Akagera National Park in Rwanda is named after a river that runs along its Eastern boundary- Kagera River, which feeds a dozen lakes linked by extensive Papyrus swamps. Relatively warmer than Rwanda’s other parks, Akagera borders Tanzania for approximately 60 Kilometers from North to south.
The park is surrounded by dense broad-leafed woodland interspersed by lighter acacia woodland and patches of rolling grassland. To the West, you will spot a chain of low mountains reaching an elevation of 1600m to 1800m above sea level
In comparison to some of Africa’s finest Savannah Parks, Akagera is relatively smaller owing to the fact that a portion of the park was degazetted to accommodate returning refugees, therefore, reducing the size of the park substantially. However, what it lacks in size, Akagera makes up for in scenery. It is arguably one of the most scenic savanna reserves with an off the beaten track character. It is also a good spot for specialist birders being home to over 500 Species some of which are endemic to this park. Also expect to see a wide variety of water birds and Eagles.
The flora in Akagera National Park is more similar to that in semi-arid parts of Northern Uganda while the Fauna is typical of Mara-Serengeti Eco-system. Akagera is famous for Big 5 that is; Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinos, and Buffalos. Apart from the coveted big 5, there are plenty of other mammals coming to about 12,000 individuals although still significantly lower than the pre- 1994 populations, the wildlife numbers increase every day.
The conservation journey of this park has not been a smooth ride. For instance, before the 1994 Rwanda Genocide which was later followed by the civil war to liberate Rwanda, the Park had a census of over 250 lions. However, some were poisoned by the guerillas, and others were killed by herdsmen around the park avenging the death of their livestock. On a more positive note, a fence has been erected around the park and animals helping animals flourish once more with, the highest concentration of Hippos in Africa.
Game drives in Akagera National Park are fun and spontaneous. The spontaneity of this park keeps you on the edge wondering what you will see next. The Park is open from 06:00-18:00 hours for game drives- be sure to use a 4X4 safari car. However, night drives can be organized after 18:00 hours and we recommend the use of an open-top vehicle or one with a pop u roof to enable clear viewing of wildlife.
Below is a breakdown of the different animals you may see while on a game drive through Akagera National Park.
Larger Predators: Spotted Hyenas, lions, and leopards- The best time to see these is during night game drives. You may also get a chance to see Smaller Predators like the black-tailed mongoose, Dwarf mongoose, Banded mongoose, genet, Black masked civet, Serval cat, and side-stripped jackal as well as owls and nightjars
Terrestrial Mammals like buffalos, Hippos, Burchell’s Zebra, and 11 Antelope species which include; Impala, Defassa waterbuck, Topi, roan antelope, Cape Eland, Bohor Reedbuck, Oribi, Klipspringer, Common Duiker, Bushbuck, and Sitatungas.
Savannah Primate likes Olive Baboons, Vervet monkeys, Bushbabies, blue monkeys, bush pigs, and plenty of warthogs.
Larger Mammals: Maasai Giraffe and Black Rhinos
The park is serviced by some good accommodation options like Magashi Camp located in the north-eastern corner of Akagera National Park, overlooking beautiful Lake Rwanyakazinga. Another is Mantis Akagera Game Lodge which has undergone extensive renovations since 2018. All the 59 guest rooms including the presidential suite have been completely modified and modernized to fit the taste of luxury travelers.
On the other end is Ruzizi tented Camp located on the banks of Lake Ihema hidden among swaying palms and fruiting fig trees. With a 20-guest maximum, Ruzizi is an intimate retreat designed to blend in with its surroundings and connect house guests to nature. The icing on the cake is that during construction, trees and vegetation were left undisturbed.
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