Akagera National Park, Rwanda Safari Park

Situated in the Eastern region of Rwanda neighboring Tanzania, Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s outstanding savannah park. History has it that the park was founded in 1934 and develops its name from Kagera River, it flows through the park and feeds some lakes in and near the park such as Lake Ihema. The park covers 1,122km2 and protects a massive landscape of bushes, acacia, swampy lakes, and open grasslands.

Akagera is well known for wildlife viewing and host various animals including the large mammals such as elephants and buffaloes which are hard to see in Rwanda’s other parks.

What to do while in Akagera

Game drives/Wildlife viewing

Wildlife viewing is done in a 4X4 safari car with a pop-up roof through the spectacular savannah. The type of vehicle matters because it enables the tourist spot the animals well and also capture remarkable moments on camera. It is advisable to begin the drive while it is still early since it gives chance to see some rare animals like the leopards, lions and hyenas. This is because these predators usually do their hunting in the night and the morning they are moving away to hide form the heat from released by the Sun during the day.

Other wildlife species spotted include; antelopes, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, giraffes and elephants. Lately the park also hosts a number of rhinos.

Bird watching/Birding

Birders will definitely find Akagera National Park rewarding since it’s a great bird area even for Rwanda. Birders can spot various bird species such as egrets, shoebill stork, kingfishers, swamp flycatchers, weavers and many more birds. Bird watching is mainly done during the game drive, while on the boat cruise on Lake Ihema or on a guided nature walk through Akagera NP.

Boat cruise along Lake Ihema

After game viewing in the Park, going for a boat cruise on the famous Lake Ihema is the most amazing way to spend your afternoon while in Akagera NP. During the cruise, you are able to spot various animals relaxing under the shades along the shores of this lake. You will also spot crocodiles, schools of hippos and different water birds.

The boat cruises are scheduled, however, for those that would prefer choosing their own time to cruise, unscheduled private boats can be booked.

Cultural tours

Rwanda has very few ethnic tribes with very rich and authentic cultural heritage. There are some cultural villages around Akagera National Park and you can’t visit the park for wildlife and not experience the Rwandan rural culture. The visit to these communities give tourists an opportunity to learn more about Rwanda’s culture and also participate and see the traditional way of cattle grazing and milking, processing and preservation of milk.

Rwandans hold cattle rearing so dearly since it is regarded as a sign of prosperity and wealth. Cows also are important to them since they are used as dowry; when a man wants to marry a wife he gives cows to the woman’s family and this is accompanied with a ceremony called “Gushaba” where the woman is given away to the man. You will also enjoy traditional music and dances from the locals.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing in Akagera National Park is on catch and release basis, it is carried out on Lake Shakani. This activity is fun and various species of fish can be caught such as the cat fish and tilapia. You are advised to book your fishing permit early enough and also carry your own equipment for fishing to get the best experience. Sport fishing can be done by every person above 6 years.

When to Visit Akagera NP

Tourists can visit the park at any time of the year, however, months from June to September are said to be the peak season and good for game drives since animals are easily spotted and also some animal’s crowd around the lakes inside the park around this time of the year.

For the best nature gazing and photography, month of June, July and August offer the best experience since they have less rain. The wet season is in from March-April then October-November and it is regarded as a low season, but the good thing is that the park is less crowded and some hotels can give discounted rates in this time.

Getting to Akagera NP

It takes 2hours and 30minutes to get to Akagera while coming from Kigali. You can use a local tour operator to help you get to the park or drive to the park on self-drive; whatever way use, the drive is via Rwamagana town on your way from Kigali.

For those that would prefer using air transport, they can fly to the park as organized by your safari operator or by contacting Akagera Aviation services.

Where to Stay

There are accommodation options for those visiting Akagera and they include; Muyumba Campsite, Akagera Game Lodge, Magashi Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Camp, Akagera resort, Dereva Hoel,  Karenge Bush Camp and Vintage Cottage.