Central–East Africa’s Renewed Safari Destination
Visiting Rwanda still allows a classic wildlife safari experience similar to those found in Kenya and Tanzania. Founded in 1934, Akagera National Park is the oldest of the country’s four national parks. The original park size was more than 2500 square kilometers, representing almost 10% of the total land in Rwanda. In 1997, the park was reduced to 1122 square kilometers. As the only protected savannah region in the country, Akagera National Park gives visitors access to expansive beauty and wildlife that can only be found in this type of habitat. Its freshwater lakes and papyrus swamps constitute the largest protected wetland in Central Africa and are home to the shoebill and sitatunga, favorites on birders’ lists. Other dominant natural features include the Akagera River and several swamp-fringed lakes, the largest of which is Lake Ihema. Within the park’s boundaries are over 12,000 mammals, including what is known as Africa’s “Big 5”—lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, and leopards—as well as over 500 species of birds.
Like other places in Rwanda, Akagera National Park demonstrates the country’s commitment to developing sustainable economic avenues that add value to the country’s many treasures. A park that was once poorly managed, in disarray, and experiencing dwindling wildlife populations has been brought back to its former glory. Lions were reintroduced in 2015 and black rhinos in 2017, and effective anti-poaching campaigns help protect the large animals that are the centerpieces of iconic African safaris. Hyenas and side-striped jackals join lions and leopards as the park’s most powerful predators. Large herbivores include giraffes, hippos, topis, zebras, waterbucks, elands, duikers, klipspringers, and many others! If you love primates, Akagera National Park is home to olive baboons, blue monkeys, and vervet monkeys, as well as nocturnal bushbabies. The park is also an important ornithological site, and birdwatching gives you the chance to see avifauna in a variety of habitats, from African stonechat and lesser honeyguide to the splendid starling and more. Game drive and boating safaris tours of Akagera Park will give you the chance to discover its flora and fauna.