Home' Travel News : June-July 2017 Contents 30 travel news june/july 2017
june/july 2017 travel news 31
The mountain bike ride to Lake Kacheera in the private area is an easy loop, and we
pass by large herds of Ankole cattle with horns sweeping high above their heads defying
gravity. This morning we see a sparrow-hawk skulking in open grassland scattering
starlings and wood-doves into the air like cinders. Down by the lakeshore with the aid
of recorded birdcalls we also see the rarely seen Papyrus Gonelek as well as the more
common striped kingfishers, long-crested eagles and hornbills.
Back at the lodge unseasonal rain fell for an hour or so mid-morning while I was having
a massage. With the soft patter of rain falling on the canvas roof and gentle expert
hands of Alice, I nearly fall asleep. There are also night game drives, although we were
not lucky on this occasion to see a leopard, guests had seen one the day before.
Mihingo Lodge was built in 2007 by owners Suni Magyar and Ralph Schenk, who
describe it as a labour of love, and is located on the Eastern perimeter of the NP.
The lodge blends in naturally with the environment with colours of terracotta, sienna
and papyrus thatch, it is simple and rustic in the style of “safari chic”. The cottages
scattered on either side of the main buildings have open-fronted bedrooms and views
that stretch away into the African wilderness. Inside there are arched doorways and
large windows (with discreet net sheeting to keep out unwanted insects and monkeys),
and a Combretum grows through the decking, its boughs full of bird chatter and fleetingly
a rare Narina Trogon.
Mediterranean style cuisine and lazing away the afternoon relaxing by the free-form
natural pool provides decadent intervals between game walks and drives.
Later, the best place to enjoy a sundowner at Mihingo Lodge is “The Tower” perched
30-feet up on the top of sandstone outcrop, 500 million years old with 360° panoramic
views. A network of game trails converge at the water hole below the lodge and a
steady stream of wildlife come to visit including Impala, warthog, and vervet monkeys.
The new moon, a silvery eyelash pale and bright, rests on her back just above the
Click HERE for more information on Mahingo Lodge, and ask about their special rates
for Travel News Kenya readers..
Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ishasha Sector
From Bwindi NP we head northwest to the Ishasha Plains in the southern corner of
Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). We choose the long way there, through the
Impenetrable Forest. From Muko head towards Ikumba, just after the township there is
a sharp bend to the left and a sign for Ndego and Rwamunyonyi, the highest point in
Bwindi NP; as you exit the forest at Kayonza head for Kahihi, where there is a reliable
ATM and other facilities.
The rain is quite heavy as we drive across the sinuous spine of the forest, however the
roads are in good condition, and the views rewarding over dense rainforest like large
broccoli florets. Leaving the national park, once again the fertile slopes are cluttered
with banana groves, tea and coffee cultivation, and shantily built wooden houses cling
perilously on cliffs above the ravines.
Dropping down from the cool forests onto the savannah plains, the silver sash of Lake
Edward glints in the distance.
In a westerly direction across the other side of Lake Edward is the Virunga NP in the
DRC, the border dissects the lake. Originally Kazinga NP, QENP was re-named in 1954
to commemorate the visit of reigning British Queen Elizabeth. It is a long narrow park,
1,978km2 spread between two lakes and diverse ecosystems. Ishasha Wilderness
Camp in the far south provides an ideal resting point between Bwindi NP and northern
QENP, and what’s more the Ishasha sector provides one of the best places to see a
pride of tree-climbing lions. 610 bird species have also been recorded here.
After lunch we head off on a game-drive. Idling the engine, binoculars in hand we
scout every fig tree for predator potential, we come across. Joseph our driver guide
enthusiastically informs us that, “we saw five here just yesterday”. Today, however
Panthera leo are nowhere to be seen; we continue to the top of a bluff for sundowners.
An amphitheatre of sheer rugged mountains surrounds us, to the south the highlands
of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, to the north, the blue Rwenzori Range, directly in
front of us is the solid darkness of the Virunga mountains. It is a beautiful late afternoon,
as cumulus nimbus rainclouds gather along the border storm light enhances the stark
beauty of the wild.
On our way out the next day our search continues. The plains are teeming with newly
born Kob foals. A very young foal takes cover in a grass thicket; its mother warily
drawing us away, and remaining at quite a distance until we disappear. Older siblings
gambol about carefree as any teen. We also see a few herds of bull elephant, and
many birds we haven’t seen before, but no lion!
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