A Visit to the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

A Ugandan Safari: Part One

9 February 2016 | Travel East Africa |

GOOD CALL,  PTOLEMY

Around 1800 years ago the Greco-Roman mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer Ptolemy drew on his map of Africa, in what today is known as Uganda, Lunae Montes, or as we now call them, Mountains of the Moon.

Kate and I recently travelled to Uganda on a chimpanzee quest but secretly I was hoping to see these mythical mountains that had drawn the great Victorian explorers Stanley and Speke, amongst others. We succeeded on both counts, but only by the skin of our teeth.

Ugandan Railways Posters

OLD WORLD UGANDAN RAILWAY POSTERS

 

We crossed over into Uganda from Rwanda by car and immediately felt as though time stood still. Everything about Uganda is kind of like the ‘80’s. Whilst Rwanda crackles with energy, Uganda is totally laid back. This is what going on safari in Kenya and Tanzania must have felt like forty years ago. No swish lodges, no big name safari brands, no posh 4×4’s – quite refreshing really and that’s rich coming from me.

Our base was the delightful Kyambura Gorge Lodge sort of halfway up the Queen Elizabeth National Park in the south west of the country. It struck me as rather nice that they haven’t axed this name and there are even roads named in HRH’s honour such as ‘Queen’s Mile’ and another ‘Royal Circuit’. I could just imagine her coming here on a safari way back when probably to double check why Churchill named this lovely landlocked African country The Pearl of Africa.

Queen Elizabeth National Park Road names in HRH honour

ROAD NAMES IN THE QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

 

There were to be two excursions into the park – one a game drive and another a boat cruise. We explored the Kasenyi Plains in the QENP and after snapping a shot of our first Uganda Kob we saw at least two thousand in three hours. Not so rare after all. No wonder it’s the national animal and, as luck would have it, their national bird, a vain but oh-so-handsome grey crowned crane, preened and posed for us for half an hour and looked quite disappointed when we finally drove off. But there in the hazy distance shimmered the mighty Rwenzori Mountains, those not-so-mythical mountains drawn by Ptolemy. Apparently it’s not so easy to see these snow-capped equatorial mountains that peak at over 5000m so we considered ourselves lucky to at least get a glimpse.

The Ugandan Kob & Grey Crowned Crane

THE UGANDA’S NATIONAL ANIMAL & BIRD – THE UGANDAN KOB & GREY CROWNED CRANE

 

And so on to the birding cruise on the Kazinga Channel, a 40km waterway that links Lakes Edward and George (more lovely nods to British royalty). If you can only choose two adventures in this corner of Uganda (best I don’t ignore shoebills and mountain gorillas) please be sure to do this lovely cruise in-between chimp trekking. Uganda boasts 50% of Africa’s bird diversity and 10% of the planet’s and I think we saw them all. Well, nearly all of them. The birding is astounding starting with pied kingfishers by the hundreds and followed by every water bird imaginable. Oh, the elephant, buffalo, hippo and croc viewing is pretty darn good, too.

Pink-backed Pelican & Pied Kingfisher

THE PINK-BACKED PELICAN & PIED KINGFISHER ALONG THE BANKS OF THE KAZINGA CHANNEL

 

In next week’s blog I will share my story about reading between the lines when trekking – if ever there was a misnomer – for chimps in the Kyambura Gorge.

Crocodile & Ellies on the banks of the river in Queen Elizabeth National Park

CROCODILES, ELLIES & BUFFALOS JOINING THE BIRDS ALONG THE KAZINGA CHANNEL

AUTHOR: Nicky Fitzgerald

After more than 30 years in hospitality, starting with a small hotel at the foot of Africa and followed by a further couple of Cape hotels, most notably The Bay, and sixty plus safari lodges across Africa and India, Nicky has served more meals, puffed more cushions, filled more beds, trained more staff and opened more properties than she cares to remember. Her driving force is ‘will our guests love this?’ She has come full circle and is happily puffing, cooking, training and filling to her heart’s content high up on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley at Angama Mara.

COMMENTS (2)
Ethiopia - Land of Unmatched Beauty and Diversity —
April 11, 2017

[…] LOTDP’s to showcase travel to places that are easily accessible from Kenya: Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Seychelles and now Ethiopia. Coming soon: Madagascar. FILED UNDER: […]

REPLY
Ricky Mirmohamed
January 29, 2018

Great stuff about Uganda

REPLY
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

BLOG HOME
BLOG ARCHIVES: