When it comes to wildlife, mammals, adventure and birds, this is where it all starts. In the Republic of Rwanda, this is the sole savannah park and the country's largest national park. Rwanda, often known as the "Land of a Thousand Hills," is a popular safari destination in East Africa, bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It's a little but lovely country with incredible infrastructure, wonderful people, a diverse range of flora and wildlife, a pleasant climate, and a diverse range of cuisines. The other national parks in the country are Volcanoes National Park, which is home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas, Nyungwe National Park – a capital of over 13 different primate species and Gishwati-Mukura National Park, which is home of eastern chimpanzees.
The Akagera National Park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda, near the Republic of Tanzania border, and is a 2-hour drive from Kigali, Rwanda's capital. Swamps, dozens of lakes, woodland, breathtaking sceneries, savannah grassland, and a mountain can all be found here. The park has a 1,122 square-kilometer area, with Lake Ihema, a refuge for numerous hippos, aquatic birds and crocodiles, occupying the southern wing. It was founded in 1934 and is one of the continent's oldest national parks.
The park began as a forest reserve with a diverse flora and fauna, prompting the Belgian government to designate it as a national park in 1934 in order to safeguard the area's distinctive wildlife and plant species. Forward to 1984, when an endemic disease swept over the park, killing the majority of the park's wild dogs, earning it the nickname "Park of Lycanos." As a result, these dogs are being swept away.
In 1994, an ethnic war breaks out in Rwanda between Hutu and Tutsi, displacing the Hutu and Tutsi. When the situation calmed down, the refugees returned and took up a larger percentage of the park's area, resulting in increased poaching and deforestation. Out of the abundance of the Lions and black Rhinos that were present at the park by then were killed, but thanks to the management that did relocated new species of Lions and Black Rhinos in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The park has a helicopter for aerial surveillance of the animals and activities, expert equipped ranger guides and also not forgetting the poaching canine unit to boast security and safety of the visitors and animals.
The southern gate, located in Kayonza district, is used as the entrance point to the wilderness in Akagera National Park. The other is the northern gate, which is located in the Nyagatare area and serves as the park's exit point. The park entrance charge is RWF15 for citizens, 50usd for residents and US$ 100 for foreigners as per the current tariff. Africa parks and Akagera management business, a government body oversee the national park's activities.
The park's records include around 80 Rothschild giraffes, 25 black eastern Rhinos, about 15 lions, and over 100 African bush elephants, as well as the African Big 5 Cats (lions, leopards, elephants, Rhinos, and Cape Buffaloes). Cape eland, Klipspringer, bushbucks, roan antelopes, hartebeests, hyenas, duikers, crocodiles, warthogs, and topis are among the other mammals on the list.
Squacco Herons, the uncommon Shoebill stork, the Grey crowned crane, water thick knee bird, Senegal Lapwings, the Hamerkop, Long-toed, Fan-tailed widow, papyrus Gonolek, cattle Egrets, and more are among the 500-bird species.
There are also some primates that call Akagera National park home, and you can spot them at the tree shads around the park. The notable ones include; the white and black colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys, the Olive baboons, blue monkeys, Vervet monkeys, and more.
It's safe to say that no matter how long you spend at Akagera National Park, you'll never be bored or wonder what to look for; you'll get the best of the park's breathtaking landscape, flora, and fauna while participating in any of the activities, which include everything from a boat cruise to a game drive, bird watching, cultural adventures, guided nature walks, hiking and camping.
With a plethora of mammalian species, there is a lot to look out for during a game drive time in Akagera National Park, a home of birds and primates freely roaming within the savannah plains.
Game drives run roughly for 3-4 hours and take place at 6:00 a.m., midday, and dusk, allowing you to see nocturnal creatures such as lions, hyenas, and leopards. The game drive, which starts around 6a.m or 6p.m., introduces guests to species such as Kobs, jackals, serval cats, impala, giraffes, and lions, among others. A day game drive in Akagera national park costs only 30USD per vehicle and a nocturnal game drive costs around 40USD per person.
Catch the sight of the birds, and their sound as they sail on air or play at the tree branches. There are over 500 bird species to see while being guided by an expert bird ranger. Some of the notable birds to lookout for include; the shoebill stork, swamp fly catchers, white egrets and more.
This occurs at Lake Ihema, which covers a large amount of the park territory on Tanzania's border. The canoe ride takes around 1-3 hours and exposes the numerous aquatic birds and creatures that live in this area, such as hippos, crocodiles, and rare aquatic birds. The birding excursion in Akagera National Park costs around 30sud per person per day.
Cultural experiences and spot fishing are two other activities worth mentioning in Akagera national park.
This park is open all year for tourists. However, some months are better than others when it comes to having a good time. From June to October and December to February, there are no or little rains, making it an amazing destination to visit during your holiday.
Yes! The park offers variety of pleasant hotel options for those who choose to stay for an extended amount of time. It features fantastic bedding, services and amenities, not to mention clean air and incredible views.
In the East and Central region of Africa, Akagera National Park is the best safari destination for wildlife experience. Book your safari ahead of time and discover the limitless treasures of Rwanda's only savannah park.