Akagera National Park Rwanda
Akagera National Park is the largest protected wetland that is refuge for the remaining savannah adapted species in Rwanda. Akagera National Park suffered a lot with loss of land after the 1994 Rwanda Genocide as refugees were returning as they turned to the forests for timber, wildlife for food and the savannah grassland for livestock pasture.
However, strong conservation efforts have seen this park flourish again and have abundant wildlife. In 2010, African Parks assumed management of Akagera National Park in partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) which changed the story of the park from oblivion to hope.
With poaching halted, the park’s wildlife has continued to rise with reintroduction of lost animal species. All the Big African Five animals are now present in the park, these are lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinos.
Akagera National Park Location
The park is situated in eastern Rwanda along the international border with Tanzania. Akagera Park is named after the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into lake ihema and several other smaller lakes.
How to Get to Akagera National Park
From Kigali, the capital of Rwanda it is easy to access the park by road on about 2 hours and 30 minutes’ drive. The distance is approximately 108 square kilometers.
The road is well tarmacked making the drive to the park very comfortable along with beautiful scenery. The park can also be accessed by short flight from Kigali International Airport.
Best time to visit Akagera National Park
The park is open all year round, however, just like any other safari destination there is always a best time to visit. It is best to visit during the dry season which is in the months of June to September. During this time animals congregate around water holes which makes it easy to see them. The other advantage of visiting the park in the dry season is that the grass is short making sighting easy and photography easy too.
Akagera National Park Accommodation
To accommodate the ever increasing population of tourists visiting the park, there are several lodges or hotels around the park. Some of the accommodation facilities in the park include the Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Karenge Bush Camp, Akagera Game Lodge, Magashi Camp. It is also possible to camp within the park with three campsites that offer basic accommodation within the park.
The campsites are Muyumbu that offers a spectacular backdrop for the rising sun, Shakani offers a lakeshore camping experience and Mutumba campsite further north in a game-rich area of high rolling grassland hills. Remember to bring your own camping equipment and supplies.
Safari Activities in Akagera National Park
Dominated by swamps and small lakes, the network of water sources and unique landscape together creates very spectacular scenery. The remarkable ecosystem is quite breathtaking and worth visiting. Here are the attractions that tourists can explore on a Rwanda safari to Akagera National Park
- Wildlife safari game drives
Akagera National Park is the best home to savannah adapted animals in Rwanda and the only place to enjoy a safari game drive. During game drives a tourist has the opportunity to be thrilled by the variety of animals within a spectacular habitat.
Among the animals that are in Akagera National Park are elephants, lions, buffalos, hyenas, giraffe, zebras, antelope species like bushbucks, Topis, Cape eland, roan antelope, Klipspringer, duikers, Oribis, impalas and waterbuck. Game drives get you close to the animals which offers such a thrilling experience and sight of the beauty in the wild.
Some of the primate species in the park include the Vervet monkeys, olive baboons and nocturnal bushbabies. To see wildlife in Akagera, one can opt for either morning or an Afternoon drive. Very professional and experienced guides lead the drive in 4WD safari vehicles.
The “Big Five” Games are the most sought after animals for wildlife enthusiasts. These are Buffaloes, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards and Elephants. All of these can now be spotted in the Akagera National Park making it worth visiting for wildlife tours.
To see nocturnal animals, there can be organized night game drives. These are so thrilling as it’s a golden opportunity to see what unfolds in the jungle within the night. There is an opportunity to see the nocturnal bush babies during this game drive, other animals can also be spotted.
- Boat safari
With the park having the shallow waters of Lake Ihema, they inhabit aquatic animals including crocodiles and hippopotami. This makes boat rides the best way to see these. During a boat safari in the southern part of the part, you will be able to marvel at the crocodiles and hippos as well as wild animals and birds around the lake. Enjoy the scenery during the boat cruise and also luckily spot rare bird species like the Shoebill Stork. Other animals like elephants get to the lake to bathe which offers an opportunity to see them even much more closely.
The park is a birders delight as it offers an exceptional birding experience with more than 482 bird species recorded within its boundaries. One of the unique bird species in the park is the prehistoric shoebill stork. Diversity in bird species within the park range from water birds, savannah birds as well as forest birds which makes it a great spot.
Some of the bird species in the park include the papyrus gonolek, red-faced barbet, swamp flycatcher, fish eagles, grey-backed fiscals, hamerkop, cattle egret, weavers, pied crow, sacred ibis, Hadada ibis, Augur Buzzard, Long-crested eagle and many more.
There are several reasons as to why anyone visiting Rwanda should include Akagera National Park for a wildlife viewing experience. Akagera has an inspiring story of its rebirth as it is now home to the Big Five in the country. It is just about 2 hours’ drive from Kigali International Airport which makes it accessible. The park is diverse with a lot of habitats including lakes, marshes, savannah, woodlands and many more. Visit the park and support the conservation efforts.
Top Tour Packages in Akagera National Park Rwanda
- 14 Days Rwanda Safari Tour
14 Days Rwanda Safari Tour specifically includes the most important and well-known national parks of Rwanda: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Lake Kivu. Learn More
- 14 Days Rwanda Wildlife safari
14 Days Rwanda Wildlife safari, explore the beauty of Rwanda in nature, Gorillas, chimpanzees, and wildlife adventure. Experience the beauty of hanging out with rare earthly creatures and amazing people of historical Rwanda. After the dark days of the Rwanda Genocide in 1994, a lot of things changed back to normal. All national parks were renowned and it’s amongst the beautiful places one wouldn’t miss to consider for a vacation. Learn More
- 8 Days Rwanda Primates Safari