Akagera National Park- Rwanda

Akagera National Park is a little piece of heaven found in North Eastern Rwanda, at the country’s border with Tanzania. It is dominated by swamps and small lakes with flow in the wake of River Kagera. All the water sources work together to create a piece of spectacular scenery. It is quite a remarkable eco-system. The Park was obviously named after River Kagera.

 

Wildlife  Game Drives in Akagera

akagera game drivesThe game drive here are like opening a present and each game drive holds a full new surprise as nature reveals its treasures in form of wonders that are so scenic, the wildlife like buffalos, antelopes including; the elands, topis, Maasai girafffes, monkeys, savannah birds, civets, leopards, the hyenas, as well as the serval cats. The game drives also mean that you will be accompanied by the guide who is so knowledgeable about the flora and the fauna that is found in the park.

As you are carrying out the game drives, one should remain in the vehicle unless the park guides see that it’s safe for you to get out taking a look. For the longer game drives, you are advised to take a snack or lunch and a lot of drinking water.

About the Nocturnal, the night game drives are so thrilling since you adventure out with a spot light to view the creatures of the night that are found in Akagera National Park. This night game drive through the park is different from that of during the day since at night, there is a big opportunity to view the predators on the prowl as they look for dinner. You will also see a few leopards, lions, civets, serval cats, the hyenas, birds as well as the bush babies with their large eyes. This nocturnal drive is also about 2 hours and will surely give you a different perspective altogether.

Birding in Akagera National Park

birding rwandaThis park is one of the places that is not to be missed by any birder along with the great Nyungwe forest national park. It harbors 520 species of birds which are found in this national park. The birders who visit Akagera National Park are always impressed by what they find mostly the many bird species that range from water to forest and also savannah as well as the migratory bird species and many of these are endemic to the park and are so rare like the papyrus gonolex which is found in the papyrus swamps. There are also the localized red faced barbets, and the swamp fly catcher as well as the elusive shoebill stork all found in Akagera National park.

Fishing in lake Shakani

fishing rwandaThis would be one of the extra ordinary activity to be carried out along the shores of Lake Shakani, you will hear the snorts of the hippos as well as the dry of the water birds plus the sounds of the fish in the water. Fishing in Akagera will give you an added chance of being in an African wild with the wildlife in the distance plus the hippos and the water birds. You might also visit Akagera national park as a fishing tournament is going on that might put you in a company of fellow anglers. The good news about fishing in this national park is that you get to keep what you fish and in case you feel like cooking it, you might start a fire and get it ready to be roasted in time for lunch.

Boat safaris on Lake Ihema

boating safarisBoat safaris are normally the main highlight of any visit with in east Africa and it’s with the boat safari that you will be able to adventure Lake Ihema in Akagera National Park. Lake Ihema has got one of the largest concentrations of hippos in East Africa and it’s also a sight to behold and there are also many crocodiles that you will find along the shores of the lake. There are also many water birds that can be seen on a boating safari on Lake Ihema and you might also spot a shoe bill stork. The other many animals like the elephants can find their way to the water to bathe and you will get the opportunity of getting closer to them than you would be in the vehicle on any game drive.

Surrounded by cultivated hills, that are so much a part of Rwanda scenery, the scenery of Akagera national Park is quite simply beautiful. The landscape is low, composed of wide plains dominated by grass, cactus-like Euphorbia candelabra shrub and both thick and thin forests although it does carry on with the general rugged terrain that is so characteristic of Rwanda.

 

History and facts

 

Founded in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation, Akagera national park is the largest protected wetland in Africa. It was named after the Akagera River which flows along its eastern boundary.

The park used to cover over 2,500 sq. km but in 1997, it was reduced in size by close to 50%.   A lot of the land was reallocated to refugees returning to Rwanda after the civil strife of the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda had settled in the area and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation.

 

In 2009, Rwanda Development Boards and Africa Parks signed a joint management agreement in which the Akagera management company was established to help both bodies manage the park. AMC is therefore responsible for the day to day management of the park.

 

Like most of Rwanda, Akagera national park has a rugged hilly terrain and is surrounded by cultivated hills which make the surrounding quite a sight to behold. It has areas rising to altitudes as high as 2000m above sea level. The northern part of the park however is made of fairly low grasslands more like the majority of safari areas in East Africa.

Climate is usually cold and misty, with a lot of rain.

Location?

Rwanda is bordered by the Democratic republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. Akagera national park is found in the North East of the country, at the Tanzania border. It is about 110km from Kigali which is about a 2 ½ hour drive.

Wildlife

 Akagera national park has quite a variety of wildlife although not qs much as the better known parks in east Africa.

Wildlife in the park includes; elephants, buffaloes, zebras, hyena, giraffes, chestnut impala, oribi, bush buck, the Tsessebe, warthogs, black tailed mongoose, catlike genet, black-masked civet, serval cats, bush pigs, cape eland and many more. Lions were recently re-introduced in the park. Along the shores of River Kagera there are numerous hippos and crocodiles. Notable of course are the big five: lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinoceroses and leopards.

There are also a few primates such as the olive baboon, silver monkeys and the vervet monkey.

Birds

The park has over 750 bird species. Definitely the perfect place for a birding safari. Because of the various water sources, there are numerous water birds as well as common Savannah and forest birds. Some of the birds in the park include: the gorgeous lilac-breasted roller, raptors, papyrus gonolek, black headed gonalek, heuglin’s robin-chat, grey horn bill, ross’s Turaco and the crested barbet. The elusive and much sought after shoe bill stork can be found here as well. There are also some Zambian home bird species such as the arnot chat, suaza shrike and the long tailed cistola. A birding safari in Akagera would definitely be well worth the trip.

With a variety of game, birds, plants and amazing scenery, Akagera national park is an amazing safari destination in Rwanda. It is conveniently close to the capital Kigali which makes access very easy, and so close to the Tanzania border you could be in both countries at the same time. Beautiful and exciting Akagera is definitely a must add on any east Africa safari itinerary. Akagera National Park is found on Rwanda’s border with Tanzania at a somewhat lower altitude although it is more hilly compared to the majority of national parks in countries neighboring Rwanda. This park is innovatively carved with a maze of swamps which flow into River Akagera. It park is mainly dominated by a savannah landscape, open grassland plus acacia woodland.

The park is found 2 hours from Kigali in the Eastern Rwanda province. Most of the road is paved until approximately thirty minutes drive to the park gate when it becomes a bit dusty and bumpy. Some of the wildlife you will find within Akagera includes elephants, buffaloes, giraffes as well as zebras, plus over twelve different species of antelopes, plus the hard to find lions plus leopards. In case you have take game drives in countries such as South Africa and Kenya then you may not be really impressed with the small national parks of Rwanda. Here the animals are not as many as in other parks such as Serengeti, although a trip to this park will offer a unique one day adventure during your stay in Kigali.

Akagera National Park is a wonderful place for bird watching with a diversity of species of nearly 525 bird Species (4 of which are endemic), plus a great profusion of migrant birds. The hard to find Shoebill Stork may be seen here as well together with the beautiful Papyrus Gonolek in danger of extinction.

This National Park was in fact named after the beautiful river Akagera which flows down the eastern boundary of the park. Akagera Park is Rwanda’s most prominent Savanna wildlife reserve.  In comparison to other areas within Rwanda, this place is somewhat warm and is found at a lower altitude and its terrain is mainly blanketed with dense, woodland characterized by broad leaves,  and a  transparent acacia woodland in addition to patches of rolling grasslands that are dotted with vivid stands of the cactus such as the Euphorbia candelabra shrub.

Moving to the western part of these plains you will find a string of low altitude  beautiful mountains that reach heights between 1,600 meters and 1,800 meters.  However, the eastern part of the park you will find a large wetland, and then the amazing River Akagera directly pours into a complex of a number of lakes that are connected by extensive papyrus swamps plus zigzag water streams. Unfortunately, the total wildlife population within this area has significantly been reduced by poaching in the recent years, and currently what was once the northern part of the park is today a human settlement for refugees that returned in the country. The other lakes found inside this national park are often used as water as sources of water for their cattle especially the long horned Ankole cows; these are the commonly seen large mammals in this area. You will be amazed the large number of wild animals you will find inside the park for example:  giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, zebras, antelopes plus elephants. The lakes are home to some of the largest hippo populations you will find across the whole of Africa, as well as an overwhelmingly big number of giant crocodiles, in addition to leopards, lions plus black rhinos which unfortunately are less in numbers.  Also, the birdlife here in Akagera is amazing with close to 550 bird species that include all species of scarcity plus some huge flocks of water birds. .

 Akagera National Park is one of the wildlife reserves across Africa in which you may have a drive for several hours without coming across any another safari vehicle, and not being able to guess the wild animal you are going to encounter in the following couple of minutes.  Furthermore, Akagera is among the most charming savanna reserves, having its impressive lakes that are surrounded by continuously varying vegetation, forests plus high beautiful mountains.