During this week we took the three hour trip to Akagera National Park to go on a safari. The trip from Kigali to Akagera isn’t that long but you’ll have to drive somewhat 30 km on a dirt road and that can take some time. On your trip you’ll see a lot of people (like on every road in Rwanda) and you’ll be amazed how much they carry with them – especially the people with bikes. We saw a guy with 20-25 plastic chairs on top of each other on his bike. It is ridiculous and amazing.
We arrived at Akagera shortly after midday and decided to take the small trip around the park before heading to the Ruzizi Tented Lodge where we would be spending our first night. The small trip tooks us about three hours and we saw lots of zebras, velvet monkeys, baboons and some giraffes. We also saw some antilopes. And then we had the pleasure of the tsetse flies. Probably the worst damn creature in the whole world. We knew that the flies were a problem but we would never have imagined it to be that big. As our old Toyota Rav4 doesn’t have A/C and it was 25-30 degrees Celsius we decided to have the windows down to get some air. Big. F***ing. Mistake. Around 20-25 flies accompanied us for a couple of ours, biting us, sitting on our faces and all in all annoying us. And they give a nasty bite. It feels sort of like a bee sting – but theses flies don’t wither and die after words. They just go on. It was horrible. When we finally got rid of most of the flies and got the windows up, the car was so hot inside that we were all sweaty. Bad experience. But! Whenever we came across a family of animals and stopped the car to look at them and take pictures, we somehow forgot about the flies (at least for a while).
We stayed at the beautiful and sustainable Ruzizi Tented Lodge the first night (see the picture below – we stayed in a half tent/half building, which was really nice). It was a great place with some great views, delicious food and a nice staff. It’s a bit expensive but all profits goes to the park and to the people tending to it (and the villagers around the park).
We got up early to catch some morning sun light and see if we were lucky to see a hippo in the water nearby our tent. Unfortunately, no hippos were to be seen at that moment. We got our breakfast instead and shortly after we went to get our guide for the safari trip around the park.
Our guide took us off road to hunt some elephants seen there yesterday. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any elephants. Instead, we continued up north where the savannah begins and the area is more open, something the giraffes, buffalos, zebras and gazelles like (then they have a better view of a predators).
We saw all these animals in big groups together with warthogs, hippos (along the many lakes) and many other species. It was a very long way up there because of bumpy roads, but also because of the heat. Lesson learned from yesterday, we had to close the windows when we got to dense areas with many tsetse flies. And then it got really warm, we were sweating because of the lack of A/C in the car!
For some reason we thought the whole trip around the park would take us six hours – but after approximately 4-5 hours our guide told us that it takes six hours to get from the bottom to the top of the park and another three hours to get back to the only entrance! All of a sudden we were in a hurry because we had to be back in the park before 6 PM where it closes. It got us a bit stressed, but we managed to get back in the park 5.30 PM due to great driving skills (courtesy of Thomas of course).
Akagera was great but make sure to go in a car with A/C – without the tsetse flies and/or the heat will definitely influence your experience in a bad way – but it was a great trip, no doubt about that.
Muyumba Camping site
After returning to the entrance we went directly to the camp site and put up the tent and tried to start a fireplace for making our food (baked beans and noodles – much delicate, so cuisine). Aside from us a group of yonge Rwandanese college students had made camp – they already had three bon fires and we looked like stupid city people trying to create ours! It got dark and with all it’s shame we decided to give up and just sit next to theirs. Bummer. It was a full moon so our tent was all light up making it hard to fall asleep (well at least for Nana – Thomas is always fast a sleep). But that’s just part of the experience.
We woke up half an hour before the sun rise and packed our things and waited for the sun to rise. It was rather cloudy but we managed to see a beautiful red sun before leaving for Kigali.