Akagera National Park is found in the Eastern province of Rwanda, at the extreme border with Tanzania about 2-3 hours’ drive away from Kigali city center. This 1122sq.km protected area is by far the only savanna park in Rwanda and consists of swamps, savanna grasslands, acacia woodland, small Lakes with its name derived from the Akagera River that flows through it. It was founded in 1934, which makes it one of the oldest national parks in Africa.
Tourist attractions in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is largely a savanna based protected area with variety of savanna dwellers. It is the only park in Rwanda with a complete list of big five game; African bush elephants, lions, buffaloes, rhinos; antelopes (such as the elands, defassa water bucks, bush bucks, roan antelopes, topis), Rothschild giraffes, leopards, hyenas, side striped jackal, mongoose and primates especially the olive baboons, blue monkeys and bush babies.
Akagera National Park is a true birder’s paradise with over 520 avifaunal species for bird lovers to identify. They include over 44 raptors species, Palearctic migrants such as gallinago media, the Zambezian biome species and aquatic birds.
This savanna park also consists of swamps, lakes like Lake Ihema-the second largest lake in Rwanda; Lake Shakani with variety of fish species, Lake Rwanyakizinga, Lake Gishanju. Most of them harbor a huge concentration of hippos, crocodiles, water birds and also support several of wildlife that depend on them especially for water.
Safari activities in Akagera National Park
Game drives make visitors’ safaris at Akagera National Park complete. This park is endowed with variety of savanna wildlife species including the big five game; elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards, lions as well as the Maasai giraffes, elands, topis as well as birds. A game drive in this park is best done along northern track and can last you about 2-3 hours in a classic and comfortable 4×4 drive safari car.
Alternatively, you can take part in night game drives which rewards intrepid travelers with incredible views of nocturnal species like leopards, hyenas, civets to mention but a few. This safari activity equally takes you about 2 hours.
Boat or launch tours
Launch cruises are ideal for visitors who wish to explore about aquatic life. Boat trips in Akagera National Park are the best done via Lake Ihema which features huge concentration of hippos in East Africa and basking crocodiles, bird species.
Akagera National Park offers refuge to about 520 bird species making it one unique and incredible birder’s paradise. A birding tour in this park rewards you with amazing sights at birds like the papyrus gonolek, shoebill stork, swamp flycatcher, sandpipers, hawk and malachite kingfishers, ibis, plovers, herons, red faced barbet and others.
Sport fishing is one of a few most thrilling water sports you shouldn’t miss to take part while on safari in Akagera National Park. It allows you to challenge yourself with sizeable fish in Lake Shakani.
Accommodation choices at Akagera National Park
The accommodation choices at Akagera National Park range from budget to luxury.
Luxury: Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Midrange: Akagera Game Lodge
Budget: Dereva hotel about 40 minutes’ drive to Akagera National Park or opt for Campsites which include Shakani campsite-which is situated along the shores of Lake Shakani thus offering visitors with amazing views of the lake. Besides, it is an area where sport fishing is conducted. Mutamba campsite-on Mutumba hill and Muyumba campsite which over views Lake Shakani, Lake Ihema and Tanzania plains.
How to get to Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is two and half hours’ drive off Kigali capital city. Tourists on Rwanda safari to this park usually begin from Kibungo or Rwamagana trading center. The park entry gate is about 500 meters off Akagera game lodge. For any plans to pay a visit to this park, you need a 4×4 drive safari car to help you navigate via the remote routes.