Queen Elizabeth National Park
There is a good reason why this is the most visited park in Uganda. It is everything you’d expect of an African wilderness area; rolling plains, densely forested gorges, savannah, swamps, rocky outcrops, stunning crater lakes and deep green winding rivers full of crocs and hippos. Its animal diversity is one of the greatest in the great lakes region and all of the Big game is easily found no matter the time of your visit. Lying across the Equator, this 1978 km² conservation area has everything within an incredibly short distance; boat cruises, chimp tracking avenue and open plains where game drives excel. On such is Kasenyi, a breeding ground for animals in the antelope family.
The safety and wellbeing of animals is paramount. You don’t have to worry about missing out on the thrill of seeing a pride of lions and its young ones because there are no dozens of vehicles jockeying for the best position for viewing.
Queen Elizabeth has been called the prime bird real-estate on earth, and going by the number of repeat visitors it gets, we think that is not unreasonable. Highlights of the 600+ bird species found here include Common Squacco Heron, Water Thick-knee, Greenshank, Sacred Ibis, Wood Sandpiper, Common Godwit, Egyptian Geese, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Glossy Starlings, Madagascar Bee-eaters, Blue Breasted Bee-eater and a lone African Spoonbill among others.
The boat cruise along Kazinga channel provides one the classic scenario of witnessing African fish eagles as they swiftly dive into water to snatch out fish. It is a vast river stretch connecting two scenic freshwater lakes that subsequently feed the world’s longest river, River Nile.
Tree climbing lions
At Ishasha, you stand great chances of witnessing a full-scale battle over a kill between a pride of lions and a pack of about 25 hyenas!
Kibale National Park
This multi-award winning chimpanzee destination remains hidden and undiscovered. It is found in a far-flung Western corner of this richly endowed East African country. The plateau upon which it sits beckons to wildlife enthusiasts looking for an off-the-beaten-track safari experience in a less crowded park that is full of life and colour.
Kibale is Uganda’s most ecologically diverse forests, boasting over 300 native tree species. It terms of primates, it offers a great introduction of both new world and old world monkeys. Brace yourself for chimpanzees, baboons, vervets, blue monkeys, l’hoest, bushbabies, colubus monkeys, black and white monkeys among others. The park lies in the shadows of Africa’s third highest mountain range, Rwenzori, a snow caped gem straddling across the Equator.
Chimp trekking here unfolds in the way that gorilla tracking does in Bwindi. The only difference is that it is more exciting for two reasons. Chimps are much fun to pursue as they are more active. That aside, the terrain here is less hilly. This makes the adventure doable even for nature lovers with weak knees. During the 1-6 hours that you will spend in the forest, you will track a habituated group both on the ground, as they search for fruits to eat, and through the forest canopy once they scamper up the trees. You stand great chances of getting excellent pictures thanks to their curious nature that sometimes draws them close to tourists.
You might not be fortunate enough to see 100% of the bird species here, but at least you will stand great chances of those found nowhere else on earth. Specials include White-spotted Flufftail, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Great blue turaco, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black Bishop, Yellow-billed Barbet, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, White-tailed Ant-thrush, White-breasted Negrofinch, Black-crowned Waxbill Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher , Superb Sunbird… the list goes on.
In the park’s swamp system, you will find vast schools of hippos all over the place. Over the shores you will find sitatungas, bushbucks, mongooses and bush pigs.
Other things to explore while here
While primates definitely top the safari agenda here, Kibale is home to a lot more……It is surrounded by scenic tea plantations that are spread over rolling hills. Thanks to a thunderous volcanic eruption that preceded it thousands of years back, Kibale boasts of over 6 crater lakes, one of which is ranked as the most beautiful crater lake in Uganda, a reason it is illustrated on the 20,000 Uganda Shillings note.
Nature walks in Bigodi wetland is a great addition to your itinerary. At this community owned initiative, you stand great chances of encountering birds you might have missed out on it the park.