Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park also known as Parc National de l’Akagera in French, is the only Wildlife and Savannah National Park in Rwanda and has a wide variety of animals that live naturally in the park’s montane, swamp and savannah habitat. The park covers a protected area of about 2,500 sq kilometers that was gazetted in 1934 for conservation by the Belgian government.
Akagera National Park has a unique system of lakes and linking swamps that cover up almost three-quarters of the park making it the largest protected wetland in the East and Central Africa. The park borders Tanzania and is named after the Akagera River that flows through the park feeding the park’s main lake; lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in the park.
Akagera National park was nearly on the verge of destruction after the genocide as people were resettling into their communities they and hunting wildlife for food plus they settled into wildlife’s habitats chasing away the wild animals; however, in 2010 in partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB), African Parks took over management of Akagera and revived the diversity and beauty of the park.
African parks introduced wild animals afresh to the park that included lions, rhinos among other animals; the management created a poaching unit to enforce poaching laws to abate poaching. African Parka management also enforced different activities that contributed to the fresh conservation of the park.
With that, the park was rebirthed to its wildlife glory and is now one of the top wildlife parks in the East African region. The park is a large protected wetland of the wide biodiversity of savannah that includes acacia and bushes, open grassland, lakes, and swamps. The animals that live in the park include lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, wild dogs, impalas, zebras, leopards, baboons, buffalos, antelopes, and many more animals.
The park also has a variety of birds that include but not limited to:- African Openbill stock, shoebill, African Wattled Plover, Squacco Herons, Grey Crowned Crane, Giant Kingfisher African Darter, papyrus Gonolek, Senegal Lapwings.
Akagera National Park is located 2-3 hours from Kigali city and to get to the park you drive through Rwamagana or Kibungo town. The entrance to the park is through the southern gate and exit through the northern gate.
Activities in Akagera National Park
On your Akagera National Park Safari, you will engage in various activities that include:-
Game drives: Game drives in Akagera give you an opportunity to see and experience the wide variety of animals that live in the park, that include:- lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, wild dogs, impalas, zebras, leopards, baboons, buffalos, antelopes, and many more animals. The game drives in Akagera National Park are done in the morning and afternoon, and if you feel like you are up to it, you can have a whole day game drive. During the morning game drives, you see the nocturnal animals as they retire to the nests and hubs to rest, and during the afternoon you see the diurnal animals engage in their hunts and lifestyle activities, the whole day game drive you see other animals that are both diurnal and nocturnal. For a game drive, you will need a safari vehicle, you can either rent one from the park or your tour operator will avail one for you.
During the game drives you also get to enjoy the beautiful flora and landscape of the park as you drive through sighting animals.
Boat cruise: Boat cruises are not just relaxing but the breeze on the lake gives you a refreshing chill as you see the different water animals and birds engaging in the day’s activities. The boat cruises are done at already predetermined schedule times by the park but you can also book for a private boat cruise at your preferred time.
Birding: Akagera National Park is also home to numerous bird species, so while on your safari, you get an opportunity to go out for a bird watching activity to see and appreciate these unique bird species that include:- African Openbill stock, the rare shoebill stock, African Wattled Plover, Squacco Herons, Grey Crowned Crane, Giant Kingfisher African Darter, papyrus Gonolek, Senegal Lapwings. For birding enthusiasts, this is the most fulfilling bird watching experience you will have in Rwanda.
Birding is done during a game drive, a nature walk or a boat cruise on the park’s Lake Ihema.
Sportfishing: Sportfishing in the park is done on Lake Shakani. This activity is exciting as you catch and release the fish in the water, but after it all, you are able to catch one fish to take home. Sportfishing in Akagera National Park is privately booked for activity, so if you are interested in the activity you have to inform the park in advance.
Nature walk: This biodiverse park offers a lot of beauty that you can only see, take in and appreciate on a nature walk. The walk acquaints you will the park’s flora and landscape in a unique way. This is such a beautiful experience you will surely enjoy it.
Community tours near the park: You can take a visit to the communities around Akagera National Park that allow you to experience the unique Rwandan culture of cattle keeping, traditional cattle milking and milk storage in calabashes.
Accommodation Facilities in Akagera National Park
Currently in Akagera National Park accommodation is between camping sites and three lodges that are near the park. All the accommodation facilities are well-vanished and equipped with all the necessities you need on your safari. The lodges are Akagera game lodge and Ruzizi tented lodge. Camping is done inside the park, and the camping tents are provided by the park.