Akagera National Park is one of the national parks in Rwanda and the only place for the Big Five safari and game drives in the beautiful land of a thousand hills. The protected area is in eastern Rwanda covering 1,122 square kilometers (433 sq mi) along the border with Tanzania.
The National Park is named after the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into Lake Ihema and several smaller lakes. With the complex system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps this is the largest protected wetland in Eastern-Central Africa.
During the time of the formation of Akagera National Park, it used to have a large population of African wild dogs. However, an epidemic diminished the population, and the last wild dogs were sighted in 1984. With the loss of lots of wildlife in the park, reintroduction programs were set up and these have been very successful making the country a top Rwanda tour destination and Big Five host. In 1957, black rhinos were introduced from Tanzania and Masai giraffes were reintroduced from Kenya in 1986.
In 2009 the Rwanda Development Board and the African Parks Network entered into a 20-year renewable agreement for the joint management of Akagera National Park. Akagera Management Company was formed in 2010 as the joint management body for the park. In July 2015 seven lions from South Africa were introduced and released in the park. Since then the lion population has grown to more than 40 of them in the park. In 2017, 18 Eastern black rhinoceroses were reintroduced into the park from South Africa. Three more eastern black rhinoceros were introduced into the park in 2019. Today Akagera National Park is home to all of the sought-after African Big Five wild animals which are the Buffaloes, Rhinos, Elephants, Lions, and Leopards.
Akagera is a much preferable East African destination since it is one of the closest wildlife parks from the country’s national Airport-Kigali International Airport. It is just about a 3 hours’ drive to the park from the Airport. You also spot other wild animals like giraffes, zebras, and hippos.
A very scenic and beautiful land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is one of the increasingly popular African safari destinations. Known as a small and beautiful country formed of several scenic hills, the country may not be that typical African safari destination but is still home to several wild species that can be spotted on safari.
Lake Ihema boat safaris
Boat cruises are offered daily on Lake Ihema which is one of the largest lakes in the country. The boat trip in Akagera lasts one hour and is led by experienced guides who take you across the lake. You will meander along the forest-fringed shores in hope of seeing some animals and bird species. Some of the animal and bird species that can be spotted include hippos, crocodiles, herds of buffalo along the shores, the African fish eagle, crowned cranes, Carruthers Cisticola, shoebill stork. The boat cruise helps you discover the birdlife and aquatic species in the wetland marshes.
While exploring Akagera National Park, wildlife tours are carried out on game drives where tourists are accompanied by knowledgeable driver guides. Always ensure to remain in the safari car all through the game drive. For long game drives, carry snacks and enough drinking water.
Other activities that can be done during a safari in Rwanda include gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking and hiking in the Volcanoes National Park, chimpanzee trekking, canopy walk, and nature walks in Nyungwe National Park, birding in all of the parks and cultural tours. Other East African safaris include Uganda safaris, Tanzania safaris, and Kenya safari tours.
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