Akagera National Park lies in eastern Rwanda, hugging the border with Tanzania. It’s characterized by woodland, swamps, low mountains and savannah. The varied terrain shelters wildlife including zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions and hundreds of bird species, such as the rare shoebill stork. In the southern part of the park, vast Lake Ihema is home to hippos and crocodiles.
In May 2017, a joint operation between the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks saw the reintroduction of around 20 Eastern black rhinoceroses from South Africa, which had been absent for 10 years. With the reintroduction of black rhinos and lions, the national park is now home to all of Africa’s “big five”: lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo.
A boat trip on Lake Ihema is also a highlight of any visit to Akagera, with its large pods of hippos, Nile crocodiles and abundant water birds on the island in the middle of the lake.
Lions were reintroduced in 2015 after they were hunted out in the 1990s, and the population doubled in the first year with the birth of eleven cubs. Two additional males were trans-located from South Africa to Akagera in 2017 to increase the population’s genetic diversity.