Where to go, what to do while in Rwanda.
AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Founded in 1934, Akagera National Park is located in the North Eastern part of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. It is the largest protected wetland in Africa.
Akagera has a not-so-good history, which saw much of the park re-allocated as farms and in 1997, the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq. km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq. km.
Akagera is typically a mirror of the Rwandan landscape; surrounded by cultivated hills outward of wide plains that are dominated by swamps and small lakes flowing in the wake of River Kagera. It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa.
Attractions/ what to see and do
- Game Viewing & Wildlife safaris
Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes National Park to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.
Of the larger predators leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lion, which was re-introduced last year are present. Plans are underway for the reintroduction of the black rhino too, and this will restore Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status.
Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.
Birding safaris are popular amongst regular visitors and the immense variety and abundance of species will not fail to impress. From the vast concentrations of waterfowl to the myriad of savanna species, there is never a dull moment, with more than 500 species recorded in Akagera.
Serious birders can seek out several endemic species as well as rare gems such as the near threatened papyrus gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri), which is restricted to papyrus swamps, the localised red-faced barbet (Lybius bidentatus) and the sought after swamp flycatcher (Muscicapa boehmi).
- Boat Trips + Fishing
If you are looking for a variation on the usual safari experience, a boat trip on Lake Ihema will not disappoint. Drift along the forest-fringed lake edge, past huddles of hippo and basking crocodiles.
- Cultural tours
Rwanda boasts of rich African culture that you can be sure to share in when you visit.