The Rwanda’s Akagera National Park located to the east of the country with the views of the plains of Tanzania stretches over a geographical size of 1122 km square and it is being managed under the arrangement of public private partnership arrangement of the Rwanda Development Board and the African parks from 2010.
The park derives its name from the famous Akagera river considered as one of the remote sources of River Nile the world’s longest River .The Akagera river traverses the park feeding into an extensive lake system that mark the floor of Akagera national park among which include the Rwanda’s second largest lake Ihema explored on Rwanda safaris.
The remarkable rolling hills dotted by Brachystegia and acacia woodland intercepted by the patches of open grassland and series of Lakes fringed by swamps offers magical views in the Park.
The park is considered the largest National Park in the destination Rwanda and most importantly the major Savannah habitat that supports species of flora and fauna that dwell in the Savannah habitat. Akagera National Park is not exceptional to the trend of Rwanda’s landscape that has earned it the naming as the Land of Thousand Hills . The park features the rising Mutumba hills that stretch to 2,000 m in elevation presenting the scenic views of the features like lakes ,rivers ,open plain sand the swamps below.
Established in 1934 ,the Akagera National Park was initially 2500 square kilometers in size but faced considerable encroachment following the Rwandan Civil war. As a result ,the park was gazetted settle the Rwandans who were returning home after the war. The park features impressive levels of biodiversity which is greatly favored by the varied vegetation zones. The extensive systems of fresh water coupled by papyrus swamps form one of the extensive wetland systems in central Africa. The aspect of species re-introduction has also played a considerable role in enhancing bio-diversity in the park including the following.
A count of 7 lions were introduced from south Africa and beyond phinda Reserve and the temple Elephant Reserve and arrived in Akagera at the onset of july 2015. This was after 15 of Lion’s absence in Rwanda following their extinction as the result of poisoning by cattle herders that had returned to the country after the genocide. The masai Giraffes were introduced to the park in 1958 and 1959 and though they had flourished to over 50 in the 1970’s they suffered total extinction in 1980’s.
The Elephants had got extinct in the year 1961 from Akagera park but were later restocked by trans-locating those that were at Bugeresa since the population in Bugeresa was steadily increasing threatening their continued existence . The 26 Elephants were trans-located especially young ones phased out. the elephants have increased to 90.
WILDLIFE ATTRACTIONS IN Akagera National Park .
The two consecutive Ariel counting were conducted by the park management at Akagera in the years 2010 along with 2013 accordingly and the results showed a positive trend in the increase of wildlife populations in the park. The park is notably a destination with rich habitat that supports extensive plain thriving species along with species that are restricted to papyrus wetlands including the elusive sitatunga scientifically refered to as Tragelaphus spekei along with the vulnerable shoe-bill stock refered to as Balaeniceps rex.The park supports a range of other wildlife including the savana elephant Topi, cape buffalo, zebra, Roan antelope, defassa water-buck, Eland. Other species include duiker, bohor reedbuck, oribi ,impala, bushbuck.
The park also features considerable species of primate including the olive Baboon ,vevet monkey, blue monkey, Galago or bushbabies can also be viewed on Rwanda safaris.
The park also supports a range of predators like the Lions, Hyenas, Leopards , side striped jackals, mangoose and servals.
The Rwanda saafri destination of Akagera National Park supports about 500 bird species among which include the papyrus gonolek, there are 44 species of raptor , the paleatctic migrants like the Gallinago media, Falco naumanni and the Glareola nordmanni . The Akagera creates the northern top most extension of Zambezian biome species including the myrmecocichla arnotti, Lanius souzae and cisticola angusticauda .
Water bodies inAkagera National park
The park features a range of swamp fringing lakes and the Akagera Natonal Park supports also a range of acquatic thriving fauna and the most extensive protected wetland system in central Africa . the range of lakes include the rwanda’s second largest Lake Ihema , the beautiful lake shakani known for its counts of fish ,Lake Gishanju , Lake Rwanyakizinga along with lake mihindi . These water masses support aquatics like the concentration of Hippos, Nile crocodiles.
The park is also traversed by river akagera which flows alondg its eastern boundary before penetrating Tanzania and Uganda to empty its waters in lake Victoria .
TOUR ACTIVITIES IN Akagera National Park
Rwanda safari undertakers can engage in recreational boat cruises while in Akagera national park.the boat cruise is conducted on lake Ihema exploring its expanse open water mass. Lake Ihema is positioned in the south of Akagera National Park standing at an elevation of 1292 square kilometers with differing depth of 5 to 7m according to the area and the season. The eastern shore of the lake forms the border of Rwanda and the neighbouring Tanzania. The boat cruise on the lake offers you possible encounter with the hippos ,birds like the shoebill stork along with the papyrus gonolek .other birds like the ibis ,jacanas, plovers, herons,sandpipers,malachite king fishers can be explored.
Sport fishing can also be undertaken on lake shakani where impressive fish can be caught on the impressive tropical waters ,it is an experiential activity that people can engage in.
The game drive allows you to explore the impressive wild game including the sitatunga antelop commonly sighted in swamps ,the elephants , buffaloes, the masai giraffe, the roan antelop, defassa water buck , elands , duiker, the oribi, the klipsringer, the impala and bushbuck among others .
The sights of vevet monkeys ,olive baboons, blue monkey, lions, leopards , hyenas among others can also be viewed.the game drives are conducted both in the morning and afternoon.
NIGHT GAME DRIVES
When one undertakes a night game drive it offers impressive views of the nocturnal species including the bush babies or Galagos. Birding can also be undertaken since the park supports over 500 bird species they can be explored on a game drive .
These can also be undertaken and offers impressive aerial tours where the open savanna, the rolling hills and the swamp fringed lake can be explored from above while on safari in Rwanda. The views of these landscapes dotted with myriad of animals present magical sight seeing views . the views extend to the open palins of Tanzania beyond the boarder.
Akagera National Park is positioned at 135 km about 21/2 km from the city of Kigali city,connecting to Akagera from the trading centre of kibungo /rwamagana lasts about one hour drive. The entry gate Akagera National Park is 500m from the Akagera Game lodge.it is connected by an extension of about 27 km dirt road stretching from the major surface road at kabarondo about 15km north side of kibungo .
It is advisable to use a 4*4 vehicle if it is in the dry season. One can also board a Taxi transferring from Kigali to kayonza and kibungo . these Taxis operate daily . you disembark from the taxi and connect to Akagera on a private hire or a motorcycle which is cheaper than getting it from Kigali city.