Akagera National Park

Akagera national park is one of the three main biodiversity areas in Rwanda. This savanna national park in Eastern Rwanda is one place a tourist has to visit while on a Rwanda safari since it has very interesting experiences from the big five animals, boat ride on lake Ihema and the behind scenes experience. It is situated in the Southeast of Rwanda at the border of Tanzania. It was set up in 1934 to protect the vegetation and animals that were being destroyed by the human settlement and their activities at that time. It is the oldest national game parks in Rwanda. This is park is soaked in wetlands as within it there is lake Ihema and Kagera river to mention but a few. It derived its name from river Kagera to be called Akagera national park. with recent the increase of gorilla permits in Rwanda, many tourists who come to Rwanda have turned to Akagera as their game spot to experience as more than 40000 tourist visited it last year.  This is a park that has turned into a big five national park which is the x factor for its tourists since there are few big five animal national parks in the world.

Akagera National park, a short drive from Kigali the capital of Rwanda, is the only National park in Rwanda famous for game and wildlife. The park used to boast of the African Big Five game of Lions, Leopard, Buffaloes, Elephants and Rhinoceros.

However, about 2 decades ago, the park was no longer hosting the big five and this was due to mainly poaching and encroachment on the park by the surrounding communities for their livelihood. The big five animals are lions, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards and elephants and these five great animals are called the big five animals because whereby during the African traditional society period, the latter were so hard to hunt down and a man who hunted down one of them he would be praised and at times rewarded by the king with a wife or a fortune of precious stones.  They also have so much history in the African jungles as a tourist gets an opportunity to know their history while on the safari trip in Africa.

Over the last decade or so the Rwanda Development board (RDB) has partnered with African Parks, a conservation non-profit that manages national parks around the continent, along with aid from the Rwanda Development Board, funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and additional support from The People’s Postcode Lottery and the Dutch Government, Akagera National Park is under rehabilitation to reinstate the African Big Five.

In June 2015, Akagera National Park welcomed seven lions from South Africa — the first to roam the park in 15 years. The lions are now thriving, and three cubs, born earlier this year, delighted audiences worldwide in photos posted on the park’s Facebook page. The lions brought with them a surge of interest and tourism. Since the introduction of the predators, the park has seen a 40% increase in domestic tourism and a 23% increase in overall park visitors.

But for African Parks, the nonprofit that jointly manages Akagera with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the lions are just the first stage in a series of improvements to position Akagera as a self-sustaining Big Five safari park. At a time the Park was holding 4 of the Big Five with the Rhinoceros being the missing of the game. According to African Parks, back in the 1970s there were more than 50 black rhinos in the parks, but poaching decimated the population, with the last confirmed sighting taking place in 2007.

On the 2nd of May 2017, one would say Akagera the Big Five came to full life – on this day 10 Rhinoceros were introduced in the park with another batch of 10 Rhinos coming in a week later under the stewardship of African parks. The Black Rhinos introduced in Akagera National park were translocated from South Africa. “Rhinos are one of the great symbols of Africa yet they are severely threatened and are on the decline in many places across the continent due to the extremely lucrative and illegal rhino horn trade,” said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead in a statement. “The rhinos’ return to this country however a testament to Rwanda’s extraordinary commitment to conservation is and is another milestone in the restoration of Akagera’s natural diversity.”

Today on a game drive in Akagera national park, tourists are able to see these big five animals. The tourists meet the lions hunting down their prey; these lions were recently introduced to this national park from South Africa. These are normally found in the savannah plains of the park in the morning and evening. The buffaloes and elephants are easily visible in this wonderful as they are have the biggest population amongst the big five, the rhinos are rarely seen as they are few in the park since were recently reintroduced in the park. The leopards are also seen marauding around the park after the antelopes.

Interesting Adventures Await You

Other than the big five Akagera also has another experience in a boat cruise on lake Ihema. This is one of the most interesting experiences in the park. while on the boat ride, the tourists are able to see lots of amazing aquatic lives from the crocodiles, hippos, variety of bird species and also in the evening the elephants and buffalos are seen on the shores of lake.

One experience a tourist that is an unavoidable to miss while in Akagera is the behind scene experience. This is normally a walkthrough of the background of the establishment and conservation of Akagera national park. The park guide narrates to the tourists a comprehensive history on how some wild animals were introduced in the park and also the effort being made to gazzate and protect the park.

Akagera national park is one place a tourist has to visit while on a Rwanda safari since it has very interesting experiences from the big five animals, boat ride on lake Ihema and the behind scenes experience.

Conservation in Akagera National Park

Akagera is a protected savannah habitat and has been managed by African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board since 2010. At that time, law enforcement within the park was overhauled to reduce poaching. Back in 2015, seven lions were introduced to the park and their population has more than doubled. To maintain the safety of the new rhinos, there will be a rhino tracking and protection team, a canine anti-poaching unit and more. These conservation efforts are integral to supporting endangered species, but also help support Rwanda’s tourism industry, which relies heavily on people from around the world interested in the country’s incredible wildlife. The rhino project was named one of top 10 New in Travel listings of 2017 by Lonely Planet. One of the most popular activities for travelers in the country is spotting mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.

Since African Parks partnered with RDB in 2010, the number of park visitors has more than doubled, from 15,000 in 2010 to 32,000 last year. While many tourists make the day trip from Kigali, on-site accommodations offer another potential tourism draw. The opening of Ruzizi Tented Lodge in November 2012 provided the park’s first luxury accommodations with the already existing Akagera Game Lodge by Mantis Collection and other budget camp sites. Now, the park is hoping to attract even more visitors with a five-star lodge on Akagera northern edge.

The park is now well managed with a variety of game and accommodation facilities. Tourists normally visit the park for game drives, boat cruises amongst other activities of the park with duration ranging from 2 days akagera wildlife safaris, 3 days akagera wildlife safaris to longer stays in the Park.