Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 9: Akagera National Park!


Having woken up for 5 am, the group was absolutely pumped for what lay ahead today – the Akagera Safari. Four safari trucks picked us up at ASYV. From there, we ventured out to Akagera. We stopped once during the 2-hour drive on the way there to pick up snacks, which included amandazis and chipatis (absolute heaven in the form of food).  After arriving at Agakera, the guides briefed us and then we set out in the jeeps. The views from the safari were absolutely breath-taking. I feel as if there are no words to capture the beauty of the land; it was stunning, gorgeous and beautiful. I even felt that pictures of the land could not capture its true beauty – it was something that one simply had to see and experience on their own. The animals that we saw on the trip included zebras, antelopes, gazelles, impalas, elephants, hippos, giraffes, various birds, and so much more!

I had such an amazing time today. I was in awe of the beauty of the land and the animals. Furthermore, a lot of us had the opportunity to sit on top of the jeep and see everything from a birds’ eye view. Sitting up there was slightly scary, as the dirt-road was bumpy but it was SO worth it. Overall, it was a great day and definitely one for the books!


When we all woke up around 4:30 a.m. to be ready for the 5 a.m. jeeps, we were undoubtedly excited for the safari. However, some of us were a little less than thrilled to be up so early! We decided to make the most of the wake-up time by watching the sunrise. However, the sky was so cloudy this morning that there was no sunrise! Light just sort of happened. This became sort of the group joke of today—that we got up to watch the sunrise that didn’t happen. This turned out to be the most wonderful aspect of the safari, though.
Because the weather was just slightly overcast, no one was too hot on the jeeps and the lighting was absolutely perfect for photos (although the land was so vast and the animals were so close and so incredibly beautiful it’s hard to capture the whole idea). We had a blast sitting on top of, on the backs of, and standing in the windows of, the jeeps. Some highlights have been waving to each other as we passed jeeps, taking photos half-hanging out the window, and getting twigs (branches) stuck in our hair. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and kind, as everyone in this country has been, and stopped whenever we saw an animal or expressed interest in a certain view.
After the safari, we spent time with our families. Everyone is having a blast getting to know the students and mamas in their families. Most of us have played games, or had conversations or traded gifts and every experience has been unique and special. The students are extremely kind and have worked so hard to make us feel at home. The village is a very special place.

The group feels really close, and when we listed positives and negatives of the day, today was so incredible that there were hardly any negatives to say all around. It was a gorgeous day, with wonderful people, and I think most would agree it’s been one of the best so far.

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