I can’t wait to get to the mountain gorillas, but first we spend two more days in Queen Elizabeth National Park. (Zum deutschen Beitrag.)
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From Kibale National Park we drive along the green Rwenzori Mountain Range. Green mountains line up and I can hardly believe how many different shades of green there are!
As soon as we leave the mountainous area near Kasese,the savannah of the Queen Elizabeth National Park welcomes us. In the northern part, close to the equator, the Katwe Explosion Craters line up next to each other. Through the Kasenyi Gate we drive into the park.
Inside Queen Elizabeth National Park
Joseph has received a hint from the rangers at the gate and is already jetting off. But he doesn’t tell us what it’s all about.
Everywhere we see the bizarre cactus trees, which are not dissimilar to my cactus at home, just much, much bigger. Joseph does not give us much time to observe the buffaloes, hippos and antelopes, we realize he wants to continue.
Then he turns, across the tall grass. The jeep stops in front of a cactus tree and what we see then makes us marvel! A lioness literally hangs out! She has made herself comfortable in a branch fork, about 2 meters above the ground and next to her a lion cub peeks out. Behind her, quite invisible another lion cub.
We stop right in front of the tree, which does not seem to bother the lioness at all. She doesn’t even blink. On the other hand, one cub is all the more curious and observes us as fascinated as we do. The lioness wears a tracking transmitter, perhaps the rangers had just “tracked” her via GPS and could therefore tell Joseph where she was.
Such a cute picture. We can hardly tear ourselves away, but we don’t want to disturb the three of them unduly and there is also a boat waiting for us to get us through the Kazinga Canal into Lake Edward.
The Kazinga Canal
The Kazinga Canal connects Lake Edward with Lake George. It is only 3 to 4 meters deep, so enough to be able to ride on it with small barges or something like an excursion boat. In total, the natural canal is 32 kilometers long and here you will find one of the highest concentrations of hippos and nile crocodiles, as well as countless bird species. Lake George is very shallow with a depth of barely 3 meters, the much larger Lake Edward averages 17 meters, but its deepest point,close to the Congolese border, is 112 meters.
In the channel
Our excursion boat is not very full, as there are still not too many tourists coming to Uganda. So we have a lot of space and can switch from one side to the other. Our ranger explains and shows us the flora and fauna of the area. Often, we have to look twice before we see the bird that her trained eyes have long since spotted.
Many hippos are in the water, some are fighting for supremacy in the harem and so the captain prefers to keep his distance. Arguing hippo bulls are even more dangerous than they already are. With these leisurely looking animals you should be very careful and keep a good distance on land and water. Even on land, they are much faster than a human!
At the end of the canal a small village is situated, the fishermen have long since brought their catch ashore. We don’t quite drive all the way into Lake Edward, but we can see it well in front of us.
The Enganzi Lodge
The afternoon is already well advanced and so Joseph now drives us directly on the well-developed road to our next stay, the Enganzi Lodge.
It is built entirely on a slope, with a fantastic view over the savannah. With luck you can see elephants down in the distance. Here we are not the only guests and so we only get bungalows quite far down and have to climb many steps.
The rooms are fixed tents with a brick bathroom and a beautiful veranda overlooking the setting sun.
Unfortunately, even some palm-sized spiders find this accommodation quite comfortable and so the night becomes very restless for me, although of course there are mosquito nets.
On safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The whole next day should be a safari day. So it starts early again. Unfortunately, the big cats are probably not where we are today, so we enjoy all the other animals we encounter.
Joseph drives us to Lake Muyenyange around noon. Pink salt is extracted in this crater lake, which of course we like to take home with us. But something else is pink here, namely the flamingos that we meet here. The lava mud is said to have healing powers, as a local salt farmer explains to us. Animals with skin problems or wounds also come here. They wallow in the mud and soon they would feel better.
In the early afternoon we convince our driver that we would like to spend an afternoon at the small pool or on the terrace.
We don’t have to drive ourselves, but also the hours of rocking in the jeep and the exhausting search for animals makes us tired.
In the evening there is a cake and a serenade after dinner in the lodge, because our accompanying friend celebrates his birthday today.
Ishasha Park is a small part of Queen Elizabeth National Park,located in the far west. To get to our next destination, from where we can finally visit the gorillas, we have to drive through here.
This area of the Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions, as we saw it the day before yesterday. Here there should only be more of them and they are lounging on huge fig trees.
To see that, we have to get out very early. The park is not so far, but we experience the worst roads since we have been here. Many of the potholes are so deep that I take my breath every time Joseph tries very carefully and very slowly to drive around them.
Even in pitch black night we see eyes in the light of the headlights on the roadside and we are already past the hyena.
On the way we see some herds of elephants in the distance and the sun rises glowing red.
Do we see lions now?
Well, today luck is probably not with to us. Apart from us, there are still some jeeps here so early in the morning. Information is exchanged, but today there is no lion in the imposing trees. That’s a pity, but we’re not in the zoo either. However,a very imposing male has just made himself comfortable with his prey under a shrub. He is so full that he looks at us, but does not see us as threatening to his food source. We take some photos and then leave him alone.
Why the lion population likes to hang out in the trees here, one does not know exactly, because normally lions do not like to climb trees so much.
Late in the afternoon we finally arrive in
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
and are happily welcomed at the Gorilla Safari Lodge.
More about this in the next part of my report of our Uganda trip.
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What did we do the previous days? You´ll find it here!