Akagera national park found in eastern Rwanda is a 2500 sq km of mainly Savannah land. The park is named after Kagera River that flows along Rwanda’s eastern boundary. The river feeds into Lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in and around the park. The park protects an African Savannah landscape of acacia and bush, with patches of open grassland and a dozen swampy lakes. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms a large protected wetland. Akagera national park is the only Savannah national park in Rwanda and the only place to sight most of the large mammals while on safari. Whereas there are forest elephants in the other parks, it is very difficult to sight them. Explore the park in the comfort of your safari vehicle while on a game drive.
Wildlife in Akagera National Park
Animals in Akagera national park
Akagera national park is home to a variety of wildlife which include, elephants, buffalos, giraffe, zebras, leopards, hyenas, lions. It is home to several antelopes like bushbucks, Topis, Oribis, water-buck, roan antelope and duiker, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, impala and world largest antelope – the Cape eland. You can watch schools of hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun near lake Ihema. The common primates in Akagera national park are olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, blue monkeys and bush babies who are often seen on night drives.
Birds in Akagera National Park
Akagera national park has a wide variety of habitats, making an important birding area with nearly 500 bird species. The bird species to look out for include the remarkable shoebill, papyrus Gonolek, African Wattled Plover, Giant Kingfisher, Senegal Lapwings, Squacco Herons, African Open bill stock, Grey Crowned Crane, African Darter, Long-toed and Water Thick-knee.
More bird species likely to encounter are, 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 in Akagera national park
Game drives in Akagera National Park
Game drives in Akagera national park are done in safari vehicles starting early morning in search of the leopards, hyenas, and the recently re-introduced lions. This is because the predators prefer to hunt at night or early morning and usually go into hiding as the heat from the sun increases. Along the carnivores, enjoy the scenery of this beautiful park and several othe big mammals like Elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, Zebra and Giraffes. The landscape and beautiful wild floweres will make for good pictures for the interested photographer.
Bird watching in Akagera National Park
Akagera national park is a popular and Important birding area in Rwanda. Bird watching enthusiasts will find birding Akagera national park rewarding as it offers birders opportunities to sight both the endangered bird species like papyrus gonolek and shoebill and the more easily available species like weavers, egrets and several Kingfishers. Birding is done while on a game drive, nature walk with a ranger guide and on a boat safari especially on Lake Ihema. Birding on lake Ihema will accord one the pleasure of water species which are otherwise not seen while on the game drive in the Savannah grassland. Overall we highly recommend birding Akagera national park for both variety and the ease with which you see the birds.
Boat safari on Lake Ihema in Akagera national park
The best way to spend an afternoon in Akagera national park is to take a boat ride on Lake Ihema. 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.
Sport fishing in Akagera national park
The park offers an opportunity of sport fishing on Lake Shakani. You are required to make a booking with the park for sport fishing on this lake. Even though the expectation is catch and release, you are given an opportunity to take one catch for a meal if interested.
Cultural tours near Akagera National Park
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.
How to get to Akagera national park
You can drive from Kigali through Rwamagana town to Akagera national park (entrance is only through southern gate. Northern gate is currently used only for exit). The journey takes a total of about 2 hours to arrive at the park entrance.
There is an option of flying to the park using the services of Akagera Aviation for those not keen on the 2 hour drive.
Safari lodges and camps in Akagera national park
- Ruzizi Tented Camp
- Akagera game lodge
- Dereva hotel ( outside the park)