Akagera National Park Rwanda

An elephant in Akagera National Park Rwanda

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s biggest and only savannah park. The park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda on the border with Tanzania. The distance from Kigali to Akagera National park is approximately 110km and the drive time is only two and half hours, making it very accessible for a nice short Akagera safari trip from Kigali, especially for the business travelers.

Akagera is a small park with a size of 1025 square kilometers. This however is nearly half of its original size of about 2000 square kilometers from which a large chunk about two thirds was cut off and given to the returning refugees to settle on after the genocide (during the period of 1997-2000). The park is protected by an electric fence and every inch of it is patrolled everyday to ensure there is no breach of its security. This has helped the park recover and grow its wildlife with minimal disturbance. Perhaps, Akagera National Park could be the only game park in Africa where a year goes without a single incident of poaching being registered.

Akagera National Park may not be as massive as the renowned big game parks and wildlife reserves in the east African region in terms of size and volume of animals, it however boasts of one of the best scenery in Africa, and harbors an impressive diversity of wildlife! The park has a mosaic of  swamp-fringed lakes on one side, rolling hills of Acacia bush on the other side and in the middle are scattered grasslands, patches of thick forest, thickets and woodlands where a variety of animals can be seen roaming.

Animals in Akagera National Park

The “Big Five” animals in Akagera National Park

Lions in Akagera National Park Rwanda
Akagera enjoys the special status of being a “big five” park because it hosts all the famed African big five animals which are: Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, Rhino and Elephant. The lions and rhinos have just been reintroduced back into park after a long absence. Therefore in just one day you can drive up to Akagera, have a chance to see all the big five and in the evening catch your flight. Where else can you do this?

 Other animals in the Akagera National Park

Zebras and Antelopes are by far the most abundant animals in the park. Note that there are many species of antelope in the park that a good tour guide should be able to identify & differentiate and these include: Roan, Oribi, Klipspringer, Defassa Waterbuck, Eland, Topi, Impala, Common Duiker, Bohor Reedback, Bushbuck and the swamp dwelling Sitatunga. Other common animals include: giraffes, crocodiles & hippos (which can be seen at the many lakes along the eastern edge), warthogs, baboons and monkeys. There are also nocturnal species that are nearly impossible to see during day and since they are active in the night you stand a good chance of seeing them if you go out with a spotlight, and these include: bushbabies, elephant shrew, scrub hares, genets, civets, serval, aardvark & porcupine.

Things or activities to do in Akagera National Park

Day game Drives

game drive in Akagera National Park

A game drive in a customized safari car that has a pop-up roof is the best way to explore the park and see a lot of wildlife. Akagera national park has a number of tracks leading to different parts of the park that offer diverse views and many wildlife sightings. All day game drives in Akagera are permitted from 6am to 6pm.

Rhino tracking

You can walk in the bush and see the Rhinos in Akagera National Park. This special activity is available to guests who stay at Karenge Bush Camp in the north of Akagera National Park. A minimum of 2 and maximum of 4 guests can join the park’s Rhino monitoring team on their routine morning tracking down of the rhinos on foot in the Kilala plains to check on their safety and health. The rhinos tracked are the white rhino species that are not aggressive like the black rhinos that live in the south of the park. So attacks from the rhinos are not expected.

Hot air balloon safari

The hot air balloon safari in Akagera National Park gives travelers the best chance to explore the park’s  amazing landscape and scenery. The balloon safari tour starts as early as 5am and the flight lasts 45 minutes. The hot air balloon will give you access to areas you would never reach by car and a chance to spot more animals in addition to the game drive. The balloon safari is done in addition to the game drive, so that after balloon safari you will continue with the drive.

Night game drives

After 6pm, one can take a night game drive in the company of the park management. The night offers nocturnal species and some of the most sought after animals are nocturnal.

Boat Safari

The one hour Boat Cruise on Lake Ihema is a beautiful adventure that offers the opportunity to explore the forest-fringed edge of the biggest lake in the park and also reach the lush islands inhabited by plenty of wildlife. You get to see at close range lots of hippos and crocodiles and an array of water birds. From the boat you will also enjoy the breathtaking views of the beautiful landscape of the park. The boat cruise is scheduled four times in a day including: 7.30-8.30am, 9.00-10.00am, 3.00-4.00pm, 4.30-6.00pm (Sunset trip).

Hippos in Akagera National Park


Akagera National Park is one of Rwanda’s three Important Birding Areas. With over 500 bird species, the park hosts the highest number of bird species among Rwanda’s four game parks. It is therefore a must visit destination if you are planning birding in Rwanda. The game tracks provide excellent views into the bushes, thickets and woodlands for sighting of species. The boat cruise also offers excellent sightings for several water birds. A minimum of three days should be allowed for maximum sightings.

A Fish Eagle in Akagera National Park

Walk the line

Walk the line is an activity where you join the park rangers on their daily walk along fencing of the park to ensure there has not been any breach. You walk with the rangers for only 7km. Understand how the fencing works and its importance to the park and the community. You will enjoy the beautiful scenery and see some animals, as well as gain an insight into the local communities around the park.

Behind the scenes tour

The behind the scenes tour gives you access to what happens “behind the scenes” in the management of the park. Interact with the staff and the rangers.


You can spend the day relaxing away at Lake Shakani while fishing and make a meal from your catch at the shores of the lake. Bring own fishing gear.

Community tour

You can visit an organized community just outside the park to experience the ways of life of the local Rwandans. Go farming with the locals, milk the cows the traditional way, make meals the traditional way.

Accommodation in Akagera National Park

Akagera Rhino Lodge (Budget)

Akagera Game Lodge (Midrange)

Ruzizi Tented Lodge (Upmarket)

Karenge Bush Camp (Upmarket)


Safari trips to Akagera Akagera National Park

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