Our only day at Volcanoes National Park we tracked gorillas. This required a 5AM departure time, which, when you are jet lagged and have no concept of time, is quite easy to accomplish. We hiked 45 minutes through farm land with our guide and then crossed a stone wall to join the trackers and hiked another hour or so to find the gorilla group. They say to stay 7 meters away, and by that they mean, like, 5 feet. Being that close to a gorilla is not a natural state. It kind of made me uncomfortable. I seemed to be the only person in the group concerned about the possibility of being squeezed to death by a gorilla. As a person who read the book Koko’s Kitten repetitively as a child, one would think that my somewhat irrational fear of being killed by a gorilla might be quelled. It was not. Despite this fear, I thought watching the gorillas was pretty cool. Their mannerisms are so human like you forget what you’re looking at.
The next day we drove a million miles (exaggeration) to Akagera National Park. There aren’t that many roads in Rwanda, so anytime you want to go to the other side of the country you pass through Kigali. Despite being a small country, the landscape varies depending on where you are. Akagera had crazy red soil, unlike Volcanoes.
After we got to Akagera, William took us on a game drive. I’ve never been one to be all excited about wildlife, but it is pretty fucking cool to see giraffes and buffalo and antelope. While hanging out the window of the SUV, I realized I’ve never seen a giraffe in real life. That felt humbling. Shortly after that, I got “what would you do for a Klondike bar” stuck in my head for like, 20 minutes. Anyway, the hotel also had baboons running around on the grounds. This was cool, though it seemed an ongoing battle between staff and wildlife. The baboons were winning.
We had an early morning game drive the next morning as well. I saw my first hippo during that time also. We also drove to Lake Ihema that borders Tanzania. Though I’m always in awe when I go and travel somewhere, it really struck me that, holy shit, I’m looking across a lake to Tanzania.