If you have visited the Akagera National Park before, you will probably know that Lake Ihema lies within the southern side of this Protected Area, in the savannah area of Rwanda’s Eastern Province. This Lake is fed by the Akagera River that also feeds other Lakes in the Park, but its eastern shores forms the boundary between Rwanda and Tanzania.
As the largest Lake in Akagera National Park, it covers an area of 90 square kilometers with changing depths from five to seven meters depending on the area and season and is situated in an area of altitude 1292 meters above sea level. The Lake is a habitat to several fish, wildlife (especially crocodiles and Hippos) and aquatic bird species, hence there are several tourist activities conducted in the Lake and these include
- Bird watching
Of all the 500 species of birds found in the Akagera National Park, Lake Ihema and the surrounding wetlands specifically offer shelter to the aquatic as well as wetland species of birds that include Malachite kingfishers, shoebills storks, Egrets, Pelicans, Sandpipers, Papyrus Gonolek, Hawks, Marabou storks, Pied Kingfishers, Open-billed storks, Jacanas, plovers, Herons, African fish eagles, Cormorants, Sacred ibis and Grey crowned cranes among others.
- Boat rides/cruises
If you are an adventurous tourist looking forward to enjoying something different from the usual safari experience in Rwanda, a boat trip on the magnificent Lake Ihema will fulfill your dream. During this wonderful adventure, you will get the chance to sail along the water edges that are surrounded by tall trees but also drift past many crocodiles and giant Hippos at the shallows of the Lake while others basking on the shores. On top of the refreshing feeling you will get during the activity, several species of aquatic and wetland birds such as Papyrus gonolek, Kingfishers, Shoebill storks, African fish eagles and Pelicans can be spotted. At least four scheduled boat trips-7:30am, 9:00am, 3:30pm and finally 5:00pm are conducted daily on Lake Ihema. Nonetheless, private trips can be conducted by Park Management outside the normal schedule. Boat trip has undeniably become one of the must-do activities by tourists who visit the Akagera National Park, due to the presence of Lake Ihema and other Lakes.
A one hour boat trip costs only $40 per person for a maximum of 11 people while a private boat ride costs about $180 to hire the entire boat. The latter is the best because you will get the chance to enjoy the sunset cruise with some drinks as you watch the sun set in an African wilderness. Watching the sun set makes all the stress rush out of you but being on the Lake generally brings that tiny peace of the serenity in Rwanda.
- Sport fishing
Sport fishing is another interesting activity conducted on Lake Ihema, and can be organized for interested tourists as long as they seek for permission and acquire fishing permits on top of carrying their own equipments. The main method of fishing is use of hooks and Tilapias are the commonest fish species caught in this Lake.
Therefore, activities such as Sport fishing, boat rides and bird watching can be enjoyed within Rwanda’s Lake Ihema and can only be fulfilled by visiting the country’s only savannah Protected Area, Akagera National Park.