Akagera national park is situated in the Eastern region of Rwanda covering an area of 1200 square kilometers and bordered with Tanzania. The park was named after Akagera River which flows its waters along the eastern boundary feeding into Lake Ihema and other small lakes. It is popularly known as the largest protected wetland in East Africa containing various species of vegetation, mountains, swamps, savanna grassland and also the crater lakes.
The park was established in 1934 to protect various species of mammals and vegetation. Later on, from 199o to 1997, half of the land was settled by the refugees after the Rwanda civil war due to land conflicts. Unfortunately, Akagera National Park which was known to have a high population of lions of about 250 to 300 lions were killed in the Rwanda Civil war by the farmers who returned to Rwanda after the war. Above all, the Rwanda Tourism Board had to go to South Africa to introduce more 7 lions to the park. This made Akagera national park in 15 years to be the first park in Rwanda to own lions.
In 2015, the park’s population of wild animals was recorded to have grown to over 20 species of animals and in the recent years the Masai giraffes which were introduced from Kenya have grown to over 80 individuals and the number keeps growing. Recently in 2017 Rwanda as the country decided to re-introduce more Eastern black rhinoceroses from South Africa which have been absent for a while. However, recently in 2019 Rwanda had received more 5 Eastern black rhinos from 3 different zoos in 3 different countries located across Europe.
Akagera national park has turned into a game reserve and home to all African big five such as lions, buffalos, leopards, Elephants, Rhinos and other species of mammals such as hippos, elephants, giraffes and many more. Bird species include white-headed birds, elusive shoebill stork, bennet’s woodpecker, broad-tailed, warbler red-faced barbet, and primates like monkeys many others. It has become a world heritage site.
The guided nature walk is led by the armed ranger guide and the tourist can be able to view other species like lions, buffaloes, leopards, sitatunga, elephants and various bird species like papyrus gonolek, shoebill stork among others.
The game drive is the second done activity in the world and can be best carried out at Akagera national park where you will have a peaceful memorable experience with great game viewing of big five which are not commonly found in the African continent. Akagera national park will be your best wildlife safaris where you will see all the big five such as Rhinos, Elephants, leopards, lions, buffaloes and other mammals like the sitatunga, giraffes, warthogs, and since the park is a wetland area tourists can be able to view swamps, Lake Ihema, mountains, and many other species.
Akagera national park is surrounded by water bodies where tourists can carry out fishing from on lake shakani which is habitant of different species of fish such as catfish, tilapia and very many types of fish.
The park also hosts a number of beautiful birds that can be spotted by the traveler and these include the Black and familiar chats, white-headed papyrus Gonolek, Bennet’s woodpecker, Broad-tailed warblers, Red-Faced Barbet, Miombo wren warblers and many other species of birds.
Akagera national park can be accessed from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda within 2 and 1/2 hours drive, alternatively. Tourists can fly from Entebbe airport to Rwanda and travel for only 3 hours by road, and 10 hours from Kampala City to Rwanda.
Travelers who would like to experience the African safaris while at Akagera national park can sleep in hotels such as Akagera game lodge and Ruzizi tented lodge. The park offers camping tents costing $20 only per person per night.
The best seasons for visiting Akagera national park are in the dry season from the months of January, March, June, August, September to December when the soil is dry enough.