Guest article by: Charlotte Beauvoisin, British expat in Uganda and author of www.diaryofamuzungu.com writes:
I’ve been visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park for 15 years. My first job in Uganda led me to all corners of this exceptionally beautiful spot: a forested gorge, a landscape of savannah and lakes, framed by mountains, the occasional distant glimpse of Equatorial snow. It positively hums with life! Back in the day, I was a volunteer fund-raising for elephant conservation; I revisit as a guidebook writer.
It’s wonderful to reconnect with my old stomping ground for a few days.
My stay with Uganda Lodges started with an afternoon cruise along the Kazinga Channel in their MV Kazinga. TIP: mid-November is a great time to travel if you want the park to yourself. It’s known as the rainy season, but we were lucky. The sun shone on vivid sightings of elephants, buffalo, pods of yawning hippos and hundreds of birds: vibrant saddle-billed storks, pelicans and the unusual-looking spoonbill are a few of the park’s 600+ species.
With the sun beating down on us, the sight of the animals bathing made me thirst for the water too. But beware: cleverly camouflaged, Nile crocodiles sunbathe on the water’s edge.
MV Kazinga is one of a number of boats in Queen National Park but this latest addition to the fleet is a high-end option with comfortable seating, a fully stocked bar and attentive staff. Life is good: with birds everywhere we looked, a cold beer (and fresh popcorn), I couldn’t have been happier. Our guide Betty discussed elephant behavior and explained the hippos’ movements. She perched next to us, ready with observations and titbits of information.
After a couple of hours lazily pootling along the channel, we paused to watch more elephants on the Mweya peninsula en-route to the lodge for sundowners. After a hot afternoon in the bush, it was fantastic to slide into the cool waters of the lodge’s infinity pool. Finally, it was my turn to be in the water! The lush green planting around the pool made me want to stay all afternoon. The lodge’s lemon- and lime-filled gin and tonics are the ultimate cool-me-down (and seriously: the best cocktails I’ve ever had at a lodge in Uganda).
High above Lake Kikorongo and Lake George, Elephant Plains undoubtedly has the best view looking south across the Rift Valley. A highlight was using the scope on the lodge verandah to peer at a lone elephant wading slowly across Lake Kikorongo.
For a few moments, I felt we had the park to ourselves. Elephant Plains, indeed! Another way to enjoy this formidable landscape is to watch the sun rise from your verandah. Place your morning tea order in the evening, then listen out for the singing butler at your door the next day!
This is my third visit to Elephant Plains; the food, service and overall experience keep getting better and better. A big thank you to the friendly staff who made me feel so welcome.