Akagera and volcanoes national park safari
Akagera and volcanoes national park safari : Akagera National Park in Rwanda is the only destination park in the country where visitors can view savannah wildlife animals and spot the Africa’s famous Big Five animals. Tourists visiting Akagera National Park can combine a wildlife tour to the park with a gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes National Park.
Akagera National Park is located in the eastern province of Rwanda and covers a total surface area of 1,122 square kilometers. The southern gate of the national park is situated in Kayonza district while the northern gate, which is an exit only, is located in the district of Nyagatare.
The national park was first established in 1934 by the Belgian colonial government and is one of the oldest national parks on the African Continent. The park derives its name from River Kagera which flows through the national park and on-wards into Uganda. Most Akagera national park is dominated by swamps, marshland, savannah grasslands, woodland, forests, lakes and rivers. The national park has a total of 10 lakes that are located in different areas within the park, with the most popular ones being; Lakes Ihema, Shakani, and Rwanyakazinga among others.
Akagera National Park in Rwanda previously covered 2,500 square kilometers, but of the park was destroyed in the years between 1990 to 1994. The tragic times after the 1994 Rwandan Genocide saw most of the national park destroyed and some wildlife species went extinct in the park; for instance, lions and rhinos in Akagera were reportedly last sighted in 2007.
However, with the introduction of a new management team from Akagera Management Company in 2010, a lot of improvements were made in Akagera National Park and some of them include;
- The reintroduction of lions back to Akagera national park in 2015.
- The reintroduction of 18 black eastern rhinos in 2017 from a national park in South Africa. Again in 2019, five more black eastern rhinoceros were translocated from various zoos in Europe to Akagera national park.
- A helicopter was also purchased to boost aerial surveillance in the national park.
- An electric solar powered fence was erected in the park to keep the wildlife in and intruders out of the national park.
With all these improvements in Akagera national park, it is not so hard for visitors to tell that the national park has risen from its tragic past. There is so much for tourists to see during their visit to the national park and these include sighting stunning wildlife like; lions, elephants, hippos, baboons, buffalos, zebras, impala, hyenas, giraffes, antelopes, leopards, and Sitatunga among others. The national park also has more than 480 bird species, some of which include; the African Open-bill stock, the rare shoebill stork, papyrus Gonolek, Grey Crowned Crane and so many more.
Among some of the activities that tourists visiting the park can do include; a guided day or night game drive, a boat cruise on Lake Ihema, sport fishing on Lake Shakani, birding, behind the scenes Akagera tour, walk the line tour, camping, and a community visit to mention but a few.
Visitors looking to spend a night or two in the park can do so in the following accommodation facilities; Akagera Game Lodge, Magashi Safari Camp, Ruzizi Tented Camp, and Karenge Bush Camp to mention but a few. There are also designated camping sites that are located within the national park for visitors interested in camping, and these include; Shakani Akagera Campsite, Mutumba Campsite, and Muyumbu campsite.
After having an amazing wildlife safari in Akagera National Park, visitors can decide to drive to Volcanoes National Park which is located in the north-western part of Rwanda. The national park is the only destination for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda.
Volcanoes national park in Rwanda was first established in 1925 making it the oldest national park in Africa. The national park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo to its west and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, to its east.
Upon your arrival in Volcanoes National Park, visitors can embark on a gorilla trekking tour in the park. Gorilla trekking activities in the park being from Kihihi which are also the park’s headquarters.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park start at 7am every morning. Gorilla trekking activities begin with visitors signing into the visitor’s register at the park, which is then followed by a briefing from the head ranger at the park. The actual gorilla trekking activities begin at exactly 8am.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park can be tedious and can take from 4 to 8 hours depending on how fast and easily the gorillas are located. The activity is only limited to tourists aged 15 and above years, and a gorilla trekking permit costs USD 1500 dollars per person for those interested in carrying out the activity.
Aside from gorilla trekking, visitors in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda can take part in other activities like; bird watching, guided forest walk, golden monkey trekking, hiking Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi, hiking to Musanze caves and Dian Fossey gravesite, a visit to Karisoke Research Centre and Iby’iwacu community/village. There is so much that a visitor can do during a visit to Volcanoes National Park.
For visitors planning on spending a night or more in Volcanoes national park, you can find accommodation in the following lodges; Bisate Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain gorilla view, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Kinigi guesthouse and Gorilla Volcanoes Lodge. These lodges offer their guests a variety of services which range from budget, mid-range to luxury.
Visitors travelling from Akagera National Park to Volcanoes National Park should use a 4×4 wheel drive safari vehicle as most of the roads with the national parks are dirt/ murrum roads which can be difficult to navigate especially during the wet or rainy seasons. The drive from Akagera to Volcanoes national park takes approximately 4½ to 5 hours, covering a distance of about 213 kilometers.
A combined trip from Akagera National Park to Volcanoes National Park is one that is very exciting and filled with lots of adventure and fun. If you still have time to spear on your travel schedule, you could proceed with a brief tour of Kigali City.