Bordered by four countries, Rwanda is a landlocked country located in central and East African region. Despite the fact that Rwanda is relatively a small sized country, never than less, being land locked, it remains one country that is fortuitous endowed with beautiful lakes, towering volcanoes, warm people, meandering rivers, together with a beautiful clean city of Kigali.
National parks are one of Rwanda’s greatest treasures, moving from mountain gorillas’ home – Volcanoes National Park to Nyungwe National park, a shelter of the great chimpanzees and lastly to Akagera national park, a habitat for Africa’s wonderful wildlife and sprawling Savannah plains.
Named after river Kagera, which flows along the Rwanda’s eastern border, Akagera national park is located in the eastern region of Rwanda and was established in the year 1934, making it one of the oldest conservation areas in Africa. This park covers an area of about 1122km and it includes swamp, Montane, and savannah habitats, rendering it a magnet for verdant flora and fauna species. This park has beautiful attractions that have sourced visitors around the world.
Akagera national park is blessed with a variety of mammals that have attracted tourists across the globe. From the playful primates of the blue monkeys, olive balloons, view vevert monkeys, to bush babies during a night drive. The national park offers massive wild game views of animals such as; forest elephants, antelopes, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, impala and the cape eland-the world’s largest antelope.
Besides the beautiful animals, Akagera national park also has a wide range of bird species – over 500 in the park. Birds such as the African wattled plover, cattle Egret, grey crowned crane, and the remarkable shoebill among others call Akagera home. Akagera national park possesses the Akagera River and lake fringed swamps that support a variety of aquatic life and verdant vegetation. The park owns the largest protected wetland system in central Africa.
Akagera national park contains Rwanda’s second largest lake, Lake Ihema, as well as other small lakes, namely – Lake Rwanyakizinga and Lake Mihindi. These lakes contain a range of fish species, Nile crocodiles and hippos.
Activities engaged in while at Akagera National Parks are as follows.
A boat cruise on Lake Ihema is one way to spend an afternoon in Akagera national park. As you will be able to see animals as they come to the water for drinking and cooling off, also admire the adorable beauty of the lake and the surroundings.
In addition, you will view water birds and other animals that flock it shorelines, such as buffaloes, antelopes and elephants among others
An evening boat cruise on the other hand begins at 5:00pm, presents beautiful sunset views and a sights and sounds of resident animals such as hippos and Nile crocodiles while in the luxury of the boat. Self-scheduled cruises can as well be organized on the lake for those that want to do it private.
Akagera national park has traditional communities near it, as these enable cultural visits by the tourists, for these communities such as the cattle grazing community; they offer an authentic cultural experience for the tourist. The tourist can participate or observe cow milking, cattle grazing and also get to know the traditional storage of the milk-calabashes, local milk preservation, and see how milk can be turned into other products such as yogurt and traditional ghee among others.
Game drives in Akagera national park
A game drive in the park is also another exciting experience not to miss while in Akagera national park. Interestingly one can book a self-drive tour to the game park. Preferably, the park has both morning game drives and night game drives (bush babies and hyenas can be spotted) since the animals prefer to hunt during night and early morning in order to avoid the heat and sunshine. While on a game drive, you will have an opportunity to view a variety of game such as elephants, antelopes, zebras, and giraffes among others.
Sport fishing experience
Akagera national park also offers sport fishing as an activity to be engaged in at the park. Sport fishing requires prior booking and getting a fishing permit. Sport fishing is done on Lake Shakani. Visitors are given a chance to take a catch for a meal though the expectation is a catch and release.
Birding in Akagera national park
Gifted with a variety of bird species, Akagera national park is the best spot for bird lovers. Home to nearly 500 species, the park boats of unique birds such as the Grey Crowned Cranes, Shoebill stork, Squacco herons among others.
One can get to Akagera national park via the southern gate where you drive from Kigali through Rwamagana to the park; this drive takes nearly 3 hours. The northern gate of the park is used for exit currently. Alternatively, a 30 minutes’ flight from Kigali can get you fast to the park.
Various accommodation facilities are offered in and near the park ranging from budget, midrange to luxury. Luxury accommodation include Ruzizi hotel and the newly opened Magashi Tented camp. Midrange option – Akagera game lodge and Dereva hotel as a budget option. If you are thinking of a safari in Rwanda, Akagera national park should be included on your bucket list, for it offers the best safari experience like no elsewhere in the world.