I’ve been fortunate to take two trips to Akagera National Park in Rwanda and stay at the chilled and stunning Ruzizi lodge on the banks of lake Ihema that boarders Tanzania in the east of Rwanda. Everything at the lodge is relaxing and scenic — from the walkways that connect the lodge, the outdoors dining area and the tents to the monkeys swinging through the trees in the morning. Just a 2 hour drive from Kigali you can find yourself in the Park on a game drive and after a long hot day in the park its a perfect retreat kicking back in your bed just gazing out to the lake and listening to nature.
One of the best parts about the lodge is that there are only 9 tents so its never too busy. You have your own private patio area at the front of your tent.
The lodge prides itself on being eco-conscious and is entirely solar powered. The dining location is unbeatable for a view of sunrise over the lake. Dinner and breakfast are a real treat – watching from a raised platform that serves as a dining room. The hippos sometimes pop their heads up to say hello, the monkeys playing, and the many bird species at the end of the day settling into the trees for the night.
The raised wooden pathways are gently woven into the trees un-interrupting nature and just letting it get on with itself lead to the tents that are hidden amongst the trees.
Visited by monkeys in the morning swinging through the trees – if you leave the window shades to the tent and door shades up you can watch them from your bed running around the front of the tent and swinging across the trees.
Likewise at night you may get visited by a hungry hippo – don’t panic the tents are raised and so they can’t get to you. Although I have to admit with the complete stillness of the night and the noise they make it can be quite exciting. We were fortunate enough to have one come up around the lodge after dinner so we could watch it grazing on the grass and then another was around our tent crashing about in and out of the lake for a while at night so we got to watch it as well.
The park itself is monitored by African Parks. The park has flourished since my last visit “Animal numbers have doubled since the first aerial census in 2010, when estimations put fewer than 6,000 large mammals in the park. The most recent 2015 census counted over 12,000 large mammals, revealing that populations of elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, zebra, topi, warthog, roan antelope and our newly reintroduced lion have all increased!” Amazing!
Lions were released into the park just a few days after my last trip in 2015. It has been amazing to follow their progress and reintroduction back which is an exciting re-addition for Rwanda and Akagera. Their population has already doubled, births of seven cubs in 2016 and have even been spotted climbing trees!
The views around the park are stunning, especially from some of the higher spots in the park looking down over the lake. If you’re headed to Rwanda this is a great place for a weekend getaway, its a lot cheaper than many other safaris on the continent at just $35 usd for international travellers. For more information on the park and getting there visit African Parks website.