Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park, Rwanda, is almost unrecognisable today compared to over 20 years ago when it was on the verge of being lost forever. The aftermath of the 1994 genocide had a devastating impact on the environment, making its story of revival even more remarkable. In 2010, African Parks assumed management of Akagera National Park in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), shifting the park’s trajectory from one of oblivion to prosperity and hope.

From the beginning there was a clear joint vision: to transform Akagera from a depleted landscape overrun by more than 30,000 cattle into an income-generating park for the benefit of people and wildlife. Effective law enforcement and strong community engagement was the foundation for rehabilitation. After practically eliminating poaching in just five years, lions were reintroduced in 2015, followed by black rhinos in 2017 and 2019 and in 2021, 30 white rhinos were introduced to the park. Wildlife numbers have grown from less than 5,000 in 2010 to almost 12,000. Besides being a haven for wildlife, the park’s support for income-generating enterprises for local communities is growing. Today, Akagera National Park continues to provide for the 300,000 people living around its boundaries, directly benefitting from its existence.

As a result of our track record in Akagera and over 10 years of successful collaboration with the RDB, in October 2020, the Government once again entered into a long-term agreement to have African Parks, this time to manage Nyungwe National Park. The Rwandan Government is showing how protected areas, with clear vision and under the right management, can support people and wildlife long into the future.

Akagera Highlights

  • In 2021, 30 Southern white rhinos were successfully translocated from Phinda Reserve in South Africa to Akagera in the largest single rhino translocation to date.
  • Wildlife populations have flourished with over 11,000 large mammals counted in a 2021 aerial survey, including 133 elephants (a 20% increase since the 2019), nearly 4,000 buffalos and a lion population of 37.
  • With the help of our counter-poaching canine unit, African Parks overhauled law enforcement to help secure Akagera National Park and, as a result, not one high-value species has been lost to poaching since 2010.
  • More than 2,000 schoolchildren visit Akagera National Park each year, along with teachers and local leaders, as part of the environmental education programme.
  • Pre-Covid-19, Akagera was 80% self-financing, and despite a reduction in visitors due to Covid-19, tourism contributed 47% towards the park’s operating costs in 2021. 

Sample Itinerary

3 days Akagera National Park tour

Book this 3 days / 2 nights tour to Akagera National Park and have a rewarding safari trip in Rwanda. Akagera National Park is the biggest park in Rwanda and has the only savanna environment in this mountainous country popularly referred to as “land of a thousand hills”. This 3 day Akagera tour will give you enough time to explore the park and you will be impressed by the huge diversity of wildlife and amazing scenery! Animals look to out for on the safari in Akagera National park include antelopes, elephants, lions, giraffes, monkeys, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, monkeys among others

Day 1 – drive from Kigali City to Akagera National Park, game drive and boat trip

Your tour guide/driver shall pick you from your hotel/residence in Kigali at 7.00am and depart for Akagera National Park in the east of Rwanda. The distance from Kigali to entrance gate of Akagera National Park is about 110km and the travel time is about two and half hours. Upon arriving in Akagera you shall immediately go on a game drive for your first wildlife sightings and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Later you shall continue to your lodge and have lunch. At 2.30pm you shall go for a one hour boat trip on Lake Ihema. This is the biggest lake in the park. The boat trip offers wonderful views of hippos and crocodiles and other wildlife along the lake shores and the islands.

  • Meal plan: Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation to choose from: Magashi Camp – Luxury
  • Ruzizi Tented Lodge – Upmarket
  • Akagera Game Lodge – Midrange
  • Akagera Rhino Lodge – Budget
  • Camping in the park with own tent

Day 2 – morning safari in Akagera and afternoon at leisure

Today you are set to do a morning game drive in Akagera National Park. You shall cover more game trails and reach more areas of the park to see more animals and enjoy the beautiful landscape.

Later you shall return to the lodge for lunch and thereafter spend the rest of the day at leisure

Optional activity:

Night safari: You can do a night game drive after 6pm to look for the elusive nocturnal animals such as leopard, hyena, jackal, genet, bushbabies, porcupine, serval, etc…

Hot air balloon safari: You can start with the hot air balloon safari over Akagera that starts from 5am. It is a 45 minutes flight, and provides access to areas of the park not reachable by car giving you incredible views of the breathtaking Akagera landscape and a chance to spot more animals. After balloon safari you would continue with the game drive.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 – Full safari in Akagera and exit the park

You will have breakfast as early as 6am and at about 6.30am check out and set off for the full safari in Akagera National Park. This is a 6 hour game drive from the lodge/entrance in the south to the exit in the north of the park. You will cover a variety of habitats from woodland, wetlands, bushes and thickets, forest and grassland, which will provide a variety of wildlife, and finally get to the Kilala plains in the north. Kilala plains are beautiful flat savanna plains where a lot of animals graze such as antelopes, buffaloes, and zebras. The variety of grazing animals in the Kilala plains makes it a favorite hunting ground for the predators, and it is therefore the place to look for the lions, hyenas and other predators. These plains are the main animal watching area of the park one cannot afford to miss.

After fully exploring the Kilala plains you shall have picnic lunch and then exit the park and head back to Kigali

Optional activity:

Morning rhino tracking: You can join the park’s Rhino monitoring team who track down the rhinos each morning on foot, to check on the rhinos safety, health and collect other important information about them. Note that the rhino tracking in Akagera park takes place in the Kilala plains in the north of the park and is available only to guests staying at the Karenge Bush Camp which is located in the north of the park overlooking the Kilala plains. This therefore means you would need to spend the second night of the tour at Karenge Bush Camp after spending the first night at Akagera Game Lodge or Ruzizi Tented Lodge which are located in the south of the park where the Akagera tour starts from.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch

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