Few African adventures are complete without experiencing the majesty of the savannah and having the opportunity to see the ‘Big Five’ up close.
One of the highlights for many volunteers is having the opportunity to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) to go on safari.
Named to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954, QENP boasts a total of 95 mammal species – the highest of any Ugandan national park – spread over almost 2000 sq. km.
Although rhinos, which were brought to the point of extinction during the instability of Idi Amin’s time in power, can no longer be seen in the wild in Uganda, volunteers can see the other members of the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards and buffalo.
The three day safari begins in Ishasha on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ishasha is most famous for its tree-climbing lion population. Around 50 lions over 3 prides exhibit this rare behaviour and Volunteer Uganda’s very own eagle-eyed spotter, Nicolas, is adept at finding them in trees or roaming the plains.
Our first volunteers of 2013 were lucky enough to see female lions – always the hunters of the pride – teaching their cubs how to hunt with a baby Ugandan Cob as the unfortunate learning aide.
An early morning game drive on day two is followed by a journey north west to Mweya on the edge of Lake Edward. Volunteers are treated to a feast of animals on a boat safari – including that other big beast of Africa, the hippo – followed by a feast of a different kind at the luxurious Mweya Safari Lodge with views of the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains on a clear day.
Some volunteers also opt to go chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge to take advantage of one of the largest chimp and baboon populations in east Africa.
Simply put, the majesty of Queen Elizabeth National Park is an experience that never leaves you.