Encounter the great wildlife safaris in Akagera National Park, Rwanda and Akagera National Park is the only Savannah park that Rwanda has, meaning it’s the only place where day and night game drives and viewing can be conducted in the country. Akagera is well known for residing some of the big game on the African continent, of which with the newly introduced lions and rhinos, the park harbors all the African big5 species of Africa which are African Savanna Elephants, African Cape Buffaloes, Leopards, African Lions and the Rhinoceros.
A tourist in this park is really guaranteed of great Rwanda photographic safari moments as the park is a home to varied species of wildlife, with other wildlife species to spot there including the Rothschild’s Giraffes, Zebras, Hippos, Bush bucks, Kobs, Water bucks, a myriad bird species and many more.
Location and accessibility:
Akagera national park nestles in Eastern Rwanda hugging the border to Tanzania. Akagera is less than 3 hours’ drive from Kigali (Rwanda’s capital) and Kigali International Airport. The Akagera Park can be accessed through two gates which are; Kabarando and Kiyonza gates.
Besides wildlife, the Park has several other attractions like the Kagera River through which the Park was named after, and numerous lakes such as Ihema, Kivumba, Hago, Mihindi and Rwanyakizinga. As already mentioned however, the Park is a home to very many mammals which include elephants, buffaloes, lions, Maasai giraffe, gazelles, impala, baboons, oribi, Butchel’s zebra, topi, bush baby, leopard, bush buck, just to mention…. All these lure a large number of tourists annually who throng the uncrowded Northeastern region of Rwanda where the Park is found.
Furthermore, the Akagera Park also houses some of the aquatic life including crocodiles and hippos. Akagera National park also comprises of a large concentration of bird life with over 525 species recorded. Unique species such as the Shoe bill stocks and papyrus gonolek can be encountered. Among the Endemics include the Jacana’s, ibis, sand pipers and herons.
Briefly about Akagera National Park:
As already mentioned, the Akagera National Park is found in the north east of Rwanda connecting to the border with Tanzania. The Park was founded in 1934 but much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 it was foreshortened in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km.
The Park was named after River Kagera that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a network of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands which all make the Park one of the most scenic in Africa. The Park’s biodiversity is surely amazing and extraordinary due to the several wildlife shelters inside there.
Where to Stay
Previously the park was not so much visited on luxury stay as the park has low lodges for luxury travelers but as the industry is growing and Rwanda rebranding as a new luxury destination in East and Central Africa. New eco and exclusive luxury lodge and camps have been developed in the parks. Today, luxury travelers visiting Akagera National Park tourists can either stay at Ruzizi Tented Lodge or the Magash Exclusive Camp that offers the same hospitality services as the Mikeno Lodge in the Volcanoes National Park where you can do gorilla trek, golden monkey, Bisoke and Karisimbi hike, Dian Fossey hike, Iby’Iwacu cultural village, Musanze cave and then scenic visit to the undulating Lake Burera and Ruhondo.
If you are planning for the best wildlife and primate luxury safari. You can look at the Mikeno Lodge & Magash Safari in Rwanda, that is covering the Akagera and Volcanoes National Park. This trip can be conducted either way that the client would wish to experience it. The trip can start from Volcanoes or Akagera and it can also be customized by fully taking land transfers or having one way flight with the Akagera Aviation and either from Volcanoes to Akagera airstrip or vice versa.
Therefore, for the budget wildlife trips in the park the Akagera Game Lodge together with a series of camps around the park are always there to offer accommodation to the park’s annual visitors who spend more days there.
When to go for game drives in the Park:
Akagera National Park can be visited at any time of the year but it is of course a no – brainer that the best time to do game drives there is during the dry season. During the dry season, the grasses are relatively short allowing tourists to spot animals easily and clearly unlike in the rainy season where grass is very tall thus making game viewing difficult as the tracks in the Park also be slippery due to the heavy raining. The dry season normally occurs in the months of June to August, and again January to February well as the wettest months are March to May and also in November.
Game Drives in Akagera, Rwanda
Rwanda is one of the countries in Africa where game drives can be conducted from. The country is so small but compacted with varieties of attractions, especially wildlife and several volcanoes – the Virunga volcanoes. The country currently comprises of only four national parks, which include; Volcanoes, Nyungwe Forest, Akagera, and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks.
Out of the aforementioned National Parks it is however in only one Park, Akagera, where game drives are conducted from in Rwanda. Akagera is the only savanna Park in Rwanda; meaning it’s the only place in the country where tourists will be able to carry out game drives and enjoy fantastic game viewing.
Therefore, a trip to Akagera National Park is a great opportunity to see many animals during the game drives, such as; elephants, buffalo, giraffe, zebras, lions and leopards. The Park also inhabits various antelope species including bush bucks, water bucks, Kobs, and many more.
Furthermore, tourists will also enjoy beautiful landscapes of this beautiful Park. A full day trip to Akagera definitely means wildlife game drives and viewing. Akagera National Park is a protected area in eastern Rwanda covering 1,122 square kilometers (433 sq mi) along the international border with Tanzania. It was founded in 1934 and includes savannah, montane and swamp habitats. A safari in Akagera rewards with sightings of animals such as antelopes, birds and all members of the big five of Africa – Lions, Elephants, Cape Buffaloes, Rhinos, and Leopards.
The safari game drive with in the park is the main activity though Akagera national park is so small as compared to many other savannah parks across the continent. This park is known as a gem of Rwanda. Its landscape is so spectacular and you can see various animals within a short time. The wildlife in Akagera has also increased over time and the recent count is estimated that the park is now a home to over 8000 large animals. There is also a new perimeter fence that was completed in 2013 and has made a big positive impact to these numbers.
The lions and rhinos were re- introduced recently and as such, provide a major boost to the wildlife that you can spot here. Besides the small size of the park, its wildlife is so diverse. The beauty can be seen anywhere irrespective of the size and the national park is surely being recognized.
Within short time, driving in the Park tracks, you will spot giraffes, Impalas, Topis, the Zebras, bush bucks, African swallows, eland, the vervet monkeys, warthogs, baboons, Mongoose, the hippos, the crocodiles, as well as the elephants, and many more others. The other mammals to spot on your game drives in the Park also include; water bucks, Oribi, reed bucks, the roan antelopes, sable, buffaloes and many more. The most fantastic drive from the south to the north in a day will give you many animals to view to be able to keep give you a great adventurous experience as well as the most magnificent views from the top of the mountain across Lake Ihema towards the Tanzania border.
Meanwhile, the morning game drives are always the best as you will be able to see a large number of early risers within the Park. Still with the morning game drives, you may have a great opportunity to spot the rare shoe bill stork.