural experiences to share with guests. Learn about milking cows and traditions around cattle and milk on a farm in the Eastern Province; or spend time with banana beer and honey artisans and learn how local products are made.
Walk the Line-nature walk
You will take a turn as one of Akagera’s fence attendants, who walk a portion of the 120-km perimeter fence on a daily basis to make sure the fence remains intact and is fully operational. At the end of the walk, you’ll be atop a ridge that enjoys spectacular views in every direction.
Accommodation in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park has not attracted as many crowds as the counterpart Volcanoes National Park that inhabits the endangered Mountain Gorillas thus they are not as many accommodations. Below are are some of the selected lodges and camps recommended on your visit to Akagera National Park
- Akagera game lodge
- Ruzizi Tented Camp
- Magashi Lodge
- Karenge Bush Camp ( Seasonal)
How to get to Akagera National Park
You can drive from Kigali through Rwamagana town to Akagera national park through the southern gate. The journey takes a total of about 2 hours to arrive at the park entrance.
There is also an option of flying to the park using the services of Akagera Aviation for those not keen on the 2 hour drive.
Best time of the year to visit Akagera National Park
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Akagera National Park in Pictures
Our Recommended African Safari Ideas
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