Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

If you are looking for the best place to go to on a Uganda self drive, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a must visit to have that much desired memorable safari while in the East African country.

The park was established in 1952 with the aim of protecting and preserving the wild life of the area, first known as Kazinga Channel and later named Queen Elizabeth National Park after the visit of her majesty Queen Elizabeth of England in 1954.

It is located in Kasese district in the western part of Uganda. The park boarders Virunga national park in DRC and Kibale National Park in Uganda crossing different districts for example Rubirizi, Kamwenge and Rukungiri and is situated around the base of Rwenzori Mountains and boarded by Lake George in the east and Lake Edward in the west.

In 1960s, a large part of the southern part of the park was gazette as the Kyambura game reserve which is now known as the Kyambura wildlife reserve and in 1967, the park expanded to cover and include the ishasha sector which is well known for its tree climbing lions.

Today, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s most popular tourist sites because of its beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife and it attracts tourists from all around the word. The main tourist attraction in the park is the tree climbing lions although the park harbors a wide range of wildlife.

Size and surface area of Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park has a lot of lakes and about three big forest which include; Maramagambo forest, Kyambura Gorge forest and Ishasha which makes it the third biggest national park in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth National Park covers a surface area of 910 to 1390 meters above the sea level and a size of 1978 square kilometers.

What to see in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The pack is a home to many wild life species including trees, animals, birds, savannah and the hard wood. Among these, it has about 95 mammal species (elephants, buffalos, warthogs, tree climbing lions, crocodiles, chimpanzees, Ugandan cobs, giraffes etc.) and 600 bird species which include crested cranes, African darter, white stock, brown crowned crane, yellow billed stork and many more.

Apart from the animals and birds, the park has a lot to offer to the tourist just to make your journey memorable and adventurous. It is comprised of lakes, Mweya peninsula the Kazinga channel, forests with hard wood trees and the savannah grass lands.

 Mweya Peninsula is an amazing geographical feature in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is surrounded by water bodies such as Lake Edward and Kazinga Channel which makes it an ideal location for different water-based activities such as boat cruises, bird watching and fishing.

Kazinga Channel happens to be one of the best sights for Game viewing while in the park and it is always crowded by buffalos, elephants, hippos, and many other animals which come to the channel to drink water.

The Ishasha sector is located in the southern part of the park and is the most famous in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is well known for its tree climbing lions and has different tree species where these lions a spotted.

Katwe salt works take place in a salt water lake which is located in the Northwestern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lake has salt pans as a result of too much sunshine hitting the salt waters most especially during the dry seasons and it is noticed to have no outlets.

The park has more than ten crater lakes which give the tourists opportunities to unwind and refresh after long journeys throughout the park. Among the lakes are Lake Nkugute, Ndali-kasenda craters, Bunyaraguru crater etc.

Activities caried out in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Lion tracking is an interesting activity that involves looking for the lions with researchers who share their knowledge with the tourists. Lions are mostly seen on tree branches in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The activity gives the tourist an opportunity to have a close look to the king of the Jungle himself. Lion tracking is basically carried out in the Ishasha sector.

Chimpanzee tracking is one of the most popular activities done in Queen Elizabeth National Park is basically done in Kyambura George, a forested canyon situated in the Eastern part of the park and home to a habituated population of chimpanzees that can be tracked by the tourists. Chimpanzee tracking involves guided treks through park’s forests in search of the primates.

This activity is strictly regulated and the visitors should abide by the rules and regulations which include not getting too close to the Chimpanzees and maintaining the accepted number of visitors per day. Only six people are allowed to go for tracking per day and this is why visitors are further advised to book and pay for the tracking Permits earlier to avoid disappointments.

Kazinga boat cruising is another popular activity in Queen Elizabeth national park and basically carried out at Kazinga Channel. The boats used for cruises are basically designed for inspection and navigation of channel and safe viewing experiences. The boat cruises are usually done in the morning and afternoon. During the boat cruise, the visitors expect to see many of the animals because they crowd at the channel to drink water and due to the fact that the activity is carried out mostly in the morning and afternoon, the visitors get a chance of viewing different species of birds.

Game driving in Queen Elizabeth National Park involves moving long distances around the park. During the drive, the visitors expect to see various numbers of wild life which include lions, elephants, buffalos, hippos and different antelope species. For one to go for a drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you need to book a tour with a licensed company e.g. Uganda Self Drives or arrange for a self-drive option incase you have you own vehicle.

Game drives usually take place during morning hours and in the late afternoons when the animals are most active. During game drives, the visitors are accompanied by experienced guides who help them spot the animals and provide information about their behavior and habitats.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is home for over 600 bird species which makes it an excellent destination for Bird watching. The best bird watching spot is Mweya Penisula which habitats a variety of birds include; herons, African fish eaters, king fishers, and storks. Another excellent bird watching spot is the Kasenyi Plains which harbor savannah birds such as ostriches, secretary birds, eagles and Kori bustards.

To go bird watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park, one should hire an experienced bird guide who can help you spot different species of birds, their behavior and habitats. The best time for bird watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park is during the rainy season (March to May and October to November) when migratory birds are present and the vegetation is rich providing more habitat for the birds.

However, bird watching can be experienced all year round.

Nature walks in Queen Elizabeth National Park involves walking around different parts of the part looking for different attractions. Some of the considered nature walks in Queen Elizabeth National Park are Mweya Peninsula Nature walk which offers interesting views of lakes and surrounding landscapes, Ishasha River Walk that takes you along the banks of the ishasha River which is famous for its residence of crocodiles and hippos, Maramagambo Forest walk which is a guided walk through the Maramagambo forest, Kazinga channel walk which is a natural waterway that connects lake George and lake Edward.

Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park has a variety of accommodation options to cater for different budgets and preferences. Among these, the popular ones are, Mweya Safari lodge is a luxurious lodge located in the heart of the park and prices range from $300 per night for a standard room and can go up to $1000.

The ishasha Wilderness Camp which is situated in the southern part of the park near the Ishasha sector and its prices range from $250 per night for a standard tent and can go up to $350 or more per night for a luxury tent.

Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge is a mid-range lodge located outside the park and offers comfortable rooms and a restaurant serving local and international foods and bar.

Prices range from $80 dollars per night for a standard room and $120 dollars for a family room pr night.

Engazi Game Lodge is located on the outskirts of the park and it offers budget-friendly accommodation in comfortable rooms, and the prices range at around $100 per night for a standard room and $150 or more night for a suite.

Kasenyi Safari Camp is a midrange camp located in the Kasenyi sector of the park offering comfortable tents and a restaurant serving local and international foods. Prices range from $150 per night for a standard room and goes up to $250 per night for a luxury tent.

When planning your trip, you should consider your budget to a preferred level of comfort and proximity to the park when selecting your accommodation.

How to get to Queen Elizabeth national Park

There are several ways of how one can get to Queen Elizabeth National Park; One is by road which is the most common way to get to the park and there are several options for road transport for example by buses, taxis, self-drive and private hire companies.

The journey takes to about 6-7 hours depending on the route used and the traffic. The most direct and popular route from Kampala to the park is Masaka-Mbara-Ishaka-Katunguru. From Kampala, you drive heading south through Masaka and continue on the Mbarara-kasese road until you reach Katunguru, the main gate to the park

By air of which there are several airstrips near the park like Kasese airstrip, Ishasha airstrip and Mweya airstrip. There are different airlines that operate flights to these airstrips such as Fly Uganda and Eagle Fly. Flight prices range from $150-$300 per person one way according to the desired Airline.

Best time to visit Queen Elizabeth national Park

The best time to visit this national park is during the dry season which runs from June to September and December to February of which during these periods of the year, the weather is generally dry and sunny, making it easier to spot wildlife as they come out around water bodies for drinking water and refreshments.

However, Queen Elizabeth National Park is open all time and each season has advantages. The wet season which runs from Much to May and October to November is the best time for bird watching because many migratory birds arrive in the park during this time.

Queen Elizabeth happens to be a must-visit tourism site and destination for everyone interested in wildlife and nature. The park is a haven for nature lovers, wildlife researchers, bird watchers and adventure seekers. A visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park will always be a memorable and an unforgettable experience to whoever choses the park.

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