Queen Elizabeth National park is located in the Western part of Uganda stretching along districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo, Rukungiri, Bushenyi, Kamwenge laying between the Kazinga channel crossing through the park’s 764 square miles land area. Queen Elizabeth National park is set against the back drop of Rwenzori mountains and has numerous crater lakes like Nyamununka crater lake a hospital to most of the animals since they go to get treatment and the aging ones.
Queen Elizabeth National park was gazeted in 1952 as Kazinga National park and later in 1954 the park was renamed Queen Elizabeth as a commemoration of the British monarchy visit. Before in 1920’s the park existed as lake Edward and George game Reserves.
Queen Elizabeth National park is one of the most popular National parks and since the park is rich in the eco system made up of the open savannah grassland, forests, lakes and fertile soils Queen Elizabeth therefore is a home to over 600 bird species, 10 primate species, 95 mammals including the big five and 20 of them are carnivores like Leopards, the park has 10 crater lakes and its popular for the tree climbing lions. Queen Elizabeth National park has a tropical kind of climate and its nearness to the equator makes it have a warm temperature remaining uniform through out the year. The temperature during day time is around 29degrees Celsius or 84degrees Fahrenheit and slowly drops to around 17degrees Celsius or 63degrees Fahrenheit therefore in Queen Elizabeth its expected to rain anytime.
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is gifted with many attractions that lure tourists to visit the park and the following are some of them;
Tree Climbing lions. There are two populations of the tree climbing lions in the world those found in Uganda in the Queen Elizabeth in the southern part and those found in the southern part of Tanzania in lake Manyara National park. Since the lions are not meant to be climbing this is attracts many tourists to go and watch how these lions climb the trees. The tree climbing lions are the star attraction in Queen Elizabeth National park and these are found in the Ishasha sector of the park seen in the fig trees and Acacia trees.
Kazinga channel. This is a natural wide 32km water channel which connects the two lakes of George and Edward in the south western part of Uganda and is found in Queen Elizabeth. Kazinga channel is a home to many hippopotamuses, buffaloes, crocodiles and elephants which can be observed while on Kazinga boat ride.
Kasenyi plains which is a home to many wildlife and its oftenly visited by tourists on wildlife safaris. It is a home to good number of antelopes, Uganda Kob, lions and other several predators.
Mweya peninsular. This is a piece of land that extends into lake Edward. Mweya peninsular us a chunky grass cover with dense vegetation dominated by Candelabra and thorny bushes. The activities that can be carried out in Mweya peninsular include game viewing, boat cruising on Kazinga channel where bookings can be made at Mweya Uganda Wildlife Authority offices, mongoose tracking which is done on foot with a professional guide and it’s a three hours activity through the trails. This involves watching and learning about the behaviors of the rodents, Community tours or walks which involves visiting the communities and interaction between the locals. Mweya peninsular gives a splendid views of mountain Rwenzori and It is a perfect place to spot leopards from and is a focal point for the beauty in the Northern part of the park.
Lake Katwe and Katwe salt works This is one of the lakes found in Queen Elizabeth national park located in the North of Mweya peninsular and they have the highest elevation of within the park. During the drive or boat cruise on the lake you can observe the Great Western Rift Valley and the escarpments, other scenic views of Lake George, Mountain Rwenzori ranges, Kazinga channel which connects lake Edward and Lake George. Lake Katwe is also known for the salt mines which are being carried therefore It is a source of the rock salt. Salt mining is the major activity that is being carried out on lake Katwe. Tourists visit Lake Katwe to see how salt is being mined using the traditional methods and also see the lake.
Kyambura wildlife Reserve. This is one the known areas in Queen Elizabeth National park with panoramic views of the wildlife, primates, butterflies, birds and the vegetation. This area is bordered by Kyambura Gorge in the West, Kyambura wildlife reserve is situated in the North Eastern part of the park and also links to the Kazinga channel forming the Northern boundary villages and village plantations lie in the Southern end of the reserve.
Kalinzu forest. This forest is located in the South Eastern edge of Queen Elizabeth and one of the popular destination one shouldn’t miss to visit. Kalinzu forest offers better chimpanzee tracking experiences.
Primates in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Since the park has 10 primate species that are harbored therefore primates are one of the attractions in the park one cant miss viewing in the diverse habitants with chimpanzees being the most popular however other endangered species are found in the Kyambura Gorge and others can be seen in the forested areas o Queen Elizabeth like the Maramagambo forest, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve. Primates like White and black colobus monkeys, Vervets, Red tailed monkeys, Pottos, bush babies, Blue monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys, Baboons will be seen.
Maramagambo forest. This covers the part of Queen Elizabeth national park from the escarpment of Kichwamba and through Lake Edward. This forest is good for tourist activities like hiking, forest nature walks, primates watching a tracking, birding. Maramagambo forest is found within the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National park and Its famous for the bat caves. The forest is bordered by two crater lakes of Lake Kyasanduka and lake Nyamasingiri. Maramagambo forest ha animals like chimpanzees, bêtes pygmy antelopes, blue monkeys among others, birds like white napped pigeons, flycatchers, Rwenzori Turaco among others.
Kyambura Gorge. Is a magnificent valley of apes in Queen Elizabeth National park situated in the Eastern part of the park and is shared by River Kyambura. Kyambura Gorge is a habitant for chimpanzees and also other wildlife, birds like greater flamingoes, Papyri gonolek, African Skimmer, Papyrus canary, White tailed lark, Vereux eagle, owl lesser among others, primates like Olive baboons, Red tailed monkeys among others.
Lake George. Lake George is found near Queen Elizabeth National park and situated in the Western part of the Great East African Rift Valley covering 250 square kilometers. Lake George is supplies by a variety of water bodies and is a habitant to many wildlife an birds.
Lake Edward. Lake Edward is located in the western branch o the East African Rift Valley lying on the border of DRC and Uganda covering a surface area o 2325 square kilometers and is one of the water bodies in the park which supplements on the beauty of Queen Elizabeth National park. Boat riding can be done and during the rides on lake Edward you will get spectacular views of the Mountain Rwenzori, Queen Elizabeth National park. Lake Edward is a habitant to animals like buffaloes, Elephants, Crocodiles, hippos and a number of birds can be seen.
Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Since Queen Elizabeth has many attractions there is a list of activities that tourists can get involved in while on their safaris to the park and these are as follows;
Tree climbing lion tracking. These climbing tree lions are only found in Queen Elizabeth in Uganda and Uganda has one of the populations of the tree climbing lions of the two populations that exist therefore tourists come down to Queen Elizabeth to track these lions and during this activity tourists get a chance to get an up-close session with the lions thus getting to study their behavior.
Birding. Queen Elizabeth is a home to over 600 bird species therefore this makes it a birders haven spot and It is recognized as an Important Birding Area due to the presence of the highest number of birds found in any protected area in East Africa. Queen Elizabeth’s diverse habitants for birds from the grassland savannah, forests and woodland, numerous crater lakes all these favor the presence of birds in the park. Birding in Queen Elizabeth can be carried out in different sectors like the Mweya peninsular birds like little bee eater, Swift’s Swallows, Nubian wood pecker, swamp flycatcher, African morning doves, among others Kazinga channel, Maramagambo forest around the crater lakes region, Kasenyi Area, Lake Kikorongo area, Katunguru Bridge area, Lake Katwe area and Ishasha Sector the following birds can be observed during birding Grey headed kingfisher, Pin tailed Whydah, Slender tailed nightjar, Collared Pratincole, lesser flamingoes, White breasted nigro finch, Chestnut Wattle eye, Marsh Tchagra, Sulphur breasted Bush Shrike, black bishop at the salt lakes of Katwe and Banyampaka, Palm but culture, Shoebill, African wattled plover, African crowned eagle, African green pigeon, Martial eagle, Papyrus Gonolek, greater swamp warbler, lesser swamp warbler, White winged warbler, Malachite kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, White winged tern, Knob billed duck, African Jacana, Yellow wagtail, Scared ibis, black crake, Saddle billed stork, black belied bustard, Flapet Lark, White tailed Lark, long crested eagle, Croaking Cisticola, hooded vulture, White backed vulture, Brown backed scrub Robin, Sitting Cisticola, Ripeols griffin vulture, grey backed Fiscal
Game drives. These are either carried out in the very early morning or evening because the sun is not so hot and the cats prefer hunting during that time. This means that the chances of seeing many wild animals are high during the game drives. These games drives mainly happen in Kasenyi plains which has the highest kob mating ground and its famous for the big cats due to the presence of the kobs. During the game drives different animals like the leopards, side stripped jackals, spotted hyenas, lions, elephants, bush bucks, water bucks, mangoes among others.
Launch trips or boat rides on Kazinga channel. Kazinga channel is a stretching channel to lake George and Edward. Boat cruise will provide you with the both game viewing and bird viewing experience, beautiful scenic views. Animals like elephants, hippos, waterbucks, Buffaloes, crocodiles, reptiles, lizards among others. These launch trips are made twice daily that is in the morning and evening but if you want to observe as many as birds as possible morning launch trips would be best.
Chimpanzee tracking. This is done in the Kyambura Gorge which is an underground forest 100m below the Kichwaba escarpment. The park is a home to 10 primate species including the chimpanzee. Chimpanzee tracking has to be done before booking in advance with the park headquarters. Other primates include black and white colobus monkeys, Olive baboons,. While tracking the chimpanzees you will get an opportunity of seeing the beautiful scenes o the park, explore it and different attractions will be observed like the birds.
Nature walks. These are being carried out with the ranger guide an available in the Mweya peninsular. The nature walks will earn you sightings of the different birds, scenic views across the Kazinga channel. In Ishasha sector you will an opportunity to walk along the Ishasha River where you will get an opportunity to get close to the hippos. The forest nature walks will be done in the Maramagambo forest where you will be able to see different attractions.
Community walks and cultural experiences. Queen Elizabeth National park has a rich and fascinating cultural history. Here visitors get a chance to engage with the local people since they get to visit their communities thus exploring, discovering and learning culture and traditions of the locals. Visitors get to enjoy the performances from the locals with dances, songs, stories and legends since they get a one on one interactions with the locals thus knowing about their lifestyles. On the community tours or walks tourists will engage in the daily activities like harvesting and preparing meals, hand crafts making like the bags, mats, hats, thus earning skills. The kikoronjo women’s community project which offers the cultural performances, fire making, hand crafts. Nyanzi’ibiri cave community which is a historical cave and museum will all be visited.
Locals in Kichwamba escarpment have an agro tourist project where you can get an Agro tour walk an this takes interested tourists to the farms thus showing them the local farming methods..
Hot Air ballooning. This involves flying in the air In the hot Air balloon and this activity can be done together with the guides. These hot air balloons give tourists an aerial view of the park thus seeing the beautiful scenic views of the park angles.
Accommodational Facilities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth has quite a number of places to stay in while on a tour in the park. These places of stay cover for every type of tourists and offer good and favorable services to the tourists from beds, bathrooms, laundry services, bar and restaurants with both local and international dishes, camping sites, gardens. These accommodation facilities are found with in the park, out side the park that is the park boundaries and also in form of hotels, campsites, cottages and they range from luxury, midrange and budget so one shouldn’t worry about not getting what suites them. And here is the list to refer to Mweya safari lodge, Ihamba lakeside safari lodge, Katara lodge, Kasenyi safari camp, Kyambura Gorge lodge, Twin lakes safari lodge, Elephant hub lodge, Ishasha wilderness camp, Ishasha jungle, lodge, Enjojo lodge, Park view lodge, Elephant plains lodge, Simba safari camp, Queen Elizabeth safari camp, Queen Elizabeth Bush lodge, Mweya hostels and cottages, Lake Chibwera camp, Kyambura tented camp, White house hotel, Pumba safari cottages, Kingfisher lodge, Kichwamba lodge, Katara lodge, Jacana safari lodge, Ishasha Ntuguwe Rest camp, Ishasha tented camp, Kitandara Hippo hill lodge, Ihamba safari lodge among others.
Best Time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth can be visited any time all year around. Tourism had two season that is the peak season and low season. The peak season is when the tourism is being carried out at a high rate that is we expect the crowds in the park since there are many tourists and the low season is when a few tourists come to visit thus less crowds in the park. There fore since the park receives tropical type of climate we are going to look in to the two different seasons that is the dry season and the wet season. Dry season this is when the park doesn’t receive rainfall. But since its not guaranteed that it won’t rain she it does during the dry season its normally very little rainfall received therefore the roads and pathways in the park will be dry the easy and simple to be accessed, vegetation will be short and getting clear observations of the attractions and photographs. The dry season normally runs from the month of December, January, February, June, July being the most dry, August and September and these months are regarded as the high or peak season. The dry season has the most favorable conditions.
Wet season. This is when the park is either receiving long or heavy rains and the short rains. Therefore this means that its raining almost everyday in the park and this attracts much coldness in the park, wet, muddy, slippery and slick roads thus making it difficult to access the park. Since its raining the soils will be fertile leading to the over growth of vegetation hindering accessibility of the park and also un clear photographs due to the fog and the over grown shrubs distracting the attractions. The wet season is also considered as the low season and this takes months of March, April, May these receive short rains an October and November which receive the heavy rains. Therefore the best time and favorable time to visit Queen Elizabeth is during the dry season since it has easier and favorable conditions. As earlier said the dry season is just the perfect time to visit the park its not limited to it. One can choose to visit Queen Elizabeth any time he wished to.
Accessibility to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth can be accessed to by both air transport and road transport.
By road transport. There are two options you will drive directly from either Entebbe of Kampala to the park and this will take you about eight hours along the tarmac road. Drive from Kampala via Mbarara and head to the East of the park covering a distance of 250miles the second one is drive from Kampala then fort portal then head to the north of the park covering 260miles. This route is slightly longer.
By air Transport. Queen Elizabeth can be reached by Air from both Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield and then land in the closest airport in Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha. The domestic flights in Uganda offer either scheduled flights or chartered flights depending on what the customer wants. And these flights are normally 1 to 2hours.