Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda is endowed with a lot of tourism potential with 10 gazetted national parks and among them is Queen Elizabeth national park the second largest national park to Murchison Falls national park which is ranked first in the country.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is the oldest national park in Uganda located in western Uganda covering an area estimated to 1,978 square kilometers (764 sq miles) and close to districts of Fort Portal, Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri.
Gazetted in 1952 by the names of Kazinga national park, 2 years later the park was pronounced as Queen Elizabeth national park in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth 11. Since then the park has been one of the country’s most visited national park due to a variety of attractions ranging from wildlife, aquatic life, sprawling savanna, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, ideal habitat for the classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds and fascinating cultural history with many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more.
The park is also famous for its volcanic features, including volcanic cones and deep craters, many with crater lakes, such as the Katwe craters, from which salt is extracted.
Activities that can be carried out in the park
Queen Elizabeth national park is the 2nd bird destination in Africa and 6th world ranking birding destination with a population of 600 birds recorded in the park. Visitors to the park are thrilled with a close encounter to the different bird species which include; Papyrus Canary and flamingos which are sighted at Lake Katwe and Bunyampaba salt lakes Verreaux’s eagle owl, malachite, black-ramped buttonquail, Collard Particles, papyrus canary, long-tailed cormorants, Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail African Skimmer, White-winged terns, White-winged Warbler, shoebill, African skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Grey-headed kingfisher, papyrus gonolek, Verreaux’s eagle-owl, black bee-eater, Squacco heron, African fish eagle, swamp fly-catcher among others which can be traced in savannah grassland, forests, swamps and on the shores of Kazinga channel.
Chimpanzee trekking is one of the key primate activities done in Queen Elizabeth national park in the northeastern part of the park in Kyambura gorge. The reserve is one of the profound experimental chimpanzee destinations which is the second attractive activity in the park. The playful primates are worth visiting in the reserve and getting to understand their behaviors is distinctive since there several theories that have been documented upon them and once you get to visit them it will be an offer to get firsthand information from the rangers who have studied and live and conserve these primates annually. There other primates that you can encounter in Kyambura forest reserve on a guided nature trail which include; vervet monkeys, blue colobus monkeys, red tailored monkeys, baboons among others with plenty of tree species.
Although chimp sightings are not guaranteed in the reserve than the rest of the places like Kibale forest national park and others due to the fact that they are mobile and in limited number with only sixteen habituated chimpanzees that remain in the valley but yet still offering an amazing experience to those who visit here for tracking, visitors stand a pretty good chance of hearing and seeing our distant cousins as they are habituated.
The park has a fascinating scenery view with dense short savannah grassland hosting plenty of animals that every traveler on a safari would love to encounter which makes the park a more dream destination for tourists. There many chances of meeting the famous wild primates ranging from, elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, zebras, Uganda Kob, warthogs, leopards, giant forest hog and many more all these being viewed From the comfort of your car on game viewing experience where you drive through numerous trucks running through Queen Elizabeth national park. It’s recorded that the park contains 95 species of mammal – more than any other park in Uganda which guarantee’s all visitors who choose to visit the park at any time of the year great chances of meeting many different species all in the park.
This great experience is conducted on a morning, afternoon, and evening game viewing or night game drives where you can get to see many nocturnal animals and predators such as lions and leopards with a help of a spotlight. All-day hour game viewing shifts will thus offer you a great time to have an encounter with the wilderness at any time of your convenience and according to your planned itinerary.
Guided nature walks are experiential walks that are done in Queen Elizabeth national park which takes visitors through different trails. This is as well a moment where you can get to relax your muscles on your safari and as well enjoy the beauty of the land, the rolling grasslands are set against the backdrop of the jagged, snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains making the breathtaking landscapes a photographer’s dream. The trails can as well take you to Maramagambo caves and view plenty of bats hanging on the caves, Kyambura gorge and Lake Nyamasingiri for bird watching and primate viewing, Mweya peninsular nature walk where you get to view the Kazinga channel and Lake Edward and Ishasha river which offers you a great opportunity for an up-close view to water giants especially Hippos.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
This is yet another entertaining experience where you get to view the landscape with all its attractions as seen from above the ground. This experiment was and is carried out in Murchison Falls National park but was as well established in Queen Elizabeth national park in 2014. The activity is started early in the morning with a briefing at the Kasenyi gate of the park. The ride gives breathtaking views of all the park animals from the air with amazing opportunities to take stunning aerial photos of the beautiful park. It’s indeed thrilling to have this experience and any visitor who undertakes this experience is honored with a hot air balloon safari certificate as a souvenir of this adventure.
Encounter Tree climbing lions
This is yet another unique adventure in the tourism sector of Uganda. Many visitors come to witness these pets since most of them are known to occupy lowlands and caves but in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, you will be thrilled once you encounter tree climbing lions hanging in fig trees. Scientists have not come up with a clear explanation of why these lions climb up the trees but there are theories that they do so because of the insects and parasites (like Tsetse flies) on the ground. These are not different from common lions but just only that they grow and live a life of climbing trees once they are done with feeding after the hunt and rest in trees. You will not only enjoy lions from this location but rather other wild primates like buffalo’s elephant’s warthogs and great herds of Uganda kob.
A boat cruise is one of the breathtaking experiences exercised in Queen Elizabeth national park. The activity is done along the Kazinga channel where you get to view a lot of wildlife and Hippos concentration. This channel connects Lake George to Lake Edward stretching up to a wide of 32-km-long. Kazinga Channel is an excellent place to experience nature and is the single point where most of the park animals gather to drink, hunt, and bath. An average of 60 bird species can be spotted during the trip and hundreds of enormous hippos, Nile crocodiles, waterbucks, and buffalos while elephants linger on the shoreline. This therefore will open up your mind as enjoy the quiet cool breeze of the waters, and in the evening enjoy the beautiful sunset rays on the cruise before you head back to your resting place. Indeed this experience is breathtaking and one any visitor should not miss on a Ugandan safari.
Culture and historical tour
Understanding the origin of different cultures and traditions is one of the exiting explorations as different nations, states, or provinces may pose different characteristics and approaches to ways of survival from ancient times to the current generation. Therefore once you visit Queen Elizabeth national park an arrangement can be made to visit some of the organized cultural institutions for storytelling upon different unknown things of the area and these could include a visit to Kikorongo Equator Cultural group to watch and participate in traditional dances, drama, learning on craft-making materials and fire-making, visiting the Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community, Agro tour walk where you get to learn about beekeeping, Katwe Tourism Information Center where you get to learn about salt mining in the area which started way back in the 16th century and many more.
This is quite a new and unique experience under the wildlife conservation program which is done in Mweya peninsular. This is done uniquely whereby experienced ranger guides using radio collars inserted around lion necks and are therefore followed along with visitors. This takes you up close to other pets in the savannah grassland where you can as well spot other wild animals like leopards and hyenas. It’s however recommended that any visitor who would love to enjoy this experience has to book early in the time since it’s not a daily activity on every traveler’s package.
Best time to visit the park
There two seasons that the country undergoes which are the wet and dry seasons with different months that determine different activities to be done. Therefore both dry and wet season has both advantages and disadvantages once you intend to visit the area for your exploration.
The dry months include; June, July, August, September, January, and February. During these months you will be privileged to have easy movements to the park and along the trails and this is the best time to go on game drives and view wildlife, take guided walks and go on chimpanzee tracking expeditions among others. You as well get an opportunity to witness plenty of wildlife along the shores as they flog the surrounding Lakes however it is termed as peak season with plenty of visitors flogging the park with a slight increase in service provision including accommodation being fully booked, transport among others thus this prompts many visitors intending to travel to the park for their adventure within the stated time to book early enough for their adventure and secure your availability. Ensure that you as well park warm clothes since the temperatures tend to be low with cold moments in the morning and evening hours. Note: Despite being a dry season, rain is expected in the park at any time of the year.
The wet season includes months of; October, November, December, March, April, and May. Upon this month there are migratory birds from Europe and Northern Africa in the park during this season which makes it the best to go bird watching with beautiful scenery of the landscape coupled with green vegetation around the park. This being a rainy season the ground is slippery but this doesn’t stop a business from moving on as our four-wheel drive cars coupled with our experienced driver guides will take you through your adventure, endeavor to carry warm and rainy jackets to contain the weather.
How to access the park
Queen Elizabeth national park can be accessed either by road or air. When you decide to travel by road it will be approximately 420 kilometers from Kampala to the western part of the country where the park is situated. The drive is between 5-6 hours on two different routes to the park; one goes through Fort Kampala-Portal to Kasese or Kampala-Mbarara to Kasese visa vie. Chartered planes as well operate to Queen Elizabeth Park from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi airstrip in Kisoro or Mweya airstrip in Kasese.
Where to stay in and around Queen Elizabeth national park
There are several accommodation centers that have been set up in and around the park with the aim of providing safe and comfortable accommodation facilities ranging from budget, mid-range, and luxury facilities. This states that there different choices to choose from once you choose to make it to the park for your adventure with individual preference upon where to stay on your safari depending on your preference and budget for your safari. Some of the lodges that have been set up for you to base on for your exploration include; Mweya Safari Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Ihamba Safari Lodge, Kingfisher Lodge Kichwamba, Simba Safari Lodge, Pumba Safari Cottages, Kazinga Channel View Resort among others
Are you planning an African wildlife and primate safari look no further than contacting Safari Vacations & Travel Services as your leading travel agency to help you arrange the best safari with a remarkable and unique exploration?