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Akagera National Park in Rwanda’ The Ultimate Guide

Story Highlights

  • History
  • Wildlife in Akagera National Park Rwanda
  • Activities in the Park
  • How to get to Akagera National Park

The Akagera National Park in Rwanda is located in the country’s northwestern region, near the border with Tanzania. Akagera National Park is unlike any other wildlife sanctuary in Rwanda; it is mostly made up of swamps and small lakes that flow in the wake of the Kagera River.

Akagera is a great place to see the Big Five. Buffaloes are plentiful and easy to spot, elephants are common but more difficult to locate, and leopards are becoming more common on night drives. Both the lion and the black rhino had been poached to extinction by 2005, but have since been reintroduced. In 2015, seven lions were flown in from South Africa, followed by two more in 2017, and more than a dozen cubs have now been born in the park. In May 2017, 18 black rhinos arrived, one of which has already given birth to a healthy calf.

Akagera National Park in Rwanda' The Ultimate Guide

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Akagera National Park, established in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation, is one of Africa’s largest protected wetland. It got its name from the Akagera River, which runs along its eastern border.

The park used to cover over 2,500 square kilometers, but it was reduced in size by nearly half in 1997. A large portion of the land was re-allocated to refugees returning to Rwanda following the genocide’s civil strife. Prior to 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda had settled in the area, and poaching and cultivation had harmed the conservation area.

The Rwanda Development Board and Africa Parks signed a joint management agreement in 2009, and the Akagera management company (AMC) was formed to assist both organizations In charge of the park. As a result, AMC is in charge of the park’s day-to-day operations.

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Wildlife in Akagera National Park Rwanda

Elephants, lions, buffalos, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, and several antelopes such as bushbucks, roan antelopes, Topis, klipspringer, Oribis, Cape eland, water-buck, duikers, and impalas can all be found in the Akagera national park. This park is home to a variety of primates, including olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, and nocturnal bush babies. Lake Ihema’s shallow waters are home to a large number of crocodiles and hippos, which can be seen best during boat rides.


Other animals commonly seen on game drives include Maasai giraffes, Burchell’s zebras, warthogs, and 11 different antelope species. The most common is the impala, which prefers wooded savannah habitats. The grassy Mutumba Hills and plains to the north are a major habitat for eland (Africa’s largest antelope), topi, Bohor reedbuck, oribi, roan antelope, and the rock-hopping klipspringer. Defassa waterbuck, bushbuck, and common duiker are all likely to be seen near the lakes, whereas the elusive semi-aquatic sitatunga is mostly restricted to inaccessible swamp interiors.

Birds in The Park

This park is home to 520 different bird species. They include water birds, forest birds, savannah species, and migratory bird species. There are also a number of endemic species to the park that are extremely rare, such as the papyrus gonolex, which is found in the papyrus swamps.

There are also localized red-faced barbets, swamp fly catchers, and the elusive shoebill stork, all of which can be found in Akagera National Park in Rwanda. Fish eagles, Grey-backed Fiscals, Cattle Egret, Black-headed & Viellot’s Black Weavers, Hamerkop, Pied Crow, Sacred & Hadada Ibis, Long-crested Eagle, and the Augur Buzzard are among the other species.

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Activities in Akagera National Park

Game Drives:

Akagera National Park in Rwanda' The Ultimate Guide

The game drives here take place in the early morning or late afternoon, and are led by tour guides in 4WD safari vehicles. You will be accompanied by a guide who is extremely knowledgeable about the park’s flora and fauna.

One distinguishing feature of this park is that each game drive is exceptional in its own right, revealing full new surprises as nature reveals its treasures in the form of scenic wonders, the wildlife such as buffaloes, elands, topis, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, monkeys, savannah birds, civets, leopards, hyenas, and serval cats all for you to marvel at.

While on the game drives, you should stay in the vehicle unless the park guides see that it is safe for you to get out. It is recommended that you bring a snack or a packed lunch, as well as plenty of drinking water, on longer game drives.

Night Game Drives:

Night drives in an open-topped game-viewing vehicle with a good chance of seeing several nocturnal hunters, including leopard, spotted hyena, genet, civet, and white-tailed mongoose. Other animals commonly seen on night drives include bushbaby, elephant-shrew, and various owl and nightjar species. This nocturnal drive is also about 2 hours long and will undoubtedly provide you with a unique perspective.

Spot Fishing:

Lake Shakani is the only destination in Rwanda where you can go spot fishing. The snorts of hippos, singing water birds, and the sounds of fish in the water can all be heard at Lake Shakani.

You could also go to Akagera National Park while a fishing tournament is going on to meet other anglers. The good news about fishing in this national park is that you can keep what you catch and, if you want to cook it, you can start a fire and roast it for lunch or dinner.

Boat Safaris on Lake Ihema:

Boat rides on Lake Ihema provide an excellent introduction to the park’s aquatic flora and fauna. Crocodiles and hippo are almost certain, and water birds abound, including African fish eagles, African darters, open-bill storks, African jacanas, malachite kingfishers, and papyrus specialists like blue-headed coucals, papyrus gonoleks, and white-winged warblers.

A fantastic seasonal heronry serves as a breeding ground for a half-dozen species, including the endemic rufous-bellied heron and both types of night heron.

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How to get to Akagera National Park

The distance between Kigali and Akagera National Park is approximately 108 kilometers, and the park can be reached by either road or a short flight. It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive from Kigali, the capital city, through the town of Rwamagana to the park’s southern gate (the northern gate is used for exit only at the moment). Those who do not wish to drive can opt for a short flight into Akagera, which is provided by Akagera Aviation.

Accommodation in Akagera National Park

There will undoubtedly be a place for everyone to stay within Akagera National Park. The accommodations available here range from luxury facilities such as Mgashi Lodge and Rusizi Tented Camp to mid-range facilities such as Akagera Game Lodge, as well as budget facilities and camp sites for budget travelers.

Best time to visit Akagera

The Akagera National Park can be visited all year, but the best time for game viewing is during the dry season, which runs from June to September, because the vegetation is thin, allowing for clear views of the animals, and many of the water sources have dried up, causing most of the animals to congregate around the few available sources of water.




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