Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Akagera National Park is a unique African safari destination, Rwanda's only protected savannah wildlife reserve. The park is home to various savannah-wild species, including Africa Safari's big five, making it a perfect place to experience prime wildlife viewing safari drives. What sets Akagera apart is that it offers a much more relaxed and laid-back kind of safari vacation adventure, unlike the more crowded and touristy pioneer safari destinations.
While the park may not have the same density of animals as the Mara, it still offers an opportunity to see Africa's Big Five: lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhino. The lions are relaxed, but sightings are not always guaranteed, while you can spot the elusive leopards on guided night drives.
Apart from the big game animals, there is plenty of other wildlife to see, such as zebra, giraffe, baboon, warthog, and antelope species. Impala, bushbuck, and topi are some of the animals that can be readily spotted throughout the park, while the lakes boast some of the highest concentrations of hippos and large crocodiles on the continent.
Akagera National Park is the largest protected wetland in Central Africa, spanning 1,122 square kilometers (433 square miles) along Rwanda's northeastern border with Tanzania. The park is home to a labyrinth of lakes and papyrus swamps teeming with hippos and crocodiles and savannas dotted with giraffes, zebras, elephants, and nearly a dozen varieties of antelope.
The African Parks nonprofit organization has taken center stage in reintroducing savannah-adapted species that once roamed the park, including lions and rhinoceroses. The park offers various wildlife experiences in Rwanda, including camping facilities, guided game drives, boat cruises, and fishing trips.
Akagera is still a relatively off-the-beaten-track destination, receiving less attention from safari adventurers. However, the park's beauty and unique wildlife will likely attract more visitors in the coming years. If you're looking for solitude and a one-on-one classic wildlife safari experience, Akagera National Park is the perfect place to visit.
- Big game safaris with the Big Five present
- Excellent birding includes many rarities, raptors, and waterbirds
- Off-the-beaten-track adventure experiences, including nature walks, hiking, and camping
- Beautiful scenery with several forest-fringed lakes and plains savannah
- Night game drives and boat safaris are available, along with the usual day game drives
Best time to go
Late June through early September is the perfect time to visit Akagera National Park, as it is the peak season and the best time to spot wildlife. During this time, the bush thins out, making the animals easier to spot, and they tend to concentrate around the lakes. Additionally, June to August is ideal for photography and nature gazing as the weather is the best, with the least amount of rain. On the other hand, March, April, October, and November are the rainy (low) season, with the rains at their peak. Despite this, the showers usually come in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for morning hiking and an outdoor lunch. Moreover, this season offers less competition for tours and discounted rates at some hotels, making it a great option for budget travelers.
Getting to Akagera
Akagera is about 2½ hours (110km) east of the capital city, Kigali. To explore the park, you can rent a four-by-four safari car from a local tour operator like Nkuringo Safaris for at least US$200 per day, inclusive of gas and a professional driver-guide. The park entrance fees are US$40 per day, and if you're planning to drive yourself, hiring a park guide for a daily fee of US$30 is recommended. Alternatively, you can purchase a guidebook for just US$3 from the reception center inside the Kiyonza Entrance Gate. Remember that the park is quite large, and it takes around six hours to drive from the southern entrance to the northernmost exit gate. Therefore, planning a long day trip from Kigali or staying overnight at one of the campsites is best.
Tailor-made Akagera Safari Packages
If you're planning to go on a wildlife safari in Akagera National Park, we recommend that you take at least two days in the park to fully enjoy the experience. During this time, you can go on morning and evening game drives to explore the park's diverse wildlife, take a boat trip on Lake Ihema, and relax at your chosen campsite. Our team of local experts can help you tailor your safari package to your specific preferences. Please take a look and let us know how we can assist you.
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Accommodation in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park offers a range of accommodation options for visitors, from luxury lodges to eco-friendly campsites. The park has four great places to stay, including Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Magashi Camp, Karenge Bush Camp, and Akagera Game Lodge, each with its own unique charm and appeal. Whether you're looking for a comfortable base to explore the park's wildlife, a rustic getaway surrounded by nature, or a luxurious retreat with stunning lake views, you're sure to find the perfect accommodation option in Akagera National Park.
Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Nestled on the shores of Lake Ihema, Ruzizi Tented Lodge is a perfect choice for accommodation in Akagera National Park. It's the ideal place to immerse oneself in nature without sacrificing modern comforts such as warm showers, delicious three-course meals, and a fully stocked bar. Guests can enjoy hassle-free camping, excellent showers, and a beautiful communal deck with breathtaking lakeside views. However, due to the area's thriving wildlife, unexpected animal visits might keep visitors up at night.
Nestled in the stunning northeastern region of Akagera National Park, Magashi Camp offers an awe-inspiring view of the picturesque Lake Rwanyakazinga. The camp is home to six permanent safari tents offering uninterrupted lake vistas. The camp's main area comprises the luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, pool, and expansive viewing deck with a sociable fire pit. The architecture and interiors of the camp are a tribute to traditional Rwandan culture, adding to the overall charm of the place.
Karenge Bush Camp
Karenge Bush Camp is a beautiful safari camp dedicated to preserving nature. The camp offers a delightful rustic appeal and promises an eco-friendly experience to its guests. The main area of the camp features a dining tent with a cozy lounge, an outdoor fire pit, and comfortable chairs that offer a breathtaking view of the vast Kilala Plains. The camp comprises six canvas tents that are charming and cozy. Each tent has comfortable camp beds, chairs, reed mat floors, and solar lights for bedtime reading. Sounds of nature surround the tents, and each tent enjoys a private outdoor bathroom. Karenge Bush Camp is open year-round, except in April.
Mantis Akagera Game Lodge
Nestled on a hill at the southernmost point of Akagera National Park, Mantis Akagera Game Lodge boasts stunning views of Lake Ihema and the surrounding savannah. With 59 rooms, a conference venue, a restaurant, a bar, and a gorgeous pool deck, the lodge is an ideal choice for large groups and families. However, some guests have commented that while the lodge is practical, it lacks character and aesthetic appeal.