31 Jul

It took me almost three hours to reach the artistically designed Akagera Transit Lodge. Spending a night near the entrance enabled me to enter the park early without having to wake up at the wee hours of the morning.

On my way out of Kigali, I dropped by SP Kanombe gas station to service and refill the tank. Then I had a Covid test at Legacy Clinics. Akagera-bound tourists can get tested at the Akagera Community Center, but I recommend doing this before departure.

It is advisable to know your Covid status prior to hitting the road. Why drive for hours before confirming your clearance? Negative results are mandatory. Whilst Covid protocols have been lifted elsewhere, we need to do our best to keep the primates inhabiting our protected areas Covid-free.

Before embarking on a self drive tour, check the tread depth of your tires and ensure they are not worn out. Your front and rear wiper blades must be in good conditions. Diagnose any possible malfunctions in your air conditioner and fix them. You must be able to clear the mist and prevent internal condensation if need be.

When I finally hit the road, all was set. After a brief coffee and bathroom break at Urugo Roadside Café, I proceeded to Rwinkwavu Sector, Kayonza District. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the community’s involvement in tourism. At some point during this series, we will see how turning the local population into "co-proprietors" of the park worked wonders.

The route to the Akagera National Park, from Kigali, is quite scenic. As memorable as it was, this road trip wasn’t as intriguing as the destination. Stay with me throughout this series and learn more.