Spectacularly perched in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, Akagera National Park (ANP) is a special wildlife destination in Africa offering remarkable big 5 game encounters. The park lies on the Rwanda border with Tanzania, with its landscape largely dominated by small Lakes and swamps. It takes its name from the scenic River Kagera, featuring network of water sources and distinct landscapes that make it truly the most splendid park.

Kagera River empties its water to many water bodies including Lake Ihema, Lake Shakani, Gishanju, Lake Rwanyakizinga & Lake Mahindi. This park is surrounded by cultivated hills that make up part of the stunning scenery of Rwanda and the park. Its landscape is low, comprising of vast plains dominated by grass, thin and thick forests, cactus and more.

Facts & history

Akagera National Park was established as Rwanda park in 1934 and the primary purpose was to shelter faunal and its unique floral species. It features as the biggest protected wetland conservation area in Africa, spanning 1122 sq.km. The original size of Akagera N/Park was 2500 sq.km, although it reduced in 1997 to about half of it. A portion of its land cover was allocated to returning refugees during the post-civil war. Refugee stay in the park resulted into poaching of wildlife and clearing of vegetation for farming. In 2009, the joint management agreement was signed between the Rwanda Development Board & Africa Park to assist protect the park.


When you think about savanna wildlife species on Rwanda safari, Akagera National Park should be a must-visit. The park holds diversity of faunal species that dwell in the savanna grassland and these are perfected spotted during the guided game drive or if you are interested in aquatic life, take the memorable launch/boat cruise.

The existing animal species in Akagera National Park include the buffaloes, lions, elephants, the Maasai giraffes, hyenas, side-striped jackals, rhinos, zebras, leopards, duikers, crocodiles, hippos, waterbucks, bush pigs, cape elands, klipspringer, topis, bushbucks, reedbucks, black-masked civet, hippos, impalas, primates like vervet monkeys, bush babies, olive baboons, and more.

Bird species

Akagera is a must-visit destination when it comes to exceptional birding experiences in Rwanda. It is a preferred birding tour destination with a record of about 500 bird species. The park’s birds include blue-shouldered robin chat, African jacanas, ring-necked francolin, grey-backed fiscals, red-faced barbet, shoebill stork, papyrus gonoleks, swamp flycatchers, carruther’s cisticolas, long-toed, bateleurs, cormorants, long-crested eagles, vieillot’s black weavers, hammerkops, fish eagles, grey-backed fiscals, marabou stork, African darters, grey-crowned cranes, hadada ibis, fan-tailed widowbird, augur buzzards, squacco herons and more.

Tourism Activities to do

Game drives

The game drives in Akagera are best done in the early morning and late in the afternoon. On a game drive, expect to have full game viewing experience inclusive of spotting a variety of wildlife species such as the Maasai giraffes, elands, Defassa waterbucks, rhinos, leopards, bushbucks, warthogs, lions, roan antelopes, oribis, elephants, and birds.

There is also an option of exploring the park’s nocturnal species during a night game drive. The various nocturnal species to be sighted during a night game drive include hyenas, leopards, serval cats, civets, bush babies and more.

Launch cruise

Launch cruise safaris in Akagera are carried out along Lake Ihema, the park’s biggest park located in the Southern side. There are diverse aquatic species to be encountered including hippos, crocodiles, and bird species. Aquatic birds of Lake Ihema include crested barbet, African jacanas, papyrus gonoleks, grey-crowned cranes, sooty falcons, African fish eagles and others.

Bird watching

Birding in Akagera National Park introduces you to various habitats rich in unique birds. A birding tour in this park allows you to identify birds including shoebill stork, hammerkops, spur-winged goose, Ross’s turacos, white-faced whistling ducks, Knob-billed ducks, double-toothed barbet, laughing doves, lilac-breasted rollers, Egyptian goose, black-headed gonoleks, Meyer’s parrot, long-tailed cisticolas, red-faced barbets, papyrus canary, yellow-fronted canary, bronze-winged courser, African open bill, Eurasian nightjars, thick-billed seed eaters, streaky seedeaters, and more.

Sport fishing

Lake Shakani is the only place that offers the memorable sport fishing experiences to anglers on Rwanda safari in Akagera National Park. At Lake Shakani, you will engage in catch & release method with higher chance of catching fish species such as tilapia, cat fish and others.

Guided nature walk

Nature walk presents a great opportunity to you draw close to wild, while exploring the hidden treasures Akagera National park is most popular. This is completely on-foot-walk experience and you will be enjoying the sights of birds, flora and other faunal species.

The best time to go there

Akagera National Park attracts visitors all year through. However, the dry season starting from June to September, December to February features as the best time to visit the park for a holiday. Even the rainy/wet season is open to tourists to explore this park that is from March, April, May & October to November.

Akagera National Park safari lodges & camps

The important accommodation options to consider booking on Rwanda tour in Akagera National Park include budget, midrange and luxury. They include Magashi Tented Camp, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Game Lodge, Dereva Hotel & Karenge Bush Camp.

How to get there

By road: Akagera National Park in Rwanda is found in the Eastern safari circuit, about 2.5 hours’ drive away from Kigali city.

By air: You can take up the domestic flights from Kigali Airport to Akagera NP. The helicopter tours are operated by Akagera Aviation, and this group also conducted flights to Nyungwe National Park and other parts of Rwanda.