Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park as stated is a medley of wonders where the wildlife and humans live together covering a land area of about 1,978km2 bordering with Rubirizi district and the ranges of Rwenzori Mountains in south western part of Uganda. The park was gazette in 1952 as Kazinga National park due to existence of the breath taking Kazinga channel that connects two lakes, Lake Edward and Lake George. After 2 years of being gazette, Queen Elizabeth the 11 visited the park in 1954 and the park’s name changed to Queen Elizabeth national park in respect of her royal majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and up to now, the name still stands. Queen Elizabeth is as well the oldest national park in Uganda just like Murchison falls national park since they were gazette in the same year of 1952 and are both significant to the tourism sector of the peal of Africa. Queen Elizabeth national park is divided into different parts including;
The Mweya peninsula,
This is the best sector of Queen Elizabeth national park and the most visited part of the park. In fact Mweya peninsula is a heart of Queen Elizabeth national park thrilling with the stunning vegetation cover for game drives, air strip (Mweya air strip), and best accommodation like Mweya safari lodge the oldest and best luxury lodge in Queen Elizabeth national park and also provides easy access to the mighty kazinga that connects Lake George to Lake Edward.
The Kazinga Channel is such a fascinating attraction in Mweya peninsula. It is a 32-kilometre channel joining two lakes of Lake Edward Lake George. Kazinga channel attracts several wildlife species like hippos, Nile crocodiles, Buffaloes, Elephants, antelopes, and plenty of water birds like Fish eagle, king fishers, African skimmer and many more. Mweya peninsula offers several tourist activities including game drives with in the savanna part, hippo censes and boat cruise on the Kazinga channel.
The Kasenyi plains,
This has the best vegetation for game viewing safaris in Queen Elizabeth national park. Most of day game drives are conducted in Kasenyi plains which thrills with several species of animals including Hippos, Buffaloes, elephants, lions (normal lions different from the tree climbing lions of Ishasha sector), Uganda kob, warthogs, leopards and many more.
The Kyambura gorge,
Kyambura gorge also termed as the valley of apes is situated in the north eastern part of the park famous for the chimpanzee trekking safari. This beautiful gorge is a habitat to the habituated chimpanzee species trekked on a daily basis, other primates like monkeys, several mammals, birds, beautiful butterflies and many other stunning fauna and flora species. For those who wish to view Kyambura gorge at a distance, there is an elevation along the road which offers a stunning view of this gorge.
The Ishasha sector,
Ishasha sector is another beautiful part of Queen Elizabeth national park situated in the southern corner of the park. Ishasha sector is significant for harboring the tree climbing lions with the remaining population of these lions thrilling in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara national park. Ishasha sector is usually combined with a drive to Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Wildlife of Queen Elizabeth national park
Mammals: Queen Elizabeth national park harbors about 95 species of mammals including Hippos that are seen usually feed throughout the night and spend day hours in water cooling their bodies, Elephants, Buffaloes, Lions both normal lions and the tree climbing lions, Uganda kob, warthogs, waterbucks, leopards and many more without forgetting the crocodiles along the Kazinga channel.
Birds: Queen Elizabeth national park is also a home to over 600 species of birds which is the highest in Uganda, second in Africa and 6th in the entire world. This implies that implies that Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the major birding destinations in Uganda and Africa at large. Some of the bird species in Queen Elizabeth national park include; Malachite king fisher, spoon billed stork, African fish eagle, Yellow throated Cuckoo, marabou stocks, pied kingfisher, pink backed pelicans, warbles birds, Martial Eagle, Papyrus canary, African Skimmer, White-winged Warbler, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Papyrus Gonolek and many more.
Primates: Queen Elizabeth national park is not only a home to mammals and birds but also a home to different primate species including Chimpanzees, olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, Black and white Colobus monkeys, and many more that thrill with in forested part of the park In Kyambura gorge, Maramagambo forest, Kalinzu forest etc.
Flora of Queen Elizabeth national park
Queen Elizabeth national park thrills with the best eco system with stunning vegetation cover of mixed savanna grassland and woodland that consist of swamps, bamboo forests, acacia trees and many more.
Tourist activities in Queen Elizabeth National park
Game drives are the major things done in every savanna park as the best way to explore and view several wildlife species while on a drive. A 4×4 safari vehicle is best recommended for the game drives in Queen Elizabeth national park to avoid getting stuck especially during rainy months. Game drives in Queen Elizabeth national park are conducted with in Kasenyi plains, Ishasha sector and in Mweya peninsula. Queen Elizabeth national park offers both morning, afternoon, evening and night game drives each with rewarding encounters of different wildlife species. During the game drives, look out for Elephants, Buffaloes, lions, Hippos, antelopes, warthogs, and several bird species, butterflies, reptiles, lizards among others.
There is another exhilarating game drive adventure conducted in Ishasha sector mostly for those who wish to spot the tree climbing lions which only thrill in Ishasha sector of Queen as well as in Lake Manyara national park of Tanzania.
Kazinga channel offers the best boat cruise safari in Uganda with an opportunity of watching a huge school of Hippos, Nile crocodiles, and many other animals that visit the water especially in the afternoon to quench their thirst. Bird lovers are also rewarded with a view of different water birds and other bird species spotted in the vegetation along the shores of Kazinga channel such as king fishers, storks, pelicans etc.
Lion tracking experience,
This is the best way to get closer to the King of the jungle in Queen Elizabeth national park. Lion tracking is like game drive only that lion tracking enables you to drive off track following up the lions by use of tracking devices that show exactly where the lions are and then tourists alongside armed rangers drive to the lions and spend some time watching them and learning more about them. Lion tracking experience is conducted by the Uganda Carnivore Program in conjunction with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. There are other experiential tourism activities in Queen Elizabeth national park such as Mongoose tracking, bird counting and hippo census.
Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth national park is majorly conducted in Kyambura Gorge which is a stretch of tropical rain forest that harbors habituated troops of Chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura gorge require taking a gorge walk alongside rangers and local guides to search for the habituated troops of Chimpanzees in their habitat. After finding chimpanzees, trekkers have only 1 hour with these primates taking photographs and recording short videos then exit the forest. Another destination for chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth national park is in Kalinzu forest.
There is an opportunity of forest walk safari in Queen Elizabeth national park wit in Maramagambo forest. This walk is so rewarded taking you on a visit to the bat caves to watch the snacks and bats living together. Before, tourist were allowed to enter into the cave but due to the outbreak of Marburg, a viewing point was raised near the cave where one stands and views in the caves without entering.
Queen Elizabeth national park Uganda is accessed both by road and by air.
By road, it takes about 6-7 hours’ drive from Kampala capital city or from Entebbe international airport to Queen Elizabeth national park.
By Air, there are charter flights from Entebbe or Kajansi to Mweya airstrip.
Accommodation/ where to stay in Queen Elizabeth National park
Queen Elizabeth national park offers several accommodation facilities including Luxury, midrange and budget that all quit in the traveler’s budget. Some of these accommodation are located within the park while others are just outside the park and these include; Mweya Safari Lodge, Marafiki Safari Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Park view safari lodge, Elephant Hab lodge, Ishasha Wilderness camp, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Kasenyi safari camp, Katara Lodge, Twin Lakes Safari Lodge, Irungu Forest Safari Lodge, Mazike valley lodge, Ihamba Safari Lodge, Bush Lodge, Enjojo lodge cottages, Simba safari camp, Jacana safari lodge, Mweya hostels and many more that suit each traveler’s budget.
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