Akagera National Park Rwanda

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Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park

The park is located in northeastern Rwanda covering 1122sq km and is the largest protected wetland in Central Africa. The park is named for the Kagera River, which runs along the eastern border of the park and spreads its life-giving waters through it, feeding Lake Ihema and Lake Shakani thus keeping the land fertile. It has a remarkable ecosystem with a network of water sources and unique landscapes.  

The northern part of the landscape consists mainly of low-lying grassland and savannah. In the West, its rolling hills and valleys are more typical of the Rwandan countryside.

East of the park, which is bordered by the Akagera River, consists of a series of lakes and marshes. Despite the relatively small size of the park Akagera offers a varied safari experience a variety of landscapes, habitats, animals, and birds.

Top Things to Do in Akagera National Park

Game Safaris

The park is home to a variety of wild animals including the Big 5, namely lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffaloes. The park also accommodates hyenas, zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and a number of primates species such as olive baboons, vervet monkeys and nocturnal bush babies.

Game drives carry over plains, hills, and along lakes. Get closer to thrilling wildlife interactions and see creatures big and small on morning and afternoon game drives.

There are also night game drives that last about 2 hours starting from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Look out for nocturnal using spotlight line leopards as they hunt during the night.

Boat rides

The shallow waters of Rwanda’s second largest lake, Lake Ihema, are home to crocodiles and hippos, and the park also has more than 520 species of birds. A thrilling boat ride along the shores of Ihema is more for lovers of birds, hippos, and crocodiles a must and offers a different view of the park.

Best Time to Visit

Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September. December to March is a long dry season for Rwanda, with temperatures going up to 29 degrees Celsius for some days while the months of March – Mid May, July to September, on the other hand, are regarded as the rainy in the country

Best time to go: December to February and June to July (Dry seasons)
High Season: June to September (More people visit Rwanda since it is the peak time for gorilla tracking)
Low Season: March, April, May, October and November (A number of camps and lodges close)
Best Weather: Mid-December to February (Less rainfall)
Worst Weather: Mid-March to May and mid-August to November (High rainfall, roads can become impassable)

Birding in Akagera

The park has over 500 bird species – including the rare, prehistoric-looking shoebill stork. Look out for the rare papyrus gonolek and pre-historical shoebill stork, Lesser Kestrel, Great Snipe, and Black-winged among other bird species.  Birding is done while on a game drive, nature walks with a ranger guide, and on a boat safari on Lake Ihema. Birding on Lake Ihema looking out for water bird species like white-winged swamp warbler, and western reef heron among others.

Cultural tours near Akagera National Park

Experience the way of life around the cattle-keeping communities near Akagera national park. Get to participate in traditional cattle grazing, milking, and traditional milk storage in calabashes for preservation.  The Imigongo Art and Craft Centre which was designed by Prince Kakira created the art of house decoration using cow dung which is also usually done by women.

Dry dung is put together with colors from organic materials like plants to create white and red paints. The Cultural Heritage takes you to the cattle farm to try out milking a cow and then learn about the rituals around milk like storage in calabashes.

Visit the farmer’s home and then see how milk was traditionally kept, treated, and preserved until it’s turned into ghee, a local mayonnaise. There are special vessels that are sometimes used for storing and drinking of milk and the herbs that are smoked to flavor the milk.

Visit a Honey Cooperative in order to learn both the traditional and modern methods of beekeeping. You will also visit a family producing urwagwa or banana beer, and thereafter you can sample it.

The Arts and crafts activities will also show you how local artisans will create their products; the Imigongo is an iconic Rwanda art within the Eastern province. The blacksmiths showcase their creative talents and the traditional dancers that express Rwanda culture through music and movement.

Where to stay in Akagera National Park

Magashi Camp – Premier Experience

Beside Lake Rwanyakazinga, the upmarket Magashi Camp is located within an exclusive wilderness in the remote northeastern corner of Akagera National Park. Rare wildlife awaits at Wilderness Magashi, overlooking vast savannah, and the shimmering waters of Lake Rwanyakazinga.

The camp has eight spacious tented suites within the wilderness area, surrounded by one of the most serene landscapes.

Ruzizi Tented Lodge – Luxury Option

Ruzizi Tented Camp is an eco-friendly lodge comprising 9 tents including a treetop suite. Ruzizi is crafted from natural materials gathered locally and uses solar energy for power. It’s located beside the papyrus-filled marshes of picturesque Lake Ihema, where you can watch hippos wallowing in the shallow water and crocodiles.

There are boardwalks to access the lounge, dining area, and viewing deck, while the sounds of the bush fill your wilderness holiday with tranquility.

Mantis Akagera Game Lodge– Mid-range Option

Akagera Game Lodge is perched atop a ridge that offers panoramic views of Akagera Park.  The lodge is set in the heart of Akagera National Park and overlooks Lake Ihema and offers guests panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding savannah plains.

The lodge has 60 en-suite rooms, each with its own private veranda overlooking the lake. The lodge also has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and conference facilities.

The best time to visit Akagera National Park

June to August and December to February. The park is generally dry and less slippery during these months and is ideal for game safaris and photography.

March-May and October – December.

The long-wet season months are September, October, November, and the early part of December, while the short-wet season begins around mid to late February through March, April, and May. During these months, the heavy rains make the hiking trails slippery and visibility is also a challenge.

For bird watching, the November-April months tend to attract migratory birds. December to February is the best time for birding as there are fewer showers of rain. In May and June; the food supply is abundant and it is the main nesting season. March-May; there are usually heavy rains and the hiking trails tend to be slippery.

How to get to Akagera national park

Akagera Park is accessed from Kigali through Rwamagana town to the southern gate of the park. The Northern gate is currently used only for the exit. The journey takes a total of about 2- 3 hours to arrive at the park entrance. There is an option of flying to the park using the services of Akagera Aviation for those not keen on the 2-hour drive.


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