Akagera national park is located in North Eastern Rwanda along the border of Tanzania. The diverse landscape is dominated to the East by labrinyth of lakes and high lowering hills to the west i.e., the Mutumba hills forming Rwanda. In between is a varied landscape of acacia wood lands, vast with open grasslands and patches of thick forest, Akagera. The park is named after Kagera river that flows along Rwanda’s Eastern boundary with Tanzania.
Wildlife in Akagera National Park
Akagera being a predominantly East African Savannah park is home to more than a dozen type of antelope like the Impala, Bushbuck, Tobi, Oribis, water back and world’s largest antelope, the Cape eland. Akagera is a big five game area with lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo other wildlife include Zebras, Giraffes, Hippos, many bird species like the Shoebill, African Eagle, Pied King fisher, African Jacana . The park has the largest protected wetland in Eastern Central Africa.
Activities in Akagera National Park
Game drives in Akagera National Park
Game drives in the park are done early in the morning in search of leopards and the re-introduced lions. This is because the predators prefer hunting at night or early morning to avoid the heat during the day as the sun increases. The game drive also includes encounter with other big mammals like Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, Antelopes and Zebra.
Bird watching in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is home to over 500 species of birds. This makes the park a popular birding area in Rwanda. Bird watchers enjoy the opportunity to see both the endangered bird species like the shoebill and more easily sighted bird species like King fisher. Birding in Akagera national park is done on game drives, nature walks and on boat safari on Lake Ihema.
Boat safari on Lake Ihema, Akagera National Park.
The boat safari on Lake Ihema gives the pleasure of seeing water bird species which are not seen while on the game drive in the Savannah grassland. This boating experience is relaxing as some of the animals come to the lake to drink and cool off. One should expect to see schools of hippos, crocodiles by the lake shore and different water birds.
Cultural tours near Akagera National Park
Cultural tours enable interaction with locals who live on the border of the park. One experiences the rural Rwandan life of cattle keeping in communities near Akagera national park. You have the chance to observe and participate in activities like grazing, milking, an authentic cultural experience offered by the locals. Through this they earn a living hence contribute to conservation of culture and wildlife in the park.
How to get to Akagera National Park
Drive from Kigali through Rwamagana town to Akagera National Park. Entrance into the park is only through the southern gate while the northern gate is where you exit. There is an option of flying to the park using Akagera Aviation services instead of the 2-hour drive to the park entrance.
Why you should visit Akagera National Park
Akagera represents birth and resilience just like Rwanda. It is a small pocket of land with diverse wildlife.
It was created in 1934, being one of the oldest parks in the region. Historically, it was a big five park that changed with time due to results of human wildlife conflict after the 1994 Rwanda genocide. It later became a park focused on conservation with tourism being slowly introduced.