Today the Akagera National Park, which lies in eastern Rwanda, on the border of Tanzania, boasts a diverse variety of wildlife, including the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhino). It’s characterised by woodland, swamps, low mountains and grassy savannah. In the southern part of the park, Lake Ihema is home to hippos and crocodiles.
The partnership between the Rwandan government and African Parks (a South African-based non-profit organisation) has seen remarkable results. Tourism is increasing. Animal densities are increasing. In 2010, there were only about 600 buffalo and 600 hippos within the park. Today, both species have multiplied to more than 3 000. In 2015, Phinda Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa donated seven lions to the park, and by 2017 their numbers had increased to 25. The goal is now to focus on “low volume, high value” tourism and tourists are reaping the benefits. The lush park is quiet and tranquil – far removed from the hordes of tourists in neighbouring Uganda, or Kenya. It is both a lesson in conservation and an unforgettable destination.