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Rwanda is one of a few African destinations where you can opt to hire a car for a self-drive safari and Akagera National Park is one of the best parks in Rwanda do self-driving tours.  Akagera is the only protected area offering traditional Big Five safaris in Rwanda. It boasts good wildlife opportunities, although not on quite the same scale as other iconic East African parks.

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only savannah reserve, and after recent re-introduction of rhinos and lions in 2015 and 2017, now you have a chance of spotting the Big Five. You will also see plenty of plains animals, such as giraffes, zebras, impalas and Topi.

In terms of pure wildlife viewing, Akagera can’t compete with the more famous parks in Kenya and Tanzania. However, the park is very scenic and the birdlife is particularly rewarding. Akagera in particular is scenic and offers a wide diversity of habitats in a small area. Visitors can self- drive along a string of forest-fringed lakes and wetlands fed by the Akagera River.

Game drives in Akagera National Park allow you to see a good selection of Akagera’s wildlife. It’s possible to self-drive, assuming you have a sturdy 4×4 Land Cruiser. Guided night drives increase the odds of encountering nocturnal animals such as leopards, bush babies and genets. Boat trips are excellent for hippos, crocodiles and water birds. Privately run balloon safaris offer an aerial overview of the lush scenery.

Since the park is now free of poaching, wildlife densities are increasing, and animals are less skittish. Leopards are regularly seen on night drives, but while on a boat trip you can spotted one sitting in a tree. As is always the case on safari, you never know what you’ll see where. The fabulous setting for all this is a labyrinth of papyrus-fringed lakes with a backdrop of rolling hills. Stunning! You’ll really appreciate the park’s scenic beauty on a boat trip. On the water, you can see lots of crocodiles and hippos, and the birdlife is phenomenal. There is even a chance of seeing shoebill.

Although Akagera National Park can be visited at any time, the best wildlife-viewing months are from June to September. This corresponds with the main Dry season, when animals are drawn to the lakes as a source of water. At this time the bush is not as lush either, which makes spotting animals a bit easier. Mid-December to mid-February, a dry spell in the Wet season, is also a good time to visit.

In Rwanda, the main airport is Kigali International Airport. The airport is open to various international flights such as SN Brussels, Ethiopian airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Burundi and of course the Rwanda Air express. The airport is about 10 km out Kigali and it is where your journey to Akagera starts.

You can also enter Rwanda from the neighboring boarder Uganda on self- drive. Crossing the border into Rwanda with a rental car is possible, but with certain steps and considerations you should be aware of. Most of the time you’ll pay a cross-border fee to take the car to another country. Gatuna is the busiest border crossing in Rwanda. It handles most of Rwanda’s imports and exports, since most Rwandan imports and exports via the coast pass through Uganda. Due to increasing commercial and tourist traffic, Gatuna is a fast-growing town.

Tourists are required to provide honest information on the destinations to be visited, especially if planning to cross borders. This is important because withholding information means paying insurance covers in case of uncertainties will not be made possible. With the correct information, the rental company will provide the right documents for you and insure the car before you eventually cross the border to another country with no disturbances.