About Akagera National Park

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Akagera National Park in Rwanda is named after the river that runs through it. From a scenic point of view, Akagera is simply a stunning Savannah Park and is one of Rwanda’s Natural Treasures that will remind you of the Savannah Reserves of Kenya and Tanzania. You will find splendid open Savanna Plains, broad-leaved forests and pleasant hills, candelabra Euphoria Trees, Lakes teaming with crocodiles and the large concentration of hippos. Maasai Giraffes, Burchell Zebras, Elephants, Buffaloes, various species of Antelopes such as the Defassa Waterbuck, Topi, roan antelopes, the large Eland Antelopes, Common Duiker, Klipspringer and the semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelopes and the Lions and Rhinos are back in Akagera National Park.

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Top Things to do and see in Akagera National Park

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Akagera Game Drives

A game drive is like unwrapping a present – each game drive hold new surprises as nature reveals its treasures in the form of scenic wonders, Wildlife such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Antelopes such Topi or Elands, Burchell Zebras, Maasai Giraffes, Savannah Birds, Monkeys, Leopards, Civets, Hyenas, Lions, Serval Cats, Rhinos, and more. Game drives mean that you are accompanied by a Guide who is knowledgeable about the flora and fauna found in the park. While on game drives one should stay within the vehicle unless the park guide sees it as safe to get out and take a look around.
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Nocturnal – Night Game Drives

Nocturnal – Night Game Drives are most exciting as you venture out with spotlights to see the creatures of the night found in Akagera National Park. A nocturnal drive through Akagera Park is quite different from the day – at night there is a good opportunity to see the predators on the prowl looking for dinner. You might see a few leopards, a Lion, serval cats, civets, lions, hyenas all out during the night. One drives quite slow during the nocturnal drive in order not to miss wildlife. even nocturnal birds and bush babies their large eyes.
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Birding in Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is one place that is not to be missed by Birders along with Nyungwe Forest National Park. There are over 520 species of bird species that are found in Akagera National Park. Birders who come to Akagera National Park are impressed by what they find, in particular the variety of birds and abundance of birds found in the park, ranging from water to forest and including Savannah and migratory bird species – many of them endemic to the park – plus extremely rare species are also as for example the threatened papyrus gonolek which you will find in the papyrus swamps. Akagera National Park is simply a birders paradise.
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Sport Fishing on Lake Shakani

One thing that might be a bit out of the ordinary is fishing along the shores of Lake Shakani – you will hear the snorts of Hippos and the cry of water birds and hopefully, the only other noise will be the sound of a fish on your line. Fishing anywhere is enjoyable – at Akagera you have the added pleasure of being in the African Wild – wildlife in the distance – hippos – and water birds all around you. You might visit Akagera National Park while a fishing tournament is on – which would put you into the good company of fellow anglers. Even though the expectation is catch and release, you are given an opportunity to take one catch for a meal if interested.
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Boating Safaris on Lake Ihema

The best way to spend an afternoon in Akagera national park is to take a boat ride on Lake Ihema. Lake Ihema has one of the largest concentration of hippos in East Africa and it certainly is a sight to behold and so are the very large crocodiles that you will find along the shores of the lake. Most animals are hiding under shade because of the heat from the sun as others come to the water for cooling off and drinking.

In addition to a variety of water birds, you will watch schools of hippos in the water and crocodiles by the shores of the lake. There are scheduled boat trips which happen during the day but one can book for a private unscheduled boat trip at their own timing. A boat safari on Lake Ihema adds that bit extra to your time in Akagera National Park.

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Cultural tours

Experience the rural Rwandan life around the cattle keeping communities near Akagera national park. You have opportunity to observe and or participate in traditional cattle grazing, milking, traditional milk storage in calabashes for preservation. You then go through the process of converting milk into different products like traditional yogurt, ghee and lastly take part in preparing a meal with some of the ingredients from the milk products. This is an authentic cultural experience shared by the locals living adjacent to the park, they get to earn from this supplementing their agricultural income. This eventually contributes to conservation culture and wild animals in the park.

The main entry point into Rwanda is Kigali international airport. The airport is open to various international; flights such as SN Brussels, Ethiopian airlines, Kenya Airways,Air Burundi and of course the RwandAir express. The airport is about 10 km out Kigali and it is where your journey to Kagera starts. Akagera national park is located in the north Eastern region of Rwanda about 110 kn from Kigali the capital of Rwanda, which is about a 2 ½ hour drive. It is beautiful park with lush green scenery and lots of wildlife and birds to see.
Most favored and used means of transport to the park is by car. For the most part the road is quite good. There might be a few bumpy spots along the way, but that shouldn’t stop you from making the trip. The last 28km of the 110km from Kigali are mostly dirt roads, and so are all the roads inside the park. 4X4 safari vehicles are recommended especially if you are traveling during the rainy season.

Directions

After getting to Kigali either by air or bus road, you can start of your Akagera safari from the city center. From Kigali drive out of town towards the airport. Just before you reach the airport, about 100m out, take a left turn. You will then be heading east towards Rwamagana. Drive through Rwamagana and on to Kayonza. When you get to Kayonza, take the right turn at the roundabout and drive on till you get to a Discentre station on the left side of the road as you get into the town of Kabarondo. There is a dirt immediately after the petrol station. Take a left turn onto that road and drive on for about 15km till you come to a junction at Rwinkwavu. You will see a signpost that reads Akagera national Park on the left. The park gates are about 13km ahead after the signpost.

4×4 vehicles can be arranged by your safari operator of choice. Most tour companies will provide a driver and a guide, or if you are very adventurous you can opt for drive yourself, and depend on maps and directions to get you. It will all be fun and exciting. Several safari companies in operating in Rwanda have outlets and connections with major hotels in Kigali, so it should be easy to get in touch with one and arrange for a trip to the park.

Wondering where to stay on your Safari?

Good accommodation is part of what makes a safari enjoyable and memorable, so for a visit to Akagera national park you need to stay at a place that is both comfortable and well within your budget.
Here are some of the places you can stay at in the Akagera area.

Ruzizi tented lodge
Designed and built by the Akagera management company, Ruzizi tented lodge was opened in 2013 and has since then been offering good accommodation for tourists in Rwanda. It is a 20-bed tented Eco-camp linked together using boardwalks, and is the first of its kind in Rwanda. It is located on the shores of Lake Ihema and has some very impressive African style decor.

Akagera game lodge
For a long time, Akagera game lodge was the only accommodation in the Akagera park area, and at the time it wasn’t even that nice, other lodges however have come up in the recent years, and this lodge has improved its facilities over the years. It are now two the only accommodation option s within the park. From the lodge you can enjoy some pretty amazing views of Lake Ihema.

Karege Bush Camping

This means sleeping in the park with completely nothing between you and the animals but just a thin sheet of super nylon and this is an exciting adventure and it’s so fair to Akagera Park. However, be aware of the roaming gangs of the baboons. These are so cheeky and will also do their best of stealing the food as well as terrorizing you since they are jerks and have got weird bums. Also spending the night around the campfire with friends, beers as well as the open sky which also makes a good break from the city life and is also one of the best overnight or weekend tours that can be done in Rwanda.  There are also three campsites with the one in the north at Mutumba and it’s known as the most fantastic camp. Camping also costs $20 per person per night and the park can always rent you a 6 person tent for an extra $ 20 per person and this is for the two southern campsites. The campsites don’t have any other gear and make sure to always bring yours. Both campsites are well equipped with the BBQ and the firewood are provided and there is also a pit latrine and small shelter. The views at the campsites are so great and you can camp in the park with the wild animals that roam in the bush and this is so pretty cool.

1 Day Akagera national park safari

1 Day Akagera National Park tour or better packaged as the Full Day Akagera Game Drive safari is a 1 day trip taking you to experience an African exceptional tour exploring the land of Thousand Hills in Rwanda’s wildlife destination, the Akagera National park.
2 Day Akagera National Park safari

Akagera National park

Akagera National Park, a mixture of Savannah and forested areas is located in the Northeastern part of Rwanda and is surely a beauty to visit for Rwanda Wildlife Safaris . Named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary,  the park is gifted to have the forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands that make it the most scenic national parks anywhere in Africa. While at Akagera National Park, expect to find exceptional levels of biodiversity on your trip look out for mostly The big 5 mammals.1 Day Akagera National Park Tour

Apart from the biodiversity, Akagera national park is a Savannah park (actually the only savannah park) in Rwanda harbouring a number of Rwanda wildlife species like the Lions, Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Kobs, Zebras, Bushbucks, Waterbucks and most recently the Black Rhinos from South Africa, filling the gap and making  Akagera national park officially a big 5 park like it was many years ago. Bird lovers also have a chance to go birdwatching in this park since the park is also home to numerous bird species in the several habitats which include woodland, swamps, lakes, and Savannah.

Akagera National Park History & Facts

  • Founded in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation, Akagera national park is the largest protected wetland in Africa. It was named after the Akagera River which flows along its eastern boundary.
  • The park used to cover over 2,500 sq. km but in 1997, it was reduced in size by close to 50%.   A lot of the land was reallocated to refugees returning to Rwanda after the civil strife of the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda had settled in the area and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation.
  • In 2009, Rwanda Development Boards and Africa Parks signed a joint management agreement in which the Akagera management company was established to help both bodies manage the park. AMC is therefore responsible for the day to day management of the park.
  • Where else to go in Africa?
    After your wildlife experience in Akagera, you can go for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, or the primates of Nyungwe.