Tourist Activities in Akagera National Park – Rwanda

Akagera National Park derived its name from Akagera River and it is only savanna grassland national park in Rwanda. If you are interested in exploring more about the big five game while on Rwanda safari then this is the best destination that you should consider in your travel plan. A visit to this park offers you a feeling like you are in the vast savanna grassland protected areas in Kenya and Tanzania. For dramatic wilderness experiences, visit Akagera National Park and you will be filled with lots of amazing natural wonders.

Game Drives/Nature Walks

Akagera National Park features as the only safari destination in Rwanda where you can embark on an exciting game drive. A game drive at this park allows you to explore the natural wonders that Rwanda offers to the world besides the rare mountain gorillas. A fact that it is the only open savanna grassland conservation area in the Land of a Thousand Hills, a game drive on its tracks rewards you with amazing views of its remarkable wildlife species. While on game drive, you will spot out wildlife species like savanna elephants, buffaloes, leopards, lions, rhinos, giraffes, sitatunga, topis, roan antelopes, Bohor reedbuck, zebra, Defassa waterbuck, duikers, Oribis, Klipspringer, olive baboons, bush buck, impalas, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, side striped jackal, mongoose, vive rid, serval, several birds and many others. Those of you will take a bit a longer game drive; make sure that you have packed some snacks or lunch and drinking water. You can also engage in nature a walk which allows you to explore variety of wildlife species while on foot.

Night Game Drives

Besides day game drives, you can also embark on a night game drives where you will spot out most of the nocturnals. This wilderness experience is a bit unique from the day drives as it allows you to spot out the predators that prowl at night especially leopards, lions, civets, hyenas, bush babies/galagoes (otolemur crassicaudatus and Galago moholi) serval cats and others. There are also several nocturnal birds and bush baby for you to sight out and this experience lasts for 2 hours.

Bird Watching

Akagera National Park features as one of the Important Bird Areas in Rwanda. This park offers refuge to more than 520 bird species. While on birding safari at this park, the notable bird species for you to sight out include threatened papyrus gonolek which are only restricted to papyrus swamps, swamp flycatcher (Muscicapa boehmi), shoebill stork, red faced barbet and many more.

Boat tours

If you are interested in exploring most of the aquatic life in Rwanda then a boat cruise is the best option for you. Boat cruises are conducted along Lake Ihema, a famous refuge to most hippos in East Africa and huge crocodiles. Lake Ihema is Rwanda’s second largest Lake after Lake Kivu. The recreational boat rides at this park can be done during day and at the sunset which equally rewards you with spectacular views of hippos, the Nile crocodile and several species of birds. Boat rides can also be planned at Akagera Game Lodge.

Sport fishing

Akagera National Park is one of the perfect destination that you can pay a visit if you are interested in challenging and yet exciting sport fishing adventures. Sport fishing at this park is done on Lake Shakani which is in the south. The notable fish species in this lake include the tilapia and catfish.

Helicopter adventures or aerial safaris

Akagera National Park offers one of the best aerial experiences in East Africa. This amazing adventure allows you to explore the spectacular landscapes of Akagera National Park while on air. Akagera National Park comprises of beautiful swamp fringed Lakes and open savanna grassland which extend to the Tanzania plains.

Gorilla Permits Bookings – Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla Permits In Uganda And Rwanda

Are you planning to go for gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation in Bwindi or Volcanoes National Park Rwanda? Have you already secured a permit or you have not yet because you do not know how much it costs? Well, with a permit at hand, you are definitely on upper hand to see gorillas although this doesn’t guarantee you a hundred percent that you will see one. In gorilla trekking, one permit is equal to one habituated gorilla group by securing one in advance gives you in an added advantage. Once you are assigned to one habituated gorilla family, you will be accompanied by a trained park guide who takes trekkers through the entire trekking process in the thick forest to see the rare mountain gorillas.

Mountain gorillas are only found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but at a moment, the DR Congo Virunga National Park is currently closed till 2019. To be part of gorilla trekking in any of the destinations, you need to have a permit at hand and in Uganda, you need $600 if you are foreign non-resident, $500 if you are a foreign resident and those within East African community you need to have shs.250000. With two more new habituated gorilla families that have been opened for this life changing adventure, over 136 permits are always available for visitors to book. You can book one through a local tour operator/company and for this case, you don’t need to look any further because we are among a few most trust worthy tour companies you can deal with and we can make your dream come true in Africa.

The other alternative is for you to book directly with a reservationist at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) whose headquarters is based in Kamokya-Kampala. However, most tourists prefer dealing with the ground tour operator why, because the process is simpler and the fact that about 80 percent of the available permits are always given to tour operators and only 2o percent remain with UWA of which the process tends to be tiresome if dealt directly with Uganda Wildlife Authority. The process for booking a permit is almost the same as that of UWA whereby you will be required to contact a reservationist to help find out the availability of permits and then book one for you once you are done making money transfer to company’s account/UWA’s account. You will also be required to submit your details especially your names, passport number, nationality and other necessary details.

For those you who may want to enhance their experiences further, there is also gorilla habituation experience which is only conducted in Bwindi National Park and only in Uganda. Permits for this extraordinary adventure cost $1500 per person for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and shs.750000 for East African community residents.

A gorilla permit is generally a license which is issued to visitors on gorilla safari and it is what offers trekkers opportunity to have a face to face encounter with these rare creatures for only an hour. A face to face encounter with these dramatic creatures is undoubtedly a magical experience of lifetime.

In Rwanda, you can secure one at $1500 through a local tour operator or through a reservationist at Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Interested visitors on gorilla safari to any of the destinations are always advised to book their permits in advance at least three to six months earlier to avoid any disappointment. Note that demand for these permits is very high and can even be worse when it is a dry season which is also a high/peak season and they can be few. Also it is important to note that only eight trekkers are allowed to track. The dry season/high season usually begins from June to September and this is normally the longest dry season and the short one starts from December to February. During this period, the demand is high and you need to book one early enough.

Conclusively, a gorilla permit is a must to have if you are to be allowed to track mountain gorillas in either Uganda or Rwanda or even the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Book one in advance your dreams will be achieved in africa!

Gorilla groups in Rwanda

Rwanda Gorilla Groups / Families – Volcanoes National Park

In Rwanda, gorilla visit can entail anything from a 1 to 4-hour trek through the thick forest, led by experienced trackers who have spent some good time living close to the forest with the gorillas. Your trek will be enchanting as you weave through overhanging vines, moss-covered Hagenia trees and giant Lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate. While in the country you may spot golden monkeys or see buffalo, bush duiker and a wide variety of birds. But the high point, of course, one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth, will be spending an hour with the gentle giant gorillas as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting, and raising their young. At the end of your visit you will understand what kept conservationist Dian Fossey living in this same forest for 18 years protecting these wonderful animals.

Besides, there are seven gorilla families available in Rwanda.

Susa Gorilla Group

The name Susa was derived from the Susa River in their home range. The group is well known for having twins. This group sometimes migrates to higher altitudes making them harder to track. When you reach this group the first thing you notice is that there are gorillas everywhere, however, this group split in 2008, the name of the group which split from Susa is called Karisimbi with 15 members including 3 silverbacks. This is the largest family with 41 gorillas. Like I told you the group is the hardest to trek as it tends to range high into the mountains but trackers will know well in advance where the group is located. The group is also well-known for having rare 5 year old twins named Byishimo and Impano.

Sabyinyo Gorilla Group

It was named after the Sabyinyo volcano which means “old man’s teeth”. Sabyinyo is one of the groups closest to the park’s edge with 8 individuals. These groups reside in the gentle slopes between Mount Sabyinyo and Gahinga and thus are easily accessible. You might take anything from ten minutes to an hour to reach the gorillas. Generally, the slopes aren’t too daunting though can be slippery after rain. This group contains, Guhonda, the largest silverback of all the groups. Sabyinyo group is so easily accessible led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. There are fewer members within this family than in the other groups however they are equally impressive as a family.

Amahoro Gorilla Group

Amahoro in Kinyarwanda language means “peace”. Like its name, Amahoro, is the most peaceful of all the gorilla groups Led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe, Amahoro is made up of 17 members.

Group 13

When first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members.

This was the first habituated group and has grown from an initial 13 members! It was named simply for its original size of 13 individuals when it was discovered. Since then it maintained the name. The group can be found in the same area as the Sabyinyo group, although it sometimes moves deeper into the mountain.

Sometime back, this group was commanded by Nyakarima who was challenged by Agashya meaning “the news”. Agashya indeed made news by first watching and estimating Nyakarima’s strengths and eventually challenging him to a fierce fight by taking off with his whole group. This was a shock to Nyakarima and an unprecedented event in observed gorilla history. Agashya then moved up the volcano to secure his group and make sure Nyakarima did not track them. Agashya has since increased his group’s numbers by snatching from other groups and assimilating other lone gorillas, rapidly increasing the group from 12 to 21 individuals.

Agashya is known for its first sign of trouble, to take his whole group up to the top of the volcano. While we were taking a group of tourists to see Group 13 this exact scenario unfolded. Agashya felt that there was another silverback who was about to challenge him. In response, he took the group up the volcano. Every time we thought we were close to see them, Agashya would move the group further uphill. We did not reach them until the very top. Meanwhile we got a chance to see them. By the time we got back to the car we have walked for 12 hours. While it was an exhausting day, it was magical to see gorillas at the top the world.

Umubano Gorilla Family

This 18-member group is led by Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silverbacks and one black back. The group inhabits the lower slopes of Mt Muhabura and is also one of the more difficult families to track. The group was formerly a part of the Amahoro group until Charles matured into a silverback of the same rank as Ubumwe, he could not stand being given orders and decided to stage a fight and challenge Ubumwe. This fight went on for weeks and then months and eventually Charles managed to snatch from Ubumwe a few females and formed his own group. Since then, he has commanded respect and recognition from Ubumwe. We have observed, on various occasions, interactions between the two silverbacks, but no fighting has been seen since the great battle ended.

Kwitonda Gorilla Group / Family

This family is named after the dominant Silverback of the group and means ‘humble one’. The group inhabits the lower slopes of Mt Muhabura like Susa group this one also is so difficult to track.

Hirwa Gorilla Group / family

This group emerged recently and was formed from different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo.

This is still a relatively new group which was formed from two different families, Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Eventually more gorillas joined. Come witness this family continue to grow. The group had two twins born at the beginning of 2011.

Hirwa has 9 individuals: 1 Silverback; 3 Adult females; 2 Sub adult females and 3 Babies. The name Hirwa means “lucky one”.

It came into the lime light on the 17th of June 2006 when trackers witnessed its formation. Two gorilla transfers from group 13 and Sabyinyo joined the then very small Hirwa group. As luck would have it other gorillas joined them as well and created the group. Despite being the newest group on the block, Hirwa exhibits strength and holds its own amongst all the other established groups.