Akagera national park
How to get there….
The main entry point into Rwanda is Kigali international airport. The airport is open to various international; flights such as SN Brussels, Ethiopian airlines, Kenya Airways,Air Burundi and of course the RwandAir express. The airport is about 10 km out Kigali and it is where your journey to Kagera starts.
Akagera national park is located in the north Eastern region of Rwanda about 110 kn from Kigali the capital of Rwanda, which is about a 2 ½ hour drive. It is beautiful park with lush green scenery and lots of wildlife and birds to see.
Most favored and used means of transport to the park is by car. For the most part the road is quite good. There might be a few bumpy spots along the way, but that shouldn’t stop you from making the trip. The last 28km of the 110km from Kigali are mostly dirt roads, and so are all the roads inside the park. 4X4 safari vehicles are recommended especially if you are traveling during the rainy season.
After getting to Kigali either by air or bus road, you can start of your Akagera safari from the city center. From Kigali drive out of town towards the airport. Just before you reach the airport, about 100m out, take a left turn. You will then be heading east towards Rwamagana. Drive through Rwamagana and on to Kayonza. When you get to Kayonza, take the right turn at the roundabout and drive on till you get to a Discentre station on the left side of the road as you get into the town of Kabarondo. There is a dirt immediately after the petrol station. Take a left turn onto that road and drive on for about 15km till you come to a junction at Rwinkwavu. You will see a signpost that reads Akagera national Park on the left. The park gates are about 13km ahead after the signpost.
4×4 vehicles can be arranged by your safari operator of choice. Most tour companies will provide a driver and a guide, or if you are very adventurous you can opt for drive yourself, and depend on maps and directions to get you. It will all be fun and exciting. Several safari companies in operating in Rwanda have outlets and connections with major hotels in Kigali, so it should be easy to get in touch with one and arrange for a 3 days Akagera safari trip to the park.
To be able to enter into Rwanda and enjoy your safari with as minimal stress as possible, your travel documents should be in order. Be sure that your visa is in order, visas can be obtained upon arrival at the airport for only USD 30. if you are from Germany, Sweden, DRC, Mauritius, South Africa, Honk Cong, Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, you do not need a visa, but you do need a valid passport.
With everything in order, passports and visa, finances in order, luggage in hand, and your safari hat on right, travelling to Rwanda, and then to Akagera should be quite easy and you should enjoy your safari in this beautiful park with no worries.
When traveling in a private safari vehicle, you can reach Akagera from Kigali in approximately two hours drive although when driving from Kibungo or Rwamagana it will take approximately one hour. The functional park entrance gate which is 500 meters from the brand-newly constructed Akagera Game Lodge can be reached on a twenty seven kilometers dusty road which branches off the main surfaced road at Kabarondo, only 15 km north of Kibungo.
The road is in good condition, and may be used by all kinds of vehicle during the sunny months but not in the rainy season. Inside the park, guests are recommended to use 4WD vehicles however any type of vehicle with good clearance may work during the in the dry months.
Reaching Akagera using public transport is to some extent challenging. The minibus taxis go to and fro Kibungo and Kayonza will take you up to the junction. From there the only available option is to use a motorbike-taxi in case you are lucky to find one. With the exception of those staying at the Game lodge, guests are not allowed to walk even if you have a guide inside the park, and actually you will not find any safari vehicles available to take you for game drives.
Akagera comes to sight as an amazing surprise following the sheer cultivated hills pus the breezy climate which characterizes the other parts of Rwanda of the country. found at a somehow low altitude on the border to Tanzania, this amazing game reserve shelters an typical African savannah terrain of twisted acacia plus brachystegia bush, intermingled with spaces of open grassland plus numerous lakes surrounded by swamps which follow the winding course of River Akagera.
Found in a somewhat low altitude on the boundary with Tanzania, this Akagera National Park may barely be any different in atmosphere to the windy cultivated hills which characterize most of Rwanda.
The park is scenically dominated by the maze of swamps plus lakes that taril the twisty course of River Akagera, the most isolated source of River Nile, this is typical African savannah terrain of jumbled acacia woodland dotted with open grassland.
Just as it is, Akagera is a attractive safari place to see, thanks to the verdant tropical landscape of the wetlands plus the uncommon wilderness character of its savannah. Some of the wild animals you are likely to encounter include a large number of different types of antelope (such as impalas, elands, bushbucks, topi, water-bucks plus oribi) together with giraffes, warthogs, zebras, buffaloes, olive baboons, and if lucky some of the 80 to 100 large elephants.
- Hire a guide. Guides are optional, but recommended, as they can help you find gems you would miss on your own. Hiring a guide also supports the local community, since many are from the area, and I’ve been told some are even reformed poachers. A park guide costs from $25 – 40 depending on the length of your drive.
- If you rent or drive your own vehicle, make sure it’s a 4×4. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in the mud during rainy season. There are lions there after all. You also have to pay a fee if the Park staff has to come rescue you.
- If you want to go camping (glamping, really), check out the Karenge Bush Camp. I’ll be writing a review about this place soon. The staff was amazing, and it’s a great place for a retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
- If you need a hotel, Akagera Game Lodge is your obvious choice. Just remember to close your windows at night. I stayed there once on a staff retreat and my boss woke up on day 2 to find a baboon pulling on her big toe. I would’ve died of heart failure. This is a perfect example of what happens when you encroach on animals’ territory.