Akagera National Park Safari
Akagera national park in Rwanda is the only safari destination in the country where visitors have the opportunity to see savannah wildlife species including the highly sought after Big Five animals of Africa which comprise the lion, leopard, Cape Buffalo, Rhino and the African Savannah Elephant.
The national park spans over a radius of 1,122 square kilometers making it the largest national park in Rwanda. It was established as a national park in 1934 by the Belgian government. The park is being managed by Akagera Management Company, after a joint agreement in 2010 between Rwanda Development Board and African Parks, to manage the national park.
Akagera national park is situated in the north-eastern part of Rwanda; with the southern part of the national park located in Kayonza district, and the northern section of the park (exist only) in Nyagatare. The national park mainly dominated by savannah grasslands, woodland, marshlands, and swamps.
The national park was previously known as a ‘Pac aux Lycanos’ which means park of Lycanos. This is because the park had a very large concentration of wild dogs that were hunted down over a period of time for their bush meat.
Akagera national park in Rwanda is currently home to over 500 species of birds which makes the park an ideal destination for birding safaris in Rwanda. The national park also has over 8,000 large animals; with commonly sighted wildlife in the park like elephants, impala, kobs, waterbucks, buffaloes, warthogs, zebras, and giraffes to mention but a few.
The park also hosts a number of primate species such as olive baboons, vervet monkeys, the secretive blue monkeys. These can easily be seen during the day while on a game drive or guided nature walk in the park.
Activities to do during your Akagera National Park Safari.
Akagera national park safaris include a lot of interesting activities that visitors in the park can engage in even with friends or family. Some of the activities offered to tourists visiting Akagera national park include;
Game Drive Safaris
Akagera national Park safaris mostly include a game drive in the park. Game drives in the national park can be done privately or accompanied by a park guide/ranger. The game drive safaris in Akagera national park are conducted in the morning and evening hours from 7am to 4pm. The park also offers visitors night game drives that come with the accompaniment of a park guide as a must. Nights game drives in Akagera national park will give you the best opportunity to view nocturnal wildlife in the park like lions, leopards, hyenas, and serval cats among others. Other wildlife animals to look out for during your game drive safari in Akagera national park include; duikers, oribis, the bohor reedbuck, bushbucks and klipspringer to mention but a few.
Boat Cruise Safaris
An Akagera national park safari is not complete without a boat cruise. Boat cruise safaris in the park are mainly conducted on Lake Ihema and offer you spectacular views of birdlife within the lake area and its surrounding territories. During a boat cruise on the lake, you will also be able to view large concentrations hippos and crocodiles in the lake and along its banks. The national park offers both scheduled and private boat trips on Lake Ihema; with a maximum carrying capacity of 11 persons. The park offers several boat cruise sessions that is the morning session which starts at 7:30am, afternoon session which starts at 9:00am and evening/ sunset boat cruise session which starts at 5:00pm and each boat ride session takes about one hour.
Sport fishing is one activity not done by many on a safari in Akagera national park. Sport fishing activities in Akagera national park are mainly conducted on Lake Shakani. Visitors interested in sport fishing activity in the park are required to carry their own fishing gears and also purchase a fishing permit at the park headquarters which allows them to participate in sport fishing activity. Sport fishing on Lake Shakani is done using hooks and visitors use the catch and release method though they can also take some fish after the activity and the common fish type caught on the lake is tilapia.
Nature walks in Akagera national park will give you an opportunity to explore the park on foot. All visitors doing a nature walk in the park are always accompanied by an experienced park guide. During nature walks in the national park you will follow different trails in the park where you will view various wildlife such as tree species, butterflies, mammals, primates, bird species and also enjoy fresh air which helps you to relax your mind.
Birding in Akagera national park is the best experience any visitor could have especially if you are a birding enthusiast. Among some of the bird species to search for on your Akagera national park safari include; Northern Brown-throated Weaver; Papyrus Gonolek; White-Winged Swamp Warbler; Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-collared Oliveback, Grey-crowned Cranes and not forgetting the Shoebill stork which is a favorite among birders in the park.
Other activities offered in Akagera national park include; walk the line, camping, and community cultural tours.
Where to stay during your Akagera National Park Safari.
For those visitors looking to spend one or more nights in the park during your Akagera national park safari, there are a variety of accommodation facilities to choose from such as; Magashi Safari Camp, Karenge Bush Camp, Rusizi Tented Camp and Akagera Game Lodge. The accommodation facilities range from Luxury to Mid-range and budget. Visitors can always find a place to stay during your visit to the park and it can be within your set travel budget.
How to get to the Park.
Akagera National Park can be accessed both by road and air transport means. The national park is located in the north-eastern part of Rwanda. Visitors traveling to the park by road can take 2½ hours driving from Kigali and if you are coming from Kibungo/Rwamagana to Akagera national park it will take about one hour.
Visitors can also travel to the national park by air from Kigali International Airport with chartered flights taking between 30 minutes to an hour. Akagera Aviation Company offers visitors charter flights to all national parks in Rwanda.
Conclusion: Visitors in Rwanda can always combine an Akagera national park safari with activities in other national parks such as golden monkey trekking or gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park, canopy walk or chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe national park.