Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park : Rwanda only has one savannah national park, the magnificent Akagera National Park. The Park, which is 1,122 km2 (433 sq mi) in size, is located in a protected area in eastern Rwanda, close to the Tanzanian border. The Park, which was founded in 1934 and has ecosystems in the savannah, the highlands, and the swamp, is home to a variety of wildlife. The Kagera river, which flows along the park’s eastern border and drains into Lake Hema and a number of other smaller lakes, including Lake Gishanju, Lake Mihindi, Lake Shakani, and Lake Rwanyakizinga, gives the Akagera National Park its name. A third of a complex network of interconnecting lakes and papyrus swamps make up the largest protected wetland in Eastern-Central Africa, which is also included in the Akagera National Park.

Along with the Savannah grasslands, acacia woodland, plains, and rolling hills, Akagera’s water features make it an incredibly picturesque and magnificent safari destination. This is a fact that even conservationist JeanPierre Vande acknowledges: Pierre writes in Africa Environment and Wildlife, “Akagera is a truly unique area on the globe with its complex blend of landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife: a place worth preserving no matter the costs for the future generations.” Akagera National Park comes as a thrilling surprise to visitors on Rwanda safaris after the high, well-cultivated hills and often windy weather of the rest of the country.

With its dense acacia and Brachystegia bush, patches of open grassland, a few lakes bordered by marshes, and its serpentine River Akagera course, this exceptional game reserve preserves a genuine African savannah landscape. The Park flourishes with a range of animals, including all of the African big five and innumerable bird species, thanks to this great diversity of natural habitats.

Akagera National Park information

Although it has faced some difficulties, Akagera National Park is a fascinating safari park that has been around for a while. Following the genocide and civil war in Rwanda in 1994, a sizable number of refugees fled the country through the park. And even after the war, refugees continued to use Akagera National Park as a point of entry. Some of the refugees during this time began cutting trees in the park and poaching animals in search of land, food, or a place to go. During this time, the management of the park faced challenges because some of the park’s wild animals had gone extinct and others were in danger. The park animals were being steadily replaced by domestic animals, especially the local long-horned cattle, a population that could not be simply removed without a strategy. In order to help people who had nowhere to start their lives after the war, the government decided to divide the park in half. The other half was set aside for the preservation of wild animals that had managed to avoid the threat of humans.

A cooperative management agreement between the Rwandan government, the Howard Buffet Foundation, and other organizations was struck with the Africa Parks Network in 2010, which marked a substantial improvement in the park’s situation. The park administration launched an ambitious program to reintroduce extinct animals like lions and rhinoceroses while enhancing safety by enclosing the area in fencing and stepping up air surveillance to combat poaching. This was done in collaboration with a number of donors and organizations dedicated to international wildlife conservation.

Akagera National Park presently has over 50 mammal species, including all five of the African big five mammals, thanks to the program’s success. This makes the park a one-stop shop for anyone interested in going on an African safari. In addition to the Big 5, the park is home to a variety of savannah wildlife, including topi, waterbucks, eland, zebra, hippos, crocodiles, warthogs, hyenas, mongoose, serval cats, duiker, impala, black-masked civet, reedbuck, bush pigs, giraffe, side-stripped jackal, and Klipspringer among many others. Furthermore, a few of the primate species that can be seen in Akagera National Park include olive baboons, bush babies, vervet monkeys, and blue monkeys.

The number of birds in Akagera has increased as the park has developed, and they may be found in a range of habitats such papyrus swamps, savannah plains, and forests. Akagera has over 525 distinct bird species, which illustrates the region’s incredibly complex ecosystem. 44 species of raptors and a sizable number of Palearctic migrants, including the Lesser Kestrel and Great Snipe, are included in this group of species. More bird species, including the Shoebill Stork and Papyrus Gonolek, among others, have been observed. The northernmost range boundaries of some Zambezian biome species, including Sauza’s Shrike, Arnot’s Chat, and Long-tailed Cisticola, are also located in the park. The Guinea-Congo Forests biome, the Afrotropical Highlands biome, and nine of the eleven species found in the Rwanda-occurring Lake Victoria Basin biome are also represented in Akagera National Park. Because of this, Akagera is one of the best places in East Africa for birding safaris.

Safari Activities to do in Akagera National Park

Game Drives 

Although game drives are available all day long in Akagera National Park, the best times to see animals are early in the morning and late in the afternoon. You will be taken on a wildlife drive through the marshes and savannah plains of Akagera National Park along marked trails in search of various mammals and bird species. Your driving guide will be with you the entire time to help you find the areas where animals spend the majority of the day. Expect rewarding views of the Buffalo, Lion, Elephant, Rhino, and Leopard prowling the savannah as well as the other Big 5 creatures. A few additional species you might see include the Defassa Waterbuck, Semi-Aquatic Sitatunga antelope, Topis, Giraffes, Bohor Reedbucks, Oribis, and Eland.

Additionally, taking a night game drive through Akagera National Park gives you the opportunity to see nocturnal animals as well as other wildlife. The park’s nocturnal wildlife population includes, among other things, civet cats, leopards, and bush babies. You will be guided by your driver guide and a knowledgeable ranger as you search for creatures with powerful torches.

Birding

The exhilarating activity of birdwatching is also available in Akagera National Park because of the park’s diversity of habitats and number of avifauna species. 500 different bird species have been found in the park’s savannah grasslands, woodlands, ponds, lakes, and forests. Numerous other species are widespread, including African fish eagles, grey-crowned cranes, bateleurs, African O jacanas, gigantic and malachite kingfishers, bluebilled teals, eastern grey plantain-eaters, cattle egrets, common squacco herons, African darters, and bluecheeked bee-eaters.

Boat Cruise Tours 

One of the calmest activities in Akagera National Park is boat trips. The second-largest lake in Rwanda, Lake Lhema, is used for boat tours in the park, and they are incredibly rewarding. Travelers can look forward to seeing crocodiles, enormous herds of hippos, and a variety of aquatic bird species, like the papyrus gonolek. While taking a swim or a drink in the afternoon to quench their thirst, other animals can be seen at the shoreline. Furthermore, taking a boat tour on Lake Lhema is the best way to experience Akagera National Park’s wildlife up close and personal

Sport Fishing 

You can go there in addition to visiting Akagera National Park. Sport fishing is available in Akagera National Park, as well as guided nature tours. This is a thrilling activity that is carried out in specific parkland forest areas, where you can enjoy views of both Lake Ihema and Lake Shakani. a park ranger guide’s company. In relation to the Tourists can go fishing in the serene waters while listening to fascinating explanations of how to explore the park and learn about the chipping birds and grunting hippos that seem to know everything there is to know about it and its inhabitants.

Akagera National Park
Sport Fishing on Lake Ihema

Boost them up. Additionally, guests are permitted to keep Furthermore, it’s the ideal method for locating hidden their catch and roasting, frying, or grilling it to enjoy the flavor of attractions that would otherwise go unnoticed while on fresh fish from the Land of a thousand hills. a desire to play.

Cultural Tours

The management of Akagera National Park collaborates with nearby villages to allow visitors to take part in cultural tours. Community guides are in charge of these excursions, which take you on cultural tours to various cultural locations where you may discover and interact with the locals of Rwanda. Visitors can observe the residents’ daily routines, including how they cook, take care of their long-horned cows, and preserve their property. Visitors can also help milk the cows, taste some of the traditional cuisine from different regions of Rwanda, and dance to the local music. No longer than three hours are spent on cultural tours in Akagera National Park.

When to go to Akagera National Park

Despite being open all year, certain months of the year are best for tourists to go on safari in Akagera National Park. The best time to visit Akagera National Park is from June to September, which is the dry season. Although there aren’t many seasonal variations in the park’s climate, visitors will notice warmer temperatures during the lengthy dry season. Akagera National Park has temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. The dry and wet seasons are the two distinct climate zones that exist in Rwanda. The wet season runs from March to May and late September to early November, while the dry season lasts from June to September and December to February. However, the best time for tourists to visit is during the dry season. Since the grass is short and the game tracks are dry and accessible during this time, tourists typically have more opportunities to view species in the Park because they can simply drive around in search of wildlife. In addition, since the park’s animals spend much of their time grazing in the wide-open savannah grasslands and cooling down beside waterholes, it is simpler to locate them.

In contrast, Akagera National Park has a lengthy rainy season from March to May, when the park receives a lot of rain and the roads are frequently muddy. Renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle is advised for visitors to the Park during this season to make getting about the area simpler. The park’s verdant beauty is best appreciated during the rainy season. Additionally, birds in Akagera breed and build nests during the wet season; migratory birds are present from November to April. For those who are passionate about bird watching, now would be the ideal time to visit the park. Additionally, visitors should bring enough warm clothing because, during the rainy season, the park can get very chilly at night.O

How to Get to Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is reachable by both land and air for tourists. The primary entry point into the country is Kigali International Airport; it takes three hours to drive from the airport to Akagera National Park. On the way from Kigali, visitors could be treated to a breathtaking overhead view of the park. It will take an hour for passengers going from Rwamagana or Kibungo. The 27-kilometer route from the main road to the park’s entrance is dusty, yet cars can still travel it even when it’s raining. The roads inside the park are not as good as those leading up to the gate, especially during the wet season, thus a reliable 4 Wheel drive vehicle is essential.

For those who detest driving, Akagera Aviation also arranges domestic flights from Kigali to the Park and return. Private vehicles and drivers can be booked from Kigali or the park for about $175 for a half-day or $275 for a full-day. The bulk of foreign visitors, however, choose ease and book their safari through a reputable tour operator. Because they will handle all arrangements, including lodging, transportation, and making reservations for activities, tour operators are frequently the best option. If you have never visited Rwanda before, using a tour operator’s services is the best choice for you.O O Important Information You Should Know

There are a few other things you should be aware of if you intend to visit Rwanda’s Akagera National Park. All visitors must pay an entrance charge of RWF 15,000 (for Rwandese citizens), USD $50 (for East African citizens), or USD 100 (for foreign tourists) to enter the park, which is open from 6 am to 6 pm.

Additionally, because Rwanda is a tropical nation, it is home to insects and diseases to which visitors from other countries may not be resistant. For this reason, it is essential to see a doctor and receive a yellow fever vaccination before traveling to Rwanda. Because of the Tse Tse flies and mosquitoes in the park, try to bring malaria medicines with you. Additionally, during game drives, the car windows are often left open, which can result in unpleasant insect bites. In order to avoid bug stings, it is essential to carry an insect repellent. Additionally, you might want to bring some cozy safari clothing, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and clothes in muted colors.

Accommodations in the Akagera National Park

There are fewer hotel options in Akagera than in other national parks. It’s crucial to find out in advance when the lodges will be open because some of them are seasonal. These lodging difficulties posed a huge challenge for the park’s stakeholders. The good news is that new lodges are being built both inside and outside the park.

Make your hotel bookings in advance to avoid any complications. Three pricing categories—luxury, mid-range, and budget—are used to categorize the overall hotel and lodge sector. The lodges consist of both permanent masonry structures and lavish tents. Mantis Akagera Game Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Karenge Bush Camp, and Akagera Rhino Lodge are a few of the lodging options in Akagera National Park

On the other hand, the park permits independent camping for adventurous and thrifty tourists, unlike many other national parks where camping is prohibited. Watch out for trespassers, especially baboons and insects that like to steal from campers. In Akagera National Park, there are three established campgrounds where foreign visitors must pay $20 per person per night and an additional $20 for tents that can hold up to 6 people. Every campsite offers extras including cooking facilities, bathrooms, and firewood.

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