Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National park is a notable Uganda safari destination for wildlife tours, chimpanzee tracking adventures, birding safaris etc. The 1978km2 Queen Elizabeth National Park enjoys a stunning location on the rift valley floor between Lakes Edward and George where a mosaic of habitats supports 95 mammal species and a remarkable 612 species of birds. Forty years ago, Douglas Willocks described the diverse features that led to its creation in 1952. There still exists no better introduction or a more enticing invitation to visit the park.

‘Scenically the area had everything. Thirty miles to the north, the blue Rwenzori exploded from the plain, a composite, jagged mass of mountains, sixty miles long and forty wide and looking in certain lights as if you could reach out and touch them. Across Lake Edward to the west, the Mitumbe hills stood sentinel on the Congo, blue too in the long sight but in the closer green, wooded, precipitous, unfriendly and epitomizing darkest Africa. The eastern boundary of this possible park was marked by the calm green escarpment of the western Rift Valley. And between all the hills, mountains and lakes was endless savanna, its constantly repeated motif the branched cactus arms of the candelabra euphorbia tree.’

The park forms part of an extensive system of contiguous protected areas, namely the Kigezi (265km2) and Kyambura (154km2) Wildlife Reserves, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Kibale National Park (766km2) and, in neighboring DRC, the 2000km2 Virunga National Park. Rwenzori Mountains National Park lies a few kilometers north. The dramatic scenery is largely due to mountains beyond the park boundary. The park itself lies on the rift valley floor where it rises 480m from 91 Om at the Kazinga Channel to 1390m in the Explosion Crater field. The low altitude and its location directly on the equator mean that temperatures can be warm, rising from a mean minimum of 18°C to a mean maximum of 28°C. The park receives up to 1250 mm of rain, mostly during March – May and September – November.

Camping in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Camping is possible at Mweya, Maramagambo and Ishasha.
Convenient options just outside the park include Hippo Hill Camp close to Katwe and Kingfisher Camp on the lovely Kichwamba escarpment. A new lodge is under construction in the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve.

Flora and fauna
The park is home to 95 mammal species while the bird list is 612 species long. This diversity is the result of an impressive range of habitats. Fifty-seven vegetation types have been identified though these can be summarized as just five: forest; grassland; bushy grassland; Acacia woodland and lakeshore/ swamp vegetation. Residents of the park’s grasslands include elephant, Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, warthog, giant forest hog, lion, leopard and hyena. Topi are found in Ishasha, while forest primates are found in Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest.
Queen Elizabeth National Park has an impressive bird list exceeded only by the neighboring (and far larger) Virunga National Park. Key bird species include martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, pink-backed pelicans, white-winged warbler, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, corncrake, lesser and greater flamingo, and shoebill stork.

Mweya Peninsula
The peninsula is the hub for tourism activity and accommodation in the central section of the park. A nature walk with a ranger guide enables you to explore remoter parts of the peninsula.

Kazinga Channel
The 40km-long channel that connects Lake George to Lake Edward provides the park’s prime wildlife spectacle. Its shoreline attracts large numbers of birds, mammals and reptiles year round. These can be seen from two covered launches, Topi and Simba that cruise between Mweya Jetty and the channel’s entrance into Lake Edward. The launches run at 15.00 and 17.00. Additional voyages run at 11.00 and 13.00 subject to demand.

North Kazinga and Kasenyi
The plain north of the Kazinga Channel is the primary game viewing area. A network of tracks enables you to find elephant, buffalo and other animals in the mosaic of grassland thickets that covers the North Kazinga area near Mweya. However lion are most reliably sighted on the open Kasenyi plain east of the Kasese road where they prey on a large population of Uganda kobo Game are most rewarding in early morning and late afternoon ranger guide is recommended to help you make the right choice in your experience.

Katwe Salt Lake
The Katwe Salt Lake is home to Uganda’s oldest industry has been extracted from the lake using evaporation bee the process is continued today.

Katwe Explosion Craters
This cluster of extinct volcanoes north of Mweya Safari I can be explored by the winding 27km Crater Drive be the Main and Equator Gates. This provides superb veil numerous craters, some filled by lovely lakes, as well as to the Rwenzori and across the rift valley floor.

Ishasha – Tree Climbing Lions
Ishasha 100km south of Mweya, the park’s remote southern provides a true wilderness experience. Diverse hall including the Ishasha River, savanna woodland, and the Lake Edward Flats support a variety of wildlife including the famous tree climbing lions, and the rare shoebill stork.

Kyambura Wildlife Reserve
This area, which protects the south-eastern banks (Kazinga Channel, contains four crater lakes, in which numbers of flamingos periodically congregate.