Queen Elisabeth National Park
This park has one of the most diverse ecosystems in Africa, from tropical lowland rainforest to green meadows, from savannah to swamps. The melting glacier water of the Ruwenzori Mountains created a vast wetland comprising for Lake George and Lake Edward being channelled by the Kazinga Channel, to the remote Ishasha River in the south.
Here we stayed every night in a different lodge or tent camp. You see here less wildlife as in Murchison Falls, at least not in the same numbers of wildlife.
Our first lodge was a quite luxuous lodge! A little overdone and not that cosy as the smaller guesthouses we had. But from the other side, occasionally luxury is not bad at all and we had a view that spokes for itself. The lodge was located at a peninsula at Lake Edward and at the other side the Kazinga Channel that connects Lake Edward with Lake George. -71.jpgWe had a view over a curve of the channel. At the other side you saw a big herd of buffalo's and a little affront many hippopotamus.
When we walked to our room, somebody was waiting for us. A beautiful blue headed rock agama was sitting at the trunk of the tree in front of our room. Soon we discovered that you could find in several other big trees a male with some females. But they were quite shy.
The journey to the lodge was already a game drive and in the afternoon we had a boat ride, we slowly took off from the Kazinga Channel to Lake Edward. We did not see much new stuff, but you can enjoy every time again all the wildlife. We could take some nice pictures of several different stork species, from close by. The boat went very slow, so you could really enjoy from quite close many hippopotamus, buffalo's and birds. You can get much closer to the animals than from our car or during our hikes.
The following morning another game drive and after our lunch we went to the south of the park, to Maramagambo Forest, the tropical lowland rainforest of this park. In this forest you find a bat cave with millions of bats, but you can find here as well some giant pythons. Of course we loved to see some pythons. You could hear and smell the bats already from far, when we reached the edge of the top of the cave you felt already the heat rising up. Indeed an ideal location for pythons, warm, dark and plenty of food. When we slowly climbed down, the noise of the bats became deafening, our ears started to whistle. The ceiling of the cave was quite low, but completely full and overpopulated by bats. Also the edges of the cave were full with bats, no spot was empty. What a heat and a nasty smell. But bat caves are always interesting to see, many females still had their already quite big young ones at their belly. -31.jpgWith our flashlights and a shawl in front of our mouth, against the nasty ammonia smell we entered the cave. You also have to take care for the fungus you often find in these kinds of caves, you can get easily ill from these funguses. If you look at the bottom of the cave, you understand why you can find these funguses here. You walk through a thick layer of bat shit, full with centipedes, bugs, woodlouses and whatever more you can think about, but what you prefer not to see. You had to take care not to slide away in this thick layer of bat shit. After 15 minutes of searching we had not found yet a python, so we left the cave for a break to catch some fresh air. Then again inside, this time we found a beautiful cobra. We asked our guide what kind of cobra it was, if it was a spitting cobra we had to be extra careful,-66.jpg these cobras always spit venom to the eyes of their enemies and even from a few meters distance they can hit your eyes faultlessly. If you don't rinse your eyes immediately, you'll get blind. To wear sunglasses in this dark cave is of course not ideal J. But it was a forest cobra, also this one is quite venomous, if you got bitten and you don't reach a hospital quickly, the bite is fatal. We were here in the middle of nowhere. We could take some nice pictures, we could not nag him to rise beautifully, but you don't want to nag him too much J.
Later we tried a third search, but as there were that many burrows and wholes and it was so dark (there was hardly any light in the cave and the flashlights did not give that much light), that we ceased out search for pythons. Unfortunately, we would have loved to see them.
The following day we went to Ishasha, as Ishasha is a part of the Queen Elisabeth Park, we saw on the way many baboons and elephants. As we approached Ishasha we saw all of a sudden enormous herds of kobs and oribis, really everywhere. Indeed an ideal location for lions. In Ishasha you find tree climbing lions, often they climb during the morning in to big fig trees, there it's a little cooler, a savannah breeze and they have less trouble of flies. Besides that lions don't like wet feet, so during the rain season you find them almost always into the fig trees. It was really great to see lions relaxing-73.jpg on a big tree branch, such a big cats lying so relaxed at a big branch, so different as you're used to. In the first tree we saw two lionesses. After a while, one stood up, as if she knew we were taking pictures, she was really posing. After posing she climbed to the other lioness and plopped down next to her.
You find here at the savannah some tens of big fig trees, the lions especially climb in these trees as they have big branches just a few meters above the ground. So you ride from one fig tree to another and you hope to be lucky. And we had that again at another tree. A young-84.jpg male in a tree. As the tree was a little far from the path, we tried to convince our driver to drive through the grass, closer to the tree. With a big smile he said, if we would get out of the car and push if the car got struck, he would ride closer to the tree. No problem we said, we're not afraid of a cat in a tree J. We approached the tree up to a few meters. Great to see the lion just a little above us. A little later he turned his head to the other side of the branch. We asked our driver to drive to the other side of the tree. There stood 2 other young males under the tree. As soon as they saw us, they climbed into the tree. Really great to see 3 lions in a tree.
-61.jpgIshasha has also many elephants. A few years ago it seemed that the number of elephants was doubled, strange as an elephant is pregnant for 22 months and suckles her young one for quite some time, it takes 1 to 2 years before she's pregnant again. However Ishasha borders to Congo, the other side of the Ishasha river (where we had our tent camp), was Congo. A couple of years ago the civil war reached almost the border of Uganda and there was a lot of shooting. Elephants don't like the noise of shooting and crossed 'illegal' the border with Uganda to Ishasha, where they seem to be quite happy. -21.jpgYou find here much bigger herds as in other parks. They only leave a trail of destruction, everywhere you see dead acacia trees, if they have eaten the lowest tiny branches and leaves, they push down the tree so they can eat further. In the Ishasha river you find several hippopotamus, but the nearest ones were a few km away from our camp. Han still wants to see some hippopotamus grazing around our tent or cabin, I should have woken him up at Murchison Falls!