Akagera is Rwanda's answer to the savannah parks of Kenya and Tanzania, and is utterly different in landscape to anywhere else in the country. Prior to the genocide, when much of the wildlife was slaughtered or driven over the border, this was considered one of the better parks in East Africa. Today, thanks to outside investment, wildlife numbers are increasing and most people get to see zebras, impalas, topis, giraffes, masses of hippos and crocodiles and even elephants.
There are three distinct environments in the park: standard savannah as seen in much of the region; an immense swampy area along the border with Tanzania that contains six lakes and numerous islands, some of which are covered with forest; and a chain of low mountains on the flanks of the park with variable vegetation, ranging from short grasses on the summits to wooded savannah and dense thickets of forest.
Truth be told, Akagera is still a shadow of its former self, and you will be extremely disappointed if you come here expecting concentrations of wildlife on a par with Kenya and Tanzania. Carnivores in Akagera are limited to very rarely seen leopards and hyenas as well as genets, servals and jackals. Seven lions were brought to the park in 2015 and with three cubs born in 2016, there are now 10 lions here. Of the other large 'trophy' animals there are an estimated 90 elephants, which are quite commonly seen. Buffaloes are also present in reasonably healthy numbers and there over 1500 hippos in the lakes. Antelope and other plains game are well represented, though herds tend to be small and the animals rather skittish. Common safari staples include impala, topi, zebra and waterbuck, as well as the majestic but rare roan antelope. Masai giraffe, never native to the park, have been introduced and are faring well. Park authorities received a grant from the UK to reintroduce black rhinos to the park in 2016 and they are expected to arrive in 2017, making the park a 'big five' destination again. Like the giraffe, black rhinos were never native to the park but were present prior to the genocide following a previous reintroduction.
Of the primates, olive baboons and vervet monkeys are very common. The blue monkey, which was thought to have been extinct in Akagera, was recently rediscovered. Needless to say it's not easy to find.
Even if you don’t come across too many animals, you probably won’t come across too many other wildlife-viewing drivers either. Indeed, the tourist trail has yet to fully incorporate Akagera, which means you can soak up the park’s splendid nature in relative peace and isolation.