The day trip to Akagera national park is popular for many visitors to Rwanda because of its closeness to the city. Akagera park has been restored to close to its former glory of being home to the big 5 after it lost animal populations to poaching. My tour guide informed me that to explore this park on a day trip we needed to leave Kigali as early as 5.00 am. I was up at 4.00 am and prepared to start the tour at 5.00 am.
We set off for Akagera national park and enjoyed views of a beautiful sunrise on our way. We stopped and I quickly got my camera to capture this moment. I normally miss out on sunrises because I like to sleep in, so on rare moments like these I endeavor to take them in and celebrate the gift of a new day. Apart from the sunrise there was not much enroute to capture my attention except looking forward to arriving at the park. We arrived some minutes after 7.00am and went through registration for people and the car before entering the park. Honestly for me it was more of visiting the park and knowing what it is about but not for the game I could sight here.
But alas I was pleasantly surprised when we started the tour that we were able to find schools of Hippos resting by the papyrus near the water. For the other people on the tour they were fascinated by Giraffes, Zebras, Baboons, Impalas, Buffaloes and one lone Elephant which was a distance away. There was no sighting of Lions or the newly introduce Rhinos but again, this is nature. There is a joke among tour guides that if you want to see animals you need to go to the Zoo or probably make an appointment with them, otherwise what you see on a game drive depends on so many factors that tour guides have no control of.
We had a picnic lunch at the hippo pool – a place that usually has Hippos bathing in the area. I was impressed by the Hippos there but unfortunately could not get close to get good photos, I only managed photos of their backs. However continuing on the safari, we found another school of hippos in better location so we had a field day with the photos. After this we continued on towards the northern gate which would be our exit back to Kigali later that evening. The landscape driving along the Lake side truck is beautiful, this was another highlight for me while on this tour. For anyone in Kigali on business or attending a conference without much time, I recommend a day tour to Akagera national park. This you can take if you have a night flight because you will get back by 6.00 pm to Kigali in time for your night flight. The drive back is usually not that adventurous except for views of Lake Muhazi.