AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Akagera National Park sprawls in the northeastern Rwanda at the border area with Tanzania. Spanning about 1122 square kilometers, Akagera National Park is one of Africa’s most pristine savanna grassland parks with distinct landscape comprising of acacia woodland, savanna grassland, swamps, lakes a mention but a few. This park was established in 1934 to offer refuge to its rare wildlife species and this makes it a few ancient national parks in Africa. Akagera National Park is a home to varied savanna grassland wildlife species and it is undoubtedly the only wildlife or Big Game Park in the land of a thousand hills. Its name is derived from the Akagera River that flows through it. Akagera National Park stands between elevation 1250 and 1825 meters, Kibungo district.
Things to see in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is a home of diversity and most importantly, it is famous for its distinct wildlife species. Akagera National Park inhabits wildlife species such as lions, buffaloes, rhinos, elands, roan antelopes, the African elephants, giraffes, topis, leopards, hyenas, side striped jackal, mongoose, Defassa waterbuck, bushbucks as well as some primates like olive baboons, blue monkeys and bush babies. More than 520 bird species also call Akagera National Park their home and this makes it one of the Important Birding Areas in Rwanda. Akagera National Park inhabits about 44 raptors species, Palearctic migrants such as gallinago media, Zambezian biome species such as lanius souzae, cisticola angusticauda, myrmecocichla arnotti and not to forget numerous aquatic birds. The key bird species to sight at Akagera National Park include marabou stork, open billed stork, herons, cormorants, egrets, African fish eagles, papyrus gonoleks, black headed ganolex, lilac breasted roller, heuglin’s roin chat, created barbet, swamp flycatcher, red faced barbet, Ross’s turaco a mention but a few.
Akagera National Park is not a home to diverse wildlife species but also to distinctly scenic water bodies. They range from swamps to lakes and they include Lake Ihema which is the second largest lake in Rwanda. Other lakes in Akagera National Park include Lake Shakani which inhabits a number of fish, Lake Rwanyakizinga, Lake Gishanju. These water bodies inhabit huge number of hippos, crocodiles and other aquatic life.
Activities to do in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is the only big five game park and savanna grassland area which takes you through exciting wildlife encounters. Wildlife viewing in Akagera National Park gets you the best sights at diverse wildlife species such as the African elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards if you are lucky enough, the Masai giraffes, elands, topis a mention but a few. Wildlife viewing in Akagera National Park can be done both on day game drive and night game drive and takes you about 2-3 hours.
Boat cruise is a thrilling water sport offered in Akagera National Park. It is conducted along Lake Ihema which comes with dramatic encounters at varied aquatic life hippos, crocodiles and water bird species as well as other savanna grassland wildlife species including the African elephants, buffaloes, antelopes that roam along the lake shores a mention but a few.
Akagera National Park comprises of diverse habitats which inhabit over 520 bird species thus making it a true birders’ paradise. A birding tour in Akagera National Park gets you the best sights at varied bird species including papyrus gonoleks, shoebill stork, swamp flycatcher, sandpipers, hawk and malachite kingfishers, ibis, plovers, herons, red faced barbet and others. Birders on birding safari to Akagera National Park are recommended to come along with camera and binoculars.
Sport fishing is another rewarding water sport experience offered in Akagera National Park. It is best conducted around Lake Shakani.
Accommodation in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park comprises of wide range of accommodation options. They range from budget to luxury and they include;
Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Ruzizi Tented Lodge is a luxury hospitality facility set for your overnight stay in Akagera National Park. It features 20 beds and its strategic location provides clear views of scenic Lake Ihema. Its design blends that of the environment and its materials are eco-friendly.
Akagera Game Lodge
Akagera Game Lodge is situated in the southern side of Akagera National Park. It is a mid-range lodge offering not only comfortable accommodation but also the best stunning views of Lake Ihema.
Dereva Hotel is located just outside Akagera National Park about 40 minutes’ drive. Campsites
Akagera National Park is composed of 3 campsites for you to choose for your camping tours. They include Shakani campsite-which is set along the shores of Lake Shakani thus offering visitors with amazing views of the lake. Besides, it is an area where sport fishing is conducted. Mutamba campsite is set on Mutumba hill and comes with breathtaking views of wildlife. The other is Muyumba campsite which is found around the ride over viewing Lake Shakani, Lake Ihema and Tanzania plains.
Best time to visit Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is reachable at any time of the year but it is best visited in the months of June, July, August and September then from December, January and February. The dry season usually occurs during these months and they come with clear views over varied wildlife species. Depending on your travel needs, the wet/rainy season is also ideal for you to have good time beside the lakes. The wet season is experienced from the month of March, April, May and October to November.
How to get to Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is approximately 2 and half hours’ drive away from Kigali capital city. Drive via Kibungo or Rwamagana trading center. The park entry gate is about 500 meters away from Akagera game lodge. You will need a 4 wheel drive safari car to help you transverse through the remote routes to Akagera National Park.
In conclusion, Akagera National Park is one of the 4 national parks available for visitor exploration in Rwanda.