On the border with Congo
Emmanuel Van Heygen
The dawn light, a tender fusion of vibrant oranges and muted purples, began to caress the boundless landscape of Queen Elizabeth National Park. We steered our journey to a less frequented sanctuary of this park, the enigmatic Ishasha sector. Here, on the southernmost brink, raw nature whispered tales of antiquity and wonder.
Kingdom of the Tree-Climbing Lions
Navigating from the beaten tracks, the landscape metamorphosed. As we neared the park’s boundary with Congo, tales of tree-perched lions were in the air. Yet, our quest was multifaceted. Anchored by the serene Ishasha River, our camp served as a gateway to uncovering the park’s lesser-known reptilian wonders.
The camp buzzed with energy as the first rays painted the plains. However, our enthusiasm was soon tempered by the wilderness’s primal rules. Deep within the golden grass, a lioness’s gaze kept us in check, her cubs’ playful antics high in the trees serving as a captivating distraction. The dense vegetation and proximity to these majestic felines prompted a strategic retreat to more open terrains.
Discovering Nature’s Hidden Gems
It wasn’t long before the pristine wilderness revealed its treasures. The bright-eyed day gecko, Lygodactylus gutturalis, glistened on tree trunks, their abundance a testament to nature’s thriving ecosystem. Our exploration was further rewarded with a chance encounter with Chamaeleo bitaeniatus, a chameleon weaving through the thorns of Acacia trees—nature’s unparalleled artist in the canvas of evolution.
Evening’s Secrets and Nighttime Serenades
Returning to the camp, the lion cubs became the day’s final muses. Their innocent frolic contrasted starkly with their mother’s conspicuous absence—hinting at the survival game unfolding. As darkness draped the land, the Congo River echoed with the hippos’ mighty calls. While sharing tales by the fire, a nocturnal discovery—an African gecko, Ancylodactylus africanus—added to the day’s count.
Amidst the multitude of sounds of the night, the possibility of nearby hippos kept the thrill alive. The starry canopy was a mere interruption to the pulsating life of Ishasha, where every moment teemed with wonder and revelation.
Elephants of Ishasha
Yet, the true heart of Ishasha beat in its magnificent elephants. An afternoon by a waterhole became a timeless memory, as a matriarch led her herd, embodying both might and elegance. Their jovial water plays and the sight of frolicking calves painted a scene of pure, untamed life.
Ishasha’s Final Curtain
With every sunrise, Ishasha unraveled its multifaceted nature. From the commanding lions and the regal elephants to the chameleons’ subtle artistry, each tale was a testament to the wilderness’s undying spirit. As our expedition’s final chapter closed, Ishasha’s allure remained, a siren song beckoning the heart back to its embrace.
Emmanuel Van Heygen
“With every sunrise, Ishasha unraveled its multifaceted nature. From the commanding lions and the regal elephants to the chameleons’ subtle artistry, each tale was a testament to the wilderness’s undying spirit.”
In the heart of Uganda, the Bigodi swamps stand not just as a geographical landmark but as a beacon of life's astounding diversity and tenacity. It is a testament to the delicate balance of ecosystems – a living, breathing ode to the wonders of our natural world.
Deep within the heart of Bwindi's verdant labyrinth, amidst layers of ancient green, the chameleons—nature's unparalleled artisans—paint dynamic portraits of adaptation and intrigue. Trioceros johnstonii, with its colossal horns and intricate color patterns, stands as a testament to nature's boundless creativity.
Upon entering Queen Elizabeth National Park, the landscape opened up, revealing a panorama that seemed to stretch into eternity.
Kibale's Forest ancient trees, elusive chameleons, playful primates, and myriad other life forms, Kibale extends an invitation — not just to explore but to connect, reflect, and be reborn in its embrace.
A silent guardian of nature's mysteries lies deep within southwestern Uganda: the Maramagambo Forest. As dawn caresses its verdant canopy, the forest awakens in a medley of chirps, croaks, and rustling leaves, telling tales that span eons.
To venture into the Ruwenzoris is to embark on an odyssey of self-discovery and wonder. From the moment one sets foot on the damp, moss-covered forest floor, there’s an overwhelming feeling of stepping back in time.