Queen Elizabeth national park located in the western part of Uganda is the country’s most visited tourist destination, the park is characterized by savannah grasslands, acacia woodland, swamps, and forests. The park is also a remarkable UNESCO heritage site with remarkable diversity. Queen Elizabeth national park covers an area of 1,978-kilometers squared making it Uganda’s second largest national park, the park was first founded as Kazinga national park in 1952 and the name was changed two years later after the queen of England Elizabeth visited the park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to 95 mammalian species and 612 species of birds recorded. There are many stunning craters like Katwe, lakes, the Kazinga channel, Kyambura Gorge, rolling hills and the ranges of the mighty mountains of the moon views that make queen Elizabeth national park a great gem.
The savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth national park are home to various animals that tourists can see while conducting game drives for example; lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, bushbucks, reedbucks, waterbucks, Ugandan Kob, giant forest hogs, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles and many others. The Ishasha sector of the park is home to the famous tree climbing lions that can only be spotted in Lake Manyara in Tanzania.
Hiking and nature walks at Queen Elizabeth can be done along the Ishasha River and Maramagambo forests, this gives tourists chances of encountering wildlife on foot such as warthogs, bushbucks, primates like the black and white colobus monkeys not forgetting so many species of birds.
Bird Watching in Queen Elizabeth NP
Queen Elizabeth national park is a birders paradise where bird enthusiasts can explore up to over 600 species of birds, some of the birds found in the park include; shoebill stork, African skimmer, papyrus canary, martial eagle, pink-backed pelicans, Black-rumped buttonquail, Chaplin’s flycatcher, collared pratincole, palm nut vulture, Pel’s fishing owl, western banded fish eagle, spotted red shock, black bee-eater, Caspian Plover, African finfoot, Heuglin’s Gull, red chested sunbird, common sand martin, great white pelican, great blue turaco, Rufous-bellied Heron, broad billed roller, crab plover and African hobby among others.
Boat Cruise on the Kazinga Channel
Taking an afternoon boat cruise is one of the best things you shouldn’t miss in Queen Elizabeth, the cruise is done at the magnificent Kazinga channel which boasts as the longest natural channel in the world connecting lake Edward and Lake George. The channel’s shores are concentrated with wildlife especially quenching thirst from the scorching sun, seeing elephants on a boat cruise are a must with lots of water birds in the air and most of all hippos and crocodiles very close to your boat.
Chimpanzee Trekking at Kyambura Gorge
Kyambura gorge derives its name from river Kyambura that passes through it watering the vegetation and a source of water to wildlife, the gorge is the longest chasm in East Africa with underground forest 100 meters underneath the Kichambwa rift escarpment endowed with chimpanzees who are human’s closest relatives. It’s an ideal place for chimpanzee trekking while in Queen Elizabeth national park there are also other primates like Olive baboons, vervet monkey, blue monkeys, and black and white Columbus monkeys to mention a few.
The Equator & Culture
Queen Elizabeth national park is crossed by the world’s main latitude, don’t forget to visit the equator while you are here you have a great opportunity that few can that is standing in the middle of the world at the North and south Hemispheres very good for photo shoots. Visiting the people is one of the activities you should never miss while visiting any national park in Uganda, people have different ways of living, unique cultures and so much more. You can get entertained with Kikorongo equator cultural performers as they energetically show off their local traditional dances and hear the tunes of African music.
Katwe Salt Mines & The Bat Caves
Lake Katwe is famous for its salt mining industry ever since the 15th century, the people still use the local traditional methods of mining to extract salt. You can visit and see the process of how they mine salt and learn a lot. The lake is just a few kilometers from Kabatoro gate of the park. The bat cave at Queen Elizabeth national park is well known for its numerous bats found in the cave alongside their predators “pythons”. There is a viewing room where you can clearly observe the bats and watch pythons catching their prey.
Queen Elizabeth national park has got a variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budget. Some of the lodges you can sleep in are Jacana safari lodge, Ishasha jungle lodge, elephant plains, Enjojo lodge, Enganzi game lodge, park view safari lodge, Marafiki lodge, buffalo lodge, Mweya safari lodge, Queen Elizabeth bush lodge, Kitandara hippo hill camp, Emin Pasha Lodge, Enganzi hold up, Katara lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, lhamba safari lodge, Simba safari lodge, and Kingfisher Lodge Kichwamba to mention a few.
Queen Elizabeth national park is located near the equator, therefore, the climate is warm throughout the year though some months are better than others, the best time to visit is in the dry season of May to September and December to January when the grass is short and wildlife can easily be spotted on the plains. Queen Elizabeth national park can be reached from Kampala within 5-6 hours drive by road through Mbarara road is 420 kilometers and via Fort Portal road is 410 kilometers.