On the northeast of Rwanda, spread over 1,122 sq km is the breathtakingly picturesque Akagera NP. Named after the Akagera River that runs on its east, it is one of the oldest park in Rwanda and reminiscent of the undulating savannahs interspersed with acacia woodlands typical to East Africa. Although established in 1934, it was not until very recently the park started creating ripples when in 2010 Rwanda Development Board and the nonprofit conservation organization African Parks started managing the park in a public-private joint venture. The dramatic landscape of Akagera is an interesting mix of diverse habitats that range from the characteristically Rwandan rolling hills and valleys on the west, while to the east River Agakera fed broad-leaved forests fringed labyrinth of lakes, papyrus swamps, and marshes that form the largest protected wetland in central and eastern Africa. A region of high levels of biodiversity the diversity of habitats today plays host to nearly 8000 animals and a game drive on the verdant grasslands will give you sightings of herds of buffalo and impala, giraffes, zebras, elephants, the elands, the klipspringer topis, antelopes, including the rare and elusive aquatic sitatunga near the papyrus swamps. You will also come across the catlike genet, the black masked civet, black-tailed mongoose, warthogs, bush pigs, serval cats. Akagera’s management recently introduced seven lions in 2015 and 18 eastern black rhinos were re-introduced in May 2017, restore Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status. Though the species of predators is not high you can spot the occasional leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal in the park. A sunset boat trip on Lake Ihema, the largest in the series of lakes in the park will yield sights of lively hippos and basking crocodiles. The park is a haven for ornithologists and birding enthusiasts with its nearly 500 species of avifauna including several endemic species such as the red-faced barbet besides Raptors, sought-after Shoebill Stork, papyrus Gonolex.
The best time to visit Akagera National Park is the dry season from June to September. There is also a shorter dry season that is between mid-December and mid-February. Around this time the sun is out, the trails are dry and bugs and mosquito menace is low and its easy to spot wildlife and game drive is at its best. The wet season is from mid-February to May, and October to mid-December. The scenery around this time is beautiful and lush but wildlife viewing will be tough and you need to be patient.
The diversity of habitats today plays host to nearly 8000 animals including the Big 5. A game drive on the verdant grasslands will give you sightings of herds of buffalo and impala, giraffes, zebras, elephants, the elands, the klipspringer topis, antelopes, including the rare and elusive aquatic sitatunga near the papyrus swamps. The park is a haven for ornithologists and birding enthusiasts with its nearly 500 species of avifauna.
Akagera National Park is accessible by road. From Kigali, its a 2hour 30 minutes drive from over a distance of 135 kilometers. From Kibungo/Rwamagana it's a one hour drive. Public transport is available but it's better to hire a cab. Akagera Aviation offers flights to all the different national parks in Rwanda. You can opt for helicopters, or charter the larger MIL MI 17 which seats 11 people.