Akagera national park – Savannah park of Rwanda

Akagera national park: Rwanda the famous land of a thousand hills is a world-recognized tourist destination, the country has a number of national parks that host a huge population of ecological systems and many tourist attractions. Among the national parks in Rwanda, Akagera national park is the only savannah national park.

Akagera national park - Savannah park of Rwanda

Akagera national park is an amazing protected area situated in the eastern region of Rwanda along the international border of Rwanda and Tanzania, this park covers an area of 1,122 square kilometers which are dominated by savannah grasslands, montane forests,  swamp and it is crossed by Akagera river from which the park derives its name. Akagera River flows along the eastern boundary of Akagera national park feeding into Lake Ihema and several small lakes, the park also consists of a system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps which are the largest protected wetlands in Eastern-Central Africa.

Historically Akagera national park was founded by the Belgian government in 1934 with a purpose of protecting the biodiversity in the area, the area was once refered to as “parc aux Lycaons” by the Belgians because the area was habiting a large population of African wild dogs. The Belgian government considered the African wild dogs as pests however a disease befell the area leading to a demise of a great number of them. 

Akagera national park is a home to various species of animals with big five species and species of birds, the park is dominated by a series of vegetation cover and landscape in various regions. The North region is dominated by  fairly low-lying grasslands and savannah plains, the west region is a typical Rwandese country side dominated by rolling hills and valleys, the east region is crossed by Akagera river which feed into a series of lakes, marshes and papyrus swamps.

Akagera national park is a renowned habitant for wildlife species and bird species, animals in Akagera national park include mammals and primates. Mammals include giraffes, elephants, hippos, kobs, zebras, lions, leopards, buffaloes, rhinos, bush bucks, kobs, crocodiles and many more. Primates in Akagera national park include olive baboons, vervet monkeys and many more. Akagera national park is a home to a large population of bird life with over 420 bird species such as a black-headed gonolek, shoe bills, Fischer’s love bird, lilac-breasted roller, crested barbet, grey hornbills, Ross’s turaco, heuglin’s robin-chat, kingfishers, bee-eaters, terns, ducks, barbets, shrikes, weavers, orioles, weavers and many more.

Safari activities in Akagera national park 

Game drives

Akagera national park is the only national park in Rwanda offering game drive safari experience, game drives in this park is an entertaining and memorable experience offered in three sessions that is morning game drive best for spotting hunters and grazers, afternoon and evening game drive which is best for spotting nocturnal animals. Game drives through trails of the park gives you views of zebras, buffaloes, antelopes, bush bucks, elephants, defassa waterbucks, oribis, rhinos, reedbucks, roan antelopes, sable buffaloes, elands, vervet monkeys, warthogs, baboons, hippos, mongoose, crocodiles, leopards, spotted hyenas and many more. The best sites for spotting animals in Akagera national park are swamps and lakes as they come to drink water. 

Birding

Akagera national park is an important birding area in Rwanda, the park is a home to over 480 bird species which live in the savannah woodlands, swamps, lakes and forests of the park. The park hosts both migratory and residential species which are easily spotted, during bird watching experience you spot bird species such a black-headed gonolek, shoe bills, Fischer’s love bird, lilac-breasted roller, crested barbet, grey hornbills, Ross’s turaco, heuglin’s robin-chat, kingfishers, bee-eaters, terns, ducks, barbets, shrikes, weavers, orioles, weavers and many more.

Fishing

Fishing in Akagera national park is an amazing sport done on the shores of Lake Shakani, Lake Shakani is a fresh water lake hosting a number of fish species which makes fishing experience in these waters a great sport to compete in. with your fishing equipment you will head to the lake where you will catch many fish species such as tilapia and the fish caught is kept for evening barbeque at your lodge. 

Boat cruise

Boat cruise in Akagera national park is an amazing safari experience as it offers a great opportunity of spotting animals, birds and enjoying the lakes. Boat cruise in the park are arranged on Lake Ihema and they are offered in trips which depart at 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm. Boat cruise takes approximately 2-3 hours and on this experience you get to spot many animals such as crocodiles, buffaloes, hippos and many birds such as kingfishers, fish eagles, egrets, hammerkops, shoebill, herons, malachite kingfisher, hawks, plovers and many more. On top of the animals and birds, the boat cruise rewards tourists with the cool breeze of the lake and amazing sceneries of the surrounding. 

Camping 

Akagera national park is offers amazing camping experiences to tourists interested in camping, the park consists of 3 camping sites which accommodate campers and they include Mayumba campsite, Mutamba Akagera campsite and the Shakani Akagera campsite. Camping a perfect way of enjoying the night life  of Akagera national park , in the dark hours of the night you get to spot animals such as elands, roan antelopes, hippos, views of Lake Ihema and Lake Shakani and hear many birds sing. 

Cultural tours 

Cultural tours in Akagera national park is the best way of exploring and knowing more about the Kinyarwanda culture, traditions, norms and various practices, cultural tours takes you on a visit to the local community where you will witness local milking of cattle with how it is treated and preserved, local clothing code and many more. This experience also takes tourists on a visit to Imigongo Art and Crafts Center which is the most famous cultural site in Rwanda featuring amazing native art pieces and exhibits many Rwandese culture.

How to get to Akagera national park 

This splendid national park (Akagera national park) is situated in the north eastern region of Rwanda in a distance of 110 kilometers from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda and a fascinating tourist center, this park is very easy to access because off well kept routes leading from the city to the park. From Kigali it is a drive of approximately 2-3 hours, it is very possible to use both public and private means of transport to get to the park. 

Akagera national park - Savannah park of Rwanda
Akagera national park – Savannah park of Rwanda

Where to stay in Akagera national park

Akagera national park is dotted with amazing accommodation facilities which offer bed and other services to tourists visiting the park for a safari experience, these accommodation facilities include Akagera game lodge, Karenge Bushcamp Akagera.

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