Over the weekend l together with a group of colleagues took a trip to the Queen Elizabeth National park in Western Uganda, courtesy of Karibu Travel Magazine.
Our guide for the day was Chris Mongly Kaseke, a humble gentleman who paid attention to even the slightest detail.
When he met us before we officially set off, Kaseke wanted to know what our expectations would be before we took on one of Uganda’s biggest and most endowed national parks.
Many, as expected, pointed out their wishes to see lions, buffalos, elephants, birds and other common animals in Ugandan game parks.
Not a single soul however mentioned what would later surprise us and Kaseke kept it a secret to himself, waiting for the right moment.
Am taking you all to Lake Munyanyange for a surprise of your lives,” he announced.
We became uneasy wondering what was in stock this time. I waited anxiously, deep inside thinking that we would find tree climbing lions. To my surprise, the road opened up to a small lake and dotted allover it: flamingos.
The excitement within the group couldn’t be hidden upon putting our eyes on the beautiful but not so common species of birds.
Their pink colour reflected in the waters in which their long legs were standing.
I personally imagined we could be in neighboring Kenya maybe, at the banks of Lake Nakuru famed for having thousands of the birds for a larger part of the year.
But sure indeed, we were not in Kenya! We were here in Uganda, the renowned Pearl of Africa.
“Lake Munyanyange is one of those lakes in Western Uganda that is known for two very special things, the salt and the flamingos,” Kaseke told us.
He explained however, that the birds are not always around but mostly migrate to this place during particular seasons of the year.
The flamingos are migratory birds that arrive in October and leave in April he said.
The ones at this lake come from as far as Kenya, Canada, Egypt and Europe.
Lake Munyanyange is a small seasonal shallow crater lake located in the North East of Katwe Salt Lake area in Western Uganda.
It’s home to very many migratory birds.
The Lesser Flamingos are pink feathered with thin legs, piercing yellow eyes and sit atop a deep, jug like bill. They weigh about 1.2 kgs to 2.7 kgs while their height is between 80- 90 centimeters.
The flamingos majorly feed on algae which occurs in alkaline lakes and spirulina exactly like the one of Lake Munyanyange.
“Many people don’t know that Uganda has flamingos, perhaps because they are migratory birds that mostly settle at Lake Munyanyange which is not known to many.” he said.
He added that the lake, with the pink reflection of the flamingo colour has since become a favorite spot for many tourists.
“The flamingos live and feed in groups called flocks; they find safety in numbers, which helps to protect individual birds from predators,” Kaseke said of the birds.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Queen Elizabeth National Park is classified as an important birding area by Birders international.
It is home to over 600 species of birds majorly because of the park’s numerous water bodies, savanna and forests that the birds call home.
The Park is also an important habitat for migratory birds as well like the Lesser and Greater flamingos, African Skimmer, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Papyrus gonolek, Pink backed pelican, Martial Eagle, papyrus canary, African broadbill, Yellow throated cuckoo, Shoebill, Black Bee Eater, White tailed lark, white winged warbier among others.
The birding hot spots are Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge area and Katwe Area.
Flamingos can be found in other sites like at Lake Nyamunuka, Nshenyi, Bagusa, Kasenyi and Maseche.