While reporting a story about the development of Rwanda’s national parks, two other fellows and I had the opportunity to go on a night game drive in Akagera National Park with Innocent Ndagijimana, a park guide for the past five years. Innocent cautioned us at the beginning that we might see some wildlife, we might not. “Nature makes no plans,” he said. Expectations low but hopeful, we set off.
As we bounced along red dirt roads in an open-roofed safari truck, Innocent swept the landscape with a spotlight, tracking the shining eyes of nocturnal animals. The driver stopped our vehicle alongside bush bucks, antelope, and zebras. And then, in the distance, Innocent spotted a female leopard. She came toward us on the road, seemingly unconcerned about the visitors on her turf. She came within 10 meters of us on the road, and then walked into the tall grass next to us, Innocent’s light following her all the way. Some people don’t see any animals during the game drive, Innocent told us. “You are so lucky.” And I believed him.
I hesitated posting this here, because people already associate Africa with safari activities. It might be a cliche, but I decided to share it anyway, because it was an amazing experience.