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:
Akagera offers a variety of tourism activities, some of which require minimum participant numbers. If you would like to learn more about these activities, please contact us via email below, ask park staff upon arrival or speak to your lodge of choice.
Travellers seeking a variation on the typical safari should consider a boat trip on Lake Ihema, where you can drift along the forest-fringed body of water in the midst of hippos and crocodiles. For serious birders, a boat trip is a must. Outings take place four times a day—at 7.30am, 9am, 3pm and 4.30pm. Non-scheduled, private trips can also be arranged.
Lake Shakani is the perfect site for sportfishing. Spend a relaxing day fishing from the shores of the lake before cooking your catch over an open fire at your campsite. Please bring your own equipment.
Behind the Scenes
For additional insights into Akagera, take a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of park headquarters, where you’ll meet employees integral to park management while learning about exciting conservation developments.
Guided night drives that commence at sunset are a fantastic way to cap off your day in the park. Night drives offer the best chance of seeing nocturnal wildlife, from lions to leopards which are among the most sought-after sightings! Night drives are operated by the park’s safari vehicle, which can accommodate up seven guests.
Walk the Line
Spend the morning in the shoes of one of Akagera’s fence attendants, who walk a portion of the 120-km perimeter fence on a daily basis to make sure the fence remains intact and is fully operational. These walks, which run alongside the park exterior, begin at the park entrance, are seven km long, and take visitors into the hills. When you come to the end, you’ll be atop a ridge that enjoys spectacular views in every direction. Walks are led by freelance community guides and take approximately two hours.
Community Cultural Experiences
Working with local communities and Akagera staff, our Community Freelance Guides have developed several cultural experiences to share with guests. Learn about milking cows and traditions around cattle and milk on a farm in the Eastern Province; or spend time with banana beer and honey artisans to see see how local products are made. All revenues generated by these visits are shared with members of the communities you visit.
Akagera’s temperature does not vary much throughout the year, but the long dry season (June – September) brings warmer temperatures whereas cooler weather follows the rains (October – November and March – May). In general, temperatures typically range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Short dry season (December – February)
There may be some rain during this period, but it is fairly intermittent and usually does not last long. By February, the park can be very dry.
Long wet season (March – May)
This season is characterised by regular rainfall and abundant green grass. Clear blue skies and endless views of lush green grass offer excellent photographic opportunities.
Long dry season (June – September)
This is the warmest time of year, and the park can become dry and dusty. However, the long dry season is an excellent time for game-viewing since grasses are short; and animals remain spread throughout the park due to abundant water in lakes along Akagera’s eastern boundary.
Short wet season (October – November)
The first rains clear haze, and the park returns to its lush green state. Birding is particularly good at this time of year, for many migratory birds pass through Akagera during October and November.
Visitors may need Yellow Fever inoculation certificates to enter Rwanda and are advised to contact their doctor or travel clinic at least eight weeks before travelling for up-to-date guidance on vaccination requirements and health precautions. Travellers are also advised to obtain appropriate medical insurance for their holiday.
Rwanda is a malaria area, and although incidences are rare in Akagera, travellers are advised to consult their physicians about prophylaxis medication. They should also take necessary precautions to avoid getting bitten while in Rwanda (insect repellents, as well as long sleeves and trousers during mornings and evenings).
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 visitors are advised to wear khaki and lighter colours while utilising insect repellents.
We advise against drinking tap water unless it has been 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 by, for instance, not carrying large amounts of money when walking around at night.
Kinyarwanda is the local language, and English has been 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 used French prior to 2009.
Since 2018, citizens of all countries can secure 30-day visas upon 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. However, passports must be valid for at least six months from the day of entry into Rwanda. Please check the immigration website for the most current information.
The local currency is the Rwanda Franc. Foreign currency can be exchanged in Kigali or at local banks, but different exchange rates apply depending on the bank. Notes printed before 2005 are not accepted. Travellers cheques can be changed in Kigali, but you must ensure that you have original purchase slips with you. Major credit cards are accepted at the major hotels, and you are sometimes able to withdraw cash from ATMs in Kigali, but ATM machines are not always reliable. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at park reception.
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. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment is pushing for measures that reduce single-use plastics 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 time to their local community by cleaning the streets, cutting grass verges, repairing dirt roads, etc.. International visitors are not required to participate, but some tour operators are able to organise opportunities for tourists to participate in Umuganda. Please note that during this communtiy service days, shops and public transport are closed during morning hours.
Car Free Day
Kigali has bimonthly car-free days. On the first and third Sundays of each month, long stretches of main roads are closed to allow cycling, jogging and other sporting activities between 7am – 11am. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and a large open-air exercise class, which anyone can join, is also held. Although road closures may affect travellers coming in and out of Kigali, disruptions are minimal since local drivers usually know alternative routes.
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