Akagera National Park
Two and a half hour’s drive from Kigali is Rwanda’s 'big five' national park, Akagera. Taking its name from the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary, this scenic reserve houses forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, rolling hills and savannah plains.
In the not-too-distant past, Akagera National Park was a poached-out park with little to attract visitors. Fast forward to 2010, African Parks embarked upon a joint venture and took over the management of the park and set about returning it to its former glory.
Lions were reintroduced to Akagera in 2015 and are thriving. In 2017 it was the turn of the black rhino and now Akagera boasts healthy populations of the Big 5 once more.
The variety of different habitats sustain exceptional levels of biodiversity and are a haven for over 500 bird species including the rare and elusive shoebill stork. It’s easy to fit in a visit to Akagera as part of your trip to Rwanda, and well worth it.
- Wildlife: In addition to the Big 5 you can expect to find plenty of plains game such as giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Also present are smaller antelope including klipspringer, bushbuck, impala, duiker, oribi and bohor reedbuck.
- Birding: Rwanda is a popular destination for birders and whilst difficult to spot, the rare shoebill stork is found in Akagera along with other rarities such as papyrus gonolek. With over 500 species recorded here, how many can you spot?
- Boat trip: It’s well worth taking a boat trip on the calm waters of Lake Ihema, the largest of the labyrinth of lakes fed by the Akagra River. This will give you another perspective of the park as you glide past hippos and watch crocodiles basking on the shoreline.
- Game drives: As you might expect, game drives are the best way to cover more ground and increase your chances of seeing wildlife. These usually take place early morning and mid-afternoon and in some places night drives are also offered.