Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Just two hours’ drive from Kigali lies Rwanda’s largest national park covering an area of 11,200 hectares, the park is named for the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feels into a labyrinth of lakes.
Rolling hills of Acacia bush, panoramic views across scattered grasslands, patches of thick forest and a mosaic of swamp-fringed lakes along the meandering Akagera watercourse all contribute to this parks unrivalled scenic beauty. Akagera is home to buffalo, zebra and giraffe are seen on the open plains while eland, roan and topi are found on the hills. Elephant tend to stay around the lakes, which are inhabited by large numbers of hippos and crocodiles.
Leopard, hyena and jackal are also residents and may be seen on a night drive along with gent, serval, bush babies, porcupine and other nocturnal wildlife. An important population of sitatunga lives in the papyrus swamps along with other rarities such as the shoebill and other papyrus endemic bird species.
Rwanda is known as the “land of a thousand hills” and Akagera has its fair share of mountainous terrain, reaching altitudes of nearly 2,000m in the Mutumba Hills region. These highlands provide spectacular views over the expanse of lakes and swamps.
Although Akagera was founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms to returning refugees following the Rwandan Civil War. As a result, in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500km2 (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122km2.
Getting there and getting around
Akagera national park is located in the north Eastern region of Rwanda about 110 km from Kigali the capital of Rwanda, which is about 2 to 3 hours’ drive. It is beautiful park with lush green scenery and lots of wildlife and birds to see.
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 Rwanda Air express. The airport is about 10 km out Kigali and it is where your journey to Kagera starts.
What Safari activities can be done in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork.
- Wildlife in Akagera Park: Akagera Park provides Game drives especially if you have a 4X4 vehicle. Akagera national park boasts of quite the variety of wildlife including some of the big 5. Lions, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards. There are hyenas, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, cape elands, impalas, wide eyed bush-bays, warthogs, Oribi, bush buck, Tsessebe, sitatungas. There are over 100 elephants in the park today.
- Boat Trips & Fishing
- Birding, Over 750 bird species found in the park, makes Akagera national park a birdwatchers dream destination. There is no way you can see all those birds in a single trip, pretty much a new bird to discover each day. The shoe bill stork that many birdwatchers search for can be seen here, and so can several other water birds. Other birds in Akagera national park include: raptors, shoe bill stocks, migrant birds such as the lesser kestrel and the great sniper, the Zambian, and the long tailed citole, and many other colorful birds.
- Nocturnal game drives,Game drives in the park are fun; game drives in the park at night are even more exciting. There is always a sense of mystery about the night and nocturnal game drives capture that quite effusively. There are animals in the park that you might fail to see in the day, but that will be quite up and active in the night and so much easier to see. Animals such as leopards, civets, hyenas, and bush babies might be much easier to see during the night. Some birds are nocturnal too.
- Boat trips 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 plus viewing hippos and crocodiles on the shores of the lake. Short boat trips are available on Akagera’s lakes which will give you the opportunity to get close to the plentiful water birds 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.
- Fishing, For those who might want to go fishing, whether as a sport or for food, you can do some fishing in Lake Shakani, one of the many lakes in the area. Most common fish in the lake are tilapia and cat fish. As you do your fishing, you might catch sight of or hear hippos further nearby. There is also some fishing tournaments that take place in the park every now then, you could participate if there is one going on at the time of your visit.
What are the Park Entrance Fee to Akagera National Park
Entry fees for the park are USD $35 per person per day for international visitors and USD $25 per person per day for EAC residents.
- There is a charge of USD $7.50 per car.
- Children under the age of 12 are given a discounted price for entry fees and children under the age of 5 are admitted in free and also free of activities fee.
- Children over the age of 5 are charged the normal rates for activities.
Can i drive to Akagera for 1 Day self drive Car Rental
Akagera is a nice place and its possible to drive one day but we strong recommend that you go for more than one day to enjoy the game drive, boat cruise in the wild. Self drive Rwanda will charge you highly on 1 Day Car rental to Akagera National Park.
Dos & Donts while in Akagera National Park
Self drive Rwanda strongly recommends that stay away from the wild elephants in Akagera National Park and maintain reasonable distance as they may charge and hit the car. Self drive Rwanda will not be held responsible and you will be fined by the company.
Please: Self drive traveler stay on the main tracks developed and marked by the Park Authority.