Akagera National Park, All You Need to Know!
Akagera National Park is Central Africa’s largest protected wetland and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. Akagera National Park lies in eastern Rwanda, hugging the border with Tanzania. It’s characterized by woodland, swamps, low mountains and savannah. The varied terrain shelters wildlife including zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions and hundreds of bird species, such as the rare shoebill stork. In the southern part of the park, vast Lake Ihema is home to hippos and crocodiles.
Akagera National Park is dominated by swamps and small lakes with flow in the wake of River Kagera. All the water sources work together to create a piece of spectacular scenery.
In 2017, 18 Eastern black rhinoceros were reintroduced to Akagera bringing the species back to the park, and the country of Rwanda after a 10-year absence. Lions were reintroduced in 2015 after they were hunted out in the 1990s, and the population doubled in the first year with the birth of eleven cubs. Two additional males were translocated from South Africa to Akagera in 2017 to increase the population’s genetic diversity
Top Things to do in Akagera National Park
Game Drives in Akagera National Park
The tour drives with in the park is the main activity though this national park is small as compared to many other savannah parks in Africa. This park is known as a gem of Rwanda. Its landscape is so stunning and you can see many different animals with in a short time. The wildlife in Akagera National Park has also increased over time and the recent count is estimated that the park is now a home to over 8000 large animals.
The game that can be seen on an akagera national park safari includes the most usual plain species; like the topis, impalas, and these seem to be dominant, with the eland, oribi, masai giraffe, reed buck, sable and the roan antelope, as well as the defassa water buck. The most fantastic drive from the south to the north in a day will give you many animals to view to be able to keep give you a great adventurous experience as well as the most magnificent views from the top of the mountain across lake Ihema towards Tanzania. Experience all this on your self drive tour or with our safari guide.
Bird watching in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is prominent for its large numbers of water birds across the entire East Africa. The Park is second to Nyungwe Park as the best destination to enjoy Rwanda Birding Safari. Birds in Akagera park can be best spotted in the early morning and in the evening along its game tracks. This avails birdwatchers a great opportunity to see a number of bird species endemic to the savanna.
Some of the commonest bird species you will see on your Safari in Rwanda include; the gorgeous lilac-breasted roller, the grey hornbill, the crested barbet, heuglin’s robin-chat, black headed gonalek and ross’s turaco, among others. Recent records reveal that Akagera has a bird list of 525 different bird species living within its boundaries which best reflects the diverse habitats offered in the park. Among these are 44 raptor species including the Balaeniceps rex plus several Palearctic migrants, like the Glareola nordmanni, the Falco naumanni and the Gallinago media.
Go on a Boat Cruise Trip on Lake Ihema
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.
Lake Ihema has got one of the largest concentrations of hippos in East Africa and it’s also a sight to behold and there are also many crocodiles that you will find along the shores of the lake. There are also many water birds that can be seen on a boating safari on Lake Ihema and you might also spot a shoe bill stork.
Sport Fishing Activities on Lake Shakani
This would be one of the extra ordinary activity to be carried out along the shores of Lake Shakani, you will hear the snorts of the hippos as well as the dry of the water birds plus the sounds of the fish in the water. Fishing in Akagera will give you an added chance of being in an African wild with the wildlife in the distance plus the hippos and the water birds. You might also visit Akagera national park as a fishing tournament is going on that might put you in a company of fellow anglers.
You are required to make a booking with us when planning a safari to Akagera 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 in 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. These cultural tours also provide the opportunities of engaging with people about their daily lives and excited of sharing their stories.
Akagera Safari Lodges & Hotels for Accommodation
Ruzizi tented lodge
This small private luxury tented camp ( Ruzizi Tented Lodge) has 7 en-suite tents patched on the forest shores of Lake Ihema each well protected by large palms and trees. The lodge offers you the opportunity to explore less visited parts of Akagera national park in addition to the game drives and nature walks.
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
Akagera Game lodge offers comfortable accommodation with a simple but tastefully furnished rooms, restaurant, swimming pool, curio bar, tennis court and a few other life comforts. At the moment, this is one of the accommodation facility inside the Akagera National Park boundaries. It is less of a traditional safari-lodge but more of a hotel. The Lodge is located on the shores of the forest fringed Lake Ihema hence offering beautiful views the Lake. It has a large and very clean swimming pool that is hovering at the rim of the wide savanna. It also offers a splendid relaxed atmosphere that is ideal for a quiet gateway, a conference, as well as an uninterrupted wildlife encounter.
Akagera Rhino Lodge
Akagera Rhino Lodge is located in Kayonza, 6 km from Akagera National Park & entrance in the south. A terrace with mountain views is offered in all units.
At Akagera Rhino Lodge, soak up the savannah night sky, enjoy the thrill of interacting with wildlife and connect with nature at one of Rwanda’s most unique tourism experiences. While staying at Akagera Rhino Lodge, keep an eye out for native birds chirping in the early morning and late afternoon and butterflies can be seen with the naked eye or by using complimentary binoculars available from reception. Akagera Rhino Lodge is the ultimate way to experience Rwanda’s natural beauty.