When I unzipped my tent earlier this morning, I was awestruck by the view of Lake Ihema. Gleams of a tender morning sun created a sight to behold.
I have spent another night at Akagera Ihema View Campsite. This facility was named after Lake Ihema, found in the Akagera National Park. Ihema is a Kinyarwanda word that means tent. The water body I am marveling at derived its name from a tent.
Upon arrival from present-day Tanzania, Henry Stanley reportedly pitched his tent on the shore of this lake in the 1870s. His tent became a monumental landmark along the shoreline. Eventually, the said lake was named Ihema.
This was Stanley’s second expedition in Africa. The objective of his tour was to complete the exploration and mapping of the Great Lakes and rivers of Central and East Africa. His journey was part of the grand exploration project designed to circumnavigate lakes Victoria and Tanganyika in a bid to trace the source of the Nile.
There is a cluster of lakes in Akagera National Park, Ihema being the biggest one. It is also the biggest water body found entirely in Rwanda. Although Lake Kivu is bigger than Lake Ihema, the Rwandan side of the former is smaller.
Setting up a tent was Stanley’s easiest way of building his makeshift shelter. He probably lacked options. Today, a tent is embraced by tourists in pursuit of an ultimate wilderness experience, including the high-end clientele.
I have had a peaceful night in a tent. I slept like a baby and woke up to soothing songs produced by birds. Akagera’s marshland area is a vast birding paradise. I am tempted to write something about these talented singers but I need to do some running in preparation for the upcoming Kigali International Peace Marathon. Besides, running on the edge of Akagera is tantalizing.
Rest assured, I won’t be eaten by the lions. The track I am about to pursue is outside the electric fence. The only wild animals I am likely to encounter are baboons.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Kayonza is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Imigongo Art Center, Silent Hill Hotel, Jambo Beach, Ihema View Campsite and Akagera Rhino Lodge.