Rwanda has two rain seasons: the first one is March, April, May, and the second one is October, November, December. You can see how they have implemented irrigation systems and drainage to work with the rain seasons. It's a good thing we're here during a dry season with the amount of mountains and hills we've climbed! If it weren't the dry season, I'm not sure that our safari would have been as enjoyable and manageable.
We spent the last two days adventuring around Akagera National Park. The lodge we stayed at was so beautiful! It went by so fast. We took great showers and saw one of the most beautiful sunrises ever.
Our guide, Magnifique, has been guiding for 4 years. He went to the same primary school as our GEI guide Eric. Magnifique went to university in hopes of becoming a teacher of physics and chemistry. He shared with us that although he isn't doing what he planned, he's still teaching; teaching safari-goers about Rwanda and nature in Akagera. I see a lot of myself in Magnifique for his mindset. Furthermore, even if I don't end up teaching in an institution someday, like I plan to now, I know that wherever I go & whatever I do - I'll be teaching people.
The best part of the safari at Akagera for me was whenever I was sitting on top of our 'tank' with Ashanti. Unlike the other two tanks, ours lacked a roof and Magnifique told us we were allowed to stand on the seats and sit on top if we liked. While sitting on top of the tank, the smells, sights, and fresh air were washing us over with complete bliss. I wish I wasn't so sensitive to the sun so I could have stayed up there all day on our second day!
For some of our time in the park, we were looking across either the large Lake or the Akagera river. You can see Tanzania from across these bodies of water! We asked Magnifique how poaching is prevented and he explained that it used to be a problem with Tanzanians coming into Rwanda to poach but now it's not a problem. However, it could happen in an unlikely incident.
On our first day of the safari, we saw so much wildlife! We saw zebra, giraffe, elephant, hippo, water bucks, plenty of birds, and monkeys. The sunset was amazing and from where we sat to watch the sunset, we could see our lodge up the mountain above us. It was so peaceful.
On the second day, we saw many different types of antelope, a repeat of some of what we saw yesterday, a crocodile, impala, and a female lion! There are only 7 lions in the entire park - 5 female and 2 male. We learned that 2 females are pregnant also and should be having Cubs very soon since they're only pregnant for 3 months before giving birth. It was amazing to see the female lion - she was up in a tree eating something. I don't think she was pregnant but she looked very fit. What made this so special was that this was the first lion Magnifique has ever seen in the park also! That makes me so happy.
What else makes me really happy you ask!? Well here's a story: we were briefed to understand that the national park of Akagera is under government protection and funding. The park used to be way larger than it is now, so conservation is key. I really came to understand this when we were heading to the northern exit of the park and Magnifique stopped our tank to let a little mouse run across the path. This made me so happy! I'm the same way when I'm driving, no matter how small the animal is, I have to try to keep it alive!
We also asked Magnifique if many Rwandans spend time in the park. He said that yes, they do go there, but not as much because Rwandans (with the exception of the younger generations) aren't focused on things such as traveling. That makes a lot of sense when you see how much time, work, and results have happened in terms of values such as forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.
Over all, this was such a lifetime experience for me. I'm glad we had such a kind and knowledgable guide. I learned so much and found a feeling of pure bliss that I've never felt any other way before. I'm feeling so blessed to have shared this experience with our village.