​Expert Reviews – Akagera NP

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Stuart Butler   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: October

Stuart is a travel writer and author of numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks, including Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Rwandan Big Five
Overall rating

Rwanda is best known for its gorillas and, to a lesser extent, chimpanzees, but few people seem to realise that out in the far east of the country there’s also a Big Five savannah park. Way back in the 1980s, Akagera National Park was regarded as one of East Africa’s better savannah parks, but then along came years of violence that culminated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. During these dark times Akagera was largely left to fend for itself and refugees fleeing violence elsewhere – or returning to the country after the genocide ended – occupied large parts of the park and much of the wildlife was pushed out.

Today, thanks to the efforts of the African Parks organisation and the Rwandan government, Akagera is back in big way. The park has been restocked with wildlife and is now once again home to all the Big Five, and tourist facilities have been massively upgraded (there’s now some superb accommodation options). But how does Akagera compare to some of its East African cousins? Well, the park, with its large lakes and fringing green hills, is unquestionably beautiful. It’s also very quiet. When I visited, as far I could tell I was the only tourist in the park. Wildlife-wise it was pretty decent, with lots of hippo, impala, buffalo, topi and a few giraffe. I didn’t get to see any of the park’s elephants, and I was also there before lion and rhino had been reintroduced, but bird life was abundant. I wouldn’t chose to visit Akagera over some of the region’s more famous parks, such as the Masai Mara or Serengeti, but if you have the time and just want to see a different side of Rwanda then Akagera can be a wonderfully rewarding park to visit. Finally, note that there can be lots of tsetse flies here, which have very painful bites and can mar the pleasure of a safari.

Average Expert Rating

  • 4.0/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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