Want to do a Rwanda wildlife safari? Visit Akagera national park the only savannah park in eastern Rwanda. Game drives in the park reward you with a close encounter with wildlife such as like giraffes, antelopes, hippos, bushbucks, zebras, elephants, impalas, baboons and the recently introduced lions.
Akagera national park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda and it stretches towards Rwanda’s border with Tanzania and can be accessed just after a 2-3 hours drive from Rwanda’s capital Kigali. Before the deadly Rwandese genocide, Akagera national park had a number of various wildlife species living in the different eco systems in the park with great opportunities of experiencing amazing wildlife sightings by the tourists. Sadly, during the genocide around 1994, the government could not effectively manage the national park, which endangered many wild animals lions inclusive.
To make matters worse, the government decided to give part of Akagera national park to the Rwandese refugees who had just returned to the country after the Rwandese genocide for settlement and agriculture. Most of them in order to protect their cattle would kill a number of predator’s lions inclusive. A number of other lions would be hunted down to get their bones and other body parts used for medicinal purposes. All those activities lead to reduction in lion populations in the park and eventually resulting to their extinction.
After about 20 years of political stability in the Rwanda coupled with increased tourist arrivals with a great number interested in viewing wildlife in the savanna national park lions inclusive, the government decided to get all possible ways of reintroducing lions in the habitants of Akagera. The Rwanda development board worked hand in hand with African parks to reintroduce these kings of the jungle.
On arrival in Akagera national park, the lions were first held in an enclosure for about 2 weeks of monitoring and then released in the wild. Seven of them were reintroduced 5 females and 2 males and the park highly monitors them to ensure proper conservation and ensure more increases in the lion populations. The reintroduced lions are very healthy with great capabilities of reproducing.
Reintroducing the lions in Rwanda is one of the greater moves by the government towards the growth and development of the tourism industry in the country and a way of improving tourist’s experiences especially those seeking for remarkable wildlife safaris in the country.
Today tourists to Akagera national park can involve in various tourism activities like game drives with great scenic views of the major wildlife species lions inclusive, birding – the park has a number of bird species including the shoebill stork, boat trips on lake Ihema which has many water dwellers like hippos and many others. The park has well qualified tour guides with good information and ready to answer the tourist’s questions.
There are possibilities for carrying out night game drives to enable tourist view those wild animals that prefer moving at night. Park entry fees are very affordable at $35 per person for international foreign visitors and $25 for east African residents. Tourists interested in self-game drives are also very welcome and can hire vehicles at affordable prices.
The park has standard accommodation facilities Ruzizi tented camps and Akagera game lodge that offer meals and sleeping facilities for the tourists.
Wildlife safaris in Akagera national park can be made at any time of the year but best experiences can be got in the dry seasons and all those interested in remarkable experiences are recommended to have full day safaris since they can easily get chances of viewing the various wildlife species in the park.