Today, those going on the excursion to Akagera Park would be in three Land Cruisers similar to what we rode in while in Tanzania. After a quick breakfast, we were off...heading northeast this time.
More sights along the way...life in rural Rwanda...
(Click any photo to enlarge)
The north of Akagera is mostly fairly low-lying grasslands and savannah plains, similar in feel to the 'traditional' safari areas of East Africa. To the west are rolling hills and valleys more typical of Rwandan countryside while to the east, the Akagera River feeds into a series of lakes, marshes and papyrus swamps that constitute central and eastern Africa’s largest protected wetlands. So, for a fairly small National Park, an Akagera safari can be extremely diverse with a variety of habitats, wildlife and birds, and some lovely scenery.
Akagera National Park has had a troubled past, with refugees from Rwanda’s civil wars returning to live in the area in the late 1990s, harming the environment through cattle-grazing and poaching. Consequently, the government reduced Akagera by half, allowing the new residents to stay in one part and protecting the rest.
Today, Akagera National Park is managed in conjunction with the conservation organisation African Parks, which is bringing it back to life. New perimeter fences and anti-poaching measures have made a huge difference to its animal populations and the national park is now well on the way to being restored. While its wildlife isn’t quite on the same scale as better-known East African parks, there is still plenty to see on an Akagera safari in some very beautiful scenery.
Akagera’s wildlife has increased significantly over recent years and the latest count estimated that the Park is now home to some 8,000 large animals. The new perimeter fence completed in late 2013 should also impact positively on numbers.
Happy hour up the road. The group that saw the gorillas had a fabulous time. It was quite the hike in mud to get to them. You are not allowed to touch them but they can touch you. Alberto had some great video of the young ones. Byron had one run past him and got knocked over but wasn't hurt at all. Another once in a lifetime experience!
That evening we had our Closing Tour Party. Emmanuel, Athanasie, and Gloria joined us along with a couple of folks from the Yego Project.