Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park covers 1,122 km² in eastern Rwanda, along the Tanzanian border. It’s one of Africa’s oldest national parks, first gazetted in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation in three eco regions: savannah, mountain and swamp. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into several lakes the largest of which is Lake Ihema. The complex system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps makes up over 1/3 of the park and is the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Set at a relatively low altitude on the border with Tanzania, Akagera National Park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda. Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is an archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland.
This fore front of Africa’s Forest Conservation and home to 13 primates is extends across the border of Burundi – Parc National de la Kibira. It is a watershed for 2 Africa’s largest rivers, River Nile and River Congo.
Location: 225 km from Kigali, 50 km from the southwestern coastal town of Cyangugu and 90 km from Butare
Akagera is, above all, big game country! Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might stumble across a spotted hyena or even a stray lion.
Giraffe and zebra amble through the savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribi and secretive bush-buck and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque cape eland.
Camping alongside the picturesque lakes of Akagera is a truly mystical introduction to the wonders of the African bush. Pods of hippopotamus grunt and splutter throughout the day while out sized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape. Magically, the air is torn apart by the unforgettable high duetting of a pair of fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa’s waterways. Lining the lakes are some of the continent’s densest concentrations of water birds, while the connecting marshes are the haunt of the endangered and exquisite papyrus gonolek, and the bizarre shoebill stork – the latter perhaps the most eagerly sought of all African birds.
Activities in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park’s roads have improved significantly since African Parks came on board allowing for varied game drives around plains, hills and lakes. They usually take place in the mornings and afternoons, or will take a full day if venturing to the north, with night drives an option for spotting Akagera’s nocturnal wildlife.
Boat trips along the shores of Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake, yield some great aquatic bird sightings and you can even fish on Lake Shakani.
African Parks offers the opportunity to get a feel for the management of a national park on behind-the-scenes tours to their HQ and to meet the staff. Interestingly, because Rwanda is particularly strong on gender equality, Akagera National Park has many female guides, a rare breed on most African safaris.
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Best Time to Visit
Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September. December to March is a long dry season for Rwanda, with temperatures going up to 29 degrees Celsius for some days while the months of March – Mid May, July to September, on the other hand, are regarded as the rainy in the country
|Best time to go:||December to February and June to July (Dry seasons)|
|High Season:||June to September (More people visit Rwanda since it is the peak time for gorilla tracking)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October and November (A number of camps and lodges close)|
|Best Weather:||Mid-December to February (Less rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||Mid-March to May and mid-August to November (High rainfall, roads can become impassable)|
Tailored Akagera Wildlife Safaris
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Top Destinations in Rwanda
Rwanda’s renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park encompasses 4,507m-tall Mt. Karisimbi and 4 other forested volcanoes. In the southwest is Nyungwe National Park, with ancient montane rainforest that’s a habitat for chimpanzees and other primates.
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