QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
This is a wonderful and especially scenic National Park, with two lakes connected by a channel overlooked by a high peninsula. In addition to the lakes there are volcanic craters, grassy plains, papyrus swamps, open savannahs and tropical forests. Queen Elizabeth Park is ranked as Uganda’s most visited game reserve.
The park is located in the western region of Uganda cutting through 3 districts of Kasese, Bushenyi and Rukungiri thus covering an area of around 1,978 sq km. North east of the park
is Lake George, Lake Edward lies south west and the Kazinga channel that connects the two lakes runs through the vast park. Besides the lakes are other volcanic features like volcanic cones, small crater lakes like Lake Katwe from which salt is mined in Uganda.
Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari
Queen Elizabeth National Park was established in 1952 and is run by Uganda Wildlife Authority just like many of the other Uganda national parks. The vast Uganda national park covers the tropical rainforest called Maramagambo forest and then borders Kyambura game reserve, Kibale national park, Kigezi Game reserve and Virunga National Park on the DR Congo border.
Kyambura Gorge on the northeast boundary of the Park is real Tarzan territory with thick treetop canopies and vines dangling down to the soft forest floor. The terrain comes complete with chimpanzees that crash about and chatter high up in the branches. If they don’t feel like being seen, they just keep one step ahead of the out-of-breath terrestrial visitors. The caves on Kyambura gorge house thousands of birds and large snakes like pythons that feed on these abundant prey.
The Maramagambo Forest, south of the Kazinga Channel is also home to large numbers of chimps, plus a number of other monkey species.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
As a result of such varied habitats, QENP has one of the highest biodiversity ratings in the world, with almost 100 mammal species and an incredible 606 bird species.
Much of Uganda’s wildlife was poached out in the past, especially elephants, but now the area is protected and elephants numbers are boosted by those entering the park from the Congo, where poaching is still a problem.
The Kazinga Channel alone is said to contain the world’s largest concentration of hippos, but interestingly enough not many crocodiles! Other sighted animals include warthogs, buffalo, rare aquatic sitatunga antelope, giant forest hog, beautifully horned Uganda kob, topi, waterbuck, elephant, buffaloes and leopard. More than 10 predators roam the park including lions, leopards, stripped jackals and spotted hyenas. Primates are not a surprise, you’ll find chimpanzees, blue monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys and colobus monkeys
If you have not heard of the tree climbing lions, Ishasha sector is the place where you’ll spot some of the lionesses lounging in the trees upon the afternoon heat
Some rare and odd birds inhabit this park and keen birders come from all over the world to clock up a sighting of the shoe bill stork, Egyptian geese, yellow billed stork, white pelicans, martial eagles, papyrus gonolek, eagle owl, flamingoes, African fish eagle and other water birds that make 610 different birds recorded in this park and its surroundings. A great way to see both the birds and the mammals is from a luxury cruise or boat ride on the Kazinga Channel.
When to go
The park is located 376 km from Kampala off Kampala-Mbarara highway within the south western hills of Uganda with scenic views of the towering Rwenzori mountain ranges.
June to September is the dry season within the park and most animals draw near the Kazinga channel for a drink. January and February are very hot months making the best period to visit Queen Elizabeth Park for Game viewing. The rains starting October to December, March to May, the roads are quite slippery and only 4WDs can traverse the park on game drives.
There is plenty of queen Elizabeth National park accommodation starting with luxury safari lodges, grass thatched cottages, bush camps and tented camp with remarkable room and service. Find luxury accommodation from Mweya safari lodge, Paraa safari lodge, Chobe safari Lodge and Ishasha wilderness camp