Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park
In 2009 the Government of Rwanda asked Africa Parks to help with the rehabilitation of Akagera National Park. Today Akagera National Park is home to the “Big Five” and Tourism continues to increase. In 2010 the park had around 15,000 visitors and this jumped to 44,000 in 2018. Akagera National Park is still reliant on contributions from Africa Parks and the Rwanda Development Board as well as philanthropic assistance from the Walton Family Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and Wyss Foundation, but its aim is to become financially sustainable. Being only 3 hours’ drive from Kigali means that it is also extremely accessible for tourists. A percentage of the revenue generated by tourism is reinvested in health centres, schools and other infrastructure projects for the communities.
Games drives in Akagera National Park allow you to experience the quintessential African safari. On the open savannah plains, you will not only encounter the Big 5 but other animals such as Topi, Burchell's Zebra, Impala and Masai giraffe. June to September is the best time for wildlife viewing as it is the dry season and animals are easier to see. Out of the Big 5 Leopards and Rhino are still hard to spot, with Elephant, Lion and Buffalo being the easier to find. Although there is a census and habituation programme for Leopards taking place in the Magashi Concession with a view to better understanding the movement and behaviour of Leopards in that area.
Akagera National Park has a unique partnership with the local community, which includes freelance community guides as well as cultural adventures for park visitors to participate in. Cultural activities such as music and dance are showcased as well as insights in to how agriculture, cattle and crafts are part of this region’s heritage. Visitor participation is encouraged and activities such as cow milking and tasting local food are popular. The cultural experience normally lasts around 3 hours.
Lake Ihema is the largest lake in Akagera National Park and is fed by the Akagera River. Scheduled boat trips leave at: 07:30, 09:00, 15:30 and 17:00. It is also possible to hire private boats for trip outside of these outside the scheduled times.
Animal Viewing – Lake Ihema is a watering hole for many of the animals that live in Akagera National Park. Whilst on a boat trip you can see Waterbuck, Bushbuck and Buffalo at the water’s edge as well as Crocodiles and Hippos that live in the water. The rare Sitatunga antelope is known to live withing the papyrus swamps in and around the lake
Birdwatching – There are around 550 species at Lake Ihema including Papyrus Gonoleks, Shoebill Storks and the more coming Malacite Kingfishers and African Fish Eagles.
Sport fishing – This can also be done at certain part of the lake subject to obtaining a fishing permit and having your own fishing equipment. The most popular fish in the lake is Talapia