Queen Elizabeth National Park

At one time or another most of the sizable array of mammals in Queen Elizabeth National Park—elephants, Uganda kobs, hippos, baboons, even leopards—plus over 500 bird species (almost half the number on the African continent) show themselves along the launch trip down the Kasinga Channel connecting Lakes Edward and George.

They drink, forage, and bathe, often oblivious to viewers: warthogs, spotted hyenas, malachite kingfishers, rare prehistoric-looking whale-headed (shoebill) storks, and equally rare black bee-eaters with scarlet throats and cobalt-blue abdomens and rumps. The launch trip is considered one of the great birdwatching trips of the world.

Semi-aquatic sititunga antelopes live in papyrus reeds along Lake George. Defassa waterbucks can carry the finest horns in Africa, up to 30 inches (76 cm).

But there is much to see elsewhere (some less easily accessible) in the remarkable habitat range of this popular park, just south of the famed “Mountains of the Moon,” which marks the boundary between east African plains and west and central tropical forests.

Colobus monkeys swing through trees and giant forest hogs root along the road through the Maramagambo Forest. The Kasenyi track, frequented by leopards and hyenas, passes by kobs’mating grounds, scenes sometimes of spectacular territorial battles. The Itasha plains are famous for tree-climbing lions and large buffalo herds.

Flamingos can gather in huge numbers in some crater lakes. Fifty kinds of raptors are on the long bird list.

A comfortable park lodge with spectacular Nile views (with the “cottage” where Queen Elizabeth stayed when the park was dedicated) is reachable by (sometimes rough) road, or chartered air to a strip nearby.

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