Akagera National Park is located in the Northeastern part of Rwanda in Kibungu district on the Tanzanian border which covers 1122 sq km of the area. The park comprises of open grasslands, lakes, acacia trees and not forgetting Akagera River which is considered one of the longest tributary of River Nile. The park offers an exciting adventure to tourists that are interested in wild adventures, flora and fauna.
The park offers an exhilarating feeling once visited because of the well-spread savannah throughout the park which attracts different wild animals like the different types of antelopes and many other animal species.
Attractions in Nyungwe National Park
Akagera National Park offers the best opportunities for a tourist to see the different animal species in the park that will leave you wondering. Some of the animals to be sited include the duikers, antelopes, zebra, and the impala which can be seen grazing during the day. The park is also a home to all the big five animals namely the buffalo, lion, elephant, rhino and the leopard. Other animals that can be can catch a tourist’s eye are the crocodiles which are usually seen in the afternoon sunbathing near Lake Ihema.
The park has different habitat which supports different animal species but other wildlife like the bird species can also be seen with over 400 different bird species, the park is the right spot for bird lovers which offers a variety of species to watch and study.
Akagera national park is also home to many drainage systems like the lakes, rivers and swamps. These also attract tourists while on a safari at Akagera National Park. Some of the drainage features like Lake Ihema is a home to different reptiles like the crocodiles that are usually seen sun basking at the shores.
The park is also a place where culture meets tourism hereby before one access the park there are different communities that are located near the park that organise community tours for the tourists which are usually done before or after touring the national park. The tourists can participate in the Humure refugee village and the Imigongo Cultural Centre which was designed by Prince Kakira. These give the tourists the chance to experience the life of Rwandans living near the Park.
Activities in the Park
Akagera National Park offers thrilling attraction and with the presence of a number of them, it has led to tourism activities in the park increasing due to the high number of tourists that engage in them. Among the different tourism activities, the following are the most popular in the park,
- Game drives: Game drives are a rewarding activity that tourists can participate in while at akagera national park. the park is a home to a variety of animal species which have increased over the years after being introduced from the different national parks and game reserves around the world for instance in 2015, lions from South Africa where introduced which enabled the park to be a home to the big five animals namely the lion, the leopard, the rhino, buffalo and the elephant. The park is also a haven to herbivores like the zebras, impalas, the different species of antelopes that are seen grazing in the open grasslands. and the crocodiles are seen in the lakes swimming and waiting for prey as they come to take some water usually the victims are the duikers, antelopes. The lions can also be seen and leopards taking shed under the acacia trees whereas the elephants are usually seen moving around the park or at the lakes; Ihema and Shakani quenching their sight. The sight of all the wildlife in their wildlife setting gives a sense of excitement and anticipation to tourists during the game drives. The park offers both day and night game drives but for the night game drives nocturnal animals are usually seen moving around the park searching for their dinner, for instance, the lions and leopards. Night game drives are interesting because a tourist is able to listen to only the sound of the world and the blowing winds which is quite terrifying but interesting at the same time.
- Birding: The park offers the most rewarding birding experience in the whole of Rwanda so for tourists interested in birding; Akagera National Park will not disappoint you. The park is home to over 400 bird species including the water birds which are usually seen on Lake Shanaki, and Ihema looking for food. These birds usually prey on fish, small reptiles in water but they do not necessarily hunt for what to eat on water but also on land because they can also eat insects. Waterbirds in akagera national park include; the African fish Eagle, the open billed stork, the egrets, cormorants, Senegal lapwings, African darter etc. Aside from water birds, other bird species that can be seen in the Park include; the Hamerkop, Caruthers’s cisticola, pied crow, black-headed weaver, fan-tailed widow bird, violet’s black weaver, long-crested Eagle and many more these can be fascinating to the birders that are interested in studying different types of birds and their behaviour in the park. For instance, there is coexistence between the buffalos and the egrets where they are seen on the backs of buffalos feasting on the ticks.
- Boat safaris: Boat safaris are another interesting activity at akagera national park, the park allows tourists to carryout boat safaris where different animals species and marine species like the crocodiles can be seen on the shores of the lakes sunbathing, hippopotami can be seen going to the lake to cool off together with bird specifies like water birds for instance the African fish eagle, the open billed stork, the egrets, cormorants, Senegal lapwings, African darter can be seen. The boat safaris also enable the tourists the different vegetation covers the swamps the grassland across the park. The tourist is able to relax as they watch different animal species along the park.
- Sportfishing: The park is a home to different water bodies that can support sport fishing, in Akagera National park, sport fishing which involves the tactics of catch and release however Akagera national park is quite different from other parks where sport fishing is allowed because it allows tourists to take one fish after their sport fishing. Some of the lakes where sport fishing is carried out include Lake Ihema, Lake Shakani. Some of the fish caught from the lakes include tilapia, cat fish and others. Sportfishing is an exciting activity that will allow you to see bird species like water birds like the African Fish Eagle, herons, open billed storks, cormorants and the egrets which offer a spectacular view.
- Cultural tours: Tourists will have a chance to engage with the communities near the park which offer a great experience. The communities near the park are characterized by cattle keepers who rear large herds of cattle. Engagement with the people will give a chance to experience farm life since most of the tourists that frequent the communities are from modern countries and societies. They will participate in activities like milking cows, grazing; they will be taught how to make butter from milk and many more. The authenticity of the people without the use of modern technology catches the eyes of tourists that are in developed countries. Community safaris are very interests for example tourists can visit the Humure refugee village where the locals show preparations of local dishes of the people and after they are served, cultural dances are also performed which in turn helps the local communities to generate income and in the long run it encourages cultural preservation hence development of the village. The tourists can also visit the Imigongo art and craft centre which enables the locals to express their traditions and culture through art. The centre was designed by Prince Kakira who is important in the art archives of Rwanda he is responsible for the introduction of painting hoses by using dry cow waste specifically the dung mixed with plant organic materials to make paint which is quite fascinating. Other arts and crafts like baskets, souvenirs, dresses, skirts and many more are sold to the tourists and the locals are able to generate income which has helped to improve their livelihoods.
- Camping: Camping can also be carried out in Akagera national park whereby tourists can carry either their camping equipment or hire from the campsite. There are different campsites in the area and whatever campsite a tourist chooses they won’t be disappointed because they all offer spectacular views, for instance, the Shakani camping site located in the southern part of the park offers breathtaking views of lakes in Tanzania which enable tourists to experience and have a look at the wonders that the park has to offer.
Accommodation in Akagera
There are a number of accommodation facilities that a tourist is able to choose from which caters for different tourist in their different classes which are either budget, mid-range or luxury.
The hotels offer ample parking space for tourists who opt to drive themselves during their tours, bar services that enable tourists to refresh themselves with ice-cold drinks after their trips, they also have swimming pools, a well-mowed lawn gymnasiums and other services the hotels are within the proximity of the Akagera National Park which gives easy access to it. Some of the hotels include Dereva Hotel Rwamagana, Epic hotel suites, Nyagatare diplomat hotel, colours club spa and village resort and many more.