Akagera National Park is a comfortable 2-3 hour drive from Kigali and can be visited on a long day trip if you’re short of time. However, although game densities aren’t massively high, it’s an exceptionally pretty park with pleasantly few other visitors, so it’s worth staying a couple of days to explore it.
Boat trips along the shores of Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake, yield some great aquatic bird sightings and you can even fish on Lake Shakani. Short boat trips are available on Akagera’s lakes which will give you the opportunity to get close to the plentiful waterbirds including numerous African fish eagles, marabou stork, crowned cranes, open-billed stork, cormorants, herons and egrets. If you are lucky you may even get to see the elusive shoebill stork.
Animals currently found in Akagera
The game on an Akagera safari includes most of the usual plains species. Impala and fast antelope (topi) seem to be dominant, with eland, oribi, giraffe, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, sable and roan antelope also present. Zebra, hippo and crocodile are commonly seen whilst game viewing; buffalo are more prevalent in the north as are elephants, although more restricted.
One elephant in particular is well-known across Rwanda, having been semi-habituated when younger. Mutware is the grumpy old man of Akagera – at 50 years old, he can be calm but can also be anti-social and your guide is likely to change direction should you encounter him on a drive.
Birds of Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is especially good for birding, with over 480 species attracted by its diverse habitat. Savannah birds and raptors are prevalent and several endemic species such as the red-faced barbet are often seen.