Ruzizi Tented Lodge at Akagera National Park

After our recent drive to the southeast corner of Rwanda, we backtracked and then headed north to Akagera National Park to spend the night.

Picnic table, welcome center, Akagera Nat'l. Park in Rwanda:enclos*ure

It was about 4:30 p.m. when we arrived at the park’s welcome center, and I was anxious to get some photos before the light disappeared.  Here, near the equator, dark comes between 6:00 and 6:30 all year round.  No extra long summer days for us.

Pebble floor border, welcome center, Akagera Nat'l. Park in Rwanda:enclos*ure

I liked the pebble border to the welcome center’s concrete floor, which had been colored red, like the surrounding dirt.

Pebble floor border, welcome center, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

The attractive building, which for some reason I failed to photograph, was stone and stucco and had a thatched roof, like the lodge pictured below.

Long-neck weaver bird nest, Akagera Natl. Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

In a tree just outside the welcome center, there was a weaver bird nest (above) — this one with a very long entrance tunnel, a protection against predators.

Main lodge, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Nat'l. Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

The Ruzizi Tented Lodge — which opened inside the park just this year — is on a small strip of largely undisturbed land along the edge of Lake Ihema.

Boardwalk, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Nat'l. Park in Rwanda:enclos*ure

Boardwalks keep visitors off the native plants, not to mention away from the equally native crocodiles and hippos.  (An electric fence keeps other large animals out on the inland side of the lodge.)

Boardwalk, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Boardwalk to tent, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Natl. Park in Rwanda:enclos*ure

The camp has seven tented cabins, each with a full bath, one or two real beds (with reading lamps), and an outlet for recharging phones.

Tent cabin, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Natl. Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Below is our tent’s “front yard,” which was quite close to the water’s edge.  That night, we heard, but did not see, hippos near our tent.

Marshy edge of Lake Ihema at Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Solar panels for tents, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Each tent has a solar panel for lights and hot water — shown above.

Wildflowers and boardwalk, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park in Rwanda:enclos*ure

Even in the dry season, there were some wildflowers catching the last of the day’s light.

Wildflowers, Ruziz Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

In the evening, we had cocktails around a fire on the riverside deck, below.

Lakeside eating area, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Breakfast was also served there — while monkeys ate fruit off a big tree above us.

Weaver birds' nests at dusk, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera National Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

In the shrubby trees just beyond the deck, there were dozens of (empty) weaver birds’ nests.

Weaver birds' nests, Akagera Nat'l Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Weaver birds' nests, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Natl. Park in Rwanda:enclos*ure

Located along Rwanda’s eastern border with Tanzania, Akagera National Park presents quite a different landscape from the mountainous forests and farms of western and central Rwanda.

“[I]ts undulating plains support a cover of dense, broad-leafed woodland interspersed with lighter acacia woodland and patches of rolling grassland studded evocatively with stands of the superficially cactus-like Euphorbia candelabra [aka E. ingens] shrub,” according to the Bradt guide to Rwanda.

Grass and shrubs near Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Akagera Natl. Park, Rwanda:enclos*ure

There are also large wetlands surrounding several lakes and the channels of the Akagera River, which runs along the border between the two countries.

The game-viewing is not up the standards of the great savanna parks in neighboring countries, but every visitor I have talked to recently has seen elephants, hippos, zebra, and giraffes, as well as antelopes and impalas.  (Unfortunately, we did not have time to tour the park during our stay.)

Currently, there may or may not be lions and leopards in small numbers, but there are reportedly plans to restock them — and add black rhinos — eventually.

According to the Bradt guide, the birdlife is “phenomenal.”  The landscape is particularly scenic, with forests, lakes, swamps, and low mountains.  Perhaps best of all, the park is fairly empty of other tourists.

Camping (in real tents) is allowed in various locations.  It is also possible to take boat safaris on Lake Ihema.

5 thoughts on “Ruzizi Tented Lodge at Akagera National Park

    1. I think the tour companies are really good at this sort of accomodations in East Africa. I believe there are plans to eventually build more of these small lodges around Lake Ihema, as visitors increase.

      1. those tours are just wonderfull !!! and hopefully more and more tourists will come to shoot pictures instead of animals !!! and give the population a job and the tourist a bit of respect for nature and animals !!! we are planning a new safari for next year but we don’t know where to go yet, any tips ?

  1. Well, a visit to the mountain gorillas here in Rwanda is pretty remarkable. And it’s possible to hike the volcanos on additional days and even camp in the park. Nyungwe Forest is an amazing environment and one that is quite different from probably the more usual African tourist experience of open savanna.

    Here’s a nice video about the country:
    https://enclosuretakerefuge.com/2013/02/04/beautiful-rwanda/

    I’ve never really traveled in the rest of East Africa. I can recommend the gorgeous wine country around Cape Town in South Africa, however. I can give you the names of a hotel and guide from our trip of several years ago.

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