Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park, Eastern Province: Hours, Address, Akagera National Park Reviews: 4.5/5

Akagera National Park
4.5
National Parks • Nature & Wildlife Areas
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
About
Just two hours from Kigali, Akagera National Park is situated in the eastern province of Rwanda, on the border with Tanzania. The park covers an area of approximately 1,100 km² encompassing a unique and picturesque park, with rich diversity in wildlife and environments. The mountainous western boundary reaches altitudes of nearly 2000 metres in the Mutumba hills region, these highlands provide spectacular views over the expanse of lakes and papyrus swamps to the east, the largest protected wetland in Central Africa. On a national scale the Akagera region is an important area for large mammals in the country as the only protected savannah environment in Rwanda, complimenting the humid forests of Nyungwe National Park in the south of Rwanda and the afro-alpine habitats of Volcanoes National Park in the north. Akagera has an inspiring conservation story, under the public private partnership between conservation non-profit African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board.
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More than 3 hours
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Brittany_11_10
Los Angeles, CA1,350 contributions
Safari solitude
Aug 2020
I'll preface this by saying that we went to Akagera 25 times (mostly for weekends) over the course of two years, during rainy season and dry season, and before Covid and after Covid.

I will also say that we have been fortunate to have visited several other game parks in several other countries (including the Mara, the Kruger, Etosha, and Chobe).

Akagera, by far, offers the best for:
- Birding (in a given weekend, we would routinely spot 100+ different species, and we spotted more than 200 species in all our visits);
- Hippos (with all of Akagera's lakes, it's easy to spot hippos galore in the water, but we also saw hippos out of the water numerous times); and
- Solitude (we once watched a pair of lions for an hour, and only one vehicle came and went that whole time; we had a campground entirely to ourselves many times; leaving Mutumba Hills early in the morning often rewarded us with up to three hours of game driving in the north where we didn't see anyone else; etc.).

Does Akagera boast the big cat populations of the Kruger or the Mara? No. But if you get lucky and see a lion, you just might get the sighting completely to yourself, unlike in the Kruger or the Mara.

Are you guaranteed to see "the big 5" (an archaic measurement, in my opinion, for game park "success")? No. But you absolutely will see buffalo. (We saw buffalo 100 percent of the time, so please disregard what chandrassekhar said a few reviews down). We also saw elephants 60 percent of the time.

Akagera offers beautiful landscapes, solitude unmatched by most other game parks, hundreds of bird species, and heaps of other animals (despite what Madeline R seems to think, even though she saw "two leopards, lots of buffalo, five lions, two pythons, tons of hippo" and more). I think sometimes that people who complain about the park either have weird ideas of a successful game drive (like Madeline, who saw all of those animals yet said there's "not a lot of wildlife"), or don't know how to optimize their time in the park. So, I have some suggestions :)

1) DO game drive early in the day. We saw animals at all times of day, but mornings yielded our best sightings (like a rhino mama and baby at 6am, and a family of roan antelope around 7am).
2) DON'T do the Cannonball Run tour from Kigali (aka the trip starting from and returning to Kigali in the same day). Trying to spot wildlife in a hot, sunny climate between 10am and 3pm is not a great strategy for success.
3) DO stay a night or two. Accommodation options range from camping to a luxury lodge, so there should be something for everyone.
4) DON'T expect to see lions (and please don't ask everyone where they are). We were asked numerous times, "Where are the lions?" and "Have you seen any lions?" First off, we saw leopards more frequently than we saw lions. Akagera has a relatively small lion population, so if you want lions, go to a zoo (or maybe the Mara). Secondly, there are so many awesome animals to see, and if you're only looking for lions, you'll ignore countless other fascinating species.
5) DO be patient. Our best leopard sighting--where we watched a male for 20 minutes, all to ourselves--came when we were sitting by the dam birdwatching, with the engine off.
6) DON'T speed around. In addition to possibly endangering the very wildlife you're hoping to see, racing through the park is a great way to miss a lot (like the tree hyrax that looks like a knot in the tree).
7) DO take a good camera and/or good pair of binoculars.
8) DON'T ignore the birds. Akagera has spectacular birding, and it's how we saw our most "kills" (e.g., a lilac breasted roller killing a tiny turtle, a martial eagle eating a dwarf mongoose, a hamerkop choking down a frog, a marabou stork catching a fish, etc.).
9) DO talk to the guides at reception and ask what sightings they've had, where they recommend driving, if there are any road closures (during rainy season), etc. They are knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. (Also, do share your sightings with them; they will delight at your enjoyment of the park).
10) DO have a great time!

Akagera is a unique and special place, with so much to offer. It is definitely, absolutely worth a visit!
Written July 31, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Madeline R
2 contributions
not a lot of wildlife, but worth the visit anyhow
Jul 2021
We enjoyed our trip to akagera park.
Tips: take a guide; do a sunset boat trip (saw hippo's, elephant bathing, crocodiles and loads of birds) and a night game drive. Spotted two leopards. One having a close encounter with lots of buffalos.
The park scenery is wonderful, but there isn't a lot of wildlife. This may be a result of us being spoilt by previous trips to Etosha and Masai Mara.
We spotted 5 lions, two pythons, a black mamba, tons of hippo's, some zebra's and giraffe. Blue monkey, velvet monkey, crocodile, buffalo's lots of different antelopes. And some lovely birds.
Written July 12, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Michael H
Carrollton, GA31 contributions
Akagera National Park - a MUST do while in Rwanda
Jun 2021
Spent the entire day of June 6 at Akagera National Park. My four friends and i brought our own vehicle (an SUV - strongly recommend 4WD and a vehicle that is not low to the ground). We arrived before the park opened at 6am and drove the length of the park (from the South entrance to the North exit) until we left at 330pm.

First, i highly recommend asking for Justus as your guide. He is wonderful - friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the park and its wildlife (having grown up in the area). He made the safari soooo much better than it would have been had we not had his insights and navigation help.

The park is beautiful, and you will see plenty of animals. The only two of the Big 5 that we did not see were lions and elephants, but what we did see was well worth our time. Dozens of zebras, hundreds of impalas, more than a dozen hippos, nearly a dozen giraffe, as well as several pumbas and baboons, most all of these up close (as in "can reach your hand out the window and touch them").

Also, my friends were all residents of Rwanda - one had been to ANP before, and all of them loved the experience.

Tips:
1. Ask for Justus, he's amazing.
2. Bring water and food, you'll want to enjoy all of the park and it takes several hours to do so.
3. If you have a legit camera (not just your phone camera), bring it. The scenery is top-notch and you'll be able to capture everything in all its beauty
Written June 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Leah G
Jerusalem, Israel24 contributions
Gorgeous, well managed national park to see the "Big 5"
Dec 2020
This national park is so spectacular! My first safari experience and unforgettable....

Our guide MONICA was outstanding and she expertly took us to see giraffes, zebras, elephants, hippos etc...

unfortunately we didn't see lions but we really didn't care-the day was so perfect!

We definitely recommend getting a guide to see the park and TAKE A 4 X 4 or your car is going to break down-the roads are not paved.

We also loved the boat tour-do it early morning and enjoy the serenity on the water and the bird life.

We also did the night drive but didn't enjoy that as much-the best part of it was the night sky!
Written January 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Farfar
Hilversum, The Netherlands690 contributions
Akagera National Park: a real treat!
Dec 2020
Visited Akagera for the 3rd time and entered for the first time via the Mutumba Northern Gate. Coming from Nyagatare this saved us quite some kilometers to drive to the main entrance in the Soutern part of the park. At the same time you can do more different loops before reaching the southern part with the nice Akagera Game Lodge. Road to Mutumba Northern Gate is excellent and all paved. Game viewing remains nice due to the superb nature of this park. Saw in half a day buffalo, zebra, impala, topi, baboons, wartog, bushbuck, fish eagle, crocodile, hippo, guinea fowl and a large herd of giraf. After a good night sleep in the excellent Akagera Lodge spotted in an early morning drive a leopard and elephant on the way out to the park gate. Roads to/from the park have improved a lot illustrating how much Rwanda Government is doing to attract tourism.
Written January 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

New Horizon Tours and Services
Kigali, Rwanda264 contributions
Amazing Safari Experience
Feb 2020
Visited Akagera several times with our guest. The park is really nice for wildlife safari as. Our game drives were amazing with explore its best, viewing Lions,elephants,buffaloes and Rhino. It was such nice experience and the park's staff are very helpful. Highly recommended
Written January 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Kimberly
Minneapolis, MN4 contributions
Akagera Park Visit
Dec 2020
This place is indeed good to visit while with great guides. Had chances of viewing elephants, zebras, giraffes, Lions and more wild animals. With some reviews, did not expect much to see in the park, however my day was full of many surprises with many animals and great experience. Thanks to the African Parks for effective management and contribution to the growth of this great area
Written December 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

punawa
Trier, Germany134 contributions
Visit the northern part
Oct 2020
Having already visited Kruger (South Africa) and Etosha (Namibia), we did not feel the need to visit Akagera. But because of covid situation and the compulsory 72h testing before entering any national parks, we had to take last minute decision every day. So in the end, we decided to visit the park with little expectations. The park is still super recent and it will take time to grow, so it's useless to compare it to other long-established ones.
In the end, our 24h there were really amazing, we loved it.
We crossed from South to North and we basically so all animals within few kilometers of the northern gate. We have also seen them along the way but the last part was the best.
Plenty of buffaloes (200 easily, in the South and in the North), 20 giraffes during the journey, 3 elephants at the exit gate and a leopard along the road. Plus all the other "smaller" ones you easily spot (impalas etc...).
We left from the reception at 7h30 and decided to drive non stop North till mid-way. It took just 2hrs to reach it. After, we slowed down and enjoyed all the rest of the way.
Road is in perfect shape for most of the time even though it had been down pouring the night before.

Hard work is being done and there is no way this park won't become even better in the next decade.
Written October 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

chandrassekhar
Mumbai, India110 contributions
Disappointing
Jan 2020
Akagera National Park is situated on the eastern side of Rwanda bordering Tanzania. It takes around two and half hours to three hours drive from Kigali by reserved vehicle. Normally any SUV with one passenger will take around $350-400, however if there are a group of 5/6 people then it is normally charged $190-200 per person, from Kigali. This price includes the park entry fees and packed meal with drinking water. Normally the vehicle picks up the tourist from his/her hotel or place of stay around 5/5.30 am and reaches the park by around 8/8.30am. A trip around the park takes around 4-6 hours, depending on the agreement with the tour operator/guide/driver. And return back to Kigali by evening.
But frankly speaking the hype created around Akagera Natioanl Park by the Rwandan tourist operators and the Rwanda Development Board is not at all worth to explore. This artificially developed park is not worth even one tenth of the money required to visit it. I have not seen any one of the big five animals which is being advertised so much, during my nearly 5 hours trip in the park. And I understand from my driver that he had not seen any of the big five during his last five visits. One of the guides whom I met during my Rwanda trip said that he had never seen any big five, in his ten visits to the park. But the RDB and tour operators promote it so much that they made to believe that it would be a life time experience. To me it was a life time disappointment. I had been to Masai Mara and many other African national parks but Akagera was a complete disheartening experience. However one can see Zebra, Baboon, Giraffe, Impala, Tsessebe etc. in abundance. My honest suggestion will be don’t waste your money just to try your luck. There will always be a big difference between Natural park and artificially developed one.
Written June 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Hello, we're sorry to hear that your visit to Akagera did not match you expectations. Although Akagera is a Big Five park, the newly introduced lions and rhinos are still in relatively small numbers for a park of this size and so sightings are often not as common as people hope for, particularly if you have only a few hours to visit. Elephants number just over 100, but can be easily missed, buffalo numbers have doubled to around 3,500 since 2010, and leopard actually exist in high densities in Akagera however as solitary, nocturnal, animals they are difficult to see. While Rwandan operators and the Government of Rwanda are proud of the conservation achievements made in Akagera, we certianly take your comments on board that the marketing of the park should instead focus on Akagera's advantages. We see these as the parks conservation story; restoring Akagera, securing the park, allowing wildlife populations to recover and engaging the local communities so they can benefit from the development of the park. Akagera has not been 'articifically developed' but existed as a park since 1934. Over the last 10 years it has been managed by a partnership between conservation non-profit organisation, African Parks, and the Government of Rwanda. The diveristy and the scenery of the park are also what sets Akagera apart from other parks regionally. For those looking for the Big Five, Akagera may not be for you, however if you are looking for a diverse wildlife experience, spectacular views, knowledge that your visit is making a contribution to the restoration and protection of the only savannah environment in the country, and the communities around, then we look forward to welcoming you.
Written November 3, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

heather081597
18 contributions
Definitely take the guided drives/ tours
Mar 2020
It can be tempting to take your own car and drive the game drive roads around the park. However, I can tell you that it is FAR better to sign up for guides and drivers to take you on these adventures instead. the guides of the game drives and boat tours are experts at finding the animals you want to see.

We stayed for one week, took one DIY drive and decided to just take the guided drives after that. We saw SO many different kinds of animals, most of which we never would have spotted if it weren't for the guide. The guide and the drier put so much effort into ensuring we had an amazing time, and we never took the same route twice. Because the drives are private, you can tell the guide and driver what you want to see, and they will work to make it happen.

This was a trip of a lifetime and our favorite part of our trip was the time we spent in Akagera. The hospitality was spectacular, even though the business was struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak that was just starting to arrive in Rwanda. If someone is considering a photography/ animal sighting safari in Africa, I can't think of a better place than Akagera. I would highly recommend this park for singles, couples, and families.
Written March 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Thank you for helpful review of Akagera National Park, guides defintely do add value to the experience since they are in the park every day and well positioned to advise tourist on where to go as well as having well-trained eyes for spotting the wildlife! So glad to hear that Akagera was your favourite part of your trip!
Written May 15, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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