When I think of Africa, I automatically think of safaris …
… and in fact Rwanda has an area, the Akagera National Park, where you can observe the Big Five again since a few years. Although the park is one of the oldest in Africa, it has been badly neglected due to overpopulation and genocide.
Wildlife conservation, community engagement and tourism are the keys to a better future for the people living around Akagera National Park.
Akagera National Park in Rwanda is barely recognisable today compared to over 20 years ago (a depleted landscape overrun by more than 30,000 cattle). The aftermath of the 1994 genocide had a devastating impact on the formerly protected land, which was given to refugees for resettlement. In 2010, African Parks, in cooperation with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), took over the management of Akagera National Park. The aim is to bring the park out of oblivion to prosperity and hope.
Lions were reintroduced in 2015, followed by black rhinos in 2017 and again in 2019 from European zoos. Wildlife numbers have increased from less than 5,000 in 2010 to over 13,000 and rising.
Click on the first image to start the photo gallery:
A dog squad helps to combat poaching.
Supposedly, since 2010, not a single high-value species has been lost to poaching as a result. We watched a demonstration and I certainly did not want to be attacked by the yapping beasts ...
Akagera cannot yet compete with the abundance of animals of its famous neighbours like the Serengeti, but it is still definitely worth a visit.
Especially the boat trip on Lake Ihema is a highlight:
Thousands of birds perch on the floating islands made of papyrus. Innocence our guide is a true bird expert who can name every little bird with his infectious enthusiasm: Osprey (ok, not quite that small), Kingfisher, Shoebill and Red-faced Barbet, Heron and Bee-eater kindly give a rendezvous for us.
Admittedly, I am more of a fan of big animals and so I am happy about the fat hippos splashing around in the water. From the safe vantage point of our boat, I find their water fountains that they whirl up great and I also find the Nile crocodiles lurking around on the shore looking quite innocent so very exciting.
In the evening, sitting around the campfire with a view over the lake, I feel transported to the film set of "Beyond Africa".
My wish? I hope that Rwanda can continue to attract attention with so much good news in the future!
HOW TO GET AROUND
You can drive into the park and there are guides available if you want to be accompanied.
Since January 2022, you can discover the Akagera National Park from a bird's eye view. "Royal Balloon Rwanda" offers flights in two hot air balloons, each with room for 4 to 6 guests. The hot air balloon flies at heights between 100 metres and 1 kilometre above the picturesque savannah landscape. With a bit of luck, you can see elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalos as well as many other species of animals and birds, which give the guests the characteristic African experience.
The approximately 45-minute flight costs USD 450 per person, including snacks, coffee, champagne christening and flight certificate.
Tel: +250 783 453 068, +90 531 375 57 76 Akagera National Park Rwanda
There are currently 4 campsites. Two in the south of the park (Muyumbu and Shakani), two in the north of the park (Mutumba and the newest Mihindi). Shakani, Mutumba and Mihindi have showers with running water. The park can only provide tents at Muyumbu and Shakani, but not sleeping bags. Tents can be rented for $20 per tent per night, and four people can sleep comfortably in one tent. Visitors must bring their own food as there are no restaurants at the campsites (except in Mihindi, where there is a coffee shop).
Mantis Akagera Game Lodge is the largest hotel in the park. From here you have a beautiful view over the lake. https://www.mantiscollection.com/hotel/akagera-national-park-mantis-eco-lodge/