Top things to do in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is characterized by a diverse landscape, including swamps, lakes, savannah plains, and rugged terrain. These features are surrounded by the neatly terraced hills, creating a unique and varied natural environment. The scenic site was officially designated as a national park in 1934 and given the name “Akagera National Park” in honor of the river that flows through it, River Kagera. The park is located in the northeastern part of Rwanda, adjacent to the border with Tanzania. The Park’s diverse vegetation zones and abundant mammal and bird species make it a unique destination for travelers, offering the opportunity to view some species that are exclusive to Akagera National Park. At Akagera National Park, visitors have the opportunity to engage with various sights and sounds.
Akagera National Park has a variety of activities including Game drives, sport fishing, nature walks, boat cruises, behind the scene experience, walk the line, community and cultural experiences among others. This article aims to provide an analytical perspective by presenting a curated list of the top activities to partake in while visiting the Akagera National Park.
All activities in Akagera National Park come along with the park entrance fees because most of the activities are conducted in the park and the following are the park entrance fees of Akagera National Park.
Adults (13 and above)
- Foreign Visitors 100 USD
- East African Foreign Residents 50 USD
- East African Citizens 16 USD or 15000 RWF
- African Citizens 50 USD
Children (Between 6-12)
- Foreign Visitors 50 USD
- East African Foreign Residents 30 USD
- East African Citizens 11 USD or 10000 RWF
Children below the age of 6 don’t pay park entrance fees ad the activity fees are also free of charge with their parents.
During a game drive in Akagera National Park, visitors have the opportunity to be driven along designated tracks, providing them with a unique perspective of the diverse ecosystem. The drive takes them through the lush green savannah plains and past expansive woodlands characterized by wide-leaved trees. This allows for an immersive experience in nature, as they venture into the habitats of numerous mammal species that thrive in the park’s diverse savannah environment. Your tour guide is knowledgeable about the typical locations where animals tend to spend their time during the day and will make an effort to drive through those areas. During a day game drive, it is worth noting the presence of various mammal species. These include the Defassa Waterbuck, Topis, Bohor Reedbucks, Oribis, Semi-Aquatic Sitatunga, Eland, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Elephants, Lions, and the recently reintroduced white Rhinos.
There is also a night game drive that offers an opportunity to observe nocturnal animals such as the famous bush babies, genet cats, civets, and leopards in their natural habitat. The visitor will receive guidance from both a flashlight and an experienced ranger guide.
A boat safari offers a serene and fulfilling experience for observing wildlife. Being on the lake enhances the experience, making it even more fulfilling. Lake Ihema, the second largest lake in Rwanda, is renowned for its significant hippo population and the presence of Nile crocodiles along its shores. The boat safari on Lake Ihema provides a unique chance to capture close-up photographs of the animals in their natural habitat. The lake serves as a gathering and meeting point for various animals seeking water and bathing opportunities. This presents an opportunity to observe and identify various wildlife species that may have been overlooked during a game drive in the wilderness.
Akagera National Park boasts a diverse range of bird species, with over 525 bird species recorded. These include savannah birds, endemic birds, water birds, and migratory birds. This rich bird population positions Akagera National Park as a top birding destination in Rwanda.
During bird watching in Akagera national park, visitors will have the opportunity to be accompanied by an experienced bird guide. They will be able to explore various birding trails within the park, providing them with the chance to observe a diverse range of bird species. Some notable species that can be spotted include the Shoebill Stork, Lesser Kestrel, Papyrus Gonolek, Long-tailed Cisticola, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, African Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Red Faced Barbet, Sooty Falcon, Striped Pipit, Slate-coloured Boubou, Western Reef Heron, Ross’s Turaco, Breasted Roller, Heuglin’s Robin Chat, Eleonoras Falcon, Brown Crested Lapwing, Bunting Crested Barbet, Grasshopper Buzzard, Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Carruther’s Cisicola, Marsh Owl, African Jacana, Rufous-crowned Roller, Greater Honeyguide, Hooded Vulture, Kittlitz’s Plover, Gull-billed Tern, Augur Buzzard, Green Woodhoopoe, Crowned Lapwing, Ring-necked Francolin, African Fish Eagle, Shelley’s Francolin, and African Harrier Hawk, among others.
Hot Air Balloon Safaris
One of the greatest ways to take in the breathtaking scenery of Rwanda’s sole savannah national park is on a hot air balloon safari over Akagera National park’s stunning landscape.
Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only savanna Park, and it’s a fantastic place to see the Africa’s “big five” in their natural habitat entangled in a small eco-system. For the first time in Rwanda the Land of a Thousand Hills, visitors to Akagera national park may experience the splendor of the park from an aerial view in a hot air balloon. This is a great addition to Rwanda’s already thrilling adventure tourism
Akagera National Park’s balloon safaris are flown in two balloons, each of which can carry between 4 and 6 passengers. The balloons can soar up to a thousand meters over the park’s picturesque savanna in search of the “big 5” (elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffaloes) and other wildlife, such as antelopes, giraffes, zebras, and many more.
Nature Guided Walks
Some parts of Akagera National Park can be explored on guided nature walks organized by the park management. This is a great opportunity to get out of the car and see more of the park than you would on a typical game drive. More time and attention can be given to the interesting insects, plants, and other wildlife that might otherwise be overlooked on other safari activities.
Sport fishing is one of the most thought of activities in Akagera National Park which is always carried out at Lake Shakani and Lake Ihema where guests catch and release different types of fish.
You may fish in peace amidst the sounds of birds and hippos grunting their approval in the background. The fish you catch is completely yours to keep and cook anyway you like either roast, fry or grill. Guests willing to engage in the sport fishing activity are advised to carry their own fishing gears so as to avoid inconveniences.
Cultural and Community Tours
An exciting thing to do in Akagera National Park is to go on a cultural and community tour and meet the locals in the surrounding communities, where you can learn about their customs and traditions, such as milking long-horned cows, fermenting bananas into beer, cooking traditional dishes, and attending traditional performances. This activity brings you closer to ancient Africa and you get to know more about the Early African cattle keepers’ culture mostly the culture of the Banyarwanda.
Behind the scene Experience
Visitors to Akagera National Park can learn more about the park’s administration during their stay. The ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Akagera National Park takes guests through the park’s headquarters, where they can meet the park’s dedicated personnel and hear more about the park’s fascinating conservation initiatives that have led to its existence. Visitors can learn how the back started and its history during the genocide and also, it’s revival by reintroducing the big five. All these can be learnt in the behind the scene experience of Akagera National Park.
Walk the Line
Visitors to Akagera National Park can also experience what it’s like to be a park ranger for a day. Visitors walk with the park rangers for 2 hours while they inspect the 120-kilometer perimeter fence for any breaches in security and proper functioning. The trails start at the park’s entrance and wind through the park’s picturesque hills before culminating at a ridgetop with 360-degree views. In order to stay hydrated throughout the walk, tourists who are interested in participating in this activity should bring enough of mineral water.