Established in 1934, Akagera National Park is the only savanna park and the big five game safari destination in Rwanda. Akagera sits on a large land area of 1122sq.km and comprises largely of savanna grassland, swamps, and small lakes that empty their water into River Kagera. The Park is an exceptional ecosystem and takes its name after River Kagera.
Akagera National Park is a spectacular Rwanda safari park, located on the extreme eastern border with Tanzania. Originally, the park occupied a land area of 2500, but its size drastically reduced by about 50% around 1997. This was after some of its lands were reallocated to refugees who returned to Rwanda after the historic 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Weather and climate
The weather and climatic conditions at Akagera National Park are favorable throughout the year. The park experiences two drier seasons each year that is from June to September, and December to February. There are also two wetter seasons- March to May/October with temperatures varying from 14 degrees Celsius at night to 27 degrees Celsius during the day.
Akagera National Park is the ultimate wildlife safari park in Rwanda and it is an important game viewing spot in Africa. The park protects a range of habitats where its diverse wildlife lives including Cape buffaloes, elephants, lions, zebras, crocodiles, the Masai giraffes, side-striped jackals, leopards, rhinos, hippos, antelopes like reedbucks, roan antelopes, elands, impalas, waterbucks, oribis, cape elands, topis, bushbucks, Klipspringers, etc. There is also a significant primate species population including the vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, baboons, bush babied, and more.
Akagera National Park is an important birding area that makes Rwanda one of the treasured bird-watching destinations. The park protects over 520 bird species including resident and migratory birds. They include African jacana, white-backed vultures, red-winged francolins, little bee-eaters, African fish eagle, shoebill stork, lilac-breasted rollers, fork-tailed drongo, black-headed weavers, pin tailed whydahs, white-faced whistling duck, African grey hornbill, saddle-billed stork, Africa wattle lapwing, papyrus gonoleks, long-crested eagle, white-browed coucal, Red-faced barbets, fish eagles, viellot’s black weavers, long-crested eagle, hamerkop, grey-backed fiscal, cattle egrets, sacred and hadada ibis, Augur buzzard, white-winged swamp warblers, grey crowned crane, ring-necked francolins, bared face go-away bird, helmeted guinea fowl, spur-winged goose, crowned lapwings, Shelley’s francolins, African darter, woodland kingfishers, lappet-faced vulture, palm nut vulture, squacco heron, short-tailed pipit, yellow-bellied eremomela, eastern grey plantain eater, to mention but a few.
Top Things to do in Akagera National Park Rwanda
Game drives Akagera National Park Rwanda
Game drives in Akagera introduce tourists to savanna plains to see a range of wildlife species. There is a morning and afternoon game driving sessions at Akagera and each rewards wildlife lovers with incredible encounters.
The normal game drive lasts for 2 to 3 hours with a great chance to sight wildlife such as buffaloes, elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, hyenas, antelopes, zebras, bird species, and more. The game drives in Akagera National Park, the popular trails/game tracks to embark on include the giraffe area loop, Rwisirabo loop, Kitabili loop, Rurama, and Nyamabuye track, etc.
There is a chance to also engage in guided night/nocturnal game drives. This is for you to enjoy viewing a range of nocturnal species including bushbabies, hyenas, leopards, lions, serval cats, civets, and more.
Birding is one of the interesting things awaiting you to take part in Rwanda safaris in Akagera National Park. Over 520 bird species make Akagera a birder’s haven, inhabiting birds such as white-faced whistling ducks, fork-tailed drongo, shoebill stork, African grey hornbill, papyrus gonoleks, grey-backed fiscal, Shelley’s francolins, eastern grey plantain eaters, sooty falcons, lilac-breasted rollers, woodland kingfishers, red-winged francolins, and more.
Hot air balloon safaris
Hot air balloon tours are newly introduced experiences at Akagera National Park. A hot air balloon offers a thrilling aerial wildlife viewing- a perfect alternative to explore the park’s wildlife rather than using a 4×4 vehicle.
Sportfishing tours in Akagera are possible on Lake Shakuni. Anglers visiting Akagera can book Lake Shakani campsite for an overnight stay to ease their connectivity to the sport fishing area.
The boat cruise is another best way to explore and experience Akagera National Park on Rwanda safaris. This water sports experience is conducted on Lake Ihema and participants have a chance to keep an eye on a range of aquatic life including crocodiles, hippos, and water birds (such as bee-eaters, shoebill stork, papyrus gonoleks, etc), and other wildlife along the shores of the lake.
Guided nature walks
Nature walks are alternative ways to get close interaction with Akagera National Park. You entirely embark on a foot-walk through the different habitats, each exposing you to the diversity of wildlife, birdlife, floral species, etc.
When is the best time to travel to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park?
Akagera National Park safaris are possible be carried out at any time of the year. But, the dry season or months of the year are the most favorable for game or wildlife viewing and that is from June to September or December to February. For enthusiastic birders, the ideal time to go to Rwanda safaris in Akagera is during the wet season- March to May or October to November.
Budget, mid-range, and luxury lodges all exist at Akagera National Park and they include Magashi Luxury Tented Camp strategically located overviewing Lake Rwanyakazinga, Rusizi Tented Camp, and Akagera Game Lodge, Dereva Hotel, and Karenge Bush Camp. For visitors interested in camping, the available options include Shakani, Mutamba, and Muyumba.
Getting to Akagera National Park- Rwanda safari tours
By road: Akagera National Park Rwanda is just 2 hour’s drive away from Kigali city center making it the most accessible park. You can also spend 22 minutes flying in a helicopter from Kigali International Airport. Flight services to Akagera National Park are provided by Akagera Aviation and it is the quickest way to get to the park, located in the northeast.