Journey through Queen Elisabeth NP
Emmanuel Van Heygen
Today our course was set for Isasha through the vast landscapes of Queen Elizabeth National Park and the serene waters of the Kazinga Channel. As we left Maramagambo’s embrace, the dawn chorus serenaded us—a cacophony of birds, each lending its voice to the symphony of the wild. We ventured onto a path where every turn promised the unexpected. The terrain gradually transformed from the dark, damp undergrowth of the forest to the sunlit savannahs, punctuated by acacia trees that stood like sentinels in the morning haze.
Queen Elizabeth’s Majesty
Upon entering Queen Elizabeth National Park, the landscape opened up, revealing a panorama that seemed to stretch into eternity. There were herds of Uganda kob grazing, their elegant forms outlined against the golden grass, while in the distance, the playful silhouettes of elephants signaled their presence.
The Kazinga Channel: Nature’s Conduit
Our first major destination was the Kazinga Channel, a serene body of water connecting Lake George to Lake Edward. This natural waterway is more than just a geographic marvel—it’s a lifeline for countless species. As we approached its banks, the sheer abundance of life was overwhelming. Hippos lounged lazily in the shallows, their giant forms almost submerged, save for the occasional flick of an ear or a snort of breath. Birds of all sizes and colors flitted about—kingfishers diving for a meal, while storks stood still as statues, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
A Close Encounter on Water
We chose to traverse the channel by boat, allowing us a closer look at the inhabitants of this watery world. Crocodiles, masters of stealth, lay on the muddy banks, their eyes betraying their presence. Buffalo came to quench their thirst, their imposing forms casting ripples across the still waters. And every so often, a lone elephant would make its way to the water’s edge, its trunk working like a siphon as it drank and sprayed the cooling liquid.
Realm of Crocodiles and Hippos
In the heart of the Kazinga Channel, an intricate relationship between two of Africa’s iconic creatures unfolds. Crocodiles, with their armor-like scales, lay sunbathing on the channel’s banks, their deceptively lazy demeanor belying the lightning-fast strike capability they possess. Their jaws, a death trap, have witnessed countless tales of survival and domination.
Adjacent to them, the seemingly gentle hippos submerge almost entirely, with just their eyes and nostrils peeking out from the water’s surface. Despite their bulk and serene appearance, they are agile in water and command respect from other inhabitants of the channel. Their powerful jaws can crunch through the toughest vegetation, and they are known to be fiercely protective of their territory. The dynamic between the crocodiles and hippos is a delicate balance, with each respecting the other’s domain.
Venturing South: The Call of Ishasha
Yet, as is the nature of expeditions, we moved on, carrying the essence of Kazinga within us. The landscape started to morph again as we ventured south. The grasslands rose into gentle hills, and the air grew cooler. We were approaching Ishasha, the less-trodden gem of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Emmanuel Van Heygen
“Upon entering Queen Elizabeth National Park, the landscape opened up, revealing a panorama that seemed to stretch into eternity.”
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