East Africa 2012

7½ months - with Melanie - Toyota Hiace 4x4 van

Akagera National Park

August 8, 2012  —  Rwanda
Rwanda
Baboons.

Akagera National Park, north-east of the country, has an area of 1085 km2. It is located at an altitude of 1600 to 1800 metres and is home to several ecosystems; lake, swamp, forest and savannah.

The park is quite small and is continuously threatened by farmers who want to use it for agriculture. Indeed, the park lost nearly 1500 km2 of land in 1997.

The park is nice, but it doesn't contain much fauna like its rivals in Tanzania and Kenya Animals are rather rare and much more timid. Surely the war that ended up with the 1994 genocide has contributed to the impoverishment of the park. Indeed, the militaries and militias have stayed within the parks for many years.

Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Baboon.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Baboons.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Young baboon.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Kingfisher.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Papyrus.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Black Crowned Crane.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
A little Black Crowned Crane?
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
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Akagera National Park - Rwanda

Since entering Rwanda, we had noticed that there was a lot of smog in the air (the sky was white). We asked ourselves if maybe it was because of a forest fire. We got an answer in this park.

In the middle of the park, we stumbled upon a fire spreading quickly. However, only the grass was being burnt, trees and bushes were spared.

In addition to the smoke that was darkening the landscape; we have had a problem with tsetse flies. These flies, when they bite, hurt a lot and may transmit sleeping sickness. We understood that the fire was pushing insects away; there were tons of refugee-insects running from their death. At time, we counted more than 100 tsetse flies around the van. Of course, we left the windows closed and didn't really enjoy the scenery. It was more like hell.

Akagera National Park - Rwanda
The sun through the smoke.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Note the line of fire in the mountain.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
The fire is not crossing the road.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Landscape showing desolation.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda

We should have stopped at a specific camping site, but with all the smoke and insects, we decided to stop as soon as we could.

We found an abandoned ranger camp to spend the night.

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Akagera National Park - Rwanda

The next day, we were tired and the flies started attacking us as soon as the first light of dawn came out. We didn't see much the day before and the smoke and flies prevented us from enjoying the park. We decided to get the hell out of the park.

But in the north, getting away from the fire, landscape turned out to be quite nice. The flies had mostly disappeared and there were animals to be seen. Finally, our visit to the park concluded very nicely and we were happy with the visit.

Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Topi.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Egret.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
An ibis.
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Well... a monkey?
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda

Full-grown giraffes don't have much to fear from predators. Indeed, a group of lions is needed to kill one.

However, when a giraffe is drinking, it becomes more vulnerable. The way they must lean towards the water is difficult for a giraffe, it is very slow to lean and to stand up. At such a time, a predator could take advantage of it and attack the animal.

Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda
Akagera National Park - Rwanda