Similar in feel to the more traditional safari areas, the Akagera National Park could not be more different from the cultivated hills that characterise much of Rwanda. Totally off the beaten track, the park borders Tanzania and covers an area of 1085sq km of low lying grasslands and woodlands. It is dotted with numerous swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River and a range of mountains lie adjacent to it. With its wide variety of habitats, Akagera National Park is a very scenic park and home to more than a dozen types of antelope including the handsome chestnut-coated impala, the diminutive oribi, topi (known as tsessebe in Southern Africa) and the world's largest antelope, the Cape eland.
Whilst on a game drive in the park you can expect to see Burchall's zebra, giraffe, buffalo, spotted hyena and herds of elephant. In the picturesque lakes, pods of over 50 hippopotami grunt and splutter while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape. It would be rare to see lion and sitatunga which are present but restricted to more inaccessible areas.
Birders will love the Akagera National Park with its 525 species of birds. It hosts some of Africa's most dense concentrations of waterbirds. These can be viewed on short boat trips giving you the opportunity to get close to birds such an African fish eagles, marabou storks, crowned cranes and hopefully the bizarre shoebill stork, possibly the most eagerly sought of the African birds.
Whilst game numbers aren't high you should see plenty on a visit of between one and two days and enjoy a park with few other visitors. For this reason alone it is worth the drive from Kigali. The park can be visited on a day trip but should you wish to spend the night which is recommended it is best to stay at the Akagera Game Lodge with wonderful views over Lake Ihéma.
It is best to avoid the park in the rainy season (Dec, Mar and April) since many of the routes become impassable.
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