Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Location; North East
Size: 2500sq km
Akagera a Savannah national park found in the north east of Rwanda and is named after river Kagera which flows along Rwanda’s eastern bounder. River Kagera flows into Lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in and around the park.
Akagera national park is characterized with an African Savannah landscape of acacia and bush land, 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 a safari in Rwanda. Whereas there are forest elephants in the other parks, it is very difficult to sight them here. The park can be explored in the comfort of your African safari vehicle while on a game drive.
Wildlife in Akagera National Park
Akagera national park is home to a variety of wildlife which include; elephants, Lions, buffalos, leopards, giraffe, zebras, hyenas. It is home to several antelopes like; duiker, bushbuck, Topi, Oribi, water-buck, roan antelope, Bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, impala and world largest antelope – the Cape eland.
Schools of hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun near lake Ihema can be watched while the common primates in Akagera national park are; Vervet monkeys, olive baboons, blue monkeys and bush babies (often seen on night drives).
Birding in Akagera
Akagera national park has a diverse and wide variety of habitats which makes it an important Safari birding area with approximately 500 bird species.
The bird species to look out for include the remarkable and elusive shoebill stork, 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 encountered while on your African Safari in Rwanda are; Cattle Egret, fish eagles, Hamerkop, Sacred Ibis, Hadada Ibis, Augur Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, Pied Crow, Black-headed and Viellot’s Black Weavers, Grey-backed Fiscals, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Carruthers’s Cisticola.
Activities in Akagera national park, things to do in Akagera
Game drives in Akagera National Park
Game drives in Akagera national park during your African safari in Rwanda are done using 4×4 safari vehicles that either have a roof hatch or open body, a feature that maximizes wildlife views and usually start early morning in search of the leopards, hyenas, and the recently re-introduced lions, Akagera now also boasts a healthy population of lions, which were reintroduced into the park in 2015 after a 20-year absence, as well as black rhino which were reintroduced in 2017. This is because the predators prefer to hunt at night or early morning and usually go into hiding as the heat from the sun increases. Along the carnivores, enjoy the scenery of this beautiful park and several other big mammals like; Elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, Zebra and Giraffes. The landscape and beautiful wild flowers will make for good pictures for the interested photographer.
Bird watching in Akagera National Park
Akagera national park is a popular and important birding area in Rwanda. Bird watching enthusiasts will find birding Akagera national park rewarding as it offers birders opportunities to sight both the endangered bird species like; papyrus Gonolek and shoebill stork and the more easily available species like; weavers, egrets and several Kingfishers. Birding in Akagera national Park can be done while on an African safari game drive, nature walk with a ranger guide or on a boat safari especially on Lake Ihema. Birding on lake Ihema will accord one the pleasure of water species which are otherwise not seen while on the game drive in the Savannah grassland. Overall we highly recommend birding Akagera national park for both variety and the ease with which you see the birds.
Boat safari on Lake Ihema in Akagera national park
The best way to spend an afternoon in Akagera national park during your Safari in Rwanda is to take a boat ride on Lake Ihema. Most animals will be seen hiding under a shade because of the heat from the sun as others come to the water points for cooling off and drinking. In addition to a variety of different water birds, you will watch schools of hippos in the water and crocodiles by the shores of the lake. There are scheduled boat trips which happen during the day but you could also book for a private unscheduled boat trip and do a safari at your pace.
Sport fishing in Akagera national park
The park offers an opportunity of sport fishing on Lake Shakani. If you are interested in sport fishing during your safari in Rwanda, a prior booking with the park authority is required for sport fishing on Lake Shakani. Even though the norm is catch and release, you can be given an opportunity to take one catch for a meal if interested.
Cultural tours near Akagera National Park
Experience the life a native Rwandan around the cattle keeping communities that are near Akagera national park. You will have an opportunity to observe and participate in traditional cattle grazing, milking, traditional milk storage in calabashes for preservation. You then go through the process of converting milk into different products like traditional yogurt, ghee and lastly take part in preparing a meal with some of the milk products ingredients. This will be an authentic cultural experience shared by the locals living adjacent to the park, from which they get to earn by supplementing their agricultural meagre income which will eventually contribute to conservation culture and wild animals in the park.
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 up to the park entrance is approximately 2 hours.
There is an option of flying to the park using the services of Akagera Aviation for those not keen on the 2 hour drive but would like to have a panoramic view of Rwanda’s country side.
Safari lodges and camps in Akagera national park
- Magashi Lodge
- Ruzizi Tented Camp
- Karenge Bush Camp ( Seasonal)
- Akagera game lodge
Custom Rwanda Gorilla Tours
We offer tours that you can customise to fit your choice of travel style. Take a look at some example Rwanda gorilla safari packages.