RUZIZI TENTED CAMP – AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

Ruzizi is a small and luxurious eco-lodge located on the banks of Lake Ihema owned and operated by African Parks.  It has just nine tents which are set back from Ihema’s serene shores and hidden among swaying palms and fruiting fig trees.

The lodge was designed to blend in with its surroundings to ensure guests connect with nature. During construction, trees and vegetation were left undisturbed when possible. Some natural elements have been incorporated into the structure, and many of Ruzizi’s decorations and furniture were hand-crafted by local artisans and cooperatives.  The lodge is powered by solar energy and prides itself on being environmentally conscious.

Akagera National Park’s rolling highlands, savannah plains and swamp-fringed lakes make up the largest protected wetland in central Africa and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted animals and plants in Rwanda.  Activities at Ruzizi lodge include day and night game drives, boating, fishing, a fascinating ‘behind the scenes tour’ of the park headquarters and community cultural experiences.

LOCATION

The lodge is located in Akagera National Park in north eastern Rwanda bordering Tanzania.  Access is via a 2 hour road transfer to the lodge.

LODGE

With just 9 tents Ruzizi is an intimate retreat with spectacular views of Lake Ihema. Each tent has a comfortable queen bed, an ensuite bathroom with hot and cold running water, a bathtub or outdoor shower, a dressing area. All of Ruzizi’s tents enjoy shaded verandas with campaign chairs, a tree-trunk table, and a hammock. Fall asleep to the chorus of singing hippo and frogs and wake to the sound of birds celebrating the sunrise.

The thatched main area houses the reception and dining area which has characterful Rwandan artwork and old black and white photo on the walls.  Wooden walkways lead to a stunning wooden deck that hangs over the lake with a central fire pit where you can enjoy your breakfast coffee, candlelit dinner or after dinner drinks under the stars.

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ACTIVITIES AND WILDLIFE

Despite being a relatively small park Akagera is home to an impressive array of wildlife including a number of rare species such as the shoebill and sitatunga.

Since African Parks assumed management of Akagera with the Rwanda Development Board and established the Akagera Management Company (AMC) in 2010, the partnership has led to several flagship projects, including the reintroduction of lions after a 20-year absence, and plans are now in place to reintroduce black rhino.

Following lion and rhino reintroductions, Akagera officially became a Big Five park in May 2017. It now boasts lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo, as well as zebra, giraffe, and hundreds of bird species. Wildlife populations are thriving due to effective law enforcement and successful conflict-mitigation with surrounding communities; and poaching within the park has reached an all-time low. Of the primate family, olive baboons and vervet monkeys are common sights in Akagera. Far rarer is the secretive blue monkey that, until a few years ago, was believed to be extinct in Akagera.

Herbivores: Elephant, rhino, giraffe, and hippopotamus are the largest mammals found in the park. They join several naturally-occurring large plains game species, including buffalo, topi, zebra, defassa waterbuck, the secretive roan antelope, and the statuesque eland. Smaller herbivores include duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck, and impala.

Over 400 bird species have been documented in the park. Akagera is an important ornithological site, with rarities such as the shoebill and papyrus gonolek – both restricted to papyrus swamps – as well as the localised red-faced barbet and the swamp flycatcher.

Game Drives – explore the area around camp and really get to know the wildlife of Akagera with your experienced guide.

Night Drives – guided night drives that commence at sunset are a fantastic way to cap off your day in the park. Night drives offer the best chance of seeing nocturnal wildlife, from lions to leopards which are among the most sought-after sightings. Night drives are operated by the park’s safari vehicle which can accommodate up seven guests.

Boat Trips on Lake Ihema – drift along the forest-fringed body of water in the midst of hippos and crocodiles. For serious birders, a boat trip is a must. Outings take place four times a day—at 7.30am, 9am, 3pm and 4.30pm. Non-scheduled, private trips can also be arranged.

Fishing – Lake Shakani is the perfect site for sportfishing. Spend a relaxing day fishing from the shores of the lake before cooking your catch over an open fire at your campsite. Please bring your own equipment.

Behind the Scenes Tour – take a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of park headquarters where you’ll meet employees integral to park management while learning about exciting conservation developments.

Walk the Line – spend the morning in the shoes of one of Akagera’s fence attendants who walk a portion of the 120-km perimeter fence on a daily basis to make sure the fence remains intact and is fully operational. These walks, which run alongside the park exterior, begin at the park entrance and are seven km long taking visitors into the hills. When you come to the end you will be at the top of a ridge that enjoys spectacular views in every direction. Walks are led by freelance community guides and take approximately two hours.

Community Cultural Experiences – working with local communities and Akagera staff, Community Freelance Guides have developed several cultural experiences to share with you. Learn about milking cows and traditions around cattle and milk on a farm in the Eastern Province; or spend time with banana beer and honey artisans to see how local products are made. All revenues generated by these visits are shared with members of the communities you visit.

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GIVING BACK

There are more than 300,000 people living in the vicinity of Akagera – working with surrounding communities is critical to both Akagera’s long-term viability and local livelihoods.

Environmental Education – helping to educate local school children on the importance of biodiversity is critical to creating a constituency for conservation. Akagera has hosted regular environmental education awareness sessions that have reached as many as 2,000 school children and hundreds of local educators and leaders.

Infrastructure Development – the park has completed a variety of infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life for local communities. Such projects include: constructing social infrastructure (schools, health centres, and libraries); building water provision sites; and helping develop local associations and small enterprises.

Creating Jobs – when African Parks began managing Akagera in 2010 the park employed 59 employees. In 2019 Akagera’s staff force had increased to 273, with the vast majority of staff originating from local communities. The park ensures that surrounding communities experience the tangible benefits of its existence through the injection of funds into local economies via park staff salaries as well as the purchasing of local materials and services.

Tourism – as Akagera’s tourism offerings continue to grow exponentially the park is focused on ensuring that the wider community benefit from the park’s ongoing success. A significant percentage of park funds is invested in local communities on an annual basis through locally hired staff salaries as well as the purchase of materials and services from vendors in surrounding communities. This not only builds local economies but also ensures the park’s long-term sustainability as communities experience the tangible benefits of the park’s existence.

Sharing Revenue with Local Communities – under the Rwanda Development Board’s revenue sharing scheme local communities receive 5% of the total revenue generated by the country’s three national parks (Akagera, Volcanoes, and Nyungwe National Parks). However individuals living in the areas surrounding Akagera receive 30% of these shared revenues.

Special Guarantee Fund – five percent of total park revenue is allocated to the Special Guarantee Fund which the Rwandan Government established to compensate community members who suffer losses from human-wildlife conflict. Although human-wildlife conflict has significantly declined since Akagera completed its government-funded western boundary fence in 2013, incidents still occur within communities located on the park’s periphery.

RUZIZI LODGE IS OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND 

THE LODGE WELCOMES FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN OF ALL AGES 

Call +44 1386 830264 or Email [email protected]

Our expert staff are on-hand, happy to assist with any enquiry you have.

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