Rwanda Day 2: Akagera National Park

After the New Year Countdown shenanigans, Tuesday got off to a slow start. Thankfully the driver who the host S had graciously helped hire for the next six days was scheduled to arrive by 11am, and we spent no less than two hours in the morning discussing Rwanda’s recovery and growth, Nigeria’s state, our countries’ prospects and our people, over breakfast of brown bread and homemade avocado spread. Have I said how amazing S is yet?! While the conversations made my heart heavy and left me personally challenged, I was still excited about the adventures ahead.

The plan was to head to Akagera on Tuesday, go on the Night Safari to see nocturnal animals, camp overnight and go on the Day Safari, hoping to see the Big Five. Water, drinks, snacks, insect repelllent, torches, warm clothing, blankets and a padded mat (bought after combing all of Kigali in search of sleeping bags with no luck) were loaded in the back of the jungle- ready 4×4, and off we went on the 2.5 hour trip from Kigali.

Fees settled and introductions to the guide done, while chilling at the reception before heading to the camping area to retire for the day as the night Safari was fully booked, a group returned with news of sighting a herd of elephants. We quickly set off to see them just in case we were not as lucky the following day. Smart move.

Excited about having seen the elephant, hippos, baboons, impalas, warthogs and a whole bunch of other animals, we called it a day and headed to the camping area which was overlooking a lake with a stunning view, and surrounded with an electric fence to keep us from becoming dinner. With the fence open at the camp entrance, the slight hint of danger made it all the more exciting.

Nothing prepared me for how cold the night was going to get! Jacket, thermals, socks and I was still freezing. I must have woken up to look for the warmest position I could curl into a hundred times. Each time I woke up it seemed like a new place was numb. Fam! I still don’t understand how I zipped myself straight-jacket-style to maximise my body heat, but I can’t forget the confusing discomfort that woke me from the awkward position. This was Type 2 fun that I’m ready to do all over again!

The campsite was overlooking a lake with a stunning view, and the sunrise in the morning is hard to describe. Nature is the most perfect artist!

Beautiful Sunrise

Beautiful Sunrise

Four hours and sightings of buffalos, girraffes, zebras, more hippopotamuses later, while listening to the Park Guide talk about his love for Tekno and Patoranking and how he stopped being a PSquare fan after the group split, it was time to depart. To the elusive lions and rhinoceros, see you later.

Next stop on the trip was Kinigi, home to the Volcanoes National Park where Mount Bisoke is located. Heading from Akagera, we made the 2.5hour trip back to Kigali, had lunch and the absolute best lemon and ginger tea ever made, and  continued 2.5 hours or so to a quaint little guest house at Kinigi. Dinner was a little unfamiliar to the Nigerian palate – but there are few things large doses of chilli oil won’t fix. After sleeping off in front of the fireplace at the lounge and then sauntering off to my room, Day 2 was done.

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