GUIDE ON QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK IN UGANDA
Queen Elizabeth Park Introduction - Location, Wildlife & HistoryQueen Elizabeth National Park may well be the quintessential wilderness reserve in Uganda since it has the distinction of boasting an incredible diversity of natural treasures across its 1978 square kilometers (764 square miles). On your safari vacation, you will be able to view a variety of lush habitats, including dense forests and bushlands, rich grassy savannah plains, rolling green hills, and loamy swamps bordered by low growth. On a clear day at distance, you will be able to see the famous world-renowned Mountains of the Moon — also known as the Rwenzori Mountains. These pristine landscapes of Queen Elizabeth support a fabulous variety of mammals —some 95 species — including large herds of elephant, buffalo, and antelope roaming the wilderness. Numerous pods of hippos inhabit the famed Kazinga Channel around the Mweya Peninsula, which connects Lakes George and Edward. Take a boat cruise on the channel and you may also spot crocodiles, which have reappeared after having been wiped out in the region by a volcanic eruption about 8,000 years ago.
Among the predators you may spot on your game drive safari trips in Queen Elizabeth Park are the lion, leopard, hyena, and smaller cats like serval, genet, or civet. The park is also proud to host more than 600 varieties of birds, some of which are endemic to the region and rare in other parts of the world. Originally gazetted as a national park in 1952, the park opened under the name, Kazinga National Park. It received its current name after a visit by the Queen of England in 1954. This region forms part of the Great Rift Valley of Africa, and saw violent volcanic activity in its past. Reminders of the eruptions remain, and visitors will see various craters that now fill with water during certain seasons. The Katwe explosion craters mark the highest point of Queen Elizabeth National Park, sitting at 1350 meters above sea level the lowest point is at 910 meters at Lake Edward.
The park’s southern Ishasha sector is a much-visited travel destination with its close proximity to Bwindi, thanks to a wondrous sight: magnificent lions that have learned to climb fig trees. They can often be seen sprawled on the branches, napping in the midday sun. On the northeast, the Kasenyi Plains offers the classic African savannah plains with its varied predator-prey interactions. Yet another favorite tourist attraction for primate lovers is the Kyambura Gorge, which is famous not only for its rich variety of flora, but also for the family of chimpanzees that live here. The forest gorge also supports other primates, bringing the total up to 10 species. Queen Elizabeth Park (best time to visit) straddles the equator, and bush holidaying visitors in Uganda enjoy standing for photos on this imaginary line encircling the earth.
- Reserve covering an area of 1978 square kilometers with an unbelievably gorgeous diversity of landscapes
- Abounds with 95 mammals and over 600 species of birds
- Watered by the Kazinga Channel that connects Lake George and Lake Edward
- Ishasha region is famous for fig tree-climbing lions. Kyambura Gorge known for its 10 species of primates including chimpanzees
- Forms a part of the Albertine’s Great Rift Valley of Africa
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Page Content - Start Here
|1. What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Queen Elizabeth National Park?|
|What Are The Areas Of Interest In Queen Elizabeth National Park|
|2. Lion-viewing In The Ishasha Sector|
|3. Kasenyi Savannah Plains|
|4. Scenic Views Of Lake Edward From Mweya Peninsula|
|5. Boat Cruising On The Kazinga Channel|
|6. Chimpanzee Trekking In The Kyambura Gorge|
|7. The Shoebill Swamp At Lake George|
|8. Volcanic Explosion Craters Around Queen Elizabeth Park|
|9. Katwe Salt Lake|
|10. Primates & Bird Watching In Maramagambo Forest|
1. What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Queen Elizabeth National Park?
- Massive herds of herbivores such as 2,500 elephants, over 10,000 Cape buffaloes, 5,000 hippos, and various others including the elusive sitatunga antelope
- 10 species of primates including habituated chimpanzees thriving in the Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu and Maramagambo Forests
- 600 varieties of birds mainly found around the Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsula, Lake George, Lake Edward, and crater lakes
- Safari game drives and birdwatching excursions to spot the fantastic array of wildlife
- A wide diversity of predators and big and small cats with a special focus on the tree-climbing lions
Big Cats & Other Predators Of Queen Elizabeth ParkYou’re likely to spot some of the big and small cats that inhabit Queen Elizabeth Park on game-drive safari tours. Your guide will help you find lions, shy leopards, civets, genets, and serval cats. Hyenas and side-striped jackals are also present here. You’ll certainly notice that the male lions in this park sport a distinctive black mane, while the lionesses display incredible tree-climbing skills that allow them to sprawl out on the limbs of fig trees, napping or waiting for Ugandan kob to wander by.
Grazers & Herbivores Of Queen Elizabeth ParkQueen Elizabeth Park boasts massive herds of grazers and ungulates, including 2,500 elephants and more than 10,000 buffalo. The lakes and Kazinga Channel host more than 5,000 hippos, while the grasslands and forests abound with Ugandan kob, warthogs, waterbuck, bushbuck, topi, and the rare sitatunga antelope, among others.
Primate Species Of Queen Elizabeth ParkSafari adventurers who love primates will be thrilled to find up to 10 species on their travels through various sectors of the Queen Elizabeth Park, including a family of habituated chimpanzees found in the Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest. If you hike along the woodland pathways of the Maramagambo Forest, you may encounter black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue monkeys, and various others. Chimpanzees are also present in Maramagambo. If you are lucky enough, you may also spot bush babies and pottos on your early evening forest walks.
Beautiful Birds Of Queen Elizabeth ParkQueen Elizabeth National Park hosts more than 600 species of birds, including aquatic types that inhabit the Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsula, Lake George, Lake Edward, crater lakes, and other forested and wetland areas. Should you explore the channel and lakes by boat, you might be able to spot species like the pink and white-backed pelican, yellow-backed weaver, pied kingfisher, grey-headed kingfisher, African fish eagle, African jacana, white-faced whistling, squacco heron, spur-winged plover, the elusive shoebill stork, open-billed stork, knob-billed duck, greater and lesser flamingo, black crake, long-tailed cormorant, papyrus canary, wattled plover, papyrus gonolek, and water thick-knee.
Opt for a nature walking excursion in the forests of Queen Elizabeth Park and you will be treated to sightings of the martial eagle, African broadbill, Verreaux’s eagle owl, white-tailed lark, African skimmer, black bee-eater, bar-tailed godwit, Chapin’s flycatcher, white-winged warbler, corncrake, black-rumped buttonquail, and various others. The wetlands of the reserve have their own variety of attractions for ornithologists. Spend long birdwatching vacation hours photographing Ugandan specimens like the swamp flycatcher, thin-tailed nightjars, Collard Pranticles, white-winged terns, and malachite.
When hiking through the Kyambura Gorge on a chimpanzee tracking safari trip, keep a sharp lookout for birds like the grey woodpecker, hairy-breasted barbet, purple-headed starling, black & African emerald cuckoo, speckled tinkerbird, green Hylia, white-spotted flufftail, and broad-tailed warbler.
What Are The Areas Of Interest In Queen Elizabeth National Park?
2. Lion-viewing In The Ishasha Sector
- Located in the remote southern regions of the reserve
- Excursion best combined with a gorilla trekking tour to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Famous for sightings of lionesses napping on the branches of fig trees and various grazing species
3. Kasenyi Savannah Plains
- Ideal location for photographing massive herds of gazers in the green and golden savannah
- Ideal birding destination which is home to various grassland species
- Sightings and interactions of stealthy predators looking for prey meals
4. Scenic Views Of Lake Edward From Mweya Peninsula
- Picturesque views of the Kazinga Channel just before it enters Lake Edward at the Mweya Peninsula
- The starting point for boating safaris is on the edge of Lake Edward and game drives in the park
- Elevated location of Mweya Peninsula providing ample opportunities for photography
- Fabulous scenic landscapes including Kasenyi grasslands, winding channel, and the distant Rwenzori Mountains
- Sightings of animals in the undergrowth and in the waters of the channel
5. Boat Cruising On The Kazinga Channel
- Natural waterway connecting Lake George on the east with Lake Edward on the west
- Shallow Lake George spread over an area of 250 square kilometers
- Lake George receiving waters from the Rwenzori Mountains and draining into the Kazinga Channel
- Lake Edward known as one of the largest freshwater lakes in Africa covering an area of 2,000 square kilometers
- Boat trips on the lake to view a stunning diversity of terrestrial and avian wildlife coming to the water’s edge to drink
If you take a boat trip on the channel, you will get a sense of the stunning diversity of the birdlife and land animals of Queen Elizabeth Park. Look out for lofty wildlife like the elephant, hippo, buffalo, and perhaps even a leopard lurking among the papyrus reeds. You may also see monitor lizards, crocodiles, and frogs basking on the sandy banks or near papyrus reeds, as well as aquatic birds of Africa like fish eagles, weaver birds, marabou storks, and various others.
6. Chimpanzee Trekking In The Kyambura Gorge
- Kyambura Gorge, also called Chambura carved out by the Kyambura River
- Lying at a depth of 100 meters below the Kichwamba inclines extending to 1 kilometer at its widest point
- Tracking down chimpanzees under the supervision of guides assigned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Option of combining it with Kalinzu Forest chimpanzee trekking excursion
- Opportunity to spend time with a family of 15 to 20 habituated chimpanzees that live here giving it the name, “Valley of the Apes”. Kalinzu Forest has a community of 40 chimpanzees
- Sightings of various other species of primates and varieties of bird
Your trip can include trekking in the company of trained Uganda Wildlife Authority guides, who will help you spot the family of 15 to 20 habituated chimpanzees that live here. Their presence has earned the valley the nickname “Valley of Apes,” but it’s also known for the presence of other primates of Africa such as the black and white colobus monkey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, and red-tailed monkey. After a picnic at the entrance of the gorge, you will enter a lush, green world of tropical forests with a thick canopy that all but shuts out the sunlight. Having previously encountered the grassy plains of Queen Elizabeth Park, your travels in the Kyambura Gorge will be a fascinating introduction to a totally different aspect of the reserve. We also recommend tracking down the chimpanzee community at Kalinzu Forest (30 minutes away), where 40 habituated individuals exist.
7. The Shoebill Swamp At Lake George
- Located near the park covering an area of 250 square kilometers. Shoebills are typically found north of the lake
- Shallow in nature with an average depth of 2.4 meters and standing on the western section of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley
- Fed by the streams from the Rwenzori Mountains that passes through farmlands on the northeast and drains into the Kazinga Channel which carries the waters to Lake Edward
- Abounds with various species of fish with a Ramsar birding site bordering the lake on the north
- Tourist spots on the main islands in the lake, Iranqara, Kankurang, and Akika
The lush papyrus wetlands that form part of the Ramsar swamps border the lake on the north and are home to the rare sitatunga antelope and shoebill stork, found at the dense Shoebill Swamp, which you might be able to spot on your Queen Elizabeth Park trip. An interesting addition to your safari vacation is visiting the major islands in the lake, including Iranqara, Kankurang, and Akika. Lake George attracts various species of mammals that come to its shores to drink. The lake is also home to numerous types of fish, including haplochromis nigripinnis, tilapia nilotica, thermocyclops hyalinus, and cyclopoid copepod.
8. Volcanic Explosion Craters Around Queen Elizabeth Park
- 72 circular craters which are remnants of ancient volcanic activity in the Albertine Rift Valley of Africa
- Volcanoes have been extinct for centuries, but some still emit sulfurous gases while others form seasonal lakes during the wet seasons
- Game drives following a 27-kilometer trail running from Kabatoro Gate and the Queen’s Pavilion
- Traveling to reach the Katwe Explosion Craters and Bunyaruguru Crater Field
- Excursion ending at the Ndali-Kasenda Crater Field near Kibale National Park
On your game drives, you can follow a 27-kilometer trail that spans the area between the Kabatoro Gate and the Queen’s Pavilion, in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains. Revel in the striking panoramas you’ll see here, encompassing craters, lakes, the slopes of the Rift Valley, and the Kazinga Channel. Travel to the Katwe Explosion Craters inside Queen Elizabeth National Park before going on to explore the Bunyaruguru Crater Field, which sits on the Kichwamba slopes. If you are going to Kibale National Park, do stop over at the Ndali-Kasenda Crater Field.
9. Katwe Salt Lake
- Thriving salt mining industry dating back to the 16th century
- A significant vantage point for the Katwe-Kabatoro community
- Sightings of migratory flamingos in the months from August to November at Lake Munyanyange
10. Primates & Bird Watching In Maramagambo Forest
- Known as a famous birdwatcher’s haven showcasing an amazing diversity, also has primates including chimpanzees
- Cormorant House, a massive tree that is coated by the guano of a huge flock of birds that roost on it
- The unique Bat Cave with a viewing deck for tourists
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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN QUEEN ELIZABETH
Queen Elizabeth has varied accommodations, from the luxuries of Kyambura Gorge Lodge to the deluxe option of Ishasha Wilderness Camp. The value lodge options are Katara, Elephant Plains Lodge and Mweya.
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SAFARI & TOUR IN QUEEN ELIZABETH
Experience safari game drives in the vast savannah of the Kasenyi plains and Ishasha sector to trekking wild chimpanzee on foot in Kyambura Gorge. Birders can go on a boat excursions on Kazinga Channel.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT QUEEN ELIZABETH
Like most locations in Africa, Queen Elizabeth National Park has two wet rainy seasons and two dry seasons. June, July and August is the best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda.
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EAST AFRICA SAFARI BOOKING TRIP IDEA FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH IN UGANDA
When visiting Queen Elizabeth for your wildlife safari, we recommend combining it with Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, Murchison Falls, and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.
You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.
You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.
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