Fairend Safaris

Akagera National Park

Discover Rwanda

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only savannah national park covering an area of 1,122 square Kilometers. It lies in a protected region in the eastern part at the border with Tanzania. The park is home to a diversity of wildlife that inhabits the savannah plains, mountains, and swamps.

More importantly, it was named after River Kagera which flows along the park’s eastern border and empties into Lake Ihema, which supports the park’s ecosystem. This area is composed of wide plains dominated by grass, cactus-like Euphorbia candelabra shrub, and both thick and thin forests and is surrounded by cultivated hills giving you a very spectacular view when you visit.

How to get to Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park can be accessed by both road and air. Travelers using Kigali International Airport as their point of entry can get to the park by a 4*4 safari vehicle. Alternatively, guests can take a bus which takes about a 3-hour drive.

Travelers can also access Kagera National Park using domestic flights which are organized by Akagera Aviation.

Activities to do when visiting Akagera National Park

Game Drives

Game drives in Akagera National Park are conducted during the day, afternoon, and night all offering different wildlife sightings. The morning game drive is the most rewarding and adventurous where travelers spend about 5-6 hours driving in the open savannah plains. They get to view most of the species as they are always very active during this time of the day. Animals seen include buffalos, Lions, giraffes, waterbuck, oribi, reedbucks, antelopes, Zebras, Duikers, elands, Rhinos, primates, birds, and butterflies among others.

The night game drive gives travelers a chance to see nocturnal which are usually more active at night than during the day. These animals are seen with the aid of sport light and with the help and guidance of trained park rangers or guides. Some of the nocturnal species sighted include civet cats, Hyenas, bush babies, warthogs, Leopards, and other carnivores including lions.

Bird watching

Akagera National Park is one of the birder’s paradise in Rwanda harboring over 500 bird species including water birds. These are usually seen during the boat ride along Lake Ihema like raptor bird species, and endemic species, among others. The best places to spot birds in the park include near Lake Ihema, River Kagera, and in open grasslands.

The most common bird species to look out for in Akagera National Park include the Little Bee-eater Goliath Heron, Helmeted Guinea fowl, African Fish Eagle, African Jacana, White-browed Coucal, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Grey Hornbill, Long-crested Eagle, Saddle-billed Stork, Lilac-breasted Roller, backed Fiscal, Hamerkop, Long-tailed Cormorant, Marabou Stork, Pin-tailed Whydah, White-backed Vulture, Grey-crowned Crane, and Spur-winged Goose among others.  

Boat cruising

Boat cruising is another fascinating activity that travelers can engage in when visiting Akagera National Park. The boat cruises are carried out on Lake Ihema which is one of the best lakes in Rwanda.  The boat cruise takes about 2 hours as travelers enjoy the cool breeze while viewing different wildlife species and birds. The animals to look out for include Hippos, crocodiles, buffalos, elephants, and antelopes among others as they drink water. The birds which may be seen are crowned cranes, kingfishers, marabou storks, shoebill storks, and African fish eagles among others.

Cultural Tours

Travelers visiting Akagera National Park get to interact and explore the traditions of locals living near the park. Cultural encounters give a glimpse of how people live their lives, travelers get to enjoy their local delicacies and learn about the Rwandan culture. Visitors can participate in the milking of the cows, sample some cuisines, and get entertained through songs and dances.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing is carried out on the shores of Lake Shakani, travelers who participate in this activity are allowed to take home the fish caught. Lake Shakani is situated in the northeast of the park and gives travelers a chance to see aquatic animals. These include hippos, crocodiles, and other mammals that flock the shore of the lake for water to quench their thirst.

Guided Nature Walks

Guided nature walks in Akagera National Park can be done in the company of a park ranger guide. Travelers can explore the park on foot as they view animals and learn more about the attractions found in the Park. This allows guests to see animals that may not be easily seen during game drives.

Where to stay 

The Park has fewer accommodation facilities compared to other parks therefore travelers are always advised to make prior bookings. There are a few choices to select from ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budget. These include Mantis Akagera Game Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Karenge Bush Camp, and Akagera Rhino Lodge.  

The park allows travelers to camp and pay small fee of $20, especially the adventurous and daring tourists. However, be keen and vigilant for intruders especially baboons and insects that prefer to steal from campers.

When to Visit

Akagera National Park can be visited throughout the year however, the best time to visit is during the dry season which begins from June to September and from December to February. During these months the temperatures are warmer and there is little or no rain fall thus the access roads in the parks are not difficult to navigate and it is easier to see wildlife species since the grass is short.