Ishasha – Queen Elisabeth National Park
‘Why have we stopped Dad?’ My 8-year old son prides himself on being an expert game spotter. He has spent most of his life in Africa and most of his holidays on safari. We had already seen a herd of over three hundred elephant that morning. We sat on the roof of our Landcruiser finishing the last of our breakfast while the gentle giants wandered from the cover of the forest into the open plains.
Their mighty trunks swung before them and they sauntered from side to side lifting the trunks to smell as they go. The wind was in our favour and with their poor eyesight they had no chance of seeing us until they were very close. A huge cow swung to face us and I wonder if it was my strong cup of coffee she smelt?
She shook her head vigorously and the great ears flapped loudly against her hide in a warning. We got the message as a younger cow mimicked her warning in a less threatening way. We had thoroughly enjoyed the parade after that, watching for subtle characteristics in each animal as they marched by in near silence. Deep rumblings (most of which are inaudible) were the only audible sounds of their presence.
We had left the elephants behind and stopped in the shade of a large plains tree. I pointed up for the benefit of my son and his eyes widened. ‘Wow, he is huge’ and he was. Perched over in the tree ten metres above our head, a huge male lion made a scene reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s ‘Horace the Elephant’. He was asleep until our excited voices had roused him and he forced open one eye to look down on the disturbance. A bulging belly showed the faintest spots of his youth and a heavily scarred face was evidence of how hard life had been since then. His muzzle was generously dyed with fresh blood and he had probably killed the night before? He could, of course, have waited for another to kill for him and then chased the exhausted hunter off their meal. Ishasha, is one of the few places in world where the king of the beasts climbs into trees and it is not a sight one easily forgets.
Queen Elisabeth National Park (including adjacent Wildlife Reserves)
Total Land Area: 2475 square kms
Dry Seasons: Dec to Feb, Jun to Aug
Wettest months: April and November (750mm to 1250mm of rain)
Mean Temperatures: 18-28 C or 49-82 F
Wildlife: 95 mammal species and 606 bird species!