Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular game reserve for Uganda safaris and certainly one most scenic. It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori range in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, incorporating a wide variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands to gallery and lowland forest. This remarkable diversity is reflected in its bird list of over 550 species, the largest of any protected area in Africa.
The wide bio-diversity of habitats means that Queen Elizabeth National Park contains the most astonishing number of species – almost 100 types of mammal and 606 different birds! The Kasinga Channel alone is said to contain the world’s largest concentration of hippos, but interestingly enough not many crocodiles! Other wildlife includes warthogs, buffalo, rare aquatic sitatunga antelope, giant forest hog, beautifully horned Uganda kob, topi, waterbuck, elephant and leopard. There are no giraffe, zebra, impala or rhino.
Kyambura (or Chambura) Gorge on the north-east boundary of the park, is real Tarzan territory with thick treetop canopies and vines dangling down to the soft forest floor. The terrain comes complete with chimpanzees who crash about and chatter high up in the branches. If they don’t feel like being seen, they just keep one step ahead of the out-of-breath terrestrial visitors.
The Maramagambo Forest, south of the Kasinga Channel is also home to large numbers of chimps, plus a number of other monkey species.
Some rare and odd birds inhabit this park and keen birders come from all over the world to clock up a sighting of the peculiar, pouting shoebill (or whale-headed) stork. This giant bird stands 4-foot high (more than 1 metre) and wears a rather timid expression. This and a myriad of other birds and animals are best viewed from a boat on the Kasinga Channel.