Set at a relatively low altitude on the border with Tanzania, Akagera National Park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda. Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland.
Akagera National Park is found in eastern Rwanda. It is a 2500 sq km of mainly Savannah land. The park is named after Kagera River that flows along Rwanda’s eastern boundary with Tanzania. The river feeds into Lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in and around the park.
The park protects an African Savannah landscape of acacia and bush 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 safari. Whereas there are forest elephants in the other parks, it is very difficult to sight them. Go on a Rwanda safari through Akagera in the comfort of your safari vehicle while on a game drive.
Akagera is, above all, big game country! Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might stumble across a leopard, a spotted hyena or even a stray lion. Giraffe and zebra haunt the savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribis and secretive bushbuck, as well as the ungainly tsessebe and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque Cape eland.
Camping alongside the picturesque lakes of Akagera is a truly mystical introduction to the wonders of the African bush. Pods of 50 hippopotami grunt and splutter throughout the day, while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape. Magically, the air is torn apart by the unforgettable high duetting of a pair of fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa’s waterways. Lining the lakes are some of the continent’s densest concentrations of water birds, while the connecting marshes are the haunt of the endangered and exquisite papyrus Gonolek, and the bizarre shoebill stork – the latter perhaps the most eagerly sought of all African birds.
Things to Do in Akagera National Park
- Game Drives
On a game drive during the day, you get to be driven along the tracks, through the green savannah plains, past wide-leaved woodlands and into the habitat of bountiful mammal species in the Akagera National Park. Your tour guide knows the areas where most animals usually spend their day and will endeavor to drive by. Some of the animals to look out for while on a day game drive include; The Defassa Waterbuck, Topis, Bohor Reedbucks, Oribis, Semi-Aquatic Sitatunga, Eland, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Elephants, Lions and the recently reintroduced Rhinos are some of the mammals found in the park.
The night game drive is an experience in which you step into the wild to view the nocturnal animals especially the wide-eyed bush babies, serval cats, civets, leopards. You will be guided by your flashlight and an experienced ranger. Experience if you are setting out to see the wild.
- Nature Walks
Akagera national park management offers nature walks in some areas of the park with a ranger guide. This is a good way to explore the park outside of a vehicle which you use while on a game drive. Also it allows more time and engagement concerning butterflies, insects and plants that you could easily miss while on a safari.
You have an opportunity of fishing while in Akagera national park. You can do this on both Lake Ihema and Shakani which is a thrilling experience. At the serene waters you can fish to the background music of chirping birds and hippos that grunt as if to cheer you on. You are free to keep your catch to roast, fry or grill it and enjoy the taste of fresh fish from Rwanda.
Akagera National Park is home to over 480 species of birds with many only found in this park in Rwanda. The diverse habitat for birds at Akagera National Park gives you an opportunity to view different kinds of bird species. There will be birds in the savannah plains, in the hills, forests, by the lakes and at the river. The Red Faced Barbets, the Great Snipe, the Lesser Kesterel, the Armot Chat, Swamp Fly Catchers, the Papyrus Gonolex and the Shoebill are some of the most rewarding sights while birding.
- Boat Safari
A boat safari is a relaxing yet rewarding way to view wildlife. It is an even more rewarding experience when on the lake. Lake Ihema is the second largest lake in Rwanda known for its abundant hippo population and crocodile dotted shores. The boat safari on Lake Ihema offers the opportunity to take up-close photos of these animals. As other animals come to the lake for a drink or bath, you can take a look at those that you may have missed while out on a game drive in the wild.
Travel Guide for Akagera National Park
Travel Guide for Akagera National Park will give you an insight into the best safari tours in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park. Akagera national park is known for its big five animals and a number of attractions and activities that can be carried out to ensure that you have an amazing safari experience within the park. But before you embark on your journey to Akagera national park, you should consider a number of different items that should be considered on the travel guide for Akagera national park as explained below;
For you to have an amazing trip in Akagera national park you should consider packing the appropriate clothing to ensure that you have the most comfortable tour while in Rwanda that will not be influenced by your choice of clothing and the different equipment to pack for the tour;
- Light clothes should be packed because the best time to visit Akagera National Park is during the dry months to ensure that you have the most amazing experience in the park during the scorching sunshine in the park.
- Insect repellent to avoid any insect bites while in the park for instance during nature walks were near the swamps you can find a number of mosquitoes in the park.
- Binoculars to enable you to see a number of bird species within the park.
- A camera to capture the beautiful views within the park.
- Safari jacket, safari hat to protect you from the sunlight.
- Swimsuits because a given number of lodges have swimming pools.
- Sunscreen for people with sensitive skin.
While visiting Rwanda you should have the necessary travel document in order to access Akagera national park. While traveling to Rwanda you should have the valid documents for entry into the country, for instance, a tourist should have the following documents to ensure that they have an amazing time within the park;
- A valid passport that has a validity of not less than 6 months.
- For tourists that are within the East African community like Uganda and Kenya, they should have national identification cards.
- Yellow fever card, from a recognized health facility.
- The tourist’s passport should have blank pages that will enable that the immigration office puts stamps on your entry within the park.
Best time to visit Akagera National Park
In order to participate in a number of activities in Akagera national park, you will have to know the best time to visit Akagera National Park in order to have an amazing time while in the park. Visiting the park depends on the weather conditions in the park that will help you have the most amazing experience as you participate in the different activities within the park, for instance, the boat cruise on Lake Ihema, sport fishing on Lake Shakani, nature walks among other exhilarating activities within the park.
Rwanda has two dry seasons and two wet seasons that can influence your stay within the country and the activities that you choose to participate in. The long wet season is seen during the months of mid-February to May and from mid-September and mid-December which is the short wet season. The dry season is in the month of June to mid-September which is the perfect time to visit the park when the weather is conducive to participate in a number of activities within the park.