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Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is one of the Oldest National Parks on the African Continent and the largest National park in Rwanda. It was garzetted as a National Park in 1934 and it covers an area of 1,122sqkm of mainly savannah land. Akagera National Park was named after Kagera River that flows along Rwanda’s Eastern boarder with Tanzania. The river feeds into Lake Ihema and other smaller lakes in and around the park. This majestic waterway flows into a stunning mosaic of forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps and also floodplains forming an important wetland ecosystem, the largest protected wetland in Central-Eastern Africa.

About Akagera National Park

Akagera national park is the only Savannah national park in Rwanda and the only place to spot most of the large mammals while on safari. Whereas there are forest elephants in the other parks, it is very difficult to spot them. Explore the park in the comfort of your safari vehicle while on a game drive.

The park boosts of over 13,500 large mammals including the members of the Big 5 like Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinoceros and Buffaloes. Other mammals include Rothschild giraffes, Bruchell’s zebras, Antelopes, Waterbucks, Hippopotamus, Impalas, Bohor reedbucks, oribis, klipspringer, cape eland, bush babies, Topis, hartebeests, hyenas, warthogs, duikers, crocodile among others.  topi, hippos, crocodiles, warthogs, hyena, waterbuck, mongoose, eland, zebra, serval cats, duiker, impala, black masked civet, reedbuck, bush pigs, giraffe, side-stripped jackal, Klipspringer, Sitatunga Antelopes and roan antelope. Among the primate species include olive baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys and bush-babies.

The bird population has increased to about 500 species since the changes in the park where started. The birds thrive on an amazing range of habitat including; forests, Savannah plains and papyrus swamps. The rare Shoebill stork and Papyrus Gonolek can be spotted during a boat trip along the lakes in the park. Other species include; the African fish eagles, cormorants, hammerkops, suaza shrike, crowned cranes, egrets, Herons, marabou stork, Black-headed and Viellot’s Black Weavers, Fan-tailed Widowbird, open-billed stork, Grey-backed Fiscals,  African darter, African Wattled Plover, Giant Kingfisher, Senegal Lapwings, the raptors great snipe bird, Squacco Herons, Grey Crowned Crane, Caruther’s Cisticola African Darter, Sacred and Hadada Ibis, Augur Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, Pied Crow, Long-toed and Water Thick-knee.


Activities in Akagera National Park

Game drives

Game drives in Akagera national park are done in safari vehicles starting early morning in search for leopards, hyenas and the re-introduced lions. This is because the predators prefer to hunt at night or early morning and usually go into hiding as the sun’s heat increases. Along the carnivores, you will enjoy the scenery of this beautiful park and several other big mammals like Elephants, buffaloes, Zebras, antelopes and Giraffes. The landscape and beautiful wild flowers will make for good pictures for the interested photographer.

There are also night game drives carried out by the park officials; Akagera management company. These usually last about 2 hours starting from 6pm to 8.30pm in the night. You will have spotlights to help you clearly see the different nocturnal animals. You might have an opportunity of sighting the leopards as they hunt or even the lions.



Akagera national park is a popular birding area in Rwanda. Bird watching enthusiasts will find birding in Akagera national park rewarding. As it offers birders opportunities to sight both the endangered bird species like papyrus gonolek and shoebill. Other species to spot include; Herons, marabou stork, Black-headed and Viellot’s Black Weavers. Fan-tailed Widowbird, open-billed stork, Grey-backed Fiscals, African darter, African Wattled Plover and Giant Kingfishers among others. Birding is done while on a game drives, nature walk and on a boat safari on Lake Ihema. Birding on Lake Ihema will accord you the pleasure of water species. Which are otherwise not seen while on game drives in the Savannah grasslands.


Boat Ride

The best way to spend an afternoon in Akagera national park is to take a boat ride on Lake Ihema. Most animals here hide under shade because of the scorching sun as others come to the water for cooling off and drinking. In addition to a variety of water birds, you will watch schools of hippos in the water and also crocodiles by the shores of the lake.


Sport fishing

The park offers an opportunity for sport fishing on Lake Shakani. You are required to make bookings with the park for sport fishing on this lake. Even though the expectation is catch and release, you are given an opportunity to take one catch for a meal in case you are interested.


Cultural Tours

Experience the rural-Rwandan life within the cattle keeping communities near Akagera national park. You will have the opportunity to observe and participate in traditional cattle grazing, milking, traditional milk storage for example, in calabashes for preservation. You will then go through the process of converting milk into different products like traditional yogurt, ghee and also take part in preparing a meal with some of the ingredients from milk products. This is an authentic cultural experience shared by the local community living adjacent to the park. They get to earn from this hence supplementing their agricultural income. This eventually contributes to conservation of culture and wild animals in the park.


When to Visit

The best time to visit Akagera National Park is during the dry months of June to September and also December to January.


How to Get to Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park can be reached by both Road and Air transport.

By Road, You can drive from Kigali City through Rwamagana for about 2-3 hours.

By Air, short flight into Akagera can be provided by the Akagera Aviation.


Akagera Entry Gates

Kiyonza Gate

Nyungwe Gate


Accommodations in Akagera National Park

Luxury Accommodations

Magashi Camp

Ruzizi Tented Lodge

Akagera Transit Lodge


Mid-Range Accommodations

Dereva Hotel

Akagera Game Lodge

Akagera Rhino Lodge