Queen Elizabeth National Park About Queen Elizabeth NP – Location – Getting There – Attractions & Activities – Accommodation
Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is described as “Uganda’s Great Rift Valley” by Andrew Roberts, is the second largest and it is almost 1,978 sq. km. This largely savanna national park is located in the south western part of Uganda and it’s ranked among world’s most bio-diversified parks housing incredible species of wildlife. It is bordered in the West by Lake Edward and in the North by the Rwenzori Mountains, and is divided in two sectors, the North and South. This fertile equatorial area has a very nice scenery comprised of Tropical Rain Forests and two lakes connected by a channel over looked by a high peninsula. The beauty is simply staggering with sprawling cacti, savannah, forests, rivers and lakes.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
The Queen Elizabeth National Park is a world bio-sphere reserve (UNESCO, 1979), includes a RAMSAR wetland site and is a classified Important Bird Area (IBA) by Bird life International. The park has over 568 of Uganda’s 1017 species of birds (over a quarter of Africa’s bird species), more than any other park in Africa.
In the Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), you may see Crater Lakes filled with huge flocks of Flamingos. You will spot Eagles soaring and Vultures perching.
The park is known for its Fauna, although many animals were filled in the Uganda-Tanzanian war. Many species have recovered, including hippopotamuses, elephants, leopards, chimps and lions. It is now home to 95 species of mammals.
Explore Queen Elizabeth National Park
The town of Kasese lies on the Northwestern edge of the park. The park is verily one of the very few remaining pristine wildlife Sanctuaries in the world.
Things to See
The park is rich in wild game including the big five mammals except the rhinos which are only hosted in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Other interesting game in the park include various species of antelopes, warthogs, hyena among many others. Reaching the park, it’s just a drive of about 5-6 from Kampala to the park.
Things to Do
Many safari activities are arranged at the park including wildlife viewing and primate watching, the park is a home to over 6 species of primates the most common is the chimpanzee the closest relative to human. Queen Elizabeth National Park also houses the rare tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector of the park. However, taking a visit to the Kazinga channel is ranked among the must do activities while at the park.
The National Park includes the Maramagambo Forest and boarders the Kigezi and Kyambura Game Reserves. The parks nearby neighbors include Kibale National Park in Uganda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tourist Activities in Queen Elizabeth Park
Maramagambo Forest walks
There are three guided walks. The trail is a round the Forested shore of Lake Kyasanduka, then the second trail leads to a huge bat cave and python and the third one is around the back of Lake Nyamusingiri, which will give you an opportunity to se snowy-headed robin-chat, Scaly-breasted illadopsis and Chestnut wattle-eye. You will have an opportunity to see monkeys like red-tailed and vervet, black and white Colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, leopard if lucky, Forest birds and the amazing chimps.
Launch Cruise on Kazinga Channel
In Queen Elizabeth, the launch trip takes place on the Kazinga Channel. The boat usually leaves daily at 09:00hr and 14:00 and takes 2-5 hours tour on the waters. While on the Launch Cruise, the professional guides will be able to give you useful information and answer your queries. With his help, you will have a great opportunity to view the wonderful scenery and variety of animals and birds. One should come with cameras and binoculars.
The game viewing circuit lies on the north side of the Kazinga Channel. With the help of the professional guide, you will have a wonderful opportunity to see Lions, Crocodiles, Hyena, Buffaloes, Antelopes, Hippopotamuses, Leopard, Giant Forest hog, Elephant, Cape buffalo, Defassa, Waterbuck, Uganda Kob, Bushbuck and Topi – in their natural habitat.
Most game drives in the savanna trails give a chance to visitors to view different wildlife like the buffalo, antelope, elephants, warthogs and baboons.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge
With the help of the professional guide, you will be taken for Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge. The Gorge creates the boarder between the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve and Queen Elizabeth National Park. This Gorge is where you can get a large community of chimps. They can be tracked within the confines of a forested river gorge carved into the surrounding flat savannah. The scientific name of the chimpanzee is
Pan troglodytes. The wild chimpanzee rarely lives past the age of 40, while those in captivity live up to the age of 60 years.
If you are a bird watcher, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most interesting destinations. You can see more than 610 bird species while on the Kazinga Channel Launch and on the Game drives. The park is teeming with a variety of birds like yellow-billed stork, plovers, pink-backed pelicans, white-bellied pelicans, white-bellied Cormorants, black-headed Gonolek Inter-alia.
The kazinga channel is an oasis for many species in the park. Taking a boat cruise gives chance to visitors to cruise just meters from hundreds of hippos and buffaloes that linger on the shore line.
Culture and nature walks
Through taking nature walks in the park a visitor is able to see the energetic dances of the kikorongo equator cultural performers, workers harvesting salt on katwe salt lake and a traditional banyaraguru hut.
This is one of the most exciting activity in this park. Discovering these chimps in their natural environment is a life time experience. Visitors are able to know the ecosystems of kyambura gorge’s atmospheric underground rainforest including vegetation types, bird identification and behavior of the chimp and monkey ecology.
Where to Stay
There are various accommodation options in Queen Elizabeth national park. The lodging facilities range from luxurious lodges, medium range to budget accommodation all providing bed and breakfast and dinner if you are spending a night.
Most of the safari lodges are cheap and offer discounts for large groups of travellers. Campsite are there in the park and also hotels for accommodation but far away from the park. The safari lodges and hostels in the park include:
- Jacana Safari Lodge
- Mweya Safari Lodge
- Kingfisher Safari Resort
- Hippo Hill Camp
Budget accommodation and campsites
- Mweya Hostel
- Institute of Ecology Mweya