Rwanda Ecotourism Programme

Join our Rwanda Ecotourism Programme at Akagera National Park in an effort to make a positive difference to the local communities and environment while being immersed in the local culture for an experience that will be truly life-changing.

Image with thanks to the Akagera Management Company

Image with thanks to Jes Gruner/Akagera Management Company

Have you ever wanted behind the scenes exposure and involvement in conservation work on a conservancy that has achieved phenomenal success?

Akagera National Park is the largest protected wetland in Central Africa and the only wilderness refuge left in Rwanda for savannah-adapted species. The Park is a conservation success story, with black rhinos and lions having been recently reintroduced from South Africa to make Akagera the only Big Five park in Rwanda. Akagera also boasts a canine anti-poaching unit to protect the wildlife. Join our expert conservation team in their unique approach of working hand in hand with local communities to uplift conservation in the park and in Rwanda.

This is a unique opportunity to help conserve some of Africa’s most critically endangered animals through close collaboration with local communities. Community engagement is one of the most important pillars of conservation and volunteers will work in the local communities along the outskirts of the Park on the following projects:

  • Harvesting honey from traditional beehives. Image with thanks to Sarah Hall/Akagera Management Company

    Beekeeping & honey production project

  • Tree nursery
  • Vegetable garden
  • Aquaculture
  • Tending the layer hens
  • Basketry
  • Arts and crafts
  • Natural building (learning how to make mud bricks)
  • English teaching
  • Reading club
  • Nature club
  • Environmental education

 

 

When not immersed in community projects, volunteers will spend time in Akagera National Park assisting with vital conservation work:

  • Game viewing on the plains of Akagera National park. Image with thanks to Bryan Havemann/Akagera Management Company

    Game census

  • Camera trapping for wildlife research
  • Soil erosion control
  • Alien vegetation removal
  • Raptor identification and recording of sightings
  • Data entry

 

 

 

Africa Parks manage Akagera and have achieved remarkable work against a challenging backdrop:

“The park was not always a wildlife haven. The Rwandan Civil War in the 1990’s took its toll on the park when much of the land was reallocated as farmland for returning refugees, reducing the size of the park from 2,500 km² to just 1,122 km². The high population density and human encroachment into the park was a pressing issue in the past, but the ongoing efforts to restore animal populations, increased law enforcement and the construction of the fence resulted in a positive impact. With the implementation of rigorous law enforcement since 2010, poaching has been reduced, wildlife has prospered and the tourism industry has been transformed.

As Rwanda’s only Big Five park, Akagera provides important opportunities for local employment. This life-giving revenue stream not only strengthens ties with surrounding communities, but ensures the very survival of the park and its wildlife.”

In addition to community upliftment through employment opportunities, we aim to strengthen community ties through our Rwanda Ecotourism Programme primarily through the transferal of vital skills, meaningful cultural exchange and appreciation, and identifying the best ventures for communities that help preserve their beautiful way of life while simultaneously helping to lift communities out of poverty.

LOCATION

Akagera Game Lodge is set within the 90,000ha Akagera National Park in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, on the border of Tanzania.  Akagera Game Lodge is a 2-hour drive from Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.

Akagera Game lodge is currently one of the only accommodation facilities inside the Akagera National Park boundaries, and is located along the shores of Lake Ihema. It has a large swimming pool at the edge of the wide savanna with expansive views over the lake. Volunteers stay in en-suite twin rooms, with three meals daily being served in the lodge, and on some days, packed lunches are taken into the field.

Akagera National Park is rich in biodiversity with vast plains and lakes bordered by wetlands providing a home to a many of rare species, one of the most notable being the shoebill stork. The Park boasts over 12,000 large mammals including zebras, giraffes, lions, black rhinos, and elephants, and 482 bird species. Crucial to the park’s ecosystem is the vast Lake Ihema which is home to hippos and crocodiles.  Akagera National Park is considered a strategic tourist attraction in Rwanda and offers unrivaled scenic beauty. Vigourous law enforcement has seen a drastic reduction in poaching, and prospering of wildlife since 2010.

Akagera National Park, which was proclaimed in 1934 to protect the wildlife and vegetation, lies on the Rwanda-Tanzania border and is named after the Akagera River which flows along its eastern boundary. Following the 1994 genocide, much disturbance was experienced in western Tanzania and the park (which originally covered 2,500 sq. km) and the park was reduced by almost half as refugees poured into the country to re-settle. This area was the largest portion of the savannah in the west where farmland was needed.

Image with thanks to the Akagera Management Company

In 2009 the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks entered into a 20-year renewable agreement for the joint management of Akagera. The Akagera Management Company was formed in 2010 as the joint management body for the park. With the improved security and community involvement in the park, restocking efforts have been possible and successful. Lions from South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park have been reintroduced to normalise the predator diversity and have settled in well. In 2017, approximately 20 eastern black rhinos from South Africa were returned to the park after a decade-long absence due to poaching. Akagera National Park now enjoys the status of being the only “Big Five” conservancy in Rwanda, successful progress which has paralleled that of the country since the end of the genocide.

VIDEOS ABOUT AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK AND ITS SUCCESS

The return of lions to Rwanda:

The return of rhinos to Rwanda

The history of Akagera National Park: