Akagera Game Lodge is the only place to stay in Akagera National Park.
Akagera Game Lodge: Our full report
Akagera Game Lodge is currently the only accommodation option within Akagera National Park. More of a hotel than a traditional safari lodge, it has fantastic views over Lake Ihema, with a large swimming pool perched on the edge of the savannah. However, plans to upgrade and expand were been put on hold due to the recession, and the site is dotted with unfinished buildings. At present, fewer than half the 64 rooms are in use, although we understand that work is expected to recommence in 2012.
The large reception area at Akagera Game Lodge is dotted with African carvings and pieces of art, and incorporates a small curio shop. Up a spiral staircase you'll find the bar – with chunky wooden bar-stools lining a long wooden bar, some chairs and tables, and a TV. The bar opens out onto a wooden terrace which overlooks the pool below. The large restaurant also has an outside decked area where meals can be served.
Akagera Game Lodge also has two flood-lit tennis courts which guests can use for free, a children's play area, and a small children's pool. A gym and spa are planned as part of the renovations.
Guest accommodation at Akagera Game Lodge encompasses a range of bedrooms, suites and cottages. The 20 standard bedrooms currently in use are in one long double-story terrace, and are fairly simple, with African print curtains and covers on the two beds. Each room also has a writing desk and chair, satellite TV and a small balcony/patio with a couple of chairs overlooking the lake or the savannah. The bathrooms are functional as opposed to stylish. Some of the rooms interconnect so are suitable for families.
The two suites were our favourite rooms at Akagera. They're the last room on the terrace – one on the top floor and one on the ground floor. Each has a lounge area with sofa, solid green-marble table and dining table, TV and minibar (which is filled on request). African artefacts such as traditional drums lend some character, which is lacking in the standard rooms. The en-suite bedroom has a four-poster kingsize bed with mosquito net, a dressing table, and a balcony overlooking the lake.
Furthest away from the reception are two cottages: two-storey circular stone-and-thatch buildings, with shiny polished floors, and a kitchen area with large dining table. One of the cottages has three bedrooms (one twin and two king – all en suite); the other has just a king and a twin. Each has a lovely wraparound terrace affording beautiful views. On our last visit in 2011 the cottages were rather sparsely decorated and furnished, but we were told that they were in the process of improving this. Several more cottages were originally planned, but have yet to materialise.
Activities at Akagera Game Lodge concentrate on game drives in Akagera National Park. These are usually conducted by your own driver-guide, accompanied by a wildlife guide provided by the Rwandan National Parks (who are generally quite knowledgeable and fairly communicative). With woodland, savannah, lakes and papyrus swamps, there are plenty of different habitats to explore offering a variety of flora and fauna. Hippo, buffalo, Burchell's zebra, impala, bushbuck, Maasai giraffe, oribi, tsessebe, elephant and crocodile are frequently seen; lion and sitatunga are at present restricted to more inaccessible areas and are rarely sighted. Birding is particularly good and a short boat trip will give you the opportunity to get close to waterbirds that include numerous African fish eagles, marabou stork, crowned cranes, open-billed storks, cormorants, herons and egrets. If you are lucky you may even get to see the elusive shoebill stork.
Our viewAlthough Akagera Game Lodge has a good location from which to explore Akagera National Park, and the service was friendly, it felt a little like a building site when we last visited in 2011. The hotel certainly has potential, but it currently has the feel of a place that has passed its prime and is in need of an upgrade.
Ideal length of stay: 1–2 nights
Directions: Akagera Game Lodge is three hours' drive from Kigali: the first two on a good tarmac road; the last on a dirt road.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast at Akagera consists of some fruit, followed by eggs cooked to order.
Lunch is from an à la carte menu that includes items such as grilled chicken and chips, pizzas, samosas and salads.
Dinner, too, is usually à la carte, but the manager told us that if they get very busy they may put on a buffet. On our last visit in August 2011 we enjoyed grilled talapia (a fish found in Lake Kivu) with chips and salad. The food was surprisingly good and tasty.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are an extra cost at Akagera Game Lodge.
Attitude towards children: Akagera Game Lodge welcomes children.
Equipment: They have cots and high chairs.
Generally recommended for children: Akagera Game Lodge is well set up for children with some interconnecting rooms, a child's play area and a swimming pool, but its location within the national park means that we'd only recommend it for children over the age of 8 who are interested in wildlife.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Akagera Game Lodge has WiFi in the reception and bar area and internet terminals for guests who don't have their own laptops.
TV & radio: There are TVs in the bedrooms and in the bar.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: One of the staff members at Akagera Game Lodge is a nurse, and there is a hospital in a village just 15 minutes away.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: They don't have armed guards, but the paths to the rooms are lit.
Fire safety: Although there are fire hoses and alarms at Akagera, these were not working on our last visit in 2011.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry can be done for an extra charge here. Items are machine washed and dried.
Money: Guests can hand valuables into the office to keep in the safe. They can exchange only small amounts of money if really necessary.