Rwanda is an up-and-coming safari destination, with central Africa’s largest protected wetland in the Akagera National Park on the country’s eastern border with Tanzania.
With just over a thousand square kilometres, Akagera’s forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make it amongst the most scenic of reserves.
It’s not uncommon for visitors to spend an entire day without seeing another vehicle, offering the impression it’s just you and the wilderness. Nevertheless, a lot is going on behind the scenes.
Since 2010, we have in place a joint venture with the highly-respected African Parks, a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities.
Akagera is once again home to the Big Five, following the reintroduction of seven lions in 2015 – which bred successfully and doubled in number within a year – as well as 18 Eastern black rhinos in 2017. We have cut poaching to an all time low, with the introduction of a helicopter, a canine unit and rhino trackers.
Leopard, hyena and side-striped jackal make up the larger predators in the park. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala.
Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.
Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with 525 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.
A boat trip on Lake Ihema, in the south of Akagera, offers a delightful opportunity to see hippos and Nile crocodiles, as well as countless birds nesting on the island at its centre.