Exploring the Restored Akagera National Park in the Elegant Destination Rwanda
Akagera National Park Rwanda is located in the north eastern part of Rwanda near Tanzanian border. The extensive network of Riverine forests, water logged swampy areas, the outwardly endless rolling hills of savannah plains and parches of woodland forests teemed with a variety of wildlife encounters present a breathtaking chance to understand the amazing facts of wide-ranging biodiversity of flora and fauna in Rwanda. The national park was established in 1934 at a time of massive encroachment by farmers and pastoralists in scramble for agricultural land. Consequently a large amount of the park’s land was taken by farmers reducing the size of the park from 25,000 sq km to the current range of 1,122 sq km of varied ecosystems.
The latter part of the park’s ecosystems that survived was protected and has seen restoration of ecosystems back to their natural state by the joint efforts of the African National Parks. Despite the fact that some large cultivated hills and valleys of savannah land now occupied by farmlands is outside the park borders, nevertheless Akagera National Park still stands as the largest stunning landscape with swamps, savannah plains and woodland forests that harbors Africa’s largest plains of big game animals. Visiting Akagera national park is an exciting classic adventure safari for any wildlife fanatic traveler.
Akagera is one of the permanent Rivers streaming along the eastern side of the park from which the park got its name. The river pours down into numerous lakes surrounded by forest patches boggy papyrus swamps and large plains of savanna that form the largest part of the park, for that reason it is regarded as Africa’s biggest protected wetland. The green acacia woodlands that surround the river and numerous lakes harbors dense populations of large mammals such as buffalos elephants, giraffes, zebras, waterbucks that visitors might encounter by a short morning game drive but worth the experience. The park is also a home to rare species of antelopes that live only in papyrus swamps such as Sitatunga that inhabit the dark section of the wetlands water alongside the winding Akagera river. Other species of antelopes in present in the park include duikers, Oribi, klipspringer, bush buck and the handsome chest- nut coated impalas.
The park is the only one in Rwanda where the remaining populations of eland, the largest of Africa’s surviving antelope. These antelopes are amazing to seen browsing along the road sides or when they gather in countless numbers to lick salt on main aunt hills and salty rocks beds.
Due to the park’s remarkably levels of biodiversity, Akagera National park is striving to become Rwanda’s most developing wetland safari destination. According to birdlife International the park is a key birders heaven 525 species of birds. Dedicated ornithologists are mostly attracted to the park by presence of the rare swamp endemic species such as shoebill stork Africa’s most thought after birds of ill omen, papyrus Gonelock and the pale arctic migratory birds such as lesser Kestrel and the Black – winged Pratincoles can be seen only during their migration period. Other dense populations of water and forest birds in the wetland that can be seen include white- winged scrub -warbler, White-Spotted fluftail, Pallid Harrier and Ring Necked Francolin just a peep of bird species.
During birding day trips inside the park, Primate Species can also be seen such as the secret blue vervets monkeys, olive baboons gives you another chance to appreciate the park’s variety of mammals.
Akagera national park was once a home to Africa’s famous big five mammals that is lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinos and buffalos. However due to massive encroachment and selective poaching that took place before it was gazzatted into a protected area, lions and Black rhinos became extinct. As a result conservation campaigns and the Rwandan Development Board’s strategy to boost tourism, Transvaal lions have been reintroduced from South Africa as well as Black Rhinoceros in order to bring the big five mammals in the park.
Of the African popular predators living in the park include the nocturnal leopards, side striped jackals, spotted hyenas and lions that have been introduced in the last 15 years, such a great variety of predators and herds of mammals including antelopes teemed together present mesmerizing opportunity when one camps or takes a boat trip on one of the several lakes, to watch how lions, crocodiles prey on antelopes and zebras is a prime rewarding wildlife encounter in Africa.
Another interesting feature attraction in Akagera River national park is taking a spectacular pre-arranged boat trip on Lake Ihema the biggest of the several lakes to enjoy a classic African savannah backdrop of acacia woodlands. Visitors will bump into huge hippos, Nile crocodile sun basking along the shores is mind blowing. The lakeside views offers a photographic opportunity of clear views of herds of elephants, buffalos and antelope often at a close a distance surprisingly visitors tend to relate the park with the East African equatorial jungles.
Camping alongside the shimmering attractive lakes of Akagera heaving with riverine species of plants and aquatic life is a truly a magical opening to the wonders of African wild bush experience. Down into the boggy-marshes one can encounter some of the splendid pairs of African Fish Eagles hovering over waterways and see them as they disappear magically into the sky is breathtakingly authentic. Having experienced the glittering memory of the park, in the northeastern side a stretch out of a natural and significant historic region marked by traces of long rural occupation in one of the communities around the park called Mutara, give stunning views across gentle slopes and depression like valleys dotted with meandering streams feeding into swamp fringed lakes. A variety of diverse plant life, fertile soils merge to make a Kagera National Park amongst the most parks of botanical importance in Rwanda.
Game Drives in Akagera National Park
Tourists imagining how true the African wild spirit is should prefer taking a game in Akagera National Park in Rwanda to witness wildlife sights. Game drives are best suited to be conducted very early in the morning at 06:00 with 99 % chances to see zebras, buffalos and elephants. Visitors must stay in game drive vehicles to avoid risk of attack from fierce animals.
Lucky visitors can encounter leopards; hippos in a rush to hide are worth watching. Across the roadside plains of savannah when the sun is rising are the attractive views of antelopes including impala, elands. Surrounding the lakes are bright green acacia woodlands teemed with a variety of the last existing species of eland, the biggest antelope in African, giraffes, elephants, buffalos, topi, reedbucks, waterbucks and the beautiful zebras. This outstanding wilderness offers unmatched African safari experience in a life time.
Visitors entering the park pay 35 US dollars for international visitors per person, for East African residents pay 25 US dollars per person; vehicles entering the park are charged a cost of 7.50 US dollars per car. Children less than 12 years of age are given discounts to undertake game drives, children less than five years can to go into the park for free.
The park management Authority can Game drive vehicles hiring with their own driver guides depending on visitor’s preference to go for half or full day game drives. Visitors with no understanding of driving on African roads are recommended to arrange a game drive vehicle with a driver who will give you a description of wildlife and general facts of the park’s biodiversity. Visitors interested in driving themselves must comply with park regulations under guidance of experienced guides and will be required to pay a cost of self drive at 175 USD for a 5 hour drive and full day drives at 275 US dollars.
There are two kinds of guides accessible to meet the needs of visitors at the reception center. Park employed guides are more experienced with wildlife descriptive skills who will lead to the most scenic hot spots of the park. On the other hand when you choose a community employed guide, you will have supported the lives of local people contributing to development nevertheless you are guaranteed enough information concerning wildlife in the park.
Both guides can be hired at a relatively cheap cost depending on the lengthy of the game drive guides employed by the park are ever ready hired at a cost of US $ 25 for half day and US $ 40 to enjoy a full day drive. Community guides are at a cost of 20 US dollars for half day and 30 US dollars for full day drives. Visitors are recommended to check the visitor information center for any assistance regarding park activities, best routes to encounter wildlife, including self drive maps and guide books.
Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park was actually named after the stunning river that flows along the park’s eastern boundary. The Akagera Park is the most prominent Savanna reserve found in Rwanda. As compared to the other parts of Rwanda, this area is moderately warm and is a low altitude lying area whose plains are covered with thick, broad leafed woodland as well as transparent acacia woodland plus patches of rising and falling grassland dotted with expressively stands of the cactus like Euphorbia-candelabra shrub.
The western part of these plains supports a chain of low altitude mountains, which attain the heights ranging from 1,600 meters to 1,800 meters. The eastern area of the park has large wetland, while the great Akagera River directly feeds an intricate of several lakes joined by broad papyrus swamps as well as winding water streams. Sadly the total population of wildlife in this area has greatly been lessened by poaching over the recent years, and today what was previously the northern section of the park is currently a settlement place for refugees who returned. The remaining lakes within this national park are regularly used as water sources for domestic cattle particularly the long horned Ankole cows which are the most frequently seen big mammal. In addition to that, Akagera is certainly worth visiting. There is a profusion of wild animals such as buffalos, antelopes, elephants, hippos, zebras and giraffes. The lakes are habitat to some of the biggest populations of hippos in Africa, and a large number of large crocodiles, whereas lions, leopards as well as black rhinos are actually in minimal numbers. Furthermore, the birdlife within the Akagera is astonishing with about 550 bird species including all types of scarcity as well as some large concentration of water associated birds. .
Akagera National Park is among the game reserves in Africa where you can enjoy drive for a number of hours without finding another Rwanda safari vehicle, and without guessing which wildlife you will encounter in the next few minutes. Akagera in addition is one of the most picturesque savanna reserves, with its splendid lakes surrounded by forests, high mountains as well as constantly varying vegetation.
Ecological Importance of Akagera National Park
Akagera National park is well-liked for sheltering a wide assortment of habitats in a somewhat small region. Before the civil war, it was considered among the very few African-savannah reserves to shape a healthy ecological unit, therefore meaning that its occupant large mammals sufficient food with no necessitate to move seasonally out of the park. As that is the case current approximately two-thirds of the initial park was de-gazetted back in 1997, and as part of the discarded area is still a virgin bush, it’s actually possible that after some time before it will all be turned into a settlement; putting extra pressure on the lessened wildlife populations in the Akagera. The park’s northern boundaries shelter an expanse of 1,085 kilometers. The eastern region of this park comprises of a broad chain of wetlands which are fed by River Akagera, as well as dominated by several small and medium sized lakes. However, Lake Ihema which lies in the amended park boundaries is the biggest open-water body extending over an area of close to 100 kilometers. These lakes are joined by small channels of water as well as large seasonal plus permanent papyrus swamps. The wetlands in the east are significant habitats to the wild animals found in the park. These do not just offer an enduring drinking water source for these large mammals, but additionally form a significant water-bird habitat.
Accessibility to Akagera National Park
With a private safari vehicle, the Akagera can be accessed from Kigali in about 2 hours drive whereas from Kibungo / Rwamagana it takes about 1 hour. The usable entrance-gate, 500 meters from the newly established Akagera Game Lodge, which can be reached using a 27 kilometers dirt road that branches from the major surfaced-road at Kabarondo, just 15 kilometers north of Kibungo. This road is in a reasonable condition, which can be used by all types of vehicle with the exception of the rainy months. In the park, it is advisable to use 4×4 vehicles although any vehicle having good clearance can do in the dry months.
Accessing the Akagera by public transport means is somewhat challenging. All minibus taxis travelling to and fro Kayonza plus Kibungo will leave you at the junction, and from there the only practical option is to take a motorbike-taxi that is if you are fortunate to get one. Within the park, except if you are resideing at the Game Lodge, you are not permitted to walk regardless of whether you have a guide or don’t, and you won’t get any available vehicles to take you for a game drive.
Safari Activities in Akagera National Park
Lake Ihema offers boat trips to the visitors, and these are worth enjoying. However it requires that you book earlier while in Kigali through ORTPN. On this trip you will enjoy close encounters with giant crocodiles plus large hippos, and in addition you will sail pass extensive breeding settlement of African darter, and open-bill storks plus cormorants. Additional water birds are numerous with sights of the vivid African jacana trotting on floating small islands of vegetation, the fish eagles usually seen stationed in the trees, malachite kingfisher hawks and multicolored kingfishers soaring above the waters to prey their fish. You will also enjoy the opportunity to see marsh specialists like the blue headed coucal as well as the marsh flycatcher.
Game Viewing in Akagera National Park
The park offers Game drives best if you have a 4WD vehicle. Guides are offered at no additional price and these will assist you to get your way while in the park. The game viewing circuit is limited to a single main road that runs northwards starting at the park’s headquarters found at Lake Ihema. The road passes majority of the lakes here, or it can be approached by a short fork. Just North of Lake-Hago, this road separates into two major forks, with one heading west to the verdant Mutumba hills. However the potential for game drives is limited by the reason that this park can only be accessed close to Lake Ihema or at the Game Lodge. You can drive from the park entrance to the far north up to the Mutumba Hills and even return in just a half day’s drive. To journey further north necessitates the best time of a day, with an alternative of using the exit-only-route which is north of the impressive Lake Rwanyakizinga rising to the main tarmac road to the Ugandan border. However the tracks in the extreme north are quite vague, and must only be attempted in the company of a safari guide. Return to the main road, and your guide may be dropped at Kabarondo or at Kayonza junctions and from there he can head back to the headquarters with enough money by motorbike.
Beginning from the park’s entrance gate, an undulating road through dense scrub runs for more than 5km to the impressive Lake Ihema. It is on a moist and mosquito- infested island close to the eastern shore of Lake Ihema. More details about the biodiversity of the stunning Akagera national park.
One of many smallest countries in Africa happens to be with the remarkable experience during a safari on the continent. It’s in Rwanda that you will leave to share if you ever visit the country’s leading destination, Akagera national park. This park is situated in northeastern Rwanda along the border with neighboring Tanzania.It was named after river Akagera which flows along its border on the east and later pours into a sequence of lakes the biggest being lake Ihema. The park consists of rolling hills with acacia plus brachystegia woodlands along with scattered grasslands plus lakes surrounded by swamps positioned along the winding course of the Akagera. All of these combined form a park of wonderful scenic beauty which has led to a rise in Rwanda Safaris.
Covering an area of approximately 1200 sq. kms, Akagera national park was established in 1934 as an place for protecting animals plus vegetation in 3 Eco-regions, the swamp, savanna as well as mountain and today it is among the its the most fascinating destinations that will entice your Rwanda Safari.
In Akagera national park, you’ll find so many remarkable places and attractions which will keep you desiring and requiring for more and in the long term you might wish to prolong your safari schedule if you happen to had undervalued the experience. Remarkable and awesome features include;
Approximately 525 species of birds stay in the Akagera exhibiting the really wide range of habitat. They consist of 44 species of palearctic migrants, raptor and balaenniceps rex among which are the glareola nordmani, falco naumani and the gallinago media. In addition, this park as well represents several zambezian biome species such as cristicola angusticauda, lanius souse as well as the mymecocihla aenoti. More importantly, you can also find species of the guinea-Congo forests biome and seven of the afro tropical highlands biome. The names are scientific and difficult to articulate however they are worth on your safari in Rwanda.
Wildlife Safaris in Akagera
Akagera national park is a large wildlife area in which you should be able to find a number of wildlife including the large buffalo herds emerging from the light woodlands converge to drink from the lakes. Fortunate visitors might as well come across a lion, leopard or even a spotted hyena during their game drives in the park. The giraffes plus zebras moving around the savanna are as well easily seen along with hundreds and hundreds of antelopes can be seen. also you will have the opportunity of seeing the good looking chestnut-coated impalas, the small oribi plus the deceptive bush buck, along with the clumsy tsessebe plus the cape eland which is the largest antelope in the world.
The African elephants in Akagera national park are extremely spectacular. These exquisite mammals were transported from Kigali in Bugesera area at an 7 years old however today, there are 26 elephants to see inside the park among which is the mwiza, helicon and mutware the chief and as well as oldest. I can’t simply mention all the wildlife however when you take a Rwanda Safari, remember checkout this prosperous tourism destination.
The attractive views plus scenery of the grasslands in the park simply summarize you tour in the park particularly on your morning hours plus evening game drives as the sun is rising or even setting. The most spectacular activities within the park include;
Once you have checked into your preferred accommodation place, then head for a game drive within the Akagera. When driving along the well maintained tracks in the park, you will see the crocodiles, zebras, bush baby and buffaloes, and if fortunate, you will find lions plus other species of mammals. Being among the most beautiful savanna in the whole of East Africa, the thrilling game drives in the park just offer a chance of seeing the beautiful hills that nicely blend into the beautiful low land marshes along with spectacular water bodies.
You may as well choose to incorporate a bird safari on your trip itinerary within the Akagera national park since the 525 bird species are all awaiting you. Watching birds is possible in the early morning and then you will get see a variety of savanna associated bird species. Furthermore, you may as well see some water birds such as the crested bar bet, malachite king fisher’s, horn bill, breasted roller, heuglin’s robin chat as well as black headed gonolek among other impressive birds.
Within the Akagera, camping on the amazing lakes in the park is really a magical introduction getting you near to the wonders in the African bush, pods of approximately Fifty hippos which splutter during the day as the large crocodiles absorb the sun that have huge jaws. In your camp nights, be assured to undertake a genuine African night in the wild with the echoes of the birds affiliated in the swamp such as the papyrus golonek as well as other fascinating birds.
Sport fishing is as well another impressive activity down river Akagera and the shores of lakes. Therefore for a fascinating evening, go fishing down the river and Lake Iheme. This activity is very relaxing as you observe the sun setting beyond the horizon.
Take a Rwanda safari today in Akagera National Park to experience a memorable adventure which you will live to share with others.