Akagera National Park lies in eastern Rwanda, hugging the border with Tanzania. It’s characterized by woodland, swamps, low mountains and savannah. The varied terrain shelters wildlife including zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions and hundreds of bird species, such as the rare shoebill stork. In the southern part of the park, vast Lake Ihema is home to hippos and crocodiles.
Bordering Rwanda and Tanzania, Akagera National Park is located in the Eastern part of Rwanda. This magnificent park is one of the oldest National parks in Africa and the biggest park in Rwanda. A spot that used to shelter very many African wild dogs and was referred to as “Parc aux Lycaons”.
The park is also known for its endowment in bio diversity of flora and fauna and is the only Savannah park in the country. Initially, the park covered an area of 2,500km2 but later reduced in size as a result of population increase from the occupying Rwandan refugees of the 1994 genocide.
Akagera National Park is the only park in the country that has the Big Five Safari animals which are Buffaloes, Elephants, Lions, Rhinos and leopards and has the largest protected wetlands in East Central Africa. Other mammal species in the park include lions, zebras, Kobs, crocodiles, hippopotamuses to mention but a few. Over 420 bird species are being recorded in the park including the rare shoebill storks, Fischer’s lovebird, bee-eaters, bar bets, weavers, crested barbet to mention but a few.
Akagera was founded in the year 1934 as a result to conserve and protect a variety of wildlife species and the lands surrounding Akagera River. It was established by the Belgian colonial government under its conservation programme. Its name “Akagera” was derived from the River Akagera and the famous river crosses through Akagera park feeding its water to Lake Ihema and other small parks.
ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS IN AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK.
Boat Cruising on Lake Ihema.
The boat cruise safari experience in this beautiful park takes about two to three hours with three sessions per day where the first session kicks in the early morning hours about 8:00 am before the afternoon session of 3:00 am and the last one in the evening at 4:30 pm or 5:00 pm.
Lake Ihema hosts a wide range of bird species and visitors will have a chance to sight these lovely creatures including herons, fish eagles to mention but a few with stunning insect species alongside other beautiful wildlife like crocodiles, hippopotamuses in and around the shores of Lake Ihema. Beautiful landscape views blended with sky and sun set views also gives off such a cool and satisfying experience.
Fish sporting in Lake Shakani.
Lake Shakani is endowed with a wide range of fish species giving the guests an opportunity to engage in this fun activity and they are seen carrying their own fishing equipment. Visitors are allowed to fish and the fish caught can be smoked and enjoyed with others during the barbecue time in the evening. Fish species at Lake Shakani include Tilapia and muddy fish.
Bird Watching in Akagera National Park.
Due to the park’s dominance of lakes, Savannah woodlands, dense forests and swamps, visitors can surely anticipate the best with the park providing shelter to almost 420 bird species from weavers, terns, rare shoe bills, bee-eaters, kingfishers to bar bets, crested barbet, shrikes to mention but a few.
Game Drives In Akagera National Park.
In Akagera, game drives are divided into three sessions per day where visitors can go in for their game drives either in the Morning, Afternoon or Evening session. Akagera national park is the only park in Rwanda that offers game viewing experiences. The most fun and exciting tourist activity involves driving deep in the park while sighting the beautiful lush vegetation of Akagera National Park and having stunning landscape views. It also gives guests another rewarding moment of having more of the wildlife comely views including antelopes, rhinos, mongoose, elephants, lions, leopards, warthogs, spotted hyenas, zebras to mention but a few.
Big five animals in Akagera National Park.
The park is the only destination to sight all the big five animals in their natural wildlife habitat and interestingly they can be seen all over in the park while the visitors are engaged in other tourist activities. The big five animals include rhinos, buffaloes, Elephants, leopards and lions and the park shelters them in big numbers.
Visitors can also observe and learn a lot about these creatures including their feeding habits, socializing with other animals and how they treat and feed their young ones.
One of the reasons why Rwanda’s tourism sector is booming with success and its luxury type of tourism is because of the strong political ties the government of Rwanda and Rwanda Development board have created with other international countries.
HOW TO GET TO AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK.
Visitors to Akagera National Park are advised to take a car with a professional driver due to the limit speed policy in Rwanda from Kigali International Airport straight the park which is about two and a half hours’ drive.
However, the park authorities have put up air means with ahelicopter and a flight takes about 20 minutes from Kigali to Akagera National Park.