We are in the back room of a local bar, where a notorious gang of ivory poachers is known to hang out. The room has dusty bookshelves, mysterious maps pinned to the wall and strange objects scattered around. We have one hour to unveil the identities of the gang leaders before they return ánd find the key to unlock the door, so we can escape. The clock is ticking…

Welcome to Kigali’s first and only Adventure Room, a live action escape game, called The Poacher’s Lair. It is a fun way to spend time with family, friends or colleagues. How it works? You and your team are locked in a mysterious room and you must work together to hunt for clues, solve puzzles and crack codes. Together you must discover the secrets inside the room and escape. Before you enter, a ‘Gamemaster’ will explain the storyline, the rules and the mission of the game, in our case, to discover the identities of the poachers. The rest is up to you and your resourcefulness as a team.

Live escape games became popular in the 2010s and they have spread across the globe. Some locations have multiple rooms that each have a different theme and difficulty level. You can be on a treasure hunt, trapped in a space ship or trying to escape from zombies, but you always need teamwork to succeed and the ability to apply the right strategy and tactics. Most rooms are suitable for groups between 2-7 people. Here is a short selection of escape rooms in Africa.

Kigali

The notorious Swahili Coast Syndicate is trafficking ivory across the region. They are wanted by Interpol and it is rumoured the gang members like to hang out in a backroom of a local bar. Do you dare enter The Poachers’ Lair? Watch out for the elephant in the room! http://www.adventureroom.rw

Johannesburg

Of the three rooms, one leads to a mysterious secret garden room that has been untouched for half a century, another room has a horror theme around a world-famous magician and the third room centres on an investigation in a mine from which people have not returned. Did you check the canary? http://www.escaperoom.co.za

Nairobi

In the Jail House room, you and other inmates follow the clues of a fellow prisoner, who successfully escaped. In the Inventors Workshop, a secretive inventor has disappeared but left numerous mysterious clues about her whereabouts and the third room is set on a Submarine, where the crew has to deal with sabotage. Take a closer look at the periscope! http://escaperoomkenya.com

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Kampala

Themed as a World War II bunker, players are trapped in the compartment behind a locked door. They have to prevent their own death by stopping a clock that counts down to self-destruction. Will they be able to survive? In the second room, players are confronted with a murder, but the body is missing. Beware of the skeleton in the closet. https://www.smartypantsug.com

Lagos

A serial killer has just made another victim. Your team has to discover the pattern in his killings and find out who will be his next victim. Can you stop the murders, or will he come after you?  https://escaperoomnigeria.com

Accra

In the Lost Chamber you find yourself handcuffed which makes it more difficult to escape. The second room, Mirror of love tells the story of a couple that was deeply in love but somehow separated. In Prison Chaos, participants are detective agents who try to get the others out. Show them your badge!  http://ghana.freeingafrica.com

Cape town

In the Spy Mission room, a mole has stolen a list of agents’ names. Find out who the traitor is. In the Da Vinci’s Secret room, you must unlock the secret to eternal life in 90 minutes. Will you find out the meaning behind Mona Lisa’s smile?  http://www.timelessescape.co.za

This article was published in Inzozi magazine December 2018.
Photos by shutterstock