There are lots of things to do in Akagera National Park. Here are the best activities not to miss in Akagera;
The park offers excellent game drives during which you will have an opportunity to see the various will animals in their natural habitats. Led by a guide, you will set out for a drive along the various park tracks in preferably 4WD Safari vehicle.
Game drives can be done in the morning, afternoon and at night in the hills, plains and lakes. The roads in the park are well developed since the partnership between the Rwanda Development Board and African parks became effective. Visitors need to acquire a tour van that can pass through the rough terrain in the park. Park guides are important during the game drive because they are knowledgeable about the area and will take you to the right spots while sharing with you important information about the different species.
The night game drive is an experience in which you step into the wild to view the nocturnal animals especially the wide-eyed bush babies, serval cats, civets, leopards. You will be guided by your flashlight and an experienced ranger when you are setting out to see the wild.
The wild animals you may see on Safari in Rwanda include: spotted hyenas, elephants, Burchall’s zebras, various antelopes, buffaloes and giraffes, lions and the sitatunga are also present in the park however these are rarely seen.
Vehicles available for hire at the park headquarters for game drives. The vehicles come with experienced drivers and a guide.
In addition, you may opt to enjoy a self-drive wildlife experience in the park. You can obtain park guides from the headquarters of the park. These will lead you the places with plenty of wild animals that you would otherwise have missed.
Go Birding in Akagera
Akagera National Park is second to Nyungwe Park as the best destination to enjoy a Birding Safari. The park provides opportunities to spot some of Rwanda’s 450 bird species. There are few forest birds and Albertine Rift species like in Nyungwe Forest but visitors should still come out satisfied with the collection of Savannah and woodland species found in the park. Some of the species include the arnot chat, black-headed gonolek, double-toothed barbet, suaza shrike, lilac-breasted roller, Meyer’s parrot, Ross’s turaco, red-faced barbet and the long tailed cistola. The great Shoebill stock can be spotted in the park though their numbers are small.
The park offers bird watching trips early morning and in the evening along its game tracks. Therefore this avails birdwatchers a great opportunity to see a number of bird species endemic to the savanna. Akagera is prominent for its large number of water birds across the entire East Africa and also as one of the best places to see a number of papyrus endemics.
Boat Rides in Akagera National Park
The best way to see the various water birds is during our interesting short Akagera Boat Tours which will present you with an opportunity to closely observe these birds among which are the rare shoebill storks, African fish eagles, crowned cranes and marabou storks.
Another interesting and unique way to see the wildlife in the park is on boat trips. Akagera offers thrilling boat trips on the lakes as a result you will be able to see wildlife. Lake Ihema within the Akagera National Park is famous for boat trips.
While on the boat trip, you might encounter crocodiles, hippos and elephants drinking along the shores. Boat trips will offer you a closer view of these animals that love water. Occasionally you may see some buffaloes and a few antelopes on the shores which would have come to drink water.
There are also plenty of water birds you will be able to see during these boat trips. So always remember to carry your camera as you set out for these thrilling trips. The Lakes and nearby swamps are breeding grounds for several bird species like African darter, African jacana, blue-headed Coucal, cormorant, fish eagles, kingfishers, marsh flycatcher and the open-bill stork. International visitors need to pay US$40 for the boat trip.
To best view wildlife in Akagera, we recommend you to do to a 2 Days Trip. Only 11 people may be allowed into the boat. Those who want a more private experience can arrange their own trip at I80USD. Boats depart in the morning and afternoon.
You have an opportunity of fishing while in Akagera national park. You can do this on both Lake Ihema and Shakani which is a thrilling experience. At the serene waters you can fish to the background music of chirping birds and hippos that grunt as if to cheer you on. You are free to keep your catch to roast, fry or grill it and enjoy the taste of fresh fish from Rwanda.
The shores of Lake Shakani are great for fishing species like the Tilapia and catfish. While fishing, you will get to see many birds and animals drinking by the shores. Fishing tournaments are arranged frequently and winners are rewarded with a chance to prepare and eat their catch.
Akagera National Park management offers nature walks in some areas of the park with a ranger guide. This is a good way to explore the park outside of a vehicle which you use while on a game drive. Also it allows more time and engagement concerning butterflies, insects and plants that you could easily miss while on a safari.
Nature walks in the park can be arranged with the help of a park guide. A walk through selected sections of the park gives you opportunities to appreciate the great biodiversity in the park. The nature walks involves following established park trails that lead to forests, lakes and swamps.
Walk in the Line
Related to the nature walks, visitors can choose to join one of the fence attendants and park guides for a walk along the security fence. The security fence has helped eliminate poaching and other conflicts with humans living near the park. The 7 kilometer walk lasts for two hours, costs nothing and yet provides great views of the game park.
Experience what fence attendants go through to ensure the Akagera biodiversity is protected and conserved, but walking along a 120km fence on a daily basis. The walk starts at the park entrance taking you 7km into the hills following the fence on the outer-side of the park. The walk takes on average 2 hours and ends at the top of the Ridge with spectacular views of Akagera in all directions.
Behind the Scenes
For more insight into Akagera, including conservation developments within the park, take a ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ tour of the park headquarters and meet some of the people integral to the management of the park. This activity is open to anyone (with minimum numbers applying) but designed for educational groups, or special interest travelers.
Community Cultural Experiences
The management of Akagera National Park collaborates with nearby communities to allow visitors go for cultural visits. These visits are led by community guides. During these cultural visits, tourists learn how the locals take care of their long-horned cows, make beer, prepare food and celebrate important seasons of the year. Visitors can help with milking the cows, taste some of the local food and dance to local/folk music. The visits last for 3 hours at most.
In collaboration with the community and the park, the Community Freelance Guides have developed some cultural experiences to share with park guests. Visit a farm for milking and learn about the culture and traditions around cattle and milk in the Eastern province. Or, visit a banana-beer maker, or honey cooperative and see how these products are made locally. Revenue is shared with the community members visited.
Other Activities Outside the Park
There are a couple of activities that visitors can take part in near the park and in Kigali the capital. One such activity is visiting the Rusumo Falls, the presidential palace, the museum, the Kigali city markets, the genocide war memorial centers and Museums. Those interested in buying souvenirs can stop by one of local art and craft shops along the way to the park.