Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is situated relatively at a low altitude on the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Akagera National Park is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The park is more different to the normal cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda, it is mainly dominated scenically by the rolling hills of Acacia and Brachystegia Woodland coupled with scattered grassland, labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River.
The park was founded in 1934 with more than 2,500km2 in size , although this has significantly reduced to about 1,122km2 since much of the park was re-allocated as farms to returning refugees following the Rwandan Civil War.
It is one of the best places to visit, as herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes. A visitor may also come across a spotted hyena or even a stray lion. The park is also home to other animals such as giraffe, zebra, topi, antelope, impala, bushbuck, eland and oribi which inhibit the park.
The leopard, hyena and other nightly animals might be spotted at night. Hippo and crocodile can be seen while on a boat ride in Akagera’s largest lake, Ihema. More than 525 bird species have also been spotted in this park making it a haven for bird watchers.
Camping beside the charming lakes of Akagera is a truly mystical, overlooking the lakes and Tanzania in the distance giving the visitor an introduction to the wonders of the African bush where the tourist will spend enjoying the scenery.
Fauna and Flora
Savannah plains, papyrus swamps, forest fringed lakes and rolling highlands combined in a relatively small area make Akagera among the most scenic of savannah reserves. It has different levels of bio diversity due to the position at the confluence of different vegetation zones.
With Rwanda’s high population density there has been a high loss of biodiversity. Akagera is the only protected savannah area in Rwanda and as such is the only refuge for savannah adapted plants and animals on a national scale. The park complements the humid forests of Nyungwe National Park in the south of Rwanda and the afro-alpine habitats of Volcanoes National Park in the north.
Several species have been introduced into Akagera National Park, such as 6 ‘Masai’ giraffe were introduced into Rwanda from Kenya in which the number has tremendously grown. Other animals that were introduced include the black rhino. In the 1958 to 1959 five black rhino females and two males were introduced to the park from Tanzania in which the population later grew and exceeded fifty. Although due to poaching, it is very hard to spot the rhinos which are thought to have been wiped out. Plans are underway to re-introduce the black rhino and lion to the park once the western boundary fence is completed.