Akajera National Park Rwanda is perfectly situated in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. The park was named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The rolling hills of Acacia and Brachystegia Woodland coupled with scattered grassland and swamp-fringed lakes along the meandering Akagera watercourse combine to create a park of breathtaking scenic beauty.
Akagera National Park covers 1,200 km² in eastern Rwanda, along the Tanzanian border. It was established in the year 1934 to protect animals and vegetation in three Eco regions of savannah, mountain and swamp. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into several lakes the largest of which is Lake Ihema. The complex system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps makes up over 1/3 of the park and is the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
A variety of wildlife found at Akagera National park
In the late 1990, much of the savannah area of the park was settled in by former refugees returning after the end of the Rwandan Civil War. Due to land shortages, in 1997 the western boundary of the park was regazetted and much of the land allocated as farms to returning refugees. The park was reduced in size from over 2,500 km² to its current size. Although much of the best savannah grazing land is now outside the park boundaries, what remains of Akagera is some of the most diverse and scenic landscape in Africa.
In 2009 the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the African Parks Network entered into a 20 year renewable agreement for the joint management of Akagera. The Akagera Management Company was formed in 2010 as the joint management body for Akagera National Park.
The Akagera Park is the most prominent Savanna reserve found in Rwanda. As compared to the other parts of Rwanda, this area is moderately warm and is a low altitude lying area whose plains are covered with thick, broad leafed woodland as well as transparent acacia woodland plus patches of rising and falling grassland dotted with expressively stands of the cactus like Euphorbia-candelabra shrub.
The western part of these plains supports a chain of low altitude mountains, which attain the heights ranging from 1,600 meters to 1,800 meters. The eastern area of the park has large wetland, while the great Akagera River directly feeds an intricate of several lakes joined by broad papyrus swamps as well as winding water streams.
How to get to the park.
Akagera National Park is a comfortable 2-3 hour drive from Kigali and can be visited on a long day trip.
The only entry to Akagera National Park is via Kiyonza Gate in the south, close to the Park Headquarters and Akagera’s best lodge. Nyungwe Gate in the north is currently only available to exit the Park.
Akagera National Park’s roads have improved significantly since African Parks came on board allowing for varied game drives around plains, hills and lakes. They usually take place in the mornings and afternoons, or will take a full day if venturing to the north, with night drives an option for spotting Akagera’s nocturnal wildlife.