AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Akagera national park is Rwanda’s protected area situated in the North East of the country neighboring with Tanzania border. The park was earlier gazetted in 1934 with a total area of 2500 square km but later in 1997 was reduced to an area of 1122 square kilometers a gentle process that has seen the park turn to its former glory from being a farmland and settlement to the fled refuges during the Rwanda Genocide of 1994.
This park was named after it flowing river Akagera that flows along its Eastern boundary and pours into a labyrinth of lakes specially Lake Ihema as the most famous and the largest of all. The park is composed of papyrus swamps, fringed lakes, rolling islands and Savannah plains which combine to make it one of the most scenic and a Must to see area in Africa. Akagera national park has an exceptional levels of Biodiversity and configures the largest protected area in Central Africa.
Akagera national park on other hand also intermingles with Volcanoes and Nyungwe national parks to submit an amazing trip/tour element because it boosts a wide range of wildlife. The park is home of large game species and other wildlife species restricted to papyrus swamps such as the thought after shoebill storks and Sitatunga. The other noble plain game species include, elephants, Buffalos, Zebras and antelopes such as Topi, bushbucks, and waterbucks, Oribi, Duikers, Reedbucks, Klipspringer and Impala. The park has also got other primate species like Olive Baboons, Vervets, secretive Blue monkeys and the Bush babies which are often seen on a night game drive.
Predators such as leopards, hyenas, side striped jackal and lions which were of recent re instituted are also present in this park to draw it closer to all the” big 5 status” . In addition the park is also believed to be a bird heaven with over 500 bird species among them are the rare shoe bill storks and the papyrus gonolek which mainly inhabit in the swampy areas of this park.
Activities in Akagera national park
Among the activities carried out in this park include;
Wildlife Game drives: Game drive is one of the major activities in this park because of its range of wildlife. This activity gives rewarding sights on a variety of game animals for example buffalos, elephants, Maasai giraffes, antelopes such as eland and topi among others. Among other wildlife will to sight on are predators which include leopards, hyenas and lions alongside other primate species like Olive baboon, vervets, blue monkeys and bush babies usually spotted during a night game drive. Still during both the night and day game drives you won’t avoid sights and beautiful sounds of both forest and savannah bird species. This game drive are done with the help of the Park Range guides who are well conversant with flora and fauna within this park and the surrounding.
Boat cruise: Boat cruises are mainly done on Lake Ihema one of the largest lakes in this park. This lake has got the largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles which are usually spread on the shores of the lake. During this boat safari, you will also spot on the amazing cultivated hills and its vegetation cover not avoiding a variety of bird species and on other occasions sight on shoebill storks that at times wonder around this lake and the elephants which always find their way to the lake for a bath or drink and get opportunity of getting closer to them than you would on a game drive.
Bird watching: Akagera national park is one of the best destination of bird lovers accompanied by Nyungwe national park. This park harbors over 520 species of birds just found within the park both savannah and migratory birds and many of which are endemic to the park for example the papyrus gonolex which usually harbors in papyrus swamps, elusive shoe bill storks and the localized red faced barbets, fly catchers among others are spotted in this same park.
Fishing: Fishing is one of the extra ordinary activities to be carried out along the shores of Lake Shakani, during this activity you will hear sounds of water birds and snorts of hippos. This extra ordinary activity in this park gives visitors an added chance of being in an African Wild with wildlife in a distance. The unique thing about fishing in Akagera is that as a visitor you get to keep what you fish and if possible you have roasted ready to eat.
How to get to Akagera national park;
The park is two hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. T get to this park you will need to drive 500m along the Kigali Airport road and later turn left east heading to Rwamagana as you continue, you will reach a roundabout in Kayonza and proceed for other 15km to Kabarondo. On your arrival at Kabarondo, you will then turn left into a dirty road that welcomes you with sounds of birds and whispers of the wilderness as you continue for other 28km to Kayonza gate or continue for other 3km to the park information Centre/reception.
Akagera national park can also be reached by Air use of either helicopters offered by Aviation Company in Rwanda that takes people to different destinations within the country or you can also charter the larger MIL MI 17 which only seats 11 people.
Where to stay in Akagera national park
Akagera national as a whole has got a variety of accommodation facilities spread at all its corners ranging from Luxury, Mid-range to Budget. Below are some of the accommodation facilities classified according to their level or Star.
There is Ruzizi Tented lodge, the retreat as Luxury, Akagera game lodge as Mid range and Dereva hotel as Budget among others.
A visit to this Park can be embedded with our Rwanda Safaris to unveil the ultimate Beauty of Rwanda.