21 Jul

Lions were reintroduced to the Akagera National Park in 2015, about fifteen years after being wiped out of the land of 1,000 hills. Today, more than thirty lions inhabit the sprawling Savannah. What are the odds of seeing one during a random game drive?

I was lucky to see other species of the big cats, barely a kilometer after entering the park. Then I covered a long distance before spotting anything else apart from monkeys, birds, antelopes, hippos and crocodiles. 

The farther I drove, the more animals I encountered. Zebras, flaunting their beautiful black and white stripes, were all over the place. At some point, I had to stop because some baboons were conducting a meeting in the middle of the road. Farther ahead, I stepped on the brake pedal again because a handful of giraffes were crossing the road in a single file. Watching these elegant giants cat walking, right in front of my bumper, was the highlight of the day.

As I entered the northern flank of the park, I wondered if I would be lucky enough to see the king of the jungle. When I saw an experienced tour operator driving towards the opposite direction, I flagged him down and asked for tips. He advised me to try my luck at the relatively flatter Kilala Plains.

Lions are hard to find during the day. They hunt at night and spend the rest of the time in their hideouts. Their hunting pattern — once in three or four days — further reduced my chances of bumping into one.

After spinning around a herd of buffaloes at Kilala, I gave up and proceeded to Karenge Bush Camp for my last stopover of the tour. This camp and other Akagera accommodation facilities will be featured in the series’ finale, scheduled to be published later today.