My Safari Experience

16 Aug 2019

I recently had my very first safari experience and it was pretty surreal. I thought I'd do a little write up about it and discuss my expectations and experience, pretty much because I have so many photos I want to post.

We went to Akagera National Park which is on the east side of Rwanda on the border with Tanzania. Akagera is about 3 hours away from Kigali, where we were based. The safari trucks picked us up from our guesthouse at 5am and took us to Akegera.

It cost 46,000 RWF to get into the park, which is the equivalent of around £50 but we had to pay a little extra for the trucks travelling such a long way. This is paid at reception, which also contains a cafe and a gift shop as well as a few skeletons on display. The park has a separate entrance and exit so if you are thinking of buying anything in the gift shop, make sure you do it at the start as you won't come back.

Akagera isn't the biggest park in the world. It was halved just after the genocide when the land was needed for refugees. It's approximately a 6-hour drive from the entrance of the park to the exit. In my head, a safari was just like a glorified zoo where you would drive about and come across the elephant area and the elephants would walk up to your truck to say hello. This did not happen. You would sometimes spend half an hour just driving around empty plains waiting for something to show up. 

However, the first animal we saw, we saw almost as soon as we entered the park, and it was a waterbuck. There are so many antelope and I love antelope so I was very happy about the first sighting.

We then came across a vervet monkey who was very much not in the mood and decided to wander away almost as soon as we approached.

Then came the impala. First, we saw one, just standing on its own and then came across a whole herd! There is impala everywhere so it's one animal that you are absolutely certain to see.

One of the things is knowing when to take photos and when to leave it. You never know when might be your last chance to see a specific animal or if an opportunity will come up to take a better shot. These impala photos were taken later on in the trip and as you can see as we entered the depths of the park, the animals started to come a lot closer to us.

The same thing happened with the zebras. We caught a glimpse of a herd pretty early on and thought we were the next David Attenborough with our keen eyes.

Only for us to travel a little further on and there were zebras galore! Including this little guy who came right up close to the truck.

We then headed down to Hippo Beach to grab some lunch and let's just say Hippo Beach is very adequately named. There were so many hippos! They were typically all just lounging around by the lake, we had spotted them in the distance but it was so much better to see them up close.

There was also a crocodile.

After departing from Hippo Beach all we really saw for a while was a lot more impala, waterbucks and zebras.

We even managed to see a real-life zebra crossing!

There were loads of baboons and warthogs as well, which was straight out of The Lion King, but they moved too fast for me to get a good shot of any of them, but they did exist. We then drove through a real-life fire in the pride lands which really was straight out of The Lion King!

After the fire, we finally saw the biggie THE ELEPHANT. Out of the big 5; elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalo, the only one we managed to see was the elephant. And at that, all we managed to see was a little glimpse but hey I can still say that I saw an elephant on safari!

The last animals we saw were the giraffes, again we initially saw them at a distance but as we drove we came across a whole herd grazing at the side of the road.

Two things that I learnt from this safari experience for you to take home with you: 

1. Don't wear white. I wore a cute white tee but my post-safari look was 100% not a look! It's very dusty so I came home all covered in red dust from head to toe.

2. Bring a zoom lens. I used my Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens as it's the only lens I brought with me on this trip but for future safaris, if I ever go on one again, I'd be sure to pack a zoom lens just to get better pictures of the animals from a distance because a prime lens can only do so much!

Have you ever been on safari? If so what animal was your favourite that you saw? Mine was definitely the impalas.

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