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About Akagera National Park

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.
Area: 1,200 km²
Established: 1934

Akagera National Park

Where to find Akagera National Park-Location

Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. The park is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Akagera National Park – a different landscape than the rest of Rwanda – Rwanda’s Big-5 Game Park with lots of Things to do and see _

Popular Activities at Akagera National Park

Wildlife Tour

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, Bohor Reedbuck, Oribi, Common Duiker, Klipspringer and the semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelopes and the Lions and Rhinos are back in Akagera National Park.

Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park

Birding at Akagera National Park

In case you are into birding, this is a birding paradise and the birding safaris are so popular amongst are the visitors to this park. You will also be amazed by the huge variety and abundance of species. Just from the huge concentrstion of waterfowl to the myiad of the savannah species, there is also never a dull moment with over 500 bird species that are recorded with in Akagera. If you are a bird lover, this is a lovely spot for you to check out many endemic species as well as the rare gems like the near threatened papyrus Gonolex that are restricted to the papyrus swamps. The other species also include; the black headed ganolex, the lilac breasted roller, the heuglin’s roin chat, the ross’s turaco , the created barbet, swamp flycatcher, as well as the red faced barbet.

Game Drives & Nature Walks

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.

For longer game drives take a snack or lunch from the lodge and in our case, we will an ample supply of drinking water for you.

Guided Nature Walks including Birding Walks can also be taken at Akagera National Park – Rwanda.

Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park

Cultural Tours

In partnership between the park and the local communities, the freelance community guides have also organized for some interesting safaris as well as cultural adventures for park visitors to participate in. there are also 4 choices; the Heritage which is the culture of cattle, the local production that’s beers and the bees, arts and crafts as well as the celebration which is food and festivities.

You can try your hans at each and everything form milking a cow to making the Imigongo paintings, sampling of honey on the comb, helping in preparing a local meal, engaging in a traditional Rwandan dance

Boating Safaris on Lake Ihema

Boating Safaris are normally the highlight of a visit to a park in East Africa and so it it is with a boating safari on Lake Ihema in Akagera National Park.

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.

There are also countless of water birds you will find while on a boating safari on Lake Ihema and hopefully, you will spot a Shoebill Stork.

Akagera National Park

Other Highlights at Akagera National Park

  • History and 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. Outside Rwanda, the Tanzania safari experience is something rewarding. You can also visit Uganda for another gorilla trekking experience or Kenya’s masai mara.

  • 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.

  • Entry requirements

    To be able to enter into Rwanda and enjoy your safari with as minimal stress as possible, your travel documents should be in order. Be sure that your visa is in order, visas can be obtained upon arrival at the airport for only USD 30. if you are from Germany, Sweden, DRC, Mauritius, South Africa, Honk Cong, Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, you do not need a visa, but you do need a valid passport.

    With everything in order, passports and visa, finances in order, luggage in hand, and your safari hat on right, travelling to Rwanda, and then to Akagera should be quite easy and you should enjoy your safari in this beautiful park with no worries.

    When traveling in a private safari vehicle, you can reach Akagera from Kigali in approximately two hours drive although when driving from Kibungo or Rwamagana it will take approximately one hour.  The functional park entrance gate which is 500 meters from the brand-newly constructed Akagera Game Lodge can be reached on a twenty seven kilometers dusty road which branches off the main surfaced road at Kabarondo, only 15 km north of Kibungo.

    The road is in good condition, and may be used by all kinds of vehicle during the sunny months but not in the rainy season.  Inside the park, guests are recommended to use 4WD vehicles however any type of vehicle with good clearance may work during the in the dry months.

    Reaching Akagera using public transport is to some extent challenging.  The minibus taxis go to and fro Kibungo and Kayonza will take you up to the junction. From there the only available option is to use a motorbike-taxi in case you are lucky to find one.  With the exception of those staying at the Game lodge, guests are not allowed to walk even if you have a guide inside the park, and actually you will not find any safari vehicles available to take you for game drives.

    Akagera comes to sight as an amazing surprise following the sheer cultivated hills pus the breezy climate which characterizes the other parts of Rwanda of the country. found at a somehow low altitude on the border to Tanzania, this amazing game reserve shelters an typical African savannah terrain of twisted acacia plus brachystegia bush, intermingled with spaces of open grassland plus numerous lakes surrounded by swamps which follow the winding course of River Akagera.

    Found in a somewhat low altitude on the boundary with Tanzania, this Akagera National Park may barely be any different in atmosphere to the windy cultivated hills which characterize most of Rwanda.

    The park is scenically dominated by the maze of swamps plus lakes that taril the twisty course of River Akagera, the most isolated source of River Nile, this is typical African savannah terrain of jumbled acacia woodland dotted with open grassland.

    Just as it is, Akagera is a attractive safari place to see, thanks to the verdant tropical landscape of the wetlands plus the uncommon wilderness character of its savannah. Some of the wild animals you are likely to encounter include a large number of  different types of  antelope (such as impalas, elands, bushbucks, topi, water-bucks plus oribi) together with giraffeswarthogszebrasbuffaloesolive baboons, and if lucky some of the 80 to 100 large  elephants.

    • Hire a guide. Guides are optional, but recommended, as they can help you find gems you would miss on your own. Hiring a guide also supports the local community, since many are from the area, and I’ve been told some are even reformed poachers. A park guide costs from $25 – 40 depending on the length of your drive.
    • If you rent or drive your own vehicle, make sure it’s a 4×4. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in the mud during rainy season. There are lions there after all. You also have to pay a fee if the Park staff has to come rescue you.
    • If you want to go camping (glamping, really), check out the Karenge Bush Camp. I’ll be writing a review about this place soon. The staff was amazing, and it’s a great place for a retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
    • If you need a hotel, Akagera Game Lodge is your obvious choice. Just remember to close your windows at night. I stayed there once on a staff retreat and my boss woke up on day 2 to find a baboon pulling on her big toe. I would’ve died of heart failure. This is a perfect example of what happens when you encroach on animals’ territory.