A safari in Africa is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have. Animal enthusiasts may now take part in a citizen science safari to save Africa’s most iconic species in Rwanda’s famed Akagera National Park. Poaching and disputes with people have made the African elephant one of the world’s most endangered species. These Elephants in Akagera National Park are beginning to thrive because to the Akagera Management Company, a collaboration between African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board, robust community participation, and high-end safari tourism.
Nearly two decades ago, the Elephants in Akagera National Park was on the point of extinction due to the environmental devastation caused by the Rwandan genocide. Returning refugees established themselves in and around the park, clearing ground for farming and grazing. “It was a barren environment overrun by more than 30,000 cattle, and it had lost all of its lion, wild dog, and rhino populations,” says JP Karangire, Akagera National Park’s Assistant Manager of Tourism and Marketing. “Human encroachment was rampant, and animals in general was unprotected.” The park was shrunk in 1997, and two-thirds of the original park was given to returnees seeking to settle down after the genocide.
Karangire claims that when African Parks joined with the Rwanda Development Board to take over management of the park in 2010. “The park changed into an ecologically functional and income-generating park benefiting people and wildlife.” Today, Akagera is Central Africa’s biggest protected wetland and a popular safari destination, earning millions of dollars in revenue. Lions and rhinos have been reintroduced in recent years, and the total animal population has increased from less than 5,000 to more than 13,000.
Elephants in Akagera national park began in an unexpected way. Around 26 baby elephants from a cull in southern Rwanda were transferred to the park in 1975. They now number around 130, thanks to conservation initiatives. “Times were harsh for both humans and animals in the early to mid-1990s. Poaching was rampant in Akagera, and many of the elephants today exhibit the scars of poacher’s snares placed during this period,” Matson explains. An electrified fence at the parks’ western boundary now avoids human-elephant conflict. Thousands of traps have been collected to protect elephants and other wild species that live in Akagera.
Matson, an Australian native who has spent the most of her life working as a conservationist in African wildlife-rich nations, returned to Rwanda to study Akagera’s elephants. In 2018, she launched The Akagera Elephant Project in cooperation with the Akagera Management Company in order to perform the first ever research study. The project’s goal is to collect data on elephant herds, such as their ages, gender, familial groups, and identifying individual characteristics and behavior in the park.
The Akagera Elephant Project employs techniques established over the years by the Amboseli Elephant Project to identify elephants and become acquainted with their families, such as ear tears/holes and tusk form and size. So far, the initiative has recorded two-thirds of the elephant population in the database.
The initiative, Matson writes, also includes “a developmental aspect through training of local guides, park officials and university students in elephant identification procedures”. Matson offers a local guide training on elephant ID procedures the week before her scheduled safaris so that individuals who live nearby may continue the work as citizen scientists throughout the year.
According to Matson, targeted high-end tourism, which might include citizen science visits, provides the funds required for the conservation of huge tracts of natural habitat and the preservation of species in nations such as Rwanda. Involving individuals from neighboring areas helps the cause. “You see real sustainable development in action when you bring local people to the table as genuine partners in high-end tourism and utilize it to create employment and skills in locations where there aren’t many other economic options,” adds Matson.
Successful conservation activities enhance animal populations and provide financial advantages, which reduces the need for poaching. Matson herself, as well as local guides from Akagera Guides’ Co-operative, will accompany you on a Matson & Ridley safari in Akagera. “We compensate local guides who live just outside the park and are essential conservation advocates in the community.”
Citizen science tours not only help to support conservation initiatives like the Akagera Elephant Project, but they also allow researchers like Matson to continue the crucial work of analyzing fragile wildlife populations with the assistance of fellow individuals. Safari visitors’ images and remarks are contributed to the Akagera elephant database. “It’s hard for me to capture enough images during a single sighting, so having additional citizen scientists on hand allows for a lot more data to be collected and compared during analysis.”
Travelers gain as well, because travelling with a competent conservationist and regional guides means having a deeper awareness of the situation on the ground, knowing about the work being done to save species, and having discussions about what has to happen to keep progressing.
While wildlife populations are expanding and sightings of rhinos, lions, and leopards are becoming more common on game drives, Akagera does not have the same density of species as other of Africa’s more well-known parks, such as Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Maasai Mara. This safari, Matson suggests, is “for visitors who are searching for a more meaningful conservation experience, the ability to get to know elephant families better, and the potential to make a difference”.
The tour begins in Kigali and ends with three days of working on the Akagera Elephant Project in southern Akagera National Park. The trip continues with three days in northern Akagera for project work, followed by three days of gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Guests may also partake in African Parks activities such as strolling the fence line with rangers, seeing local Rwandan towns, and taking sunset boat cruises on the lakes. A normal group consists of six to twelve people.
Guests will stay in Kigali’s lovely Heaven Boutique Hotel and Akagera’s luxurious Ruzizi Tented Lodge, which is surrounded by monkeys and hippos and overlooks the lake. Other options for lodging include the upscale Wilderness Safaris’ Magashi Camp in Akagera’s northernmost region and the community-owned Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge close to Volcanoes National Park.
Matson picks lodges and camps that “set the bar high in terms of both the tourism experience and the good consequences.” The tour operator collaborates with high-end, African-based firms like as Asilia Africa, Natural Selection, and Wilderness Safaris that are committed to reducing their environmental effect and empowering people living near wildlife regions. Finally, we seek partners that share Matson’s conviction that connecting people with wild creatures and landscapes is critical to preserve them for the future. “ Going on safari in Africa is not the same as going to the zoo. You see folks while you’re out in the country, you witness people peeling away layers of tension and worry, literally ‘waking up’ to what it used to be like for all of us as a species, when we used to live in a linked way with nature.”
You may now enjoy the wonders of an African safari while also contributing to conservation in a meaningful and revolutionary way, due to programs such as the Akagera Elephant Project and citizen science safaris. This helps in preserving and conserving the population of elephants in Akagera National park.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
We have experienced adventurous gorilla trecking, chimpanzee tours, safari accompanied by waterbuffalo, pumba, giraffe, antilops etc encounter that has made our trip supercool I appreciate to have Martin as a… read more local fixer/guide/driver who was familiar in topics, flexible in unusual clients requests and cheerful guy that is soooo needed when travel long hours in a van.Samuel also was cooperative and reliable too
18 days with tent on top of the car with driver. Our driver Alonso helped us and guided us at all times! Good tips for sleeping, where to eat… read more and buy!!! In the safaris he knew all the parks very well and was passionate about birds!!! Agustin and Silvia from Spain we return in love with this country and its nice people!!! Thanks Alonso and Samuel!!! from Laba Africa Expedition!!
We had a 8-day wonderfull travel in Uganda, so well organized by LABA Africa. If you want to discover Uganda, choose this company, and you will have the… read more best experience ever.
We visited Bwindi Forest National Park with gorilla trekking – unforgettable -, beautiful Lake Bunyonyi – with a refreshing swim -, cykling safari between zebras, giraffes, antilopes and birds and finally boat trip to the source of the river Nile in Jinja.
All guides were knowledgeable and took very well care of us, espacially Robert, our excellent driver and guide for the whole tour.
The accomodations were perfect, confortable rooms, helpful staff and good food.
It’s amazing to be able to get so close to the animals, and experence the beautiful landscape and scenery of Uganda.
Thank you so much, Samuel and Robert.
AMAZING journey with Laba Africa all around Uganda for 21 days !! – We’ve had the chance to travel with ALONSO from LABA AFRICA for 21 days all around Uganda. We have met a lot of turists along our trip and I can… read more assure you one thing… LABA AFRICA is THE best company to discover Uganda.
Communication is really easy with Samuel (Laba’s Boss). He will take care of the itinerary, chimps and gorilla’s permits and will advise you perfectly on what to do, what to expect, and will make sure to answer all of your questions before your arrival.
Samuel even bought a Sim card for us to make sure we could get internet data as soon as we arrive in Entebbe Airport.
Our guide was Alonso.
Alonso is our best guide ever… We’ve traveled in a lot of countries, but I can assure you Alonso knows his country better than any other guide. He is very open minded and is able to talk for hours about everything related to his country (way to live, politics, economy, religion, local us and beliefs, etc.).
Alonso is also a true legend all around his country, he knows someone at every places we have been.. he knows perfectly all the natural reserve and taught us many things about the animals during our safaris.
He is an excellent driver.
If your are planning to come in Uganda and do self driving… Please don’t.. The roads are terrible and I wouldn’t advise anyone that is not used to it to drive on these roads by himself.
The car that Laba Africa provided us was amazing. Big SUV with 4 wheel drive with an open roof and a tent on the roof (amazingly comfortable).
The car is very comfortable and safe. Laba Africa even provided us sleeping bags (for the roof tent), cooler, camping chairs, cooking gaz and all the ustensiles we needed to cook ourself.
Alonso and the company has always been attentive to our wishes, needs and desires and is really customer focused.
During our trip, we’ve met a lot of locals, and it has been an amazing human adventure. Uganda is not only a destination to see animals and wildlife, it’s also a beautiful country that has so many to offer (waterfalls, landscape, tea fields, lakes, mountains, volcana, natural reserve, culture, traditions, people, local dance, music, crafts, hikings, cycling, rafting, boats trip, etc.)
Here are the main places we’ve visited : Kidepo National Park, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchinson Falls National Park, Queen Elisabeth National Park, Bwindi Forest, Bigodi Village, Kibale, Lake Mburo National Park, Sipi Falls, Jinja, Kampala.
Among our best memories, we will remember for ever our homestaying with a lovely local family within the Bigodi community, our night safari in Queen Elizabeth NP with the Lions turning around the car, and the quiet Jinja city on the Nile.
We really wanted to spend some time with locals and share a night with them. Laba Africa never organise Homestaying before. We’ve asked Alonso if it was possible. Of course, he made it possible because Alonso would make anything possible for you. So i wanted to thank him again because he made this trip amazing for us and now we keep this experience as our best memory from this trip.
Our trip was supposed to end on the 31st of December as our flight was very early in the morning on the 1st of January.
Alonso drove us to Samuel’s house. Samuel and Morgan (Sam’s GF) cooked for us for lunch and have spend the 31st of December with us. They’ve made a city tour for us, drove us to the craft market in order to buy some gifts for our family before our departure.
And the cherry on the cake… They took us with them in a party to show us “how we celebrate new year Eve in Uganda”. It was on the best rooftop of Kampala, to watch the midnight fireworks.
Honestly, do you know some company that can offer you such experience?
Don’t make a mistake and hire Laba Africa for your journey in Uganda, and please, stay at least 2 weeks if you want to discover most of the things this country has to offer.
Thank you again Samuel, Morgan and Alonso.
I will not forget you guys and I wish you the best for the future, you deserve it!!
Hope to see you again.
we keep in touch
We experienced a very well organized 9-day trip with a driver& guide (Robert) filled with amazing experiences like game drives, chimpz and gorilla tracking and boat safaris. The communication… read more with Laba Africa was very smooth and they tailored the trip according our wishes. The guide was very flexible and came up with ideas and options while on the road. We really appreciated him being with us. The Laba Africa guide had a vast knowledge about flora and fauna and was happy to answer all our questions. The accomodations chosen and booked by Laba Africa were absolutely stunning with very helpful staff.
Laba Africa planned a (4 days, 3 nights) trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with a stop in Lake Mburu (Uganda’s smallest national park). We had a great and friendly guide… read more in Alonso, who was very organized and patient. Making a stop in Lake Mburu breaks up the long drive to Bwindi, and is a great opportunity to get very close to giraffes and many other animals in the park. The gorilla trek itself was amazing and surreal getting very close to a gorilla family. All the lodges booked by Laba Africa, were in beautiful and serene locations with nice rooms, friendly staff and good food! After my third trip with Laba Africa, I would recommend them to anyone any day!
Great 3day trip go Murchison national park and falls! Also passed by rhino sanctuary on our way there. Really liked our driver and guide (Robert) who drove is there safely… read more and found tons of animals for us to see in the park.
Robert was a great guide. We went on Safari at Murchison and to the rhino sanctuary. The bGreat food and company. 10/10
On the way to the safari we went to the rhino sanctuary which was a cool experience. We slept at Fort Murchison which was a really good place to stay… read more in. The next day we went on the safari trip and a boat trip which was amazing. We saw so much animals.
Our guide, Robert, really gave us the best experience one could get.
Really recommend going with Laba!
I certainly got way way more than I imagined on this trip. I seen it on YouTube but not many indulge how fantastic the service this company has provided. My… read more guide Patrick was 10 out of 10. Friendly, informative and never refused an activity I wanted to see or do absolute gentleman. Then little did I know I was going to be provided with bony a top top quality chef. I was expecting package meals but no the food was excellent that I actually gained weight on this trip. I travelled the world but must say this company really exceeded my expectations.
Sam put together a perfect itinerary for our mother-daughter trip. Alonso took us around Kampala and showed us the main sights (Buganda kingdom, the mosque and bustling downtown Kampala), and… read more Robert took us to Murchison Falls National Park, then to Jinja and our final destination Entebbe (4 days). We had such a wonderful time and loved every minute of it: the roadside life, the food, the nature, the magestic animals, the friendly people – everything. They say that once you have experienced Africa, you will always feel a tug to return. Be prepared Laba!
My mom and me went on a two nights trip to Murchison Falls for safari and it was amazing! Sam organized a great trip for us and the communication was… read more very smooth the whole way. Our guide Robert was so nice and we saw so many animals each day. Sam also organized a city tour in Kampala for us and we also went to Jinja on a boat trip to see the source of the Nile, the local markets, and ate Ugandan food. Every part of our holiday was amazing and I would recommend Laba to anyone travelling to Uganda (and elsewhere)!!
I went on a two day Safari in Lake Mburo with Laba Africa Expeditions and it was an amazing trip. Everything was organized very well and our guide Samuel was… read more wonderful and came with suggestions during the trip and listened to our wishes as well. I would recommend this to everybody who wants a fun, safe and amazing safari. Even the rangers at Lake Mburo was great. I had not expected a safari to be such a incredible experience but it really was!
Samuel is the real fixer in Uganda! Within a week he got me the Gorilas permit to Bwindi. He also advised me in anything else I needed.
Adam, my… read more driver who took me from Kigali (Rwanda) to Bwindi, crossing Uganda’s border, became a friend. Is the best guide to move you around! Truly recommend both of them. Laba africa is the best!
We rented a car with roof tent for three weeks and I can highly recommend Laba Africa.
Great advise for trip preparation and replied instantly to all our (many) question… read more by whatsapp. Also arranged for gorilla trekking which was very pratical.
Car turned out to be great, no mechanical problems. Our rooftent was never used before it was brand-new.
Uganda is a beautiful country with very friendly population. We had a great time.
We went three friends on a safari to Murchison Falls (2 nights) and we had the best time. Everything was timed and organized to the last detail by Sam –… read more the best guide and the best company. We saw so many animals and it was an incredible experience for all of us. Sam was very knowledgable about the animals and the nature in general, which added to the whole experience. We stayed in a great lodge just outside the park. There was great food and a nice pool! We would definitely recommend this trip to anyone!
Christopher and I have been filming in Uganda for the past week, and the excellent results we got wouldn’t of been possible without Laba Africa. Top professionals who made our… read more work trip go super smooth. We would highly recommend them to other media professionals.
We rented a car from Laba Africa. They are very service minded and nice people. The car was kept in good condition. Recommended
We hired a land cruiser with a tent on the roof. The car and tent were great and pick up and drop off were very smooth- they met us at… read more our hostel each time.
We had a wonderful time with Laba Africa. From the beginning till the end of the trip we felt welcomed and very comfortable.
The accomodations we‘re well chosen and they… read more even prepared a surprise for our honeymoon :).
Samuel and our driver Alonso know a lot about the country and their way of presenting it to us was very pleasant.
The gorilla trekking in bwindi forest was definitely the highlight of our trip. Only after 30 minutes of walking we met the gorilla family and the rangers made sure that all of us could take nice pictures of the animals without disrespecting their personal space. We can really recommend the Bakiga Lodge for the Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi. The staff was really friendly and the food was great. The view from the top is breathtaking and the lodges are lovely decorated.
All in all a trip we‘ll never forget.
The gorilla trekking with Laba Africa was absolutely gorgeous. We were lucky to find the family after just 20 minutes of walking through forest. The rangers were always helping us… read more to get great pictures and they knew much about the animals.
Our driver Alonso was also very kind and gave us many valuable information on the pearl of Africa.
We really enjoyed every single moment that trip and can recommend it to everyone else.
An amazing experience! We saw so many animals, so many incredible landscapes. We also have the chance to discover the local cultures.
The guides were very nice… read more and we learned a lot!
Every lodge we slept in, was perfectly chosen. Uganda is worth a visit! Go there!
Did a great weekend tour visiting the Mundari tribe near Juba, South Sudan. Everything went well, I really enjoyed the trip.
Traveling with Laba Africa was a great experience!
We saw amazing landscapes and animals in different national parks and spent the nights in beautiful lodges. The guides were extemely… read more nice and fun to be around.
Especially the planning of our trip was amazing. We had some special requests because I wanted to visit some friends in between our Safari tours. That was no problem and got nicely included in our plan for the trip. Whatever we requested was made possible!
I can only recommend traveling with Laba Africa. We will definitely return!
My family and I just came back from a three-week-customized roudtrip of Uganda with Laba Africa. It was a tremendous experience!
Starting with chimp tracking in Kibale, we saw lions… read more the same day in Queen Elizabeth NP. Then on to Ishasha, Lake Mburo NP and jinja, where we had a short break. Then we went to a small village near Soroti to visit friends of our daughter. From there we went on to Karamoja, Kibale NP, Murchison Falls NP before we came back to Entebbe.
It didn’t matter what special requests we made, Laba Africa made them possible, sometimes even more!
But the most important thing is this: The planning of this trip startet in autumn 2019 and it was mostly paid for in January 2020. It should have taken place in March 2020, but then the pandemic destroyed our plans. Through all the insecurities for that 18 months peroid until we finally could make the trip, Laba Africa held contact, took care that our chimp tracking permits did not to expire und charged nothing additional – except for some new requests we had.
So Laba Africa is absolutely the best and most reliable partner for visiting Uganda or any of the other countries they are offering tours to! We will return to Uganda and to Laba Africa for sure!
The best part was definitely chimpanzee tracking, that was an incredible experience! Next amazing part of our trip was community walk, where locals showed us their traditional beer, gin, coffee… read more and basket making. It was great to have time to talk to them :) Game drives through savanas was so amazing, our guide Alonso did everything to try to find the best parts of the park and to find every animal there is to see, but you can never be sure, you’ll be lucky enough to see them all. We also saw Murchison falls, that was so nice, although the boat ride to see them from the river was kind of boring, too long for too little of experience. But overall amazing trip!
We really enjoyed out trip through Uganda with Laba Africa. The tourguides took good care of us and they showed us so many fascinating things! Furthermore, it was very… read more easy to change or add additional things to our already existing program.
I can really recommend a trip with Laba Africa to everyone! :)
Thank you very much to Samuel and his team! We really enjoyed our time in Uganda and with you.
Amazing experience!! Very serious and friendly team!! I really advise this company to travel in Uganda!!!
My friend and I did a 10 days Safari through Uganda which was one of the best things we‘ve ever done! Laba Africa organized an amazing tour and we really… read more enjoyed all of it. They took very good care of us. We also got to know local communities such as the Batwa tribe. Thanks to Samuel for this unforgettable adventure.
The trip was simply amazing! Had an experienced guide(Alonso) who showed is not only ugandian nature, but also explained many things about culture of this country. I would aspecially recommend… read more visiting community near Kibale NP.
Naprosto skvělý výlet. Zkušený průvodce, skvěle vybrané cíle i ubytování! Mohu jen doporučit.
White Water Rafting
Copyright © 2022 Laba Africa Expeditions. All rights reserved.