This is an extract from my African travel blog, where you can read all of my adventures in Rwanda.
Note: all photos I've linked to here are borrowed from Flickr, sorry! All are from Akagera itself. Plenty of photos were taken but, due to internet speed, uploading is difficult. I will do so eventually though! The above one borrowed from here.
Today we went on safari to Akagera National Park to the East, bordering Tanzania. From the lake where the Hippos are you can actually see across the border (ahead of you is Tanzania).
Gheert hired a bisi from Seeds of Peace and we left around six in the morning. You have to get there early because, as the day heats up, all the animals disappear into the shade and you can't find them. There was just me, Paula, Gheert and Els - we'd hoped for more but most vols were either up in Gisenyi or gone home.It was actually really nice having such a small group because we could do what we wanted.
The bisi was a real bone rattler. Akagera is really 4x4 territory, but it was fun. We hung out the windows like chimps.
I couldn't believe how close we got to the animals. The first we saw were a troop of baboons, from a distance. A few were carrying babies on their backs. Soon we were surrounded by impala, zebra, antelopes and giraffes - so elegant. We also saw some marabou stalks, monkeys and, from a distance, warthogs - though there are no big cats in that area of the park, and gorillas are right up North near the Virunga volcanoes. You have to make a special trip to see them. The Elephants had also buggered off to Tanzania for a holiday, which was reassuring actually. I was starting to wonder whether the animals were really as wild as we were told, because we could get so close and there were so many.
My absolute favourite were the hippos and the buffalo. We got out of the car and stood not ten metres from a herd of happy, wallowing hippos. They were mind blowing. Such huge, amazing creatures, and the buffalo are just so cool; laid-back, chewing cud and rustling their ears. Totally out of this world.
At lunchtime we stopped off at the Game Lodge, a rather lovely if decadent hotel, with the most amazing views of the park.
Paula and I had a nosey round the rooms, and were impressed. Then we sprawled on the lawn with a Mutzig and ate our packed lunches, watching the world go by. Gheert and Els opted to go back down to reception for their lunch, which also has pretty impressive views. The light green bit at the forefront is where the giraffes were.
It was a fascinating day, and it was dark by the time we got back to Gahini. We were knackered, but went for a meal at Jambo with Celestine, our driver, to thank him. He gave me and Paula a lift back up the hill. Halfway, we met a load of his colleagues from Seed of Peace on their way home with water cans, and stopped to give them a lift. The bus was full of happy Rwandans by the time we pulled up. It was brilliant. Certainly a day to remember.
|Me, Els & Paula|