One of the oldest elephants in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park recently passed on at the age of 48. Mutware (chief) famously became the most recognized elephant in the park after breaking his tusks last year. His death was reportedly to have been of natural causes. During his last years, the veteran bull would spend most of his time in the water at the Southern tip of Lake Ihema and he could only travel through the park once a year. Mutware was brought to Akagera in 1975 from Bugesera as one of the original 26 young elephants who were all under the age of eight years. He survived the poachers who were threatening his tusks during the genocide in 1994. Mutware will be remembered for the damages he used to cause when he could escape from the game park before it was fenced and destroy the property belonging to the neighbors of the park.
In addition to thousands of elephants found in the Akagera National Park, other game species in the park include zebras, giraffes, lions and hundreds of bird species including the rare shoebill stork. Thousands of hippos and crocs are also found in Lake Ihema in the Southern part of the park. Seven lions were introduced in the park in 2015 from South Africa after over 15 years of absentia in the park. Akagera is one of Rwanda’s three national parks together with Volcanoes national park known for gorilla safaris and Ngungwe forest national park for chimpanzees and canopy walk.
Following the introduction of around 20 Eastern black rhinoceroses into the park from South Africa in 2017, Akagera is now home to all of Africa’s “big five”: lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo.
The park is located in Eastern Rwanda close to the border with Tanzania characterized by woodland, swamps, low mountains and savannah grasslands. The Akagera River flows along the Park’s Eastern boundary feeding into Lake Ihema and several others. Given its generally lowland landscape and the spaced savannah vegetation, Akagera is well known for its incredible game drive experiences in Rwanda that attracts tens of thousands of tourists per year.
By road, the park is a two-hour drive from the capital Kigali along a good bound surface road. By air, helicopters and larger MIL MI 17 are available to fly you to the park from Kigali and it will only take you 20-25 minutes to arrive.
Tourism Activities in Akagera National Park
Located in the Eastern province of Rwanda, Akagera national park is the only Savannah national park in Rwanda. The park is a center for various tourism activities, which combine to meet and satisfy travel expectations.Among the popular attractions and activities in Akagera park include:
This is the most done tourism activity in Akagera national park. The park is a home to the big five game (Elephants, Lions, Buffalos, Rhinos and Leopards) which make a best tourism destination for game viewing. Expect to see herds of elephants browsing in the park and predators hunting down their preys. Game viewing is best done in the morning and evening hours to catch up with wild animals feeding before retiring to late afternoon and night rests. Other animals to see in Akagera national park include impalas, Masai giraffe, waterbucks, southern reedbuck, common tsessebe, serval cats, elands and Topis among others.
Besides game viewing, Akagera national park is a spot fpr birders sheltering over 520 bird species. Birding travelers to Akagera have a chance to see include both forest, savannah and migratory birds which sing sweetly as they fly endlessly across tress and swamps. Among the birds to expect include papyrus gonolex, swamp flycatcher, shoe bill, back headed heron, grey backed fiscal, egrets, double toothed barbet, grey crowned cranes, African fish eagle African fish eagle, Pintaled Wydah, and lilac Breasted roller, among others. If possible, travelers are required to come with binoculars which help to trace bird s= from a far distance.
Done on Akagera river, boat cruising is a not miss on your Rwanda safari to Akagera national park. A boat ride rewards you with spectacular views of animals grazing on the riverbank and those that come for drinking water. Also, a boat cruise help travelers to spot various birds in swamps on the riverbanks especially the migratory birds that make your safari an experience for lifetime.
In general, Akagera national park is naturally gifted by nature in terms of flora and Fauna offering it all to meet, satisfy and exceed your travel expectations on your Rwanda safari.