Just two-to-three hours from the Rwandan capital Kigali, Akagera National Park is the country’s only safari destination. With marshes, savannahs and lakes, it’s a diverse landscape, home to a wealth of wildlife, a new luxury camp and a solid conservation team. Here are five reasons to visit Akagera when you travel to Rwanda.
1. See the Big Five
Thanks to the rewilding efforts of non-profit conservation organisation African Parks, Akagera is now home to the iconic Big Five: buffalos, elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions. The park lost a lot of its animals due to hunting and poaching during Rwanda’s civil war, but the last few years have seen it bounce back, with healthy wildlife populations and a thriving ecosystem.
2. You can now stay in a luxury camp
Wilderness Safaris opened their second Rwandan property in Akagera in May 2019 – Magashi is the first luxury camp in the park. This means high-end travellers can now travel the circuit between the capital Kigali, Volcanoes National Park to see the gorillas and Akagera for a safari. Based in the north of the park by a waterhole, there are sure to be great sightings right from camp.
3. Spot the rare shoebill stork
Birders will be keen to spot the giant shoebill stork, often filmed for wildlife documentaries due to its interesting behaviour. For example, the large stork – named after its shoe-shaped bill – will often cast out its weakest chicks, creating a survival of the fittest competition between its young with the intention of only raising one chick. Akagera is one of the few places you might be able to see a shoebill in the wild. Generally, the park is a fantastic place for birders.
4. Get a third off your gorilla permit
Gorilla trekking is a pricey experience, but when you combine gorillas with Akagera National Park or Nyungwe Forest National Park, you get a one-third discount on the US$1,500 gorilla permit rate. It’s a great incentive to explore more of the country rather than just popping in and out to see the mountain gorillas. Note that the discount only applies from November to May.
5. Learn about anti-poaching initiatives and conservation
One of the perks of visiting Akagera is the opportunity to visit their anti-poaching centre and see how the park combats poaching. You can spend some time with the K9 unit, watch the trainers with their young pups and hear how the dogs form a crucial part of anti-poaching operations.
Keen to visit? Reach out to find out more about travelling in Rwanda.
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