Queen Elizabeth NP
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park has a diverse ecosystem. This includes sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands. This makes Queen Elizabeth National Park the ideal habitat for classic big game. This park has ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is set against the backdrop of Rwenzori Mountains. The park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters. They are carved dramatically into rolling green hills. There are panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos. You will also see buffalo and elephants here. The park has the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions. They are ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities. Here you will enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems. This has in turn benefits the surrounding communities. Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is truly a Medley of Wonders.
Geography and climate of Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is located within the Albertine Rift Valley. This is in western Uganda near the Rwenzori Mountains. It covers a total area of 1,978 km2 of hills, plains, forest, and swamp. QENP is continuous with Parc National des Virunga in Congo. It therefore forms one of the largest protected area systems in eastern Africa. Queen Elizabeth National Park has two rainy seasons. This is from March-May and from September-November. However rainfall varies greatly within the park. The highest is about 1,250 mm per year. This occurs in the Maramagambo forest. Only about 750 mm per year falls in the area along the Kazinga channel. This probably results from interference with air circulation patterns by the Rwenzoris. This affects mainly to the north, and the Kichwamba escarpment to the east.
The area around Queen Elizabeth National Park has two pronounced rainy seasons. This is due to its location on the equator. There is also the influence of the migratory Inter tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The onset of the first rains is typically around late February for all four stations. The onset of the second rains is typically around mid-August. There is no significant difference in the duration of the two rainy seasons.
Where is Queen Elizabeth National Park Located
QENP is in the Western Region of Uganda, spanning the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri. This Uganda national park is approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) by road south-west of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city. The town of Kasese is just outside the northeastern edge of the park, while the town of Rubirizi is just outside the park's southeastern boundaries. The park includes the Maramagambo Forest and borders the Kigezi Game Reserve, the Kyambura Game Reserve, and the Kibale National Park in Uganda, and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Getting to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Located in western Uganda, shared by districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Bushenyi, Queen Elizabeth park is 1978km2 in size. The park lies 5-6 hours from Kampala on a surfaced road via Mbarara, and can be reached on a dirt road from Bwindi.
It includes parts of Lakes Edward and George which are linked by Kazinga channel and other attractions. Accessing the park from Kampala is either on tarmac through Mbarara (420 kames) or Fort Portal via Kasese (410kms). The park is 5-6 hours from Kampala on surface road via Mbarara.
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s oldest and most popular game parks for Uganda safaris. It is found in South Western Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park is home to variety of wildlife and boasts a range of attractions and interesting activities that make it truly gifted by nature.
ASTHO Vacations provides you with our suggested list of the top things to do in Uganda when on safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The major highlight of a visit to the park are the scenic game drives that give you a chance to view even the most elusive of the park’s fauna. The thrilling drives which are best done during the morning hours feature up close viewing of the wildlife which inhabits the park in the comfort of a vehicle. Your driver guide knows the different trucks in the park intimately and will take you in search of the different wildlife.
During the game drives, you could spot an elephant, the largest land mammal skillfully using its trunk to feed, a lion preying on an antelope or a hyena patiently waiting to devour the lion’s leftovers from a distance. Different groups of animals like Buffalo herds and Uganda kobs traverse the game park all day long. Warthogs, leopards, the giant forest hog are among the others you are very likely to meet on your game drive.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s top birding spots. A haven to over 600 bird species, the enthusiastic bird watcher is in for a major delight at the park.
Some of the birds likely to grace your photographic memories include the; Sedge warbles, Papyrus canary, the martial eagle, Pink backed Pelican, Yellow throated Cuckoo, and the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, all which inhabit the park’s expansive grasslands, forests and wetlands. Do not miss the flamingos found at the Katwe and Bunyampaba salt lakes.
BOAT TRIP/LAUNCH CRUISE
The boat trip/launch cruise which takes place on the Kazinga Channel, a long natural water channel linking Lake Edward to Lake George is an exhilarating event for the visitors at the park.
During the cruise, one gets to enjoy the various sights and sounds that the park’s rich aquatic life extravagantly offers. Besides the large hippopotamuses taking their dips in the waters, the fierce Nile crocodiles basking lazily on the channel banks for a feel of the warm sun are some of the lifetime experiences you will encounter on the cruise. Not to miss are the Pied Kingfishers attempting to grab a meal.
THE TREE CLIMBING LIONS OF ISHASHA
Not every day do you see a lion climbing a tree, in fact it was considered a safe bet to climb one if you ever found yourself being chased by one. Not while in Ishasha sector though, a region comprising a portion of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here, lions perched up on acacia and fig trees are an enchanting sight to behold.
Whether it is for a better view of their surroundings including potential prey like the Uganda Kob that grazes in the vicinities, seeking the cool breeze in the trees or escaping the notorious bites from the tsetse flies on the ground below, the reason for the lions choosing residence up the trees remains an intriguing mystery.
The Ishasha sector where these lions are found is accessible on the journey to or from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as one heads or returns from gorilla trekking in the forest. Besides the amazing tree climbing king of the jungle, the sector is also home to other animals such as herds of buffaloes, large numbers of elephants, warthogs and antelopes all which make for a memorable trip to the game park.
The Kyambura Gorge, also known as the Valley of Apes found in the Northern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to chimpanzees. The chimpanzees in Kyambura are habituated meaning they have been accustomed to human presence and this does not deter them from going on with their activities.
The underground rain forest in a gorge which makes for an excellent protection from the sunshine as one enjoys the immense beauty of nature hidden there in. You will experience lush Savannah grasslands leading to the gorge, to the flowing rivers and creeks. Red tailed monkeys, baboons, butterflies and different bird species are among other inhabitants of this little paradise worth sighting besides Chimpanzees.
Besides the primates, the forest boasts great hiking trails upon which there is a lot to explore. While walking in the forest, look out for soldier ants as they have such a painful sting. Otherwise you are in for an exciting experience while trekking one of man’s closest primate relatives.
These are our top 5 activities to Queen Elizabeth national park. You can choose to have all these or some depending on your interests. You can inquire about a safari to Queen Elizabeth national park
|Languages spoken||English, Luganda|
|Currency used||Uganda Shillings (UGX)|