Overview – Akagera NP
Akagera NP is Rwanda’s only savannah reserve and is again a Big Five destination after the 2017 reintroduction of 20 black rhinos. Lucky visitors might spot lions as well, which have also been reintroduced. Other animals include elephant, buffalo, giraffe and hippo. In terms of pure wildlife viewing, Akagera can’t quite compete with the more famous savannah reserves in Kenya and Tanzania. However, the park ranks among the most scenic in the region, and the birdlife is particularly rewarding for specialist birders.
Pros & Cons
- Great wildlife viewing with the Big Five present
- Excellent birding includes many rarities, raptors and waterbirds
- Off-the-beaten-track destination
- Beautiful scenery with several forest-fringed lakes
- Night drives and boat trips available, along with the usual game drives
- Limited accommodation in the park
- Big cats are relatively difficult to spot
- Tsetse flies can be a problem in the park
Wildlife numbers are on the increase in Akagera NP and animals are slowly becoming less skittish (problems have included human encroachment and poaching). Buffalos are easily seen, and elephants are quite common. Leopards are around, but very secretive. Lions were reintroduced from South Africa in 2015 and there were 19 in the park as of early 2018, along with the same number of black rhino, which were reintroduced in 2017.
Akagera is particularly scenic and offers a wide diversity of habitats in a small area. Visitors can drive along a string of forest-fringed lakes and wetlands fed by the Akagera River. Tall mountains form a lovely backdrop to the ever-changing vegetation, which includes papyrus swamps and acacia woodland.
Weather & Climate
Akagera is located near the equator and has a consistent, moderate to warm climate. Temperatures are very uniform throughout the year. The average nighttime temperature is about 12°C/54°F below the average daytime temperature, therefore warm clothing is recommended for early morning game drives. There is a short Dry season from June to September.
Best Time to Visit
Although Akagera can be visited at any time, the best wildlife-viewing months are from June to September. This corresponds with the Dry season, when animals are drawn to the lakes as a source of water. At this time the bush is not as lush either, which makes spotting animals a bit easier.
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Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.
Rwanda’s safari secret
Akagera should be on every traveler’s itinerary in Rwanda, yet it gets surprisingly few international visitors. Even without the wildlife, the beautiful landscapes alone merit a visit – it always reminds me of a cross between...