In this latest article, I will be reviewing my stay in Akagera Game Lodge located inside Akagera National Park in Rwanda. Why do you want to stay in Akagera National Park? There’s one very good reason, actually. If you want to do a nightime Akagera National Park Safari, then you need to stay inside the park. Those staying outside the park are not eligible to join the night safari where you can potentially see nocturnal animals like lions, hyenas, and leopards. Basically the animals that people really want to see when they go on a safari.
Is Akagera Game Lodge your only option? Actually, it’s not which I will quickly go over the other options before reviewing the Akagera Game Lodge.
Your other two options for accommodation inside Akagera National park are:
- Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Ruzizi Tented Lodge
The Ruzizi Tented Lodge is the most expensive accommodation inside Akagera National Park. You’re basically sleeping in tents; however, they fully furnished the inside so you’re actually getting a luxury tent experience.
Apparently, it’s really nice but a lot of people say it’s also overpriced.
Depending on what time of the year you go, prices will vary. Here’s a screenshot of the price on their website:
Apparently, they have an even more expensive tree-house option. Prices doesn’t seem to be published online but I heard it’s over $400 USD per night.
The cheapest option would be camping. It cost $20 USD per person if you want to camp. You’ll also have to bring your own camping gears; although, I heard you can rent the tents in the national park office.
There are three campsites in the national park and they are:
- Muyumbu – Southern Akagera
- Lake Shakani – Southern Akagera
- Mutumba – Northern Akagera
However, not everyone likes camping. So, if you hate camping but want to stay inside the park, then you have to choose between Ruzizi Tented Lodge or the Akagera Game Lodge.
Akagera Game Lodge review
Akagera Game Lodge is the oldest accommodation inside Akagera National Park. From what I heard, it used to be quite run down until the recent renovations.
This is a screenshot of the price listed on the Akagera Game Lodge website:
Besides the prices listed above, they also have single rooms which cost over $200+ USD per night to stay in. However, if you travel in the park with a driver that works with a partner tour company, they can drop the price down for you to $168 USD per night. This is the option that my group took. Included in the $168 USD that we paid is breakfast.
In my opinion, you definitely want to book ahead of time to secure the classic rooms for $140 USD per night. The reason we didn’t initially book a room here is because we didn’t plan on doing a night game drive prior to coming to Akagera National Park.
However, after staying outside the national park for one night, we decided we wanted to stay in the park for one night to be able to do the night game drive.
By planning ahead, you can save a lot of money by securing the $140 USD classic room (double occupancy) instead of being stuck with the expensive $168 USD room (single occupancy).
Dinner at the Akagera Game lodge costs $24 USD per person. You will get a dinner buffet of an assorted types of food ranging from African food to American food. I guess if you’re staying a resort, it’s about standard what you would pay. This lodge does have a monopoly on how much they can charge you since there’s no other restaurants selling food within the national park.
The food does taste pretty good; though, I wouldn’t say it’s $24 USD good. Again, you don’t really have a choice so you’ll have to eat the cost for this one.
Since the renovations, the Akagera Game Lodge looks very nice. The washroom is modern looking as well as the rooms we stayed in. They also have a swimming pool (we didn’t use it) if you want to go for a swim.
Random animals also pop in the accommodation from time to time which makes for good game watching.
The absolute worst part of staying in Akagera Game Lodge is hands down the customer service. For the price you’re paying, you expect staff members to be friendly. This could be further from the truth.
From what I’ve seen, the staff members are either a hit or miss. Some of them are friendly and definitely wants to help you. But many of them are self-entitled will act snarky if you don’t tip them for the smallest things they’ve done.
For example, this one guy working in the hotel blatantly took my sister and girlfriend’s luggage and brought it to their room even when they explicitly said they don’t need any help. After bringing the luggage to my sister’s room, the man lingered there and won’t leave until he got a tip.
The same goes for the restaurant staff who acted grumpy when they didn’t get a bigger tip for the dinner buffet. Those same restaurant staff proceeded to gossip with the front desk staff how they didn’t get a big enough tip and in turn, the front desk staff would act very unfriendly to us.
First of all, a tip means you provided good service. When all you did was give us a glass of water, there’s no way we’re going to give you a big tip. This stupid self-entitled attitude is horrible and maybe it’s all the American tourist giving them too much tip for no reason has spoiled them.
We’re more than happy to tip well. We definitely tipped our driver in Rwanda and our porters for gorilla trekking and the Nyiragongo volcano trek really well. And you know why we tipped them well? Because they provided an amazing and friendly service. Don’t be bullied to tipping people who didn’t EARN it.
To be honest, the main reason for the horrible customer service in this lodge is most likely because of the manager. The manager of the lodge isn’t Rwandan, he’s a white guy from South Africa and he’s also very unfriendly.
When he saw us coming in the hotel, instead of greeting us, he ran away to his office. What kind of manager doesn’t greet their guest and instead runs off from them?
It’s not like he was busy. I walked by his office to use the washroom and he wasn’t doing anything there. So I think this self-entitled attitude from the staff probably started from the top and influenced many of the staff working in Akagera Game Lodge.
Should you stay in Akagera Game Lodge?
Honestly, if they didn’t have a monopoly for accommodations inside the park, I would definitely say, no, you shouldn’t. The lodge is very nice looking now and is quite comfortable. However, the customer service on average is quite bad so I can’t really speak highly of the accommodation.
However, since they do have a monopoly in accommodation in Akagera National Park and the other non-camping option is even more pricey, then I would say, yes, it is your best option for inside the park. Just make sure to book ahead of time and grab the classic rooms before they sell out. And they sell out very fast during peak season!
Despite not really liking the vibe of Akagera Game Lodge, they’re still the best non-camping option in the national park. And if you want to do a night safari, you have to stay inside the park. However, I wouldn’t stay more than one night so plan your trip here accordingly to see the most in two days.
Most of the Rwandan people are really friendly and aren’t self-entitled like the many who work in this accommodation. Outside the national park, we stayed in Rhino Lodge. While the accommodation itself wasn’t our favourite because it’s an eco-lodge, we definitely felt welcomed by the friendly and authentic staff working in that accommodation.
Finally, if you’ve done a safari in other African national parks and have seen the lion, leopard, and hyenas already, then I’d say skip doing the night safari in Akagera national park and just stay outside the park. In my opinion, that’s the best option for you if you’ve done other safaris before. Regardless, we got to see the leopard while doing the night safari in Akagera National Park which actually made staying in this lodge barely acceptable.