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Akagera National Park, Eastern Rwanda Destinations Featured

Akagera National Park Zebras

 

 Akagera National Park – lies on the eastern border of Rwanda with Tanzania. This low-lying park offers a more traditional safari experience than the mountain forests.  Its rolling African savanna plains are home to buffalo, elephant, zebra and giraffe but you'll share the roads with virtually no other vehicles.

Hugging Rwanda’s eastern border with Tanzania, Akagera National Park covers about 1,120km² and is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, first gazetted in 1934.

The north of Akagera is mostly fairly low-lying grasslands and savannah plains, similar in feel to the 'traditional' safari areas of East Africa. To the west are rolling hills and valleys more typical of Rwandan countryside while to the east, the Akagera River feeds into a series of lakes, marshes and papyrus swamps that constitute central and eastern Africa’s largest protected wetlands. So, for a fairly small National Park, an Akagera safari can be extremely diverse with a variety of habitats, wildlife and birds, and some lovely scenery.

Akagera National Park has had a troubled past, with refugees from Rwanda’s civil wars returning to live in the area in the late 1990s, harming the environment through cattle-grazing and poaching. Consequently, the government reduced Akagera by half, allowing the new residents to stay in one part and protecting the rest.

Today, Akagera National Park is managed in conjunction with the conservation organization African Parks, which is bringing it, back to life. New perimeter fences and anti-poaching measures have made a huge difference to its animal populations and the national park is now well on the way to being restored. While its wildlife isn’t quite on the same scale as better-known East African parks, there is still plenty to see on an Akagera safari in some very beautiful scenery.

Akagera National Park’s roads have improved significantly since African Parks came on board allowing for varied game drives around plains, hills and lakes. They usually take place in the mornings and afternoons, or will take a full day if venturing to the north, with night drives an option for spotting Akagera’s nocturnal wildlife.

Boat trips along the shores of Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake, yield some great aquatic bird sightings and you can even fish on Lake Shakani.

Unusually, African Parks offers the opportunity to get a feel for the management of a national park on behind-the-scenes tours to their HQ and to meet the staff. Interestingly, because Rwanda is particularly strong on gender equality, Akagera National Park has many female guides, a rare breed on most African safaris.

The game on an Akagera safari includes most of the usual plains species. Impala and topi (known as tsessebe in Southern Africa) seem to be dominant, with eland, oribi, Masai giraffe, Defassa waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, sable and roan antelope also present. Burchall's zebra, hippo and crocodile are commonly seen whilst game viewing; buffalo are more prevalent in the north as are elephants, although more restricted.

Akagera National Park is especially good for birding, with over 480 species attracted by its diverse habitat. Savannah birds and raptors are prevalent and several endemic species such as the red-faced barbet are often seen.

Short boat trips are available on Akagera’s lakes which will give you the opportunity to get close to the plentiful waterbirds including numerous African fish eagles, marabou stork, crowned cranes, open-billed stork, cormorants, herons and egrets. If you are lucky you may even get to see the elusive shoebill stork.


Why Visit Akagera National Park, Eastern Rwanda.

  • Visit one of Rwanda's savanna plains park.
  • For a more traditional safari experience than the mountain forests Rwanda is famed for.
  • Visit one of Africa's oldest national parks gazetted in 1934.
  • Take a boat trip along the shores of Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake.
  • Conduct night game drive and spot some of Akagera’s nocturnal wildlife.
  • See some of Akagera’s over 480 birds including raptors and endemic species like the red-faced barbet.

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