Akagera National Park Rwanda
Akagera National Park Rwanda, Wildlife safaris tours in akagera park, Akagera Park is situated in the north east of Rwanda covering an area of 1,085km2 which makes it the largest protected area in Rwanda. The Akagera National Park Rwanda boarders Tanzania and is traversed by Akagera river one of the sources of River Nile of which the park derives its name. Akagera National Park Rwanda was established in 1934 to provide protection in three varied eco-systems i.e. mountain, swamp and savannah. The park is rich in water environments with series of lakes that characterize its floor including Lake Ihema which is the second largest in Rwanda, Lake Rwanyakizinga, Lake Shakani, Lake Mihindi and Lake Gishanju not forgetting the famous Akagera River that traverse the eastern boarder of the park. The terrain of Akagera National Park is marked by low lying plains that are covered by rolling savannah combretum dotted with acacia woodland which appears in contrast to the other parts of Rwanda that are marked by series of hills that have made Rwanda to be nick named the land of a thousand hills. The park is a rich habitat for wildlife with counts of elephants, buffaloes, zebra, giraffe and antelopes while lions were poached to extinction though the park management is in preparations of re-stocking them. This makes Akagera National Park the haven of wildlife safaris in Rwanda.
Akagera National Park experiences tropical savannah climate which is characterized by low amounts of rainfall- this is evidenced by short summer wet seasons where the area receives between 15-25 inches of rain per month and very long dry or winter seasons with less 5inches of rain per month, scattered umbrella trees, open savanna grasslands with short grass and relatively high temperatures which can rise to between 25-32oC.
Attractions in Akagera national park include: mammal species that roam the plains of this great park like African elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, roan antelopes, topis, zebras, sitatungas, oribis, duikers, primates in Akagera National Park include olive baboons, vervet monkeys, and bush babies can be seen during night drives in the park, predators that are found here include lions which now tally to a pride of 20 in number that were re-introduced in the park beginning from 2015, leopards, stripped hyenas and African jackals. In 2017, 20 eastern black rhinos were brought to Akagera National Park and now Akagera National Park boosts of being one of the few national parks in east Africa to have all the African big 5s present, these include lions, rhinos, leopards, buffaloes and elephants. Akagera National Park is rich in bird species and boosts of a count of about 500 bird species which include the elusive shoe bill stock, papyrus gonolek and numerous water birds that roam the skies over the water logged areas found in this national park. Akagera National Park also has very beautiful scenic views given its rolling hill seen from a distance, forest ringed lakes and papyrus swamps that are play host to a wide variety of wildlife.
Conservation in Akagera began in 1934 when over 2500sqkm of land were gazzatted as game reserve and this was basically about 10% of Rwanda’s total land area but in 1997 due to population increase almost half of this conservation area was degazatted to bring the park to its current size of 1122sqkm of land as of today. In 2009, Rwanda development board entered a 20-year agreement with African parks network which gave birth to the Akagera Management Company in 2010 which has taken great strides to conserve the wide range bio diversity within this park by investing over 10million dollars in conservation efforts for example construction of a fence of about 120km or 74.6mi on the western boundary of the park in a period of about 5 years
Tourist Attractions in Akagera National Park Rwanda
Wild animals in Akgera National Park Rwanda
Akagera National Park contains counts of wildlife in its varied ecosystems. The savannah environments support populations of elephants, zebra, giraffe, Impala, water buck and buffaloes. The water environments support populations of Hippotamus and Nile crocodile which is the second largest reptile on a world scale. The Akagera National Park Rwanda also contains counts of elusive leopard, and spotted hyenas while series of small predator species like genets, mongoose, and side stripped jackal and serval cats. Primate species like vervet monkeys, olive baboons, bush babies and occasionally spotted silver monkey also thrive in Akagera National Park.
Lions in Akgera National Park Rwanda
Lions are part of the big cate family and are muscular, deep chested with rounded heads. Most of the African lion males can distinguished from their females by the presence of a mane around the necks and heads of male African lions which is clearly absent in females but there quite many cases in Africa where the males also don’t have a mane or have a very short and thin one. The male lions are usually bigger than the females but their sizes vary according to location. In east Africa, adult female lions have a body length of 160-184cm or 63-72in weighing in at 119.5kg or 263Ib on average while the adult males have a body length of184-208cm or 72-82in weighing in at 174.9kg or 386Ib on average. Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides. A pride is always led by a dominant male and their highly territorial animals controlling vast expanses that are strategic with a lot of prey and water. Male dominant lions are responsible for protecting the pride and they will fight off other male invaders, in case the dominant male is defeated by the invading lions, the victor lions will kill off all the cubs that are off springs to the defeated dominant male as a way of ending its blood lineage.
Lions are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain feeding on almost all browsers and grazers within their domain due to their ability to hunt as a pride and carry out well coordinated and planned attacks which enables them to take down prey that can even be between 2-4 times bigger than them such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes. Lions usually hunt at night because of their well-developed sense of sight especially at night where their vision is almost 6 times better than that of humans due to the presence of white patches around their eyes which enable them to absorb even the smallest amount of light available during the cover of darkness. Hunting among lions is an affair carried out by female lions mostly and juvenile males and when a kill has been made by the lionesses in a pride, it’s always the dominant male lion who will eat first up to his fill then the rest of the pride will feed on what has remained after the he has finished eating. They have a gestation period of 97 days and a life span of about 10-14 years.
Zebras are black and white striped pattern animals that belong to the equine tribe which they share with their close cousins the horses and donkeys. Each of these zebras has a unique pattern of stripes that is used to identify it alone just like finger prints do in humans. Originally, it was believed that zebras were white animals that had developed black stripes due to presence of white underbellies but this was disproved by further research on the animals as it was revealed that these animals were rather black originally and the white stripes came in later on.
Various theories have been forwarded to explain the occurrence of stripes in these animals and the most common theories state that the stripes are a defensive mechanism that zebras use to elude their predators like lions but this theory has been highly contested as it’s known that the lions eye sight is poor especially during day from long distances hence they highly rely on their hearing and smell senses during daytime zebra hunting missions. The other theory believes that zebras use these stripes to protect itself from horseflies and tsetse flies by creating a blurred vision. Zebras have a shoulder length of 1.2-1.3m or 47-51in and the body length of zebras ranges between 2-2.6m or 6.6-8.5ft. Their average weight is 350kg or 770Ib and they have sexual dimorphism as males are usually larger than females. Zebras have a gestation period of about 13 months with a 20-30year lifespan.
These belong to the antelope family and they are also commonly referred to as the eland antelopes. These are commonly sighted animals on the savannah plains of Africa. The coat colors of elands differ depending on their geographical location. The elands of eastern Africa have a smooth coat with females having a tan coat color while males have a darker coat with a bluish grey tinge. Both male and female elands have horns with steady spiral ridges, the females have longer horns with a tighter spiral than those of males which are shorter and thicker. Elands live in herds of up to 500 individuals. Male elands have a shoulder height of 150-183cm or 59-72in, the male elands weigh about 400-942kg or 882-2,077Ib while females have an average weight of 300-600kg or 660- 1,320Ib with a body length of 200-280cm or 79-110in and a shoulder height of 150-183cm or 59-72in. They have a gestation period of about 274 days and a lifespan of about 15-20 years.
Hyenas feature in many of our savannah plains national parks and Akagera National Park is no exception to this canine hunter. Hyenas are closely related to canines in terms of behavior and body structure as both hyenas and other canines kill most of their prey using their teeth than their claws. They have a wolf like body structure with their fore limbs being longer than the hind limbs and the entire hind quarters are visibly lower and the back slopes downwards towards their rumps. There are two different species of hyenas i.e. spotted hyenas and striped hyenas. Hyenas can be identified from their body structure that is they have large ears, they have thick fur that is coarse and sparse and poorly developed on their underbelly.
Spotted hyena exhibit sexual dimorphism with males being large than females while striped hyenas exhibit reversed sexual dimorphism with females being larger than males. Spotted hyenas are more of hunters while striped hyenas like to scavenge from kills made by other predators. Even though in human society, hyenas are depicted as cowardly animals, this isn’t entirely true as these animals have been widely documented chasing off big and fierce predators like lions and leopards from their kills and have the kill for themselves, this doesn’t strike as an act of cowardice by any means. Usually hyenas are nocturnal animals but they have can also be seen in the morning hours doing their hunting and stocking rounds. Hyenas have a set of 9 teeth comprising of mainly canines.
In Akeraga National Park, hippos are found wondering around lake Ihema areas. Lake Ihema has the highest concentration of hippos anywhere in east Africa. Hippos are large animals only behind the African elephant that can weigh anywhere between 1300-1500kg or 2870-3310ib for both sexes. The hippos are semi aquatic as they both live on land and in water. Hippos are herbivores animals can come on land in the evening to graze, they can be easily identified basing on barrel shaped body, short legs and long muzzles or mouths, their body is hairless with a purplish gray to blue black color which is also thick about 2in or 6cm. due to lack of body hairs, hippos secret an element that is reddish orange to brown to act as a protective layer both from the scotching sun and bacterial infection. This phenomenon is referred to as “blood sweating” hippos have a very powerful jaw which can open as wide as 180o and its filled with monstrous teeth with their incisors growing up to 40cm or 1ft4in and canines growing up to 50cm or 1ft8in. despite their short legs and big sizes hippos can burst to 30km/hr in short distances. Hippos are highly territorial while in water but not on land, they have a gestation period of 243days and can live up to 40-50 years.
Cape buffalo in Akgera National Park Rwanda
The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to actually other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. it has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in. An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this.
Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park. Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked they male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.
African bush elephants in Akgera National Park Rwanda
African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. these land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors. This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting.
The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. Elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch. Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day. In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds.
It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures. They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves. These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephants body through these parts. The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry.
A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime. All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung. Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence have they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung. They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.
Leopards in Akgera National Park Rwanda
Leopards are some of the big cat family predators that roam the plains of queen Elizabeth national park and they are at the top of the food chain together. Leopards are usually taken to be the same with cheetahs but they are completely different as cheetahs have tear marks on their faces small round spots while leopards have no this distinctive mark on their faces and have larger rosettes on their body. The skin color of leopards ranges from pale yellow to golden or yellowish brown with rosettes and this enables these super predators to camouflage so that they can stalk their prey without ever being noticed.
Male leopards are muscular with short limbs and a broad head, the males have an average shoulder height of 60-70cm or 24-28in and weigh in at 37-90kg while the females have an average shoulder height of57-64cm or 22-25in and weigh in between26-60kg. the cheetah has a very long tail that’s white tipped with a length of 60-100cm or 24-39in and this enables the leopards make quick sharp turns at high speed while on a chase. Leopards can sometimes have black color and this is caused by melanism which is a recessive gene in these animals and when a leopard is having this phenomena, it turns from being called a leopard to a black panther. Leopards are usually solitary animals, they have a gestation period of 90-105 days and can live in their natural habitat for 12-17 years.
This animal was first documented by john Speke who was the first European to come to Uganda in the late 1850s. He observed that although closely allied to the waterbuck, a Sitatunga lacks stripes but rather has spots. The color of Sitatungas varies depending on their location but they generally have a rufous red coat especially adult males while juveniles and females have a more chestnut like coat. They also have white facial makings and white stripes and spots all over their body but these are faintly visible. White patches can also be seen near the head, chest and on the throat.
Male sitatungas are larger than the females. Males have a body length of136-177cm or 54-70in while females measure 104-146cm or 41-57in in length, the males have a shoulder length of 81-166cm or 32-46in while females will stand at 72-90cm or 28-35in. Body weight ranges between 76-119kg for males and 24-57kg for females. Sitatungas reach sexual maturity aged one year for females while males attain maturity at 1.5years of age. These animals usually breed during the dry season and they have a gestation period of 8 months and normally give birth to a single calf. They have a lifespan of about 20 years in the wild but this increases to over 23 years in captivity.
These are one of the largest species in the antelope family as they are only exceeded by the elands and bongos in this family. The roan antelopes can be distinctively identified basing on their roan or reddish brown color with lighter underbellies, their eyebrows together with the cheeks are white while their face is black but becomes lighter in females. They have a smooth brown coat, their neck and mane is grey or black and their ventral parts are yellow to white. Male roan antelopes have a light beard and short and erect manes.
The horns of these antelopes have rings and bend backwards slightly, these also can grow to up to a meter long but they are evidently shorter in the female species. These live in quite small groups of between 5-15 individuals with a single dominant male. When male roan antelopes fight, they brandish their horns while their knees are on the ground. These animals a have a body length of 235-285cm or93-112in, a shoulder height of 135-160cm or 53-63in and a body mass of 230-320kg or 510-710ib
This is another member of the antelope subspecies. The oribi is has a small animal with a slightly raised back and a long neck. Its coat ranges from yellowish to rufous brown. It has a white chin and underbelly and these contrast sharply with the brown rufous upperparts. Male oribis possess horns that are straight, thin and short and are smooth at the tip and rigged at the base. This animal has a shoulder height of 50-67cm or 20-26in and weigh between 12-22kg. The oribi is typically a grazer animal that feeds on fresh grass especially in the morning and late evening hours hence its most active during day. The oribis live in small herds of up to 4 individuals especially in highly predatorily areas as a measure to protect themselves against predators.
The oribi attains sexual maturity at 10-14 months and will usually mate during the peak of the rainy season. During mating periods, the male oribi chases after the female and tests her urine to check if she is in oestrus and this period lasts between 4-6 days. After getting pregnant, the gestation period lasts between 6-7 months and single calf is usually born, the mother keeps her new born baby in a bush and usually goes to it for suckling, the male oribi will always graze near the hiding place of the new born baby in order to keep away other males or also protect it from predators. The baby is weaned at 4-5 months. These animals have a lifespan of over 10-12 years in the wild which may increase to 14 years in captivity
Birds in Akagera National Park Rwanda
Akagera National Park Rwanda contains 525 bird species making it one of the bird watching havens of Rwanda. The park’s varied ecosystems ranging from savannah to water environments. It is the best place to spot savannah bird species and raptors not forgetting papyrus swamp dwelling birds including; shoe bill stork, papyrus canary, papyrus gonolek, Caruthers’s cisticola and white-winged warbler. The low-lying savannah environs are a home to bird species such as Sousa’s shrike, red faced barbet, Bennett’s woodpecker, long tailed cisticola, miombo wren warblers, white winged and broad tailed warblers and white collared olive back.
Akagera National Park contains a range of water bodies including lakes and rivers that support a range of aquatic life including Hippopotamus and Nile crocodiles, water birds and act as drinking points for wild game in Akagera National Park Rwanda. The Lakes in Akagera National Park Rwanda include; Lake Gishanju, Lake Mihindi, Lake Ihema and Lake Shakani. The splendid Kagera river marks the entire eastern boundary of the park from the south to the north as it makes its way to the largest fresh water lake in Africa and the second in the world Lake Victoria which is also the source of the longest river in the world River Nile.
Tourist Activities in Akagera National Park Rwanda
Akagera National Park Rwanda offers boat cruise opportunities on one of its gigantic lakes – Lake Ihema that also stands as the second largest Lake in Rwanda. The thrilling boat encounter is organized by Akagera Game Lodge in conjunction with Rwanda Tourism Office. The boat cruise which is best done in the afternoon offers impressive sights of Hippos and Nile crocodiles not forgetting varios wild game dinking on the lake shore. This is one of the amazing recreational encounters to have on your Rwanda safari.
It will be an injustice done to you if you visit Akagera National Park and leave without taking a boat cruise on the serene waters of lake Ihema. This boat ride on lake Ihema will put you in a prime spot to get up close and personal to water giants like hippos as lake Ihema has the highest concentration of hippos anywhere in east Africa, numerous crocodiles line the shores of this lake as they bask in the sun and also stalk their next meal. You will have an impeccable chance to view some of the amazing mammal species in this park such as elephants, buffaloes, zebras as they retreat to this lake to have a drink and a much needed bath to cool themselves for the incessant tropical savanna heat. To crown it all, a variety of water bird species roam the skies above this lake hence taking to the waters aligns you in the best possible position to view these bird species like the shoebill stock, flycatchers and papyrus gonolek
Lake Shakani positioned in the south of Akagera National Park with in a close range to Lake Ihema offers rewarding sport fishing activity to travellers undertaking safaris in Rwanda.
Blessed with an assortment of lakes, Akagera National Park is a fishing paradise to anyone who wishes to do some serious angling. Fishing in Akagera National Park is done on lakes like Shakani where there is abundance of fish species like nile tilapia and cat fish. While fishing here, you will be in good company of the hippos that will always raise their heads to check on you and see how well you are faring with your activity and say hello to you with their numerous snots, numerous forest and water birds will also not abandon you as they will keep twittering away in the forest canopies to keep well entertained. So if you fancy you angling skills endeavor to pass by Akagera National Park during the annual fishing tournament where you will tussle it out with some of the world’s best anglers out there. The best feeling about fishing in Akagera National Park is that you are guaranteed of keeping your hard fought fish prize after catching one. So if you are to go fishing here, you can as well prepare a nice barbeque for grilling your prized catch there-after.
Akagera National Park Rwanda contain enormous counts of wildlife ranging from elephants to buffaloes, zebra, giraffe, Impala, water buck, genets, mongoose, side stripped jackal, serval cats, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, bush babies and occasionally spotted silver monkey. These offer an ideal ground for wild game viewing while on Rwanda wildlife safari. The Akagera National Park Rwanda also offers opportunities for night game drives that exposes to a range of nocturnal.
The game drive stretches from the southern sector traversing the park’s wilderness up to the northern side including the Mutumba hills exploring the wildlife, savannah landscapes and series of water bodies which combine to derive ultimate safari experience.
In Akagera National Park, there are both day and night game drives and this provide you with an excellent opportunity to view some of the majestic mammals that call these great plains their home. During day time game drives here, you are guaranteed with views from a wide range of mammals like zebras, African elephants, cape buffaloes, topis and oribis. Night game drives will give you an insight into the lives of predators that come to life with the cover of darkness, other animals that can be spotted include bush babies with their big circular eyes, these night drives last for about 2 hours.
Game drives can be done on a freelance but it’s advisable to seek services of the park guides since they understand the movement of wild game here better than anyone else. Game drives in Akagera National Park cost 25$ half day basis and 40$ full day basis. The game drives in Akagera don’t come with guiding services hence these have to be acquired separately from the game drives fees. Guiding services cost between 25-40$ depending on the length of the game drive.
Akagera National Park Rwanda provides Helicopter adventure tours which involve Ariel wildlife viewing. There are series of helicopter companies that provide this service. The aerial tours offers impressive scenic views of the Akagera plains that stretch to adjoin the Tanzanian plains dotted with acacia woodland supporting counts of wild game and marked by patches of Lakes and flowing streams and Rivers that makes your encounter memorable while on safari in Rwanda.
How to get to Akagera National Park Rwanda
Akagera National Park lies about 110km or 2 and ½ hour drive away from Kigali city the capital of Rwanda.
You can access Akagera National Park by use of Kigali- Rwamagana- Kayonza-Kabarondo- Rwinkwavu road. While following this route, drive from Kigali town center towards the Kigali airport but before reaching the airport probably 100m before the airport take a left turn and eastwards to Rwamagana continue to Kayonza where you will meet a roundabout and make a right turn, this will lead you to Kabarondo. Along Kabarondo road, make a left turn and drive towards Rwinkivu which is about 15km away from Kabarondo. You will meet a junction in Rwinkwivu which has the Akagera National Park signboard. From here the park gate lies only 13km away from you.
Akagera national park can be accessed using air transport means. This has been made possible by the presence of Akagera Aviation Company. Akgera Aviation offers helicopter flights to Akagera National Park on a chartered flight basis. These flights begin from Kigali international airport. The helicopters used by Akagera Aviation range from single passenger seaters to 5 passenger seaters to cater for a group of travelers.
Accommodation in Akagera National Park Rwanda
Ruzizi Tented Lodge is located on the Lake Ihema shore which is the second largest lake in Rwanda. Ruzizi Tented lodge is anew establishment and was opened up to Rwanda safari undertakers in October 2012 following nine months of construction. Accommodation is provided in 7 tents with the capacity to accommodate 14 people. All tents are self-contained with hot and cold running water. The rooms feature a dressing area and comfortable queen beds or ¾ twin beds. The Ruzizi Tented Lodge has a lounge, bar and dining, fire place under the fig tree and electricity is solar powered.
Akagera Game Lodge
Akagera Game Lodge is located with in the boarders of Akagera National Park Rwanda overseeing L. Ihema. Accommodation is provided in 58 self-contained rooms including 2 executive suites. Every room feature twin beds and satellite Television. The Akagera Game Lodge has a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, tennis court, and conference room and business center.
Shakani Campsite is positioned on the shores of Lake Shakani and offers sights of the lake and animals like Hippos and birds.
Mutamba Campsite is the most raised vantage in the park thus known for animal gathering including roan antelope and herds of eland.
Muyumba Campsite is situated on a ridge overseeing Lake Ihema and Lake Shakani with the views of Tanzania. The Camp is a few Kilometers from the park entrance at Kiyonza thus making the closest camp the entrance.
The Campsites have washrooms and pit latrines with no running water. Campers are required to carry their water but fire wood is provided. Tents for hire are available at the reception.
Nyungwe National Park is located in southwestern part of Rwanda, at the extreme border between Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The famous Nyungwe forest national park is one of the best preserved and conserved montane rainforest in whole of the East and Central Africa. The park lies at an elevation of 1,600 meters and 2,950 meters above sea level and its expansive network of well-maintained forest trails direct visitors to a number of waterfalls and viewing points. Covering over 1000 square kilometers, Nyungwe Forest national park that was gazzetted in 2004 is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests. Read More
Volcanoes National Park dubbed the safe haven for the mountain gorillas is situated in northwestern part of Rwanda and it’s bordered by national parks like Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The park is home to five of the eight stunning volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains namely: Karisimb volcano, mountain Bisoke, Mountain Muhabura, Gahinga Volcano and mountain Sabyinyo which are covered in rainforest and bamboo vegetation that dominate Volcanoes national park.Spanning on a 160sqkm area in the northern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes national park is the oldest national park in Africa. It was initially a small area around Karisimbi. Read More
Rwanda Travel Information
Location of Rwanda
The Republic of Rwanda is a land-locked country located in central Africa. It is bordered on the east by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with which it shares the shores of Lake Kivu; on the north by Uganda; on the west by Tanzania; and on the south by Burundi. Rwanda is a small country with an area of 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles). Comparatively, Rwanda is about the size of the state of Maryland. The capital city of Kigali is in the center of the country.
Climate-The average daytime temperature is around 24°C, except in the higher mountains, which take up a lot of the country, where the range is 10°C to 15°C. Rwanda can be visited at any time of year. The dry season from mid-May to mid-October is easier for tracking mountain gorillas, but the endless hills are barren, a contrast to the verdant greens of the wet season. Peak season for gorilla tracking is July and August; travelling outside this time means it is easier to arrange a permit.
It rains more frequently and heavily in the northeast, where the volcanoes are covered by rainforest. The summit of Karisimbi (4507m), the highest peak in Rwanda, is often covered with sleet or snow.
Language-In addition to the indigenous language of Kinyarwanda, French and English are official languages. French is widely spoken throughout the country. In the capital and other tourist centres, many people speak English.
Economy-Primarily a subsistence agriculture economy, Rwanda nonetheless produces for export some of the finest tea and coffee in the world. Other industries include sugar, fishing and flowers for export.
Hiking and biking-The fine road network, with little traffic, offers wonderful opportunities for long bicycle trips across the verdant hills and valleys. Mountain biking and hiking can be enjoyed on the thousands of kilometres of fine rural trails linking remote villages, criss-crossing the entire country.
Religions-The majority of Rwandans, about 65%, are Roman Catholic, with another 9% Protestant. Only about 1% of the population is Muslim. About a fourth of Rwandans are adherents of indigenous beliefs. However, these numbers and divisions are not clear cut. Many Rwandans practice both their traditional religion and Christianity at the same time.
Public Holidays-Good Friday and Easter Monday, which fall on variable dates, are recognized in Rwanda. Other public holidays are:
1 January (New Year’s Day); 1 February (National Heroes Day); 7 April (Genocide Memorial Day); 1 May (Labour Day); 1 July (Independence Day); 4 July (National Liberation Day); 15 August (Assumption Day);1 October (Patriotism Day); 25 December (Christmas Day), and 26 December (Boxing Day).
The Rwandan Franc (Frw/Rwf) is the legal currency in Rwanda. American Dollars and Euros are accepted in some hotels and restaurants however expect to receive your change in Rwandan Francs.
What is the Geography of Rwanda?
Rwanda is a landlocked republic in Equatorial Africa, situated on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift, a western arm of the Great Rift Valley, on the watershed between Africa’s two largest river systems: the Nile and the Congo. Much of the country’s 26,338 km2 is impressively mountainous, the highest peak being Karisimbi (4,507m) in the volcanic Virunga chain protected by the Volcanoes National Park. The largest body of water is Lake Kivu, but there areother numerous lakes around the country, notably Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi and Mugesera, some of which have erratic shapes following the contours of the steep mountains that enclose them.
Getting to Rwanda
Getting to Rwanda
The main airport in Kigali is the Kanombe International Airport. It is located 10 km east of the Kigali centre.
Kigali currently receives direct flights from Nairobi, Entebbe, Bujambura, Addis Abeba, Kilimanjaro, Brussles, Amsterdam, Dar es Salaam, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Juba, Lagos and Dubai via Mombasa.
It is also possible to take a bus from neighboring countries.
Rwanda has possibly the best roads in East Africa. Most visitors who have booked through our company will be provided with good private vehicles, usually 4-wheel drive. All of the major centers are connected with local and luxury bus services. Air charter services are available anywhere in the country. Short distances within cities can be travelled either on foot or by taxi-velo (bicycle taxi). These are relatively inexpensive.
Motorcycle taxis (taxi moto) are the most popular in Kigali. These taxis can be identified by their jerseys and they always have an extra helmet. Most drivers speak basic English or French. Laws require moto-bikes to use helmets, and Rwandans abide by this. Taxis are common and can be found at taxi stands in Kigali and provinces and they have specific bus stops. One may hire a special taxi or by calling them or if at any hotel, one may get the hotel reception calling taxi as most of hotels have a taxi station near them. They are more expensive than motorcycle taxis and other public buses.
“Matatus” are the white with green or yelow minibuses that travel across the country. Rwanda has a good local transportation system for inter-region connectivity, good road system, and has plenty of well-maintained and modern minibuses. Cars and drivers can be hired from Kigali, and most of the roads are well maintained. To make your trip more interesting, if consider driving from Kigali to other provinces of Rwanda, eg. Along lake Kivu, it is recommended that you get a 4×4 and travel with someone who knows the area or use the public transport (Matatus) as from the regional cars parking at Nyabugogo, each 30 minutes there are buses from different transport agencies linking Kigali to other cities of the country. Back country driving is perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure.
How to Communicate in Rwanda
Rwanda has an excellent cell phone network covering almost the entire country. International phone calls can be made easily. Appropriate SIM cards for the network are readily available everywhere, even in remote towns, and cell phones can be purchased or rented from major shops in Kigali. Most towns of any size will have several Internet cafes and computer centers.
What time zone is Rwanda?
The entire country of Rwanda is in Central Africa Time Zone (UTC+02:00)
Is Rwandan Visa Required when under taking Safari to Rwanda?
A Rwanda Visa is required for all visitors except for nationals of the UK, Germany, Sweden, Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa Tanzania and Uganda (for a duration of less than three months).
For the rest of the unmentioned countries, the cost goes for about USD60, depending on the place of issue. For fly in travelers, visas of recent are being issued at Kigali airport on arrival, and you can also usually buy visas at overland boarders.
Nationals of countries without an embassy can also obtain a visa on arrival by prior arrangement with their hosts, who can arrange a facilitate de’ entrée.
In case you plan on hiring a vehicle while in the country, do organize an international driving license (via one of the main motoring associations in a country in which you are licensed to drive), which you may be asked to produce together with your original license.
For Identification and security concern, just in case the worst comes to the worst, it’s advisable to detail all your identification information, make copies of it and distribute a copy into your luggage, your money-belt and definitely give some to close relatives and friends; make sure it includes; travelers cheque numbers and refund information, travel insurance policy details and 24-hour emergency contact number, passport number, details of relatives or friends to be contacted in an emergency, bank and credit card details, camera and lens serial numbers.
Importantly, include also email and contact information of your destination, company, organization or friends and family.
What are the recommended Vaccinations one must take before traveling to Rwanda?
What are the recommended Vaccinations one must take before traveling to Rwanda?
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to Rwanda. All travelers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure.
Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications
|Types of Diseases||Travellers|
|Hepatitis A||Recommended for all travelers|
|Typhoid||Recommended for all travelers|
|Yellow fever||Required for all travelers greater than one year of age|
|Meningococcus||Recommended for all travelers|
|Polio||One-time booster recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult|
|Hepatitis B||Recommended for all travelers|
|Rabies||For travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, or at high risk for animal bites, or involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats|
|Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)||Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given
|Tetanus-diphtheria||Revaccination recommended every 10 years|
How to stay healthy while on Rwanda Safari
Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission. In developing countries like Uganda, drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.) To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches. Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites: Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors. Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide). If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
What you are supposed to do while on your Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
- Do not drink beverages with ice
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
- Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider per-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
- Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
- Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
Do I need Malaria Medicine?
Even though less prevalent than other African countries, Malaria does exist in Rwanda. While there is no vaccine against malaria, prophylactic drugs along with prevention will significantly reduce the risk of getting it. We recommend you consult your doctor on malaria medicine prior to traveling to Rwanda.
What kind of insurance/guarantee is there in case of any risk during safari?
We do our best to minimize or eradicate risks in all safaris organized by Africa Adventure Safaris. Nevertheless we encourage you, before commencing your safari, to seek travel insurance cover in respect to delays and unexpected cancellations; loss of baggage, etc. We advise our prospective guests to contact reliable Insurance companies such as World Nomads & Worldwide Travel Insurance for excellent coverage Some of our safaris in East Africa may require proof of vaccinations, medical coverage or evacuation coverage before we allow you to proceed with confirmation of your safari.
Which currency do i need when traveling to Rwanda?
Which currency do i need when traveling to Rwanda?
The Rwandan franc (FRW, and possibly RF o RWF) is the Rwandan currency. It is subdivided into 100 centimes. A proposal exists to introduce a common currency, a new East African shilling, for the five member states of the East African Community. The Rwandan exchange rate was last updated on October 22, 2013 from Yahoo Finance. The RWF conversion factor has 5 significant digits. Banknotes and coins are both used as legal tender for Rwanda. You can exchange money in the several exchange bureaus in Kigali city, right from the airport. However it is advisable to exchange foreign currency outside Kigali city.
Most Banks open from 08.00 am – 8.00pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday) and on Saturday 8.00am 1.00 pm; on Sundays 10.00 am to 6.00pm. On the Umuganda Day banks in Kigali open from 2.00 to 6.00pm. Credit cards are acceptable at most supermarkets, restaurants and accommodation in Kigali. In the rural areas it is only money in Rwanda Francs that they can comfortably accept. Most banks in East Africa have difficulty accepting MasterCard. In Kigali counter service for withdrawals at Ecobank and Access Bank accept MasterCard withdrawals at a price.
Which banks in Kigali accept Visa cards?
Bank of Kigali (In Town)
ATMs at bank of Kigali accept international visa cards. They offer 2 options: either Rwanda francs or Dollars. However they are inconsistent as they are on and off. Many times, one has to walk to the bank counters with a visa or MasterCard, Pin number and the passport to be helped though at a small cost.
Access Bank (Inside UTC 2nd Floor)
To withdraw money from your debit or credit card, one has to go to the counter and show a passport.
Fina Bank ATM (In downtown past the Gorilla roundabout towards Serena Hotel)
Note: – ATM withdrawals have a limit of $700 a day.
Be aware that plastic bags are strictly not allowed in Rwanda. Ensure you use paper bags for packaging.
Which airlines are operating in Kigali airport?
Which airlines are operating in Kigali airport?
Kigali airport is a small but well organized airport by international standards. There are several international flights operating in this airport including:-
Daily flights from Entebbe
3 flights daily from Nairobi
2 flights a week Mon and Fri Kilimanjaro
From Bujumbura 5 flights a week Tue, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun
Rwandair, the national carrier, has several daily flights to various African destinations, as well as Dubai in Middle East.
Ethiopian Airlines operates daily between Addis Ababa and Kigali
- Brussels 3 flights a week Tue, Thurs and Sat
- Johannesburg 3 flights a week Wed, Fri and Sun
- South African airways has daily flights between Kigali and South Africa
- Turkish Airlines begun flights to Kigali from Istanbul in May 2012
Prime Safaris and Tours can help you to book flights for you.
It is advisable to have a Yellow Fever certificate before boarding any plane to destinations such as Tanzania and South Africa. Immigration Officials at the airport will not hesitate to request for it. Some announcements are not loud enough. So as you sit in the café at the airport be very attentive as most times there are over-bookings on some airlines whereby you may end up left at the airport.
Electrical tips for Rwanda travelers
In Rwanda, the electrical sockets (outlets) used are the “Type C” Euro plug and the “Type E” and “Type F” Schuko. Often times we advise our guests to travel with plug adapters since many of our guests to Rwanda end up crossing to Uganda as well where the sockets are also different.
The Rwanda electrical sockets (outlets) supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you are to plug in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then you need an adapter.
Travel plug adapters do not change the voltage. The electric current coming through the adapter has to be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. United States of American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts, far much lower than in most of parts of the world.
What is the best month to undertake safari to Rwanda.
Rwanda is mountainous country in nature. Owing to her closeness to the Equator, Rwanda enjoys a tropical temperate climate. Her average annual temperature ranges between 16 and 20°C. In the Volcanoes national park area the temperature may at times get as low as 0°C. In the intermediary altitude (the lowland East and West), average temperatures vary between 19 and 21°C. Winds are normally around 1-3 m/s. Rainfall is quite enough despite some irregularities at times. Rainfall ranges from about 900 mm in the east and southeast to 1500 mm in the north and northwest volcanic areas of Ruhengeri.
Rainfall is generally well distributed throughout the year, with some spatial and temporal variability. Eastern and southeastern regions are the most affected by prolonged droughts while the western and northern areas receive heavy rainfall that at times culminate into soil erosion, landslides and flooding. The spatial variability is due to the complex topography and the existence of large water bodies within the Great Lakes Region.
Rwanda travel advice: safety information for travelers to Rwanda
Rwanda travel advice: safety information for travelers to Rwanda
Is Rwanda a safe country for tourists?
Rwanda is a very safe country to visit.
Although Rwanda has lived through a turbulent history, the country is safe, stable and welcoming. Rwandan’ hospitable nature is legendary! You will be warmly welcomed wherever you go by the country’s friendly residents.
If you are unsure about the safety of travel to Rwanda, please contact Prime safaris and Tours Ltd. At Prime Safaris and Tours, your safety is our absolute priority and you can be rest assured that we will always give you the best Rwanda travel advice.
Is Kigali City a safe city for tourists?
Kigali is one of the safest capital cities in (East) Africa – although, as anywhere, petty thieves may try and take advantage of people who leave phones and valuables unattended. Your driver guide will give you all the information you need to make sure your trip is safe and incident-free. Feel free to ask questions!
Tipping in Rwanda
It is customary to tip for service in restaurants and bars. A tip of 5% is very acceptable and a tip of 20% is very generous. It is also customary to tip your driver/guide at the end of a safari or hike, as well as the cook and/or porter that may accompany to you. Tipping is not at any fixed amount and may depend on personal wish.
Is it safe to take water in Rwanda?
Unfortunately, it is not recommended to drink the tap water during your time in Rwanda. It is important to stick with bottled water, even when brushing teeth.
Can i use internet in Rwanda?
Wifi is available in most hotels, free of charge. It is quite easy to find Cafés in Kigali with wifi, but it is not always guaranteed so it is best to check beforehand if you are planning on using internet. The lodges in the countryside are also equipped with wifi, however, cafés and restaurants outside of Kigali generally do not.