For all activities bar the wildlife drives in your own vehicle, you should book in advance through the park office.
For a classic wildlife drive, most people hire a 4WD safari jeep in Kigali, but this is very expensive (around US$300 per day including fuel from most reputable agencies). Park ranger guides or community freelance guides are both optionally available (US$25/40 per half-/full-day).
One long but worthwhile safari option is to enter the park at the main gate, pick up your guide and spend the day making your way to the park’s northern Nyungwe gate (wildlife populations are much higher in the north). Once there, you could drop off your guide (with a moto-taxi fare to get him back to park headquarters) before returning to Kigali.
The other option is to rent one of the park's safari jeeps for US$180 for a half day and US$280 for a full day. Rates include a driver and a guide. You should arrange this in advance through the park office.
Lake Ihema Boat Trips
Park authorities can arrange boat trips on Lake Ihema to see the hippo pods and some of the huge Nile crocodiles that are otherwise difficult to observe. This is also the best way to view the park’s abundant waterbirds, including swamp flycatchers, African fishing eagles, African darters and breeding colonies of noisy and smelly cormorants and open-bill storks. For our money this is the single nicest way of exploring the park. It's important to make a reservation through the park office at least an hour or so in advance. One-hour tours cost US$30 per person, while the sunset trip is US$40. Trips depart at 7.30am, 9am, 3pm and 4.30pm.
Akagera lies on the great Nile Valley bird migration route, which means that you could potentially spot nearly 500 species of birds, including several endemics, more than 40 different kinds of raptors and, in wetland areas, the much sought after shoebill. It's Rwanda’s best birdwatching destination outside of Nyungwe Forest National Park. The many kilometres of waterside habitat support African eagles, kingfishers, herons, ibises, storks, egrets, crakes, rails, cormorants, darts and pelicans. Seasonal visitors include large flocks of ducks, bee-eaters and terns, and the woodlands areas are particularly good places for barbets, shrikes, orioles and weavers. Birding guides can be arranged at the park's office.
One of the most innovative and interesting activities offered is a behind-the-scenes tour (per person US$25), which requires a minimum of four people. You will get to meet and talk to rangers, antipoaching patrols and community-projects managers. It's a fascinating insight into the often very political world of modern wildlife conservation in East Africa and the day-to-day running of a protected zone. It's organised through the park office and you need to give at least a day or so notice. The tour lasts about 90 minutes.
As dusk comes and all the daylight wildlife heads off to bed somewhere, a whole new cast of rarely seen characters emerges from the gloom. A night drive gives you the opportunity to see some of these creatures – if you're lucky, leopards and hyenas. The safari (per person US$40), which starts at 5.30pm, lasts around two hours and requires a minimum of two participants.
Walk The Line Tour
The 120km-long boundary fenced is patrolled daily by a team of rangers. You have the chance to walk in their shoes for 7km. Guided by a freelance guide from a nearby village, the walk begins at the park entrance, lasts approximately two hours and costs US$30 (minimum three people). You'll meet cattle herders and farmers along the way, and you'll see a variety of birds, especially in the morning.