From the terrace, I saw the Akagera National Park, Lake Ihema and a number of seasonal and perennial swamps. The home of the Big Five encompasses ten lakes and a wetland area inhabited by numerous species of birds.
Akagera Rhino Lodge offers unforgettable ecotourism experiences in and around the protected area. Discounts on airport transfers, safari cars and professional guiding services are given to residents.
From my vantage point, the view of the park was breathtaking. Founded in 1934, Akagera was a big wildlife habitat, covering 10% of the entire country. Over the years, population growth and the arrival of returning refugees led to constant trespassing and a spike in cases of illegal activities, including poaching. Eventually, the park lost a big chunk of land and a significant percentage of its flora and fauna.
The last two decades have seen successful efforts to turn the situation around. When the government joined forces with partners and members of the surrounding communities, the ensuing ecological and economic revival was impressive. Today, conservation is the norm. In addition, the economic benefits of tourism are extended to the people.
The fall and rise of this national park reflects the history of the entire destination. The dark chapters of the past threatened to wipe it out of the surface of the earth. However, strategic policies and deliberate efforts led to its rebirth and unprecedented economic growth.
When I visited the park for the first time, I drove from Kiyonza entrance to Nyungwe exit through Ihema’s stunning shoreline. Recently, I returned to the park for my first-ever hot air balloon experience and a more extensive game drive around the park. Later in the evening, I had dinner on the deck of Rhino Lodge’s open-air restaurant. Once again, I was awestruck by the breathtaking vista.