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Facts about Akagera National Park

Facts about Akagera National Park

Facts about Akagera National Park

Akagera national park is recognized as one of the best safari destinations in Rwanda and has been recognized as the best destination for seeing the big 5. The environment was d evastated in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, making the narrative of its resurrection all the more extraordinary. In 2010, African Parks took over management of Akagera National Park in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), transforming the park’s fortunes from oblivion to prosperity and promise. There was a clear shared vision from the start: to turn Akagera from a devastated landscape overrun by more than 30,000 cattle into an income-generating park for the benefit of people and animals. The underpinnings for rehabilitation were robust community engagement and effective law enforcement. After nearly ending poaching in just five years, lions were reintroduced in 2015, followed by black rhinos from European zoos in 2017 and again in 2019.

The largest protected area in Rwanda is Akagera National Park, which is located in the north-eastern region of the country near the border with Tanzania. The park, which was established in 1934 primarily to conserve and protect wildlife, has a total land area of 1,122 square kilometers, but it used to cover an area of 2500 square kilometers, which was reduced to about 50% in 1997 when the land was reallocated as farmland for returning refugees following the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The refugees began farming the land and hunting wildlife, and as a result, the Rwandan government reduced the size of the park to 1122 square kilometers in 2009 to make room for people and then safeguard wildlife. As a result, the Akagera National Park is operated and managed by the Rwanda Development Board, a tourism agency, in collaboration with African Parks, a conservation group. The park is dominated by swamps, hills, acacia, woodland, grassland vegetation, and tiny lakes, and is called after the Kagera River, which flows along Rwanda’s eastern border and feeds into Lake Ihema, the country’s second-largest lake.

Encounter bushbuck in Akagera National Park

Encounter bushbuck in Akagera National Park

Facts about what to see in Akagera National Park

Animals in Akagera National Park: Topi, bushbucks, impala, klipspringer, duiker, bohor reedbuck, waterbucks, eland, oribi, side-striped jackal, mongoose, and primates such as olive baboons, vervet monkeys, and others can be found at Akagera National Park. The park’s animals can be seen on a game drive, a boat cruise on Lake Ihema, and a nature walk.

Seeing local bodies in Akagera: Water bodies, such as Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake, Lake Shakani, Lake Rwanyakizinga, Lake Mihindi, and Lake Gishanju, may be found in Akagera National Park. These lakes are home to hippos, crocodiles, fish, and other creatures such as elephants, buffaloes, and antelopes, who congregate near the water to drink, particularly during the dry season.

Birds in Akagera National Park include swamp flycatchers, papyrus gonoloeks, red-faced barbets, cattle egrets, hadada ibises, pied crows, and long-crested eagles; black weavers; grey-backed fiscals; hamerkops; fishes; and many others. Birds can be seen in the park during birding, nature walks, wildlife drives, and boat cruises where you can see aquatic species.

About what to do in Akagera National Park

Game drives in Akagera National Park: The most popular activity in the park is game drives. In Akagera National Park, game drives are conducted at 6:30 a.m. to catch up with early risers and nocturnal animals returning to their hiding places, or at noon in a safari vehicle over savannah forest plains. A game drive in the park is best done early in the morning with a park guide who knows where the animals can be found. During the game drive in the park, look for giraffes, eland, waterbucks, topi, bohor reedbuck, elephants, oribi, lions, and rhinos, among other creatures.

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only national park that offers a night game drive. Night game drives are led by a park ranger and equipped with spotlight torches for clear viewing of nocturnal species that are rarely seen during the day, such as hyenas, civets, bush babies, leopards, nocturnal birds, and other animals that will be resting at night.

Bird watching: The park is home to about 500 bird species, with over 100 species not found anywhere else in Rwanda, making it a birder’s paradise. Among the bird species you will see while birding are the papyrus gonolek, shoebill stork, long-tailed cisticola, fin-tailed widowbird, Caruthers cisticola, long-tailed eagle, cattle egret, hadada ibis, African fish eagle, squacco heron, African jacana, African harrier hawk, crested barbet, brown chestnut, among others.

Akagera National Park has various bodies of water for sport fishing, including Lake Ihema, Lake Mihindi, Lake Gishanju, Lake Rwanyakizinga, and Lake Shakani. Sport fishing in the park is thus done along the shores of Lake Shakani. Catch and release is used for sport fishing, but you can also have one at the lodge for lunch or dinner. You will catch a variety of fish, including tilapia and catfish. Anglers will book a sport fishing activity at the park headquarters, and the park will also organize fishing contests in which they can compete while on safari in Rwanda. Sport fishing can also be combined with other activities such as game drives and boat cruises on Lake Ihema.

Boat cruises are available in Akagera National Park on Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake. The park has four scheduled boat excursion sessions, the first of which begins at 7:30 a.m., another at 9:00 a.m., another at 3:30 p.m., and the last at 5:00 p.m. During the boat cruise, you will sail along the water’s edge and see various tree species; hippos in the water; crocodiles in the water and along the banks; and some animals drinking water along the banks, such as elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, monitor lizards, and bird species such as shoebill stork, papyrus gonolek, African jacana, pied kingfisher, hadada ibis, and squacco heron. The boat excursion lasts about 1–2 hours, but you can also hire a private boat and cruise at your leisure.

A guided nature walk is an exciting activity in which you will get out of the car and explore nature, feeling the cool breeze and fresh air in the park. A park guide will protect you while traveling through the forest on several pathways throughout the nature walk. During the nature walk, you will see many animals, including birds, butterflies, and tree species.

Akagera National Park has various bodies of water for sport fishing, including Lake Ihema, Lake Mihindi, Lake Gishanju, Lake Rwanyakizinga, and Lake Shakani. Sport fishing in the park is thus done along the shores of Lake Shakani. Catch and release is used for sport fishing, but you can also have one at the lodge for lunch or dinner. You will catch a variety of fish, including tilapia and catfish. Anglers will book a sport fishing activity at the park headquarters, and the park will also organize fishing contests in which they can compete while on safari in Rwanda. Sport fishing can also be combined with other activities such as game drives and boat cruises on Lake Ihema.

Book a single room at Magashi Camp

Book a single room at Magashi Camp

Lodges in Akagera National Park

Visitors on safari in Akagera National Park can stay in luxury, midrange, and budget accommodation facilities such as Akagera Game Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Magashi Camp, and Dereva Hotel, among others, which offer amenities such as comfortable rooms with self-contained and shared bathrooms, free breakfast, a swimming pool, a restaurant serving traditional and international dishes, a well-stocked bar, laundry services, conference facilities, a sitting lounge, and garage.

Karenge Bush Camp is a seasonal camp that is set up twice a year in the dry seasons of June to September and December to February. Muyumbu campsite is located in the northern part of the park entrance; Mutumba camp is located in the northern part of the park on Mutumba hill, and Shakani camp is located on the shores of Lake Shakani. The campsites have breathtaking views of the savannah, Lake Shakani, the Tanzanian lowlands, Lake Ihema, and many animal species such as antelopes, elands, and bird species. Visitors who want to camp on their safari in Akagera National Park will find shared facilities and pit latrines, and they will need to bring their own water, firewood, and cook for themselves. Visitors who prefer to camp privately can rent tents from the park office.

When is the best time to visit Akagera National Park?

Akagera National Park is open all year, but the best time to come is during the dry season, which runs from June to September and December to February. During the dry season, there is less rainfall in the park, so access roads will be passable, there will be short grass for clear sight of wildlife, and animals will congregate near water banks to drink water, giving you a chance to get a close look at the animals and take plenty of images.

The Akagera National Park is located in north-eastern Rwanda and is accessible by road and air. Transportation by road After arrival at Kigali International Airport, travel 135 kilometers (2 hours and 30 minutes) to the park via Rwamagana, then take the right turn at the roundabout and drive to the petrol station on the left side, heading to Kabarondo town. After the petrol station, turn left and travel for around 15km to the Rwinkwavu crossroads, where you will notice a sign pointing you to Akagera National Park. Drive 13 km to the park’s main entrance. It is around an hour’s journey from Kibungo or Rwamagana.

However, while in the park, 4WD vehicles should be utilized because the roads in the park are not all that excellent. Therefore, 4WD cars are suggested to avoid getting trapped, especially during the rainy season. You can also use public transportation by catching a bus that runs daily from Kigali to Kayonza and Kibungo, disembarking at a crossroads, and then hiring a private cab or motorcycle to get to the park headquarters.

Domestic helicopters fly to Akagera National Park, which is arranged by Akagera Aviation. Akagera Aviation operates helicopters that transport people to Rwanda’s national parks.

Highlights of Akagera National Park

  • African Parks redesigned law enforcement to assist in safeguarding Akagera National Park with the help of our counter-poaching canine squad, and as a consequence, not a single high-value species has been lost to poaching since 2010.
  • After a 10-year absence, 18 eastern black rhinoceros were reintroduced to Akagera in 2017, bringing the animal back to the park and the country. In 2019, a further five individuals were translocated from European zoos to the population.
  • Lions were reintroduced in 2015, and the population has already quadrupled thanks to the addition of two males in 2017 to promote genetic diversity.
  • As part of the environmental education initiative, about 2,000 schoolchildren, teachers, and local officials visit Akagera National Park each year.
  • By the end of 2019, Akagera was 90% self-sufficient, with around 50,000 tourists, 50% of whom were Rwandan. Despite a 68% decrease in visits owing to COVID-19 in 2020, Akagera continued to provide for the 300,000 people that live within its borders.