Akagera National Park
Akagera national park found in eastern Rwanda is a 2500 sq km of mainly Savannah land. This marks Akagera National Park as the only savannah park. The park’s name was derived from Kagera River (Alexandra Nile) that flows along Rwanda’s eastern boundary. The river feeds into Lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in and around the park. The park protects an African Savannah landscape of acacia and bush, with patches of open grassland and a dozen swampy lakes. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms a large protected wetland. Akagera national park is the only Savannah national park in Rwanda and the only place to sight most of the large mammals while on safari. Whereas there are forest elephants in the other parks, it is very difficult to sight them. Explore the park in the comfort of your safari vehicle while on a game drive.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife which include, elephants, buffalos, giraffe, zebras, leopards, hyenas, lions. It is home to several antelopes like bushbucks, Topis, Oribis, water-buck, roan antelope and duiker, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, impala and world largest antelope – the Cape eland.
You can watch schools of hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun near lake Ihema. The common primates in Akagera national park are olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, blue monkeys and bush babies who are often seen on night drives.
Akagera national park has a wide variety of habitats, making an important birding area with nearly 500 bird species. The bird species to look out for include the remarkable shoebill, papyrus Gonolek, African Wattled Plover, Giant Kingfisher, Senegal Lapwings, Squacco Herons, African Open bill stock, Grey Crowned Crane, African Darter, Long-toed and Water Thick-knee.
More bird species likely to encounter are, fish eagles, Cattle Egret, Hamerkop, Sacred and Hadada Ibis, Augur Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, and Pied Crow. Black-headed and Viellot’s Black Weavers, Grey-backed Fiscals, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Caruther’s Cisticola.
How to get to Akagera national park
You can drive from Kigali through Rwamagana town to Akagera national park (entrance is only through southern gate. Northern gate is currently used only for exit). The journey takes a total of about 2 hours to arrive at the park entrance.
There is an option of flying to the park using the services of Akagera Aviation for those not keen on the 2 hour drive.
Activities in Akagera national park
Accommodation in Akagera National Park
Akagera Game Lodge
Situated in the North-eastern side of the Park, around two and a half hours’ drive from Kigali City is the classic Akagera Game Lodge, a place you must stay in while on a safari in Rwanda. Its strategic location on a ridge provides views of the breathtaking Lake Ihema amidst a collection of grass, bogland, deep valleys, varied terrain of hills, marshes and bushes.
Akagera Game Lodge is known to be a superior venue offering an excellently relaxed ambience perfect for meetings and conferences, is a serene getaway for vacations and authentic encounter with nature.
Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Ruzizi Tented Lodge is a small luxury tented eco-Camp found at the heart of the riverine forest among swaying giant fig and trees and sprawls on the edge of the phenomenal Lake Ihema within Akagera National Park. Its exceptional design blends with the environment hence offering tourists with the feeling of being connected with nature. Interestingly, most of the trees and vegetation within and around the Lodge were left untouched at the time of construction. Most of the furniture and adorning was hand-crafted by some of the best local artisans and members of community cooperatives.
Karenge Bush Camp
“Karenge” is a Kinyarwanda word meaning “small footprint” derived from the name of the nearby river at which the Bush Camp was first set up. You would be wondering why the small footprint name. This is because of the Bush Camp’s aim, which is to leave a small and light footprint on the earth. Karenge is a seasonal Camp that is opened bi-annually and by the time it is removed, you will not find any evidence of being visited before.
When to Visit Akagera National Park
Akagera’s temperature does not vary much throughout the year, but the long dry season (June – September) brings warmer temperatures whereas cooler weather follows the rains (October – November and March – May). In general, temperatures typically range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Short dry season (December – February)
There may be some rain during this period, but it is fairly intermittent and usually does not last long. By February, the park can be very dry.
Long wet season (March – May)
This season is characterized by regular rainfall and abundant green grass. Clear blue skies and endless views of lush green grass offer excellent photographic opportunities.
Long dry season (June – September)
This is the warmest time of year, and the park can become dry and dusty. However, the long dry season is an excellent time for game-viewing since grasses are short; and animals remain spread throughout the park due to abundant water in lakes along Akagera’s eastern boundary.
Short wet season (October – November)
The first rains clear haze, and the park returns to its lush green state. Birding is particularly good at this time of year, for many migratory birds pass through Akagera during October and November.