Akagera National Park

This is establishing it self as Rwanda’s big five game park. Located on the north-eastern edge of Rwanda borders Tanzania and incorporates the Kagera River, hence the name Akagera. Akagera National Park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda, along its border with Tanzania. The national park sits on 433 square miles of land and was founded in 1934. Most of the park features savannah, montane and swamp vegetation.

The national park as founded,  in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation in three habitants; savannah, mountain and swamp. Focusing on “big game” Akagera currently includes African elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and a variety of antelope. Akagera and its lakes are home to many hippopotamus and the Nile crocodile, the world’s largest reptile.

Bordering Rwanda’s eastern neighbor Tanzania, Akagera National Park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda. Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland.

The national park derives its name from River Kagera which flows through the national park and on-wards into Uganda. Most Akagera national park is dominated by swamps, marshland, savannah grasslands, woodland, forests, lakes and rivers. The national park has a total of 10 lakes that are located in different areas within the park, with the most popular ones being; Lakes Ihema, Shakani, and Rwanyakazinga among others.

The southern gate of the national park is situated in Kayonza district while the northern gate, which is an exit only, is located in the district of Nyagatare. The park previously covered 2,500 square kilometers of land but most of it was destroyed following the return of refugees who had fled the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.

Although a lot was lost in Akagera national park, the park has managed to revive from its tragic past following the formation of Akagera Management Company which manages the national park. The company was formed after a joined agreement was made between Rwanda Development Board and African Parks, a non-government conservation agency that oversees the management of other national parks in Africa.

Visitors on a Rwanda wildlife safari in Akagera national park can take part in a number of activities that are offered by the park, which include; a guided day or night game drive, a boat cruise on Lake Ihema, sport fishing on Lake Shakani, birding, behind the scenes Akagera tour, walk the line tour, camping, and a community visit to mention but a few.

Things to See in Akagera National Park

Akagera is, above all, big game country! Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might stumble across a leopard, a spotted hyena or even a stray lion.

There is so much for tourists to see during their visit to the national park and these include sighting stunning wildlife like; lions, elephants, hippos, baboons, buffalos, zebras, impala, hyenas, giraffes, antelopes, leopards, and Sitatunga among others.

Giraffe and zebra haunt the savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribi and secretive bushbuck, as well as the ungainly tsessebe and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque Cape eland.

The national park also has more than 480 bird species, some of which include; the African Open-bill stock, the rare shoebill stork, papyrus Gonolek, Grey Crowned Crane and so many more.

Things to Do in Akagera National Park

Travelling alongside the picturesque lakes of Akagera is a truly mystical introduction to the wonders of the African bush. Pods of 50 hippopotami grunt and splutter throughout the day, while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape.
Magically, the air is torn apart by the unforgettable high duetting of a pair of fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa’s waterways. Lining the lakes are some of the continent’s densest concentrations of water birds, while the connecting marshes are the haunt of the endangered and exquisite papyrus gonolek, and the bizarre shoebill stork – the latter perhaps the most eagerly sought of all African birds.

Akagera National Park is recognized as one of the best spots for bird watching in Rwanda. The diverse habitats of the park encourage a wide variety of bird species to the area. Akagera is indisputably the best place in Rwanda to find savannah birds and raptors. It is also very well stocked with water-birds living amongst the papyrus swamps can be spotted. Akagera and Nyungwe national parks are complementary in terms of bird life and there aren’t any species breeding in Rwanda that can’t be spotted in either of these sites.

Where to Stay

In addition to this, visitors who wish to spend a night or more in Akagera National Park can stay in the following accommodation facilities located within the national park, and these include; Akagera Game Lodge, Magashi Safari Camp, Ruzizi Tented Camp, and Karenge Bush Camp to mention but a few. There are also designated camping sites that are located within the national park for visitors interested in camping, and these include; Shakani Akagera Campsite, Mutumba Campsite, and Muyumbu campsite.