Akagera has an inspiring conservation story as it is now home to lions and rhinos, and is the only Big Five park in the country.
Just two hours’ drive from Kigali, it is a beautiful and convenient savannah landscape to visit, and an easy site to add on to before or after visiting the gorillas.
For one park, the diversity of habitats is unique including lakes, marshes, savannah, mountains and woodland makes for spectacular scenery.
A birders delight, Akagera offers an exceptional birding experience with more than 482 bird species documented including the rare and prehistoric shoebill and some Lake Victoria endemics.
Tourism is growing with a new day visitor complex and the opening of Ruzizi Tented Lodge and Karenge Bush Camp. Proceeds from tourism revenue are invested back into the park and the local community.
The park is open from 06h00 to 18h00 for day visitors.
Fees for day visitors are:
If you are looking for a variation on the usual safari experience, a boat trip on Lake Ihema will not disappoint. Drift along the forest-fringed lake edge, past huddles of hippo and basking crocodiles. For the serious birder a boat trip is a must. Trips are scheduled four times per day at 7.30am, 9am, 3pm and 4.30pm. Non-scheduled, private, trips can also be arranged at other times.
Lake Shakani is the site of sports fishing in the park; spend a relaxing day fishing off the lake shore and then cook your catch over an open fire at the campsite. Own equipment is required.
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 travellers.
A sunset departure for a guided night drive adventure is an ideal way to end your day. Night drives show a different side to the park and are your best chance of seeing the nocturnal wildlife, often the most sought after sightings! Night drives are operated by the park’s safari vehicle which can take a maximum of seven guests.
Walk the Line
Spend the morning in the shoes of a fence attendant who walk a section of the 120 km fence line on a daily basis. This walk, starting at the park entrance, takes you 7km into the hills, following the fence on the outside of the park. The walk, which is guided by a community freelance guide, is approximately two hours and ends at the top of the ridge with spectacular views in all directions.
Community Cultural Experiences
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.
Akagera’s temperature does not vary much throughout the year, but the warmer months are generally during the long dry season (June – September), while cooler weather follows the rains (October – November and March – May). Temperatures usually range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Short dry season (December – February)
During this time there may be some rain, but it is fairly intermittent and usually does not last very long. By February the park can be very dry.
Long wet season (March – May)
This season is characterised by regular rainfall and an abundance of green grass. The clear blue skies with views of miles of lush green grass makes for excellent photographic opportunities.
Long dry season (June – September)
This is the warmest time of year, but it does make the environment quite dry and dusty. This is an excellent time for game viewing as the grass is short. Animals are still spread throughout the park due to the abundance of water in the lakes along the eastern boundary.
Short wet season (October – November)
The first rains clear the haze and the park returns to its lush green state. Birding is particularly good at this time of year when many of the migratory birds are passing through Akagera.
Visitors need Yellow Fever inoculation certificates and are advised to contact their doctor or travel clinic at least eight weeks prior to travel for an up-to-date guidance on the vaccination requirements and health precautions. It is also recommended that travellers take appropriate medical insurance for their holiday.
Rwanda is a malaria area and although incidences are rare in Akagera, it is recommended that necessary precautions are taken to avoid getting bitten (insect repellents, as well as long sleeves and trousers in the evenings and mornings). It is also advisable that visitors take prophylaxis medication prescribed by a doctor.
Tsetse flies can be a problem in certain parts of the park. While they have a nasty bite, they are generally harmless and no known cases of sleeping sickness have occurred in Akagera. Tsetse flies tend to be attracted to dark colours so it is advisable that visitors wear khaki and lighter colours and make use of insect repellents.
We advise against drinking tap water unless it is boiled or filtered. Bottled water is widely available in Rwanda.
Rwanda prides itself on being one of the safest countries in Africa. Crime levels remain low, however visitors should take normal safety precautions, such as not carrying large amounts of money when walking in night.
Kinyarwanda is the local language. English is Rwanda’s official language since joining the commonwealth in 2009. While most people can speak some English, many still converse in French since the education system was in French prior to 2009.
Since 2018 citizens of all countries can get a 30-day visa on arrival in Rwanda. Travellers from Benin, CAR, Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Haiti, Senegal, Seychelles, Sao Tome and Principe, DRC, East African Community partner states, Mauritius, Singapore and Phillipinescan visit Rwanda with a free 90 day visa granted on arrival. Passports must have a validity of at least six months from the day of entry into Rwanda.
The local currency is the Rwanda Franc. Foreign currency can be exchanged in Kigali or at local banks, but different rates of exchange will apply depending on the bureau. Notes printed before 2005 are not accepted. Travellers’ cheques can be changed in Kigali, but you must ensure that you have the original purchase slips with you. Major credit cards are accepted at the bigger hotels and it sometimes possible to withdraw cash from ATMs in Kigali, although they are not always reliable.
Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda and visitors will be asked to dispose of them on arrival at the airport, including those carrying duty-free purchases. In supermarkets, brown paper bags are provided. The Ministry of Environment are pushing for the reduction in single use plastics in Rwanda including straws, water bottles and cups.
The morning of the last Saturday of every month is Umuganda or community service. This initiative was introduced by the Rwandan Government to get the entire population to devote some time to their local community by cleaning the streets, cutting grass verges, repairing dirt road and various other organised activities. International visitors are not required to participate, but some tour operators can organise opportunities for tourists to get involved. Most shops and transport are closed for the morning.
Car Free Day
Rwanda has a bi-monthly car free day in Kigali. The first and third Sunday of every month from 7am – 11am long stretches of the main the roads are closed to allow cycling, jogging and other sporting activities. Everyone is encouraged to join in and a large open-air exercise class is held, free for anyone to join. This may affect plans for people hoping to travel out of Kigali, due to road closures, but back roads routes are usually well known by local drivers.
Visiting the parks is one of the best ways to support conservation, communities, and the long-term future of these wild areas. Use the link below to plan your visit today! Please make sure to provide your name, contact details, trip dates, number of guests and any other relevant information.
Mobile:+ 250 (0) 786 182 871
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