Akagera National Park is Rwanda‘s great Savannah park, located in the Eastern province, bordering Tanzania. The park was established in 1934, its now looking smaller today than how it used to be. It still have the considerable area of 2500 Sq Km, and is considered to be one of Africa’s finest wildlife conservation areas. Although it appears similar to other famous East African game parks, It is not as crowded as commercialized.
The landscape is comprised of Acacia Savannah park , with wide plains, gentle valleys, hills and extensive wetlands at an altitude of over 1300 m. The landscape comes as an exciting surprise after the steep, cultivated hills and dense forest vegetation of the rest of Rwanda. Its eastern part follows the meandering course of Akagera river, one of the most remote tributaries of the Nile River. Vegetation ranges from riverine to dense forest vegetable and open grassland.
More than a dozen species of antelope can be seen, including relatively large herds of Elands, bushbuck, impala, cape and roan Antielope, Burchell’s Zebra, and Masai Giraffes. African Elephants are not as plentiful and usually congregate near the marshes in the Park. Elusive though they may be, sightings of leopard, spotted hyena, wildcat and the rare lion are possible.
Akagera is a home to several primate species, among which are large troupes of olive baboons and Vervet monkeys.
The park is one of the best birding destinations in the world. Of Rwanda’s 735 bird species, 525 types including 13 endemics species have been identified in the region. Most notable is the rare Shoe bill stork, ring necked francolin and the Souza’s shrike.
The extensive wetland hosts 50 species of water birds. one of the most remarkable animals of swamps of Akagera is brown-grey sitatunga, a timid antelope with splayed hoofs, which enables it to walk over marshes.
Activities and Attractions in Akagera national park:
From the park entrance at Kiyonza, Knowledgeable guides accompany visitors’ vehicles along faint tracks through the bush, into the valleys and to the shores of the lakes and rivers, where ponds of hippopotamus grunt and snort while they feed in the shallows and crocodiles sun their seemingly sleeping bodies.
Boat cruise around Lake Ihema: A sun set cruise on lake ihema, the largest of the lakes in the park is the unique experience, While the sun sets slowly in the blaze of the reds and oranges, fish eagles, announce their presence from the treetops.
The park has well preserved historical sites, including indications of routes followed by the first people to enter Rwanda from the outside world , and spiritual huts.
The weather is generally mild and very pleasant, though the best time to visit is during the dry period from November to January, when grass is short and hard, the way herbivores such as Zebra and antelopes like it because it is tasty and they can see predictors like lions, leopards, from far distance.
Gama Viewing Safari: For its diversity of animal life, no region matches Akagera. There are Elephants, buffaloes, zebra, giraffes, warthog and lions. The park has over 12 species of antelopes including the big gest African antelope, the cape Eland, Most common is the beautiful chestnut coated impala but also definitive oribi and secretive bushbuck as well as Topi and Roan antelopes. Also to be found here are olive baboons and vervet monkeys waterbucks, and spotted hyena. 31 species of snakes have been recorded.
Birding: As much of the park is covered by marches and nine lakes, the rich bird life makes the park one of the best birding destination in the world.
Camping alongside the picturesque lakes of Akagera is truly mystical introduction to the wonders of African bush. Also offered is the bush is the spot fishing, guided nature walks, night game drive which will reward you with closer encounters with wildlife. At a nearby fishing village, tourists can enjoy the thrill of catching tilapia and catfish. Unless you are staying at the Game lodge, Game drives are only possible if you come in your Tour company vehicle and 4WD being ideal. Tour guides are provided upon extra cost and must be dropped at Kayonza after game drive in the park or Kabarondo junction with some money to make his way back at the headquarters.
Accommodation: Akagera national park can be visited on a day trip but there’s the option of spending a night at the Akagera Game Lodge and Rusiizi Tented camp. These lodges offers first class accommodation in a serene environment overlooking lake ihema. There’s en-suit studios and executive suites furnished with satellite TV. There are tennis courts and Swimming pool especially on the Game lodge.