Queen Elizabeth Natl Pk



With a fine backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains behind it, this park in western Uganda—240 mi/390 km southwest of Kampala—is bordered by Lake Edward to the west and Lake George to the east. These two bodies of water are connected by the Kazinga Channel, which is inhabited by what is thought to the world's largest concentration of hippos. The sight of hundreds of these creatures languishing in the water is best appreciated from a boat ride, from which you may also spot crocodiles and a variety of birds. Astonishingly, the park is home to at least 610 species of birds—more than in any other park in Africa.

On the savannah plains are elephant, buffalo, lions, Uganda kobs (a type of antelope) and hyena. Channel Drive is good for leopards and is the only place in Africa where diurnal sightings of the monstrous giant forest hog are regular. As with Murchison Falls, wildlife numbers have largely recovered from the poaching of the 1970s-80s. A highlight there is enjoying a sundowner on the lodge terrace and watching as elephants trumpet at the water's edge below.

A newer attraction of QENP is chimpanzee-tracking in the Kyambura Gorge, and the underrated Maramagambo Forest in the far south is home to several beautiful crater lakes, a creepily impressive bat cave and lots of forest birds and monkeys. The Ishasha sector in the far southwest, serviced by a lovely riverside tented camp, is the most reliable place in Africa to look for tree-climbing lions, as well as other wildlife and birds (including the rare shoebill).

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