Facts About Akagera national park

Facts About Akagera national park

About Akagera National Park

Facts About Akagera national park  : Akagera national park is located in north eastern part of Rwanda at the border with Tanzania and is the biggest protected area in Rwanda. The park was gazette in 1934 mainly to conserve and protect wildlife covers a total land area of 1,122 square kilometers but used to cover an area of 2500 square kilometers but was reduced to about 50% in 1997 when the land was reallocated as a farmland for the returning refugees after the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The refugees started cultivating the land, poaching wildlife and as a result in 2009 the government of Rwanda reduced the size of the park to 1122 square kilometers so as to create room for people and then protect wildlife. Akagera national park is therefore run and managed by Rwanda development board a tourism body together with African parks which is a conservation organization. The park is dominated by swamps, hills, acacia, woodland, grassland vegetation and small lakes and is named after Kagera River which flows along the eastern boundary of Rwanda and feed into Lake Ihema which is the second largest lake in Rwanda

What to see in Akagera National Park

Wildlife in the park

Animals, Akagera national park is a home of abundant mammals including the big five animals which are the elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos, other animals in the park include topi, bushbucks, impala, klipspringer, duiker, bohor reedbuck, waterbucks, eland, oribi, side striped jackal, mongoose, primates like olive baboons, vervet monkeys among others. The animals in the park can be viewed during the game drive, boat cruise on Lake Ihema and nature walk.

Birds, the national park is a home of over 500 bird species with about 100 species endemic to only Akagera national park which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Rwanda with bird species like swamp flycatcher, papyrus gonoloek, red-faced barbet, cattle egret, hadada ibis, pied crow, long crested eagle, black weaver, grey backed fiscal, hamerkop, fish eagle, open billed stork among others. birds in the park can be viewed during birding, nature walk, game drive and boat cruise where you will view aquatic species.

Water bodies, Akagera national park harbors swamp fringed lakes such as Lake Ihema which is the second largest lake in Rwanda, Lake Shakani, Lake Rwanyakizinga, Lake Mihindi, and Lake Gishanju. These lakes are habitants of hippos, crocodiles, fish and other animals like elephants, buffaloes, antelopes which gather around the water to drink water especially during the dry season.

What to do in Akagera National Park

Game drive, this is the major activity carried out in the park. game drive in Akagera national park is either done in the morning at 6:30 am to catch up with the early risers and nocturnal animals going back to their hiding areas or in the afternoon at 12:00pmin a safari vehicle through savannah woodland plains. Game drive in the park is best done in the morning and with a park guide who knows spots where they animals can be. During the game drive in the park you should look out for animals like giraffes, eland, waterbucks, topi, bohor reedbuck, elephants, oribi, lions, rhinos, among others.

Night game drive, Akagera national park is the only national park in Rwanda where you can go on a night game drive. night game drive is done with a park ranger and spotlight torches fitted on the vehicle for clear viewing of nocturnal animals which are rarely seen during the day such as hyenas, civets, bush babies, leopards, nocturnal birds and other animals which will be resting at night.

Guided nature walk, this is a thrilling activity where you will move out of the car and explore nature, feel cool breeze, fresh air in the park.  Nature walk is done with a park guide who will offer security while moving within the forest following different trails. During the nature walk you will spot some animals, birds, butterflies, and different tree species.

Bird watching, the park is a home of over 500 bird species with about 100 species not found anywhere in Rwanda which makes the park a birders haven. During birding you will be able to view bird species such as papyrus gonolek, shoebill stork, long tailed cisticola, fin tailed widowbird, Caruthers cisticola, long tailed eagle, cattle egret, hadada ibis, African fish eagle, squacco heron, African jacana, African harrier hawk, crested barbet, brown chested lapwing, red faced barbet, white winged swamp warbler among others.

Boat cruise, boat cruise in Akagera national park is done on Lake Ihema which is the second largest lake in Rwanda. there are four scheduled boat trip sessions in the park and the first session starts at 7:30am, another one at 9:00am another one at 3:30pm and the last session which takes place at 5:00pm.during the boat cruise you will sail in a boat along the water edges where you will view different tree species, hippos in water, crocodiles in water and along the water banks, some animals drinking water along the banks like elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, monitor lizards, bird species like shoebill stork, papyrus gonolek, African jacana, pied kingfisher, hadada ibis, squacco heron, malachite kingfisher among others. The boat cruise takes about 1 to 2 hours though you can also hire a private boat and cruise at your own preferred time.

Sport fishing, Akagera national park harbors several water bodies such as Lake Ihema, lake Mihindi, Lake Gishanju, Lake Rwanyakizinga and Lake Shakani. Sport fishing in the park is therefore carried out on the shores of Lake Shakani. During sport fishing you will use catch and release method though you can also take one at the lodge for lunch or dinner. You will catch some fish types like tilapia, cat fish among others. Anglers will book a sport fishing activity at the park headquarters and the park also holds fishing tournaments which they can participate in while on a safari in Rwanda. Sport fishing can also be combined with other activities like game drive, boat cruise on Lake Ihema among others.

Accommodation in Akagera National Park

The park has luxury, midrange and budget accommodation facilities where visitors on a safari in Akagera national park can stay such as Akagera Game Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Magashi Camp, Dereva Hotel among others which offer facilities like comfortable rooms with self-contained and shared bathrooms, free breakfast, swimming pool, restaurant which serves traditional and international dishes, well stocked bar, laundry services, conference facilities, sitting lounge, gardens for relaxation among others which makes you to feel at home while on your safari in Rwanda.

The national park also offers camping sites such as Karenge Bush Camp a seasonal camp that is set up twice a year in the dry seasons of June to September and December to February, Muyumbu campsite which is located in the northern part of the park entrance, Mutumba camp in the northern part of the park on Mutumba hill and Shakani camp located on the shores of Lake Shakani.  The campsites offer spectacular views of the savannah, Lake Shakani, Tanzanian plains, Lake Ihema, animal species like antelopes, elands, bird species among others. Visitors who want to camp on their safari in Akagera national park the campsites have shared bathrooms, pit latrines, and visitors are supposed to carry their own water, firewood, and also cook for themselves. There are also tents for hire at the park reception for visitors who want to private camps.

When to visit Akagera National Park

Akagera national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. during the dry season there is less rainfall in the park therefore access roads to the park will be passable, there will be short grass for clear viewing of wildlife and animals will gather around the water banks to drink water which gives you an opportunity to have a close look of animals and take plenty of pictures.

Location and how to get to Akagera National Park

Akagera national park is located in north eastern Rwanda and can be accessed by road and air transport means.

Road transport, After landing at Kigali international airport it takes about 135km distance which is 2 hours and 30 minute to the park therefore you will drive via Rwamagana to Kayonza and then take the right turn at the roundabout and drive to petrol station on the left side heading to Kabarondo town. after the petrol station take a left turn and drive for about 15Akm to Rwinkwavu junction where you will see a sigh post on the left directing you to Akagera national park, you will then drive 13km to the main gate of the park. From Kibungo or Rwamagana it takes about one hour drive. However while in the park 4WD vehicles should be used because the roads in the park are not all that good therefore to avoid being stuck especially in the rainy season the 4WD vehicles are recommended.

You can also use public means of transport like boarding a bus which travels daily from Kigali to Kayonza and Kibungo, you will disembark the bus at the junction and then hire a private taxi or motorbike to connect to the park headquarters.

Air transport, there are domestic helicopters which fly to Akagera national park arranged by Akagera aviation. Akagera aviation provides helicopters which take visitors to the national parks in Rwanda.