Akagera National Park is one of Africa's most diverse and scenic game reserves. Located northeast bordering Tanzania, the park has established itself as Rwanda's Big Five game park. The park gets its name from Akagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding through several lakes the largest of which is Lake Ihema. The labyrinth of lakes and papyrus swamps follows the river's course to make up over third of the park. This is in fact the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
In contrast to highlands that make up a big part of Rwanda, Akagera National Park is relatively at a lower altitude, the climate is moderately lower and the area mostly low-lying savannah, with rolling plains of broad-leafed and acacia woodlands and grasslands. This open expansiveness is ideal for game viewing.
The park was founded in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation in three habitats, that is, savannah, mountain and swamp. The big game in the park includes the African Elephant, Lions,Buffaloes, Zebra, Giraffes and several antelopes. Other animals include hyenas, leopards, lions, mongooses, genets, serval cats, and stripped jackals.
Akagera River and its lakes are home to one of the highest concentration of hippos in Africa. Other animals in Akagera and the lakes include several reptiles such as the Nile crocodile.
The park also has primates such as olive baboons, vervet monkeys, bush babies and silver monkeys.
With more than 525 bird species, Akagera National Park is one of the best birding spots in Rwanda. The diverse habitats of the park encourage a wide variety of bird species to the area. It is the best place in Rwanda to find savannah birds and raptors. It is also well stocked with water-birds. Some of the birds include the elusive shoebill stork, papyrus gonolek, Carruthers' cisticola, white winged warbler and the papyrus canary among others.