Located north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania is the Akagera National park, known for its big game safaris.
Akagera national park was founded in 1934 but in the early years, much of the park was re-allocated as farms. In 1997, the park’s size was reduced in size to 1,122 sq km from 2,500 sq km. Akagera’s Joint venture with African Parks has seen its status rise to be among the top national parks in East Africa.
It was named after the Akagera river, which flows through the eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes, the largest being lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Akagera national park combines well with the other parks in Rwanda, Nyungwe forest and Volcanoes to offer anyone a perfect Rwanda safaris experience. The park is home to many large plains, game species as well as those restricted to the papyrus swamps like the sitatunga and shoebill stork. Some of the common wildlife seen in this park include Elephants, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bush-babies often seen on night drives.
Larger predators found include the leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lions which was recently introduced. Also black Rhinos were re-introduced in this park making Akagera gain the big-5 status.
Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.
ACTIVITIES IN AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Akagera National Park offers a wide variety of species to see and most of these can be seen on the game drives. You can either go for a half or full day game drive in the park. It’s also possible to do self-drive in this park however guides are available to accompany you on your drive. The park guides will direct you to areas where the wildlife is more concentrated and show you stunning scenic view of the park. Most of the guides have experience from 2 to 12 years in the Akagera national park and have undertaken training in content. However the safari guides from Great Trekkers Safaris are also well experienced with most of the national parks and are recommendable.
Boat Trips & Fishing
If you are looking for a variation on the usual safari experience, a boat trip on Lake Ihema will not disappoint. Drift along the forest-fringed lake edge, past huddles of hippo and basking crocodiles. For the serious birder a boat trip is a must. Trips are scheduled 4 times per day at 7.30am, 9am, 3.30pm and 5pm. Non-scheduled, private, trips can also be arranged at other times. Lake Shakani is the site of sports fishing in the park; spend a relaxing day fishing off the lake shore and then cook your catch over an open fire at the campsite
Behind the scenes
For more insight into Akagera, including conservation developments within the park, take a ‘Behind-the- Scenes’ tour of the park headquarters and meet some of the people integral to the management of the park. This activity is open to anyone (with minimum numbers applying) but designed for educational groups, or special interest travelers. Maps for the self-drive are available at the reception upon arrival for 1,000 Rwf and guidebooks for 2,500 Rwf. An information Center to assist with activities is also available and can advise clients on which routes will be best for them. Tourists are recommended to spend a full day in Akagera to be able to see the best of the park.
Entry fees to Akagera National Park
Entry fees for the park are USD $35 per person per day for international visitors and USD $25 per person per day for EAC residents. There is a charge of USD $7.50 per car. Children under the age of 12 are given a discounted price for entry fees and children under the age of 5 are admitted in free and also free of activities fee. Children over the age of 5 are charged the normal rates for activities.
Other activity fees
- Night Game Drive (per person, 2.5 hrs.): US$40
- Fishing (per person per day, own equipment): US$20
- Boat Trip (per person, morning or day, 1 hour): US$30
- Boat Trip (per person, sunset, 1 hour): US$40
- Behind the Scenes Tour (per person, 1.5 hours): US$20