Akagera National park is named after River Akagera that flows along its eastern. It is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. The park is dominated by swamps and small lakes with flow in the wake of River Kagera. The park was gazatted in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation ij three eco regions: mountain, savannah and swamp. It also features the rising Mutumba hills that stretch to 2,000m in elevation.
Akagera National Park was considered to be the biggest national park in Rwanda but it faced encroachment following the Rwandan civil war that resulted into many refugees. Therefore the park was degazetted as the refugees were coming after the war.
Akagera National Park combines with Nyungwe and Volcanoes national parks to give a great safari as they are all homes to various game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after shoebill.
Animals in the park include elephants, buffalo, topi, zebras, roan antelope, eland and waterbuck as well as impala, reedbuck, duiker, bushbuck, oribi, and bohor reedbuck. There is also primates vervets, olive baboons, bush babies and the secretive blue baboons.
Lions were re-introduced from South Africa as well as leopard, hyena, and side-stripped jackal after their extinction. There are also plans of re-introducing black Rhinos so that Akagera can fully have the Big Fives.
Activities in Akagera National Park.
Game drives in Akagera National park.
Game drives in this small park is lot more fun than expected because the landscape is stunning and a lot of different animals are seen in a short period of time. Animals in this park have increased in number as it is considered to be endowing to 8,000 large animals like zebras, giraffes, impalas, eland, bushbuck, topi, vervet monkeys, baboons, mongoose, hippos, crocodiles, wart hogs and Defassa waterbuck. Other animals include Oribi, reedbucks, sable and roan antelopes, buffaloes and others.
A boat cruise is done on Lake Ihema where hundreds of hippos and crocodiles are seen. This activity gives more opportunity to clearly see the animals including buffaloes, and elephants which usually gather at the banks to driver water. Water birds such as fish eagles, shoebill stork, heron, papyrus gonolek and kingfisher among others are also observed. Boat cruise costs USD 30.00 per person during day and for an hour with a guide. All you need is to pack lunch or snacks for yourself.
Bird watching in Akagera National park.
The park is a birders paradise ranging from water birds to other abundant species. Over 500 species have been recorded in Akagera so visitors can check out for several endemic species as well as rare gems such as the threatened papyrus gonolek, the gorgeous lilac-breasted roller, black headed gonolek, grey hornbill, crested barbet, swamp flycatcher and Heuglin’s robin-chat.
Akagera National park should not be missed out while in any trip in Rwanda. The southern area of the park is blessed with variety of birds and butterflies while the northern part is the best for viewing larger wildlie.