AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Akagera NP is located in the east of Rwanda along the Akagera River that is the natural border with Tanzania. The park was created in 1936 and was once in terms of natural beauty, landscape, scenery and animal life, one of the best national parks in Africa. The National Park has been de-gazetted by two-thirds of its original territory due to human pressure. Wildlife has also been considerably reduced during the war by heavy poaching. The park has still a remarkable selection of birdlife with over 500 bird species in its swamps and wetlands along the Akagera River.
Opinion: The park has still an important potential for Rwanda tourism industry, new impulses are necessary to set the park on track again.
The park covers over 2500 sq. km of Savannah west of the Kagera River, which denotes the border with Tanzania.If you are looking for big game or different bird species then you should try Akagera national park. It is a habitat for much wild life and over 500 different species of birds so you won't be dissatisfied. It also has accommodation facilities that are suitable for tourists the edge of the park at Gabiro, 100km (60 miles) to the north. However, though the park has got a variety of tourism attractions, it 's advisable not to visit the park in the rainy season (December, March and April) because many of the routes become impassable.
Akagera is comprised of lakes, swamps, woodland, Savannah, and open grassland. The lakes draw out herds of elephant and buffalo, while the Savannah typically attracts giraffe and zebra. The park host leopard, hyena, lions and more than a dozen types of antelope. Near the lake are large pods of hippopotami as well as ominous crocodiles basking in the sun.
For the bird-lover, you can be entertained by majestic fish eagles and the large concentration of waterbirds. In the marshes, keep an eye out for the papyrus gonolek and the often sought-after shoebill stork.
Akagera National Park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda.
Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is archetypal African Savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland.
"Akagera, with its complex mix of terrain, vegetation and animal life... is a very special place on earth, a place to preserve at all costs for future generations."
(- Jean Pierre Vande, writing in the award-winning conservation magazine Africa Environment & Wildlife).
Akagera comes as a thrilling amazement after the steep cultivated hills and windy climate that characterizes the rest of the country. Set at a relatively low altitude along the Tanzanian border, this beautiful game reserve protects a superior African Savannah scenery of snarled acacia and brachystegia bush, interspersed with patches of open grassland and a dozen swamp-fringed lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River.
Akagera is essentially a big game country where herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might limp across a leopard, a spotted hyena laughing or even a stray lion. Giraffe and zebra frequent the Savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribi and secretive bushbuck, as well as the ungainly tsessebe and the world's largest antelope, the statuesque Cape eland.
Linings of the lake are some of the continent densest concentrations of water birds, while the connecting marshes are the haunt of the endangered and exquisite papyrus gonolek, and the bizarre shoebill stork - the latter perhaps the most eagerly sought of all African birds.
Magically, the air is torn apart by the unforgettable high duetting of a pair of fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa's waterways.
Camping alongside the picturesque lakes of Akagera is a truly mystical introduction to the wonders of the African bush. Pods of 50 hippopotami grunt and splutter throughout the day, while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape.