Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is one of the three national parks in Rwanda, the only savannah and wildlife park in Rwanda blessed with abundant wildlife species. The park is named after Akagera River which flows along the country’s eastern border and feeds Lake Ihema in the park, small lakes and swamps also in the park.
The park covers an area of 2500 sq km characterised by mellow low-lying plains that include savannah vegetation, open grasslands, acacia lands, bushes and swampy lakes that feed from the Akagera River.
Akagera National Park was gazetted in 1934 as a protection for wild animals, savannah vegetation and wetland that consists of lakes and papyrus swamps; it’s for that reason that Akagera National park is known to be one of the largest protected wetlands in central Africa.
Akagera National park being the only wildlife park in Rwanda, its biodiverse ecosystem is a natural habitat to a wide variety of wild animals that include but not limited elephants, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, leopards, hyenas, lions, hippos, antelopes and primates’ baboons and monkeys, e.t.c.
The birdlife of 500 birds includes the shoebill stork, fish eagles, African wattled plover, African openbill stork, water thick-knee among others.
The park is 2 and half hour drive from Kigali city and to get there you drive through Rwamagana town to the park. The journey is far less hilly unlike the other parts of Rwanda and is quite enjoyable, giving you a chance to appreciate the topography of this country of a thousand hills.
Activities in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park gives you a great chance to engage in quite a number of wildlife safari activities that include:-
Game drives: Game drives in Akagera National Park, give you the opportunity to see and enjoy the numerous world animals that live in the park. The game drive takes you through the beautiful savannah vegetation and swampy papyrus of the park as you spot wild animals hunting or running to their hiding places. You also get a chance to see a number of bird species nesting in several trees and vegetation in the park. The game drives are done in the morning, afternoon and night, you can also choose to have a whole day game drive from morning through to afternoon; for either game drive, you will have the amazing sightings of all the park’s wildlife and flora.
Boat cruise: On the Akagera breath-taking boat cruise you have the opportunity to take a boat ride on Lake Ihema to enjoy the breeze and chill of the lake as you appreciate the Savannah flora along the lake, see water birds and wild mammals as they swim through the water or quench their thirst. You are able to catch hippos in the water and crocodiles by the shores of the lake and the waves on the lake in their smooth flow. The boat cruises are somewhat a relaxing safari activity to give you a chill mood to rest off and refresh. Boat cruises are normally scheduled by the park management but if you wish to you can ask for a private a cruise of course at an extra cost.
Sportfishing: This fun but competitive activity done on Lake Shakani, is a thrill for those sport and fish lovers; as you catch fish for a meal and compete to win the other person, the activity leaves you amazed at your ability to channel your energy to such a sport adventure. For this activity you need to know that prior booking is needed, so make arrangements with the park if you plan to engage in this meal hunting sport.
Birding: If you are a bird enthusiast, you will enjoy a drive in the savannah plains to see the huge number of birds that inhabit the Akagera National Park. With over 500 birds living in Akagera, you will not regret taking this bird watching drive that gives you this amazing opportunity to see these birds up-close and personal. Birding can be done at any time of the day so talk to the park management to arrange a guide for at your preferred time.
Community tour: The unique Rwandan culture gives you an opportunity to appreciate the diversity of people and this is the purpose of the community tour for you to have a chance to experience and appreciate the cultures of the locals living around the park. In the cattle keeping communities, you get to observe and participate in traditional cattle grazing and milking. You can also observe the process of converting the milk into different end products like traditional yogurt and many more. In the agricultural communities, you are able to see a number of farms with the staple food that is eaten by natives of the country and if you visit in the season of planting you get to participate in the planting activities that will leave you beautifully amazed.
Accommodation Facilities in Akagera National Park
All accommodation facilities in and around Akagera are well furnished and equipped to meet your accommodation needs and preferences; so you have a variety to choose from. It’s always advised to speak to your tour operator about your accommodation preferences so that they get you the best accommodation.
Akagera National Park, is a must-stop for your wildlife safari experience in Rwanda and even as you plan for the safari, it’s wise to use a tour operator, tour operators have all the information you need and are able to plan all the details of your trip to give you the best experience of your safari time.
So start planning to visit Akagera National Park soon.