Akagera national park is located in the Northeastern region of Rwanda about 106 km from Kigali City, Rwanda’s Capital. Driving to Akagera National National park may take you about 2.5 hours of driving with an entrance the southern end of the park. Akagera is blessed with amazing lush green scenery and lots of wildlife and birds to see.
Most favored and used means of transport to the park is by car. For the most part, the road is quite good. There might be a few bumpy spots along the way, but that shouldn’t stop you from making the trip. The last 28 kilometers of the journey is mostly dirt roads, and so are all the roads inside the park. 4X4 safari vehicles are recommended especially if you are traveling during the rainy season.
After getting to Kigali either by air or bus road, you can start of your Akagera safari from the city center. From Kigali drive out of town towards the airport. Just before you reach the airport, about 100m out, take a left turn. You will then be heading east towards Rwamagana. Drive through Rwamagana and on to Kayonza. When you get to Kayonza, take the right turn at the roundabout and drive on till you get to a Discentre station on the left side of the road as you get into the town of Kabarondo. There is a dirt immediately after the petrol station. Take a left turn onto that road and drive on for about 15km till you come to a junction at Rwinkwavu. You will see a signpost that reads Akagera national Park on the left. The park gates are about 13km ahead after the signpost.
Just as it is, Akagera is an attractive safari place to see, thanks to the verdant tropical landscape of the wetlands plus the uncommon wilderness character of its savannah. Some of the wild animals you are likely to encounter include a large number of different types of antelope (such as impalas, elands, bushbucks, topi, water-bucks plus oribi) together with giraffes, warthogs, zebras, buffaloes, olive baboons, and if lucky some of the 80 to 100 large elephants.
Where to Stay on a Safari to Akagera National Park in Rwanda
It is undoubtedly often said that what makes a safari holiday enjoyable is the good and most comfortable accommodation that gives you lasting memories and more reasons to always long for holidays back in the park. Below, we have arranged and sorted out for you the best and most booked safari lodges and camps you can opt for while on a safari holiday in Akagera National Park.
A. Akagera Game Lodge: Akagera Game Lodge is the most commonly known accommodation in Akagera National Park featuring executive, family, and luxury cottages to fit in your budget plan. The rooms at Akagera game lodge are mostly decorated in an African style touch and each of these rooms has got beds, satellite TV, a chair and a desk. The interior décor of each room has been carefully done and this follows an African theme with good lighting. Also, the paths to the rooms are well lit subsequently which enables the guests to walk easily to their rooms at night.
B. Ruzizi Tented Camp: Ruzizi Tented camp is a 20-bed tented Eco-camp linked together using boardwalks, and is the first of its kind in Rwanda. It is located on the shores of Lake Ihema and has some very impressive African style decor. The safari camp was creatively designed to blend in with the surrounding environment giving it a very natural habitat feel. It is quite small, accommodating a maximum of 20 guests, but it so worth the trouble to book accommodation here. The peace and quiet create the perfect atmosphere to commune with nature. The camp offers you the opportunity to explore less visited parts of Akagera national park in addition to the game drives and nature walks.
C. Akagera Rhino Lodge: Located in Kayonza, Akagera Rhino Lodge offers a restaurant, 6 km from Akagera National Park & entrance in the south A terrace with mountain views is offered in all units. Guests at the lodge can enjoy a continental breakfast. Guests can also relax in the shared lounge area.
Birding in Akagera National park
Akagera national park is undoubtedly an important and remarkable point for birding with nearly 500 bird species. The bird species to look out for include the remarkable shoebill, Papyrus Gonolek, African Wattled Plover, Giant Kingfisher, Senegal Lapwings, Squacco Herons, African Openbill stock, Grey Crowned Crane, African Darter, Long-toed and Water Thick-knee.
Birding safaris are popular amongst regular visitors and the immense variety and abundance of species will not fail to impress. Serious birders can seek out several endemic species as well as rare gems such as the near threatened papyrus gonolek (Laniarius mufumbira), which is restricted to papyrus swamps, the localized red-faced barbet (Lybius bidentatus) and the sought after swamp flycatcher (Muscicapa boehmi).
Cultural Tours in Akagera National Park
Experience the rural Rwandan life around the cattle keeping communities near Akagera national park. You have the opportunity to observe and or participate in traditional cattle grazing, milking, traditional milk storage in calabashes for preservation. You then go through the process of converting milk into different products like traditional yogurt, ghee and lastly take part in preparing a meal with some of the ingredients from the milk products.
These activities also provide opportunities for engaging with people about their daily lives and excited about sharing their stories. Meanwhile, the income from these activities and is shared with the participating community members and it gives additional revenue, directly through tourism to the families living along the boundary of the park, showing the benefits of tourism and thus creating long term support for the conservation of Akagera National Park.
Game Drives in Akagera National Park
Game drives stand out to be of the most activities that attract tourists to visit Akagera national park. Typical game drives are enjoyed in a safari vehicle cruise through the park starting early in the morning as you search of the leopards, hyenas, and the recently re-introduced lions as they begin the hunt for there prey before the sun increases. Along with the game drive, enjoy the scenery of this beautiful park and several other big mammals like Elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, Zebra, and Giraffes. The landscape and beautiful wild flowers will make for good pictures for the interested photographer.
It is also possible in Akagera to self-drive your own vehicle around the park. Guides are available to accompany you on your drive. The guides can direct you to areas where wildlife is most abundant and guide you to stunning scenic spots that you may otherwise miss.
Boat Rides on Lake Ihema
The best way to spend an afternoon in Akagera national park is to take a boat ride on Lake Ihema. Most animals are hiding under the shade because of the heat from the sun as others come to the water for cooling off and drinking. In addition to a variety of water birds, you will watch schools of hippos in the water and crocodiles by the shores of the lake.
There are also three pre-scheduled boat trips (day, morning and sunset) in order to enjoy the park from water level that is surrounded by the crocodiles, hippos as well as birds. The one hour boat tour costs $40 per person at a maximum of 11 people and in case you want to schedule your own trip with a private group at your time, it will costs $180 to rent the whole boat. You can as well take a boat safari within Akagera Park along Lake Ihema where you will see many hippos and crocodiles.
Sport Fishing on Lake Shakani
The park offers an opportunity of sport fishing on Lake Shakani. You are required to make a booking with the park for sport fishing on this lake. Even though the expectation is catch and release, you are given an opportunity to take one catch for a meal if interested. Lake Shakani is the site of sports fishing in the park; spend a relaxing day fishing off the lakeshore and then cook your catch over an open fire at the campsite.
In case you have your own gear, you can only pay $20 for a permit to fish for the whole day from the shores of Lake Shakani. The hippos also stay in the water during the day as well as the banks of the shores are also gently sloped you can see any crocodile that is approaching before they consume you. This means that there is nothing to worry about as you are fishing.
About the Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the northeast of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Founded in 1934, the park is named after Kagera River that flows along Rwanda’s eastern boundary and is mainly surrounded by Lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in and around the park. The park protects an African Savannah landscape of acacia and bush, with patches of open grassland and a dozen swampy lakes. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms a large protected wetland. Akagera national park is the only Savannah national park in Rwanda and the only place to sight most of the large mammals while on safari.
Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope, and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck, and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.