Monthly Archives: October 2017

Rwanda Trip Part IV – Akagera National Park

Friday January 22

The alarm clock went off early again this morning. We departed our hotel at 6 AM with a packed breakfast. We were headed to Akagera National Park. As we were eating our fruit, eggs and potatoes we turned off of the paved road and onto dirt. A trail of dust followed us to the manned gates of Akagera National Park. I was reminded of something like Jurassic Park. (Was the fence keeping people out or something in? How strong are the sides and roof of our Toyota?) Akagera National Park runs along much of the shared eastern border with Tanzania.

Map of Akagera National Park

At reception we paid the $35 entry fee per person and $40 for our guide, Emanuel. We all piled in the Land Cruiser and headed to explore the park. Over the course of the day we saw zebras, crocodiles, hippos, cape buffalo, antelope, impala, several types of deer, elephants, a giraffe, wart hogs, velvet monkeys, baboons, and several types of deer. It was a lot of driving on rough roads. An electric fence runs the length of the western border of the park (The Rwandan side). Our guide explains this keeps the animals in the park and the farmers out. They used to have problems with the farmers killing some animals that were attacking their livestock or eating their crops. Since the fence has been put up the number of incidents has fallen greatly. The eastern border of the park is the Akagera river and the animals are free to cross into Tanzania as they please.

Emanuel, our guide, was born in Uganda to pastoralists (raising livestock). He came back to Rwanda with the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) during the genocide. He has a safari type outfit on with tall black boots with his pants tucked inside of them. He had a baseball cap on. He seemed to enjoy his job and was very informative.

A giraffe by the watering hole

There are over 500 species of birds in the park with about 300 being permanent and the balance migratory. The topi is the fastest antelope in Africa. The park has about 130 elephants and 75 giraffes. There are a few, newly introduced lions but the grass was tall so we had a slim to none chance to see them. (Update: In May 2017 rhinos were reintroduced to the park)

Impalas (I think) in Akagera National Park. Jokingly called the “Fast Food” of Africa by our guide because the “M” on their butt is like McDonald’s and they run fast.

We ate lunch at a rustic campsite on a hill at one of the highest points in the park. We had a type of sausage, bread, pringles and candy. The small area was heavily fenced so when campers stay there they are undisturbed by inquisitive animals. The views of the lakes and hills were gorgeous.

Hippos in the water

We saw all kinds of animals. My favorite was a giraffe. We also saw elephants right at the end of our tour. We also learned that hippos are dangerous and not to be trifled with so we gave them plenty of space.

We stayed at a hotel inside of the park. It was fairly modern. They had a pool and a small 3 legged monkey named Jess or something like that. She stole some peanuts from us and got a sip of some of our beer. She wasn’t shy and would sit in your lap but usually moved on when she realized you were not going to offer food.

We ate our most expensive and fanciest dinner that night. There was a company retreat at the premises so it was a buffet dinner. The staff unfolded the napkins and put them in our laps which was a strange experience to say the least. Then we took them off and got up to get our food from the buffet. A band was hired for the company event. The New Beats Band was from Kigali and played reggae and other similar music. I headed back to the room and did some writing in my journal. I had the best night of sleep of the trip.

I couldn’t find this one in the guidebook. Looks harmless though.

Rwanda Trip Part III – Jambo Beach

Thursday was a relaxing day. I slept in at the Women for Women Eco Lodge. I met the rest of the group at the covered lounge for breakfast. We had a leisurely day. Andricke picked us up at 1. We met Danny’s friend fellow Peace Corp volunteer at the gare (bus stop) in Rwamagana. Hannah was just back from a trip to Kigali and is from Washington DC. She joined us for lunch at a restaurant called Jambo Beach (“Swimming Strictly Prohibited”) on Lake Muhazi. I had poutine which was surprising to me to find in Rwanda. The restaurant had a resident crane whose name was Tonya. After hanging around she went in for a fried banana that was on a plate before being chased away by the staff. Very peculiar tastes for a bird!

Tonya the crane at Jambo Beach

After lunch we drove Hannah back to her village. It was my first, but certainly not the last, time off the paved roads. The going was very slow and the road was rutted in some places. As we got closer to her home she started to point out people she knew. Danny had told us she was pretty much fluent in Kinyarwandan. It seems like she really had a good connection with her village and I am sure the knowing the language so well really helped.

Lake Muhazi at Jambo Beach. Those are bird’s nests on the tree branches.

We drove back to Kayonza gare to get food for a safari lunch on Friday. It was a hectic place with lots of people waiting for buses, shopping or just hanging out. Danny procured Pringles, sausages and bread for us. It was a good day and I really enjoyed the slow pace. However I was looking forward to the adventure at Akagera National Park.

View from the Eco Lodge

Bed at Eco Lodge with mosquito net down