Day 7: Akagera National Park

Our community guide Hermann sporting his Hokies for Hokies t-shirt.

Bones of deceased animals found in Akagera.

One type of antelope we spotted often during our ride was the impala.

Our group by a lake in Akagera National Park where we saw
hippos and elephants cooling off in the water.

Saturday the 21st of May was a great day! We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to meet in the lobby where breakfast was packed and ready for us then we boarded the bus at 5:00am. We went to Akagera National Park. The trip there in the morning was long but worth the experience! In the lobby of the welcome center were the remains of animals that lived in the park (crocodile, elephant, birds, monkeys, etc.). Our tour guide was named Hermann and he started off with telling us where we would be going throughout the day and where he thought animals would be that we would be interested in seeing. Once we got to the first spot we saw some antelope and he taught us that the black and white “M” shape on their tails are for each other to use when following each other through the tall grass. At the next spot, he taught us that the male baboons have grey bottoms and the females have pink bottoms. At our final stop before lunch, we saw some hippos and Hermann taught us that hippos are very territorial and that they come out at night because their skin is very sensitive to sunlight. During lunch, we went to a game lodge that is on the park grounds and there I ordered a RedBull, Sprite, and a cheese burger with chips (French fries). After lunch, we went to more spots where we saw some warthogs, giraffes, zebras, and water buffalo. This concluded our safari for the day and we proceeded back to the entrance of the park.

The coolest part about this trip was meeting Hermann and getting to spend the day with him. He is such a happy and genuine person. We gave Hermann a Hokies for Hokies t-shirt and we actually got to give him a ride back to his home. On the way back to his house we all learned that his family was affected by the genocide in 1994. He lost his father and sisters which was very emotional to hear. The ride home was very long but it was beautiful seeing the sun set in the mountains as I got to reflect on the day. On a Saturday night, it was very busy – people running, talking, enjoying a drink, and having fun with their family and friends. I got to end the day chatting with some awesome new friends from Virginia Tech about our amazing adventure.

- Brian LaPrade

For updates on Virginia Tech Athletics, follow the Hokies on Twitter