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Home » National Parks in Rwanda » Akagera National Park Rwanda

Akagera National Park Rwanda

Akagera national park is located in the Eastern part of Rwanda along the frontier of the Neighboring Tanzania. The park was established in the 1934 to help protect and conserve the diverse fauna and flora commonly in the three (3) eco-regions the rolling hills of Acacia and Brachystegia Woodland, the sparsely distributed grassland and swamp-fringed Mountain. The famous Akagera Park got its name after the prominent Kagera River that flows along the frontiers of park supplying / feeding water to different water bodies mainly to Lake Ihema which is the second largest lake in Rwanda.

Tourist Activities Akagera National Park Rwanda

Game drive; The park provides opportunities for rewarding game drive in its well-designed network of tracks, which take visitors through different vegetation zones alive with plenty of wildlife species like elephants, buffalo, zebra, bushbaby, hippos, crocodiles and many other mammal species. On rare occasions, one can see species such as leopard, lion and black rhino. As one of the most scenic savanna in East Africa, the game drive in Akagera offers chance to enjoy the views and sights of the gentle picturesque hills blending in beautifully lowland swamps and water bodies. A sunset departure for a guided night drive adventure is an ideal way to end your day and the best opportunity to see the much sought after nocturnal creatures found in the park.

Bird watching akagera national parkBird watching; Akagera National Park after Nyungwe is the most significant ornithological site in Rwanda. Morning and evening bird safaris on the game tracks in Akagera National Park offers an excellent opportunity for birdwatchers to have an account of wide- selection of savanna bird species. This park is most popular for its richness in water birds in the East African region and one of the exceptional places to view papyrus endemics. Some of the common species on this birding watching safari are; black headed gonalek, heuglin’s robin-chat, crested barbet, the gorgeous lilac-breasted roller, grey hornbill, Ross’s turaco, and many more.

Short boat trips; AKagera national park surrounded with various Akagera’s lakes also gives room for short boat trip. This offers an opportunity to get close to the plentiful water birds including numerous African fish eagles, open-billed stork marabou stork, cormorants, crowned cranes, egrets and   herons. On good day visitors may even get to see the elusive shoebill stork. Boat trips along the shores of Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake, yield some great aquatic bird sightings and you can even fish on Lake Shakani.

Fishing; Lake Shakani is the site for the fishing activity; visitors to this park can spend relaxing day fishing off the lake shore and then cook their catch over an open fire at the campsite.

Behind the Scenes; Unusually, African Parks provides a chance to get a feel for the management of a national park on behind-the-scenes tours to their HQ and to meet the staff. Interestingly, because Rwanda is particularly strong on gender equality, Akagera National Park has many female guides, a rare breed on most African safaris. For more insight into Akagera, including conservation developments within the park, take a ‘Behind Scenes’ tour of the park headquarters and meet some of the people integral to the management of the park.

Tourist Attractions Akagera National Park Rwanda

Akagera riverAkagera river and wetlands ecosystems; The Akagera River is the biggest tributary of Lake Victoria contributing 34% of the lake’s inflow. The Akagera river basin covers 60,500 Square Kilometers of the portions from four countries   namely Burundi (13,790 Km2), Rwanda (21,630 Km2) and Tanzania (20,680 Km2) and Uganda (4,400 Km2) and comprises four hydro geographical zones; Congo-Nile divide, Hills and mountain foot ridges, Swamps and lake terrain and west Victoria lake region. The river basin is sub-basin of Nile basin. Basically, the river Akagera starts in the swamps and lake terrain zone and has three (3) main tributaries, including Nyabarongo, Akanyaru and Ruvubu rivers. This zone is dominated by papyrus swamps, lakes, open water and the river itself.

Akagera swamps-The swamps are dominated by Cyperus papyrus and Phoenix reclinata and the habitat is home for rare Shoebill (threatened to extinction in Rwanda) and other water birds, wildlife species like hippos, buffaloes, giraffes, impalas and Sitatunga. The Akagera wetlands are the site for migratory water birds.

The wetlands offer to the communities number of goods and services such as water for domestic use, fishes, rice,  raw materials for handcraft-making, grasses for livestock ,etc ;and water storage and purification, flood and erosion control ,carbon sequestration, climate regulation and recreational services.

Although these critical ecosystems are very important, they are threatened by reclamation, over exploitation, pollution and introduction of invasive species driven by   high population growth and density and poor management plan and policy. This is aggravated by the effects of climate change that impact poor communities and get them highly dependent on ecosystems to survive.

With regard to the importance of these ecosystems, through the project termed “Stakeholders Engagement for Informed Decision-Making, Threats Mitigation and Sustainable Freshwater Services Management in the Great Lakes Region of East and Central Africa”, ARCOS maintains an integrated monitoring programme to document the changes affecting the Akagera river Basin with a focus on protecting its remaining wetlands. Read More

Birds in Akagera national park; The park boasts of over 500 bird species and this has made it one of the sound birding destinations in Rwanda and the whole of East Africa. The different bird species are favored by diverse natural habitat which is found in Akagera Park. Akagera supports a mixture of acacia and papyrus species, including Red-faced Barbet, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Papyrus Gonolek, White-headed, Black and familiar Chats, Carruther’s and Tabora Cisticolas, White-winged and Broad-tailed Warblers and Miombo Wren-Warblers. In addition to the above include the African fish eagles, marabou stork, crowned cranes, cormorants and open-billed stork, herons and egrets among others.

Fauna/Wildlife in Akagera national park; Akagera national park over the past recent years has experienced an increase in wildlife populations and the latest statistics approximated that the Park is now housing a total of 8,000 large wildlfe species. The range of wildlife in the park includes the rare plains species such as the Impala and Topi also called tsessebe in Southern Africa. The park also has other species like eland species, oribi, the Masai giraffe, bushbuck, Defassa waterbuck, reedbuck, sable and antelope. The commonly encountered species include the Burchall’s zebra, hippo, the crocodiles and buffalo with in park areas. The new perimeter fence that was completed in late 2013 was introduced/ initiated to help protect and guard the wild life from crossing to neighbor communities around the park. There are ongoing plans to reintroduce lions, Rhinos in the park so that the park becomes perfect home for all the big five animal species .Currently due to lack of many predators in the park, wild life is currently relaxed and hence giving room for easy viewing.

Flora /Vegetation in Akagera national park; Akagera national park is blessed with exceptional levels of biodiversity, partly due to its convenient location at the confluence of various vegetation zones. The park is made up of Forest fringed lakes, savannah plains, papyrus swamps and rolling highlands. The extensive systems of freshwater lakes together with papyrus swamps, all combine to form the largest protected and conserved wetland in central Africa. Akagera National park is the only outstanding protected area with savannah vegetation in the land of thousand hills-Rwanda and this makes it to be the only refuge for savannah adapted plants and animals on a national scale. It complements the humid forests of Nyungwe National Park in the south of Rwanda and the afro-alpine habitats of Volcanoes National Park in the north.

How to get to Akagera National park Rwanda

Akagera National Park is 120kms about 2-3 hour drive from Kigali and can be visited on a long day trip if you’re short of time.

The only entry to Akagera National Park is via Kiyonza Gate in the south, close to the Park Headquarters and Akagera’s best lodge. Nyungwe Gate in the north is currently only available to exit the Park.

Places To Stay in Akagera national park

Akagera game Lodge – Luxury

akagera-game-lodge-building

Akagera Game Lodge lies in the North East of Rwanda within the 90 000 ha Akagera National Park.  The Lodge sits conveniently on a ridge overlooking Lake Ihema amidst a mosaic of grass, bush and varied terrain of hills, deep valleys, lakes and marches.

The lodge offers premier accommodation in Single, Double, Twin, Family, Executive suite, and a luxury in cottage, each with its own patio overlooking Lake Ihema, allowing one to witness a magnificent sunrise or sunset in true African style. Decorated with a charming African flair, each room contains two beds writing desk, chair and satellite TV.  All rooms have been individually interior designed along pan-African themes.

The hotel provides itself on its caring guest relations and housekeeping services and the highly trained team of local staff are responsive, courteous and efficient. Each room has been carefully laid out to maximize space and privacy with comfortable beds, freshly laundered sheets and attractive decor and lighting. The private bathrooms are well appointed.

The hotel has dining area called Shoebill Restaurant which is built with charming, cool atmosphere and serves an exquisite cuisine in the form of à la carte menu or Buffet meals for breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. The Elephant Bar which is found in the adjacent areas to the shoebill Restaurant, offers visitors with a retreat area from the heat during day hours. The elephant bar offers comfortable heaven for quiet moments at night, with magnificent views of the African starlit sky.

Recognized as a superior venue, Akagera Game Lodge offers a superbly relaxed atmosphere, ideal for a successful conference, a tranquil gateway or an undisturbed encounter with nature.

The Lodge general facilities and services include the follow;

  • Accommodation facilities
  • Reception
  • Restaurant & Bar
  • Swimming pool,
  • Pool side Services
  • Conference facilities: State-of-the-art Conference facilities seating up to 100 delegates.
  • Tennis Court
  • Parking

The lodge Rates.

Room TypeRates in USD
Single100
Double120
Twin120
Family140
Junior Suite170
Cottage400

Ruzizi Tented Lodge-Budget

ruzizi-tented-camp

The new Ruzizi Tented Lodge was opened in November 2012 and it’s situated in the riverine forest on the edge of Lake Ihema which is Akagera’s largest lake and Rwanda’s second largest lake.

This small private camp offers seven (7) en-suite tents which can accommodate a maximum of fourteen (14) visitors. Found along the forested lake edge, sheltered by swaying palms as well a large trees, the lodge’s tents are well spaced on the either sides of a thatched reception area with a lounge as well as bar and dining room. All the tents are have addressing area, en-suite bathroom with cold and hot running water, a comfortable twine or queen beds. All the lodge tents can be reached by a wooden boardwalk from the reception. The camp is entirely powered by solar, with a solar hot water system.

The lodge meals are served on time for instance Breakfast is served from 5.30am onwards in the dining room. Breakfast mainly consists of homestead bread, local fruits, condiment, and eggs. Lunch is not included in the lodge rates however a limited lunch menu is available to guest on request. For visitors who plan to spend most of the time in the park, pack lunch is organized for them. At the lodge dinner is served at 7:30pm but before this time, there is pre-dinner drinks and sacks at 7:00pm Guests are requested to join us in the lounge for pre-dinner drinks and snacks at 7pm. Dinner is a set menu, freshly prepared by our lodge chefs, and will differ daily. Examples include a braai with a selection of meats and salads, a variety of gourmet pizzas, or a selection of potjie dishes, followed by a desert of the day.

The Lodges services and facilities

  • Seven (7) en-suite tents
  • Restaurant and Bar
  • Laundry Services
  • Solar Energy
  • Paring space
  • Reception

Shakani Campsite-Budget

Shakani-Campsite

Shakani Campsite is located on the banks of Lake Shakani, the only lake where fishing is allowed as a tourist activity. This is a great spot if you don’t mind sharing the space with hippos and noisy plovers. Birdlife abounds at this campsite, and with the lake lapping the shores and a backdrop of tree covered hills, the scenery is magnificent.

Mutamba Campsite-Budget

Mutamba Campsite is the highest point in Akagera and is renowned for the high density of game that congregates in this region, including herds of eland and the elusive roan antelope.

Muyumbu Campsite -Budget

Muyumba Campsite is situated on a ridge with a stunning view overlooking the picturesque Lake Shakani and Lake Ihema and across to Tanzania. Only a few kilometers away from the reception at Kiyonza, Muyumba is the closest camp site to the entrance gate.

All three campsites have pit toilets and a wash room. However, there is no running water available so please come prepared with enough water for the duration of your stay. Firewood is provided and tents can be hired from reception.

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