Queen Elizabeth National Park situated on the Rift Valley floor in western Uganda between lakes Edward and George covers a total land area of 1978sq km. it is a beautiful wildlife park with over 600 types of birds and 90 species mammals.
This park is part of a larger protected area that includes the 265sq km Kigezi Wildlife Reserve, the 154sq km Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, the 766 sq km Kibale National Park, and the Kalinzu Forest Reserve, whereas in the neighboring DR Congo it extends to Virunga National Park.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
This park is home to over 90 different types of mammals plus 600 species of birds dwelling in the different natural habitats within the park which include: the swamps, forests, acacia woodland, grassland and the lake shores.
Among the animals living in this park are: Uganda kobs, lions, leopards, elephants, giant forest hogs, Cape buffalos, hyenas, waterbucks and warthogs. In the Ishasha area you will see the unique tree-climbing lion as well as Topi. In the Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest you will have an opportunity to see various primates.
While on Safari in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, there are various bird species you will see among which is the rare shoebill stork, white-winged warbler, martial eagle, pink-backed pelicans, corncrake, greater & lesser flamingo, papyrus gonolek, African skimmer, black-rumped buttonquail, Chapin’s flycatcher and the papyrus canary. For bird lovers, this is another paradise on earth for birders, as one can spot over 200 different species in a day.
The Weather in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The breathtaking scenery mainly comprises of the beautiful mountains that make up the horizon. This park lies between an altitude range of 910m at the Kazinga Channel to 1390m in the filed with the Explosion Crater. Because of its nearness to the Equator, coupled with the low altitude, it experiences generally warm temperatures with a maximum average of 28°C. In Addition, Queen Elizabeth National park has two rainy seasons from March to May and also from September to November with an average of 1250mm of rainfall.
How to access Queen Elizabeth National Park
The game park can be accessed by road or by air.
There is a tarmac highway through Mbarara-Kasese to Fort Portal,and just 22 km to the Mweya tourist center. The park may be reached from Kampala the capital from the north through Fort portal or the south through Mbarara a 410km and 420km journey respectively. These routes offer rewarding detours to Kibale national park, Lake Mburo national park and Semuliki national park. Also those traveling from Bwindi can reach through the southern region.
For air transport, Charter flights can be arranged for you to any of the various airstrips which include: Mweyas, Ishasha or Kasese airstrip.
Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
You will find various accommodation options in and around the park ranging from the luxury, mid-range and budge. Among these are:
Luxury: Jacana Safari Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Budget: Mweya Hostel and the Ishasha bandas.
Camping may be done at Maramagambo, Ishasha or Mweya.
Places to Visit while on Safari in Queen Elizabeth Park
The Mweya Peninsula
This peninsula is the heart for tourism activities plus accommodation in the central section of the park. There are interesting nature walks led by a ranger guide during which you will explore isolated areas of this peninsula. Additional tourist activities can be organized from the Mweya tourist Information Centre which overlooks the impressive Katwe Bay found on Lake Edward. There is also a souvenir shop in which you will see several exhibits explain more details on this national park and its location on the rift valley floor.
This 40km long natural channel connects Lakes George and Edward, and on it boat rides are conducted during which you will have an opportunity to see a great profusion of wildlife such as hippo, elephants, small antelopes, some crocodiles in addition to various water birds all year round.
The boat rides are conducted in the morning and in the afternoon each day.
North Kazinga and Kasenyi
Just north of the Kazinga Channel are open plains which are a good view point. The area has several tracks through in which game drives are conducted and along these you will view various animals including elephants and buffalos in the grassland thickets that comprise most of the northern part of the Kazinga area towards Mweya. However lions are easily observed in the open plains of Kasenyi located on the eastern side of Kasese road where they feed on the numerous Uganda kobs living here. For the best wildlife views we recommend you take game drives very early in the morning or in the late afternoon especially in the company of an experienced game ranger guide so as to have a memorable experience on your Uganda Safari.
Lake Katwe and the Salt Mines
There is an alkaline lake known as Lake Katwe which holds Uganda’s oldest salt mining plant; this as well is worth visiting on your Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. For several years, Salt has been extracted from this lake through evaporation beds and to date that is the same method being used.
Katwe Explosion Craters
North of the luxury Mweya Safari lodge is a group of extinct volcanoes which can best be viewed on the 27km Crater Drive. During this drive you will have an opportunity to see a number of craters which today have filled up with water to form beautiful lakes.
The Equator and the Queen’s Pavilion
The point where the Uganda equator cuts across the Kasese main road is clearly marked with two concrete circles and is a good stopover to take pictures. Nearby is The Queen’s Pavilion close to the northern entrance to the Crater Drive. You will see the temporary shelter in which Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were hosted during their visit here back in 1959. In 2007, the Duke of Edinburgh visited this park again. Also you will find an Information centre, internet facilities and a coffee shop here.
From Mweya, 100km southwards is this remote section of the park in which you will have an opportunity to enjoy the true African wilderness experience. This area offers a number of wildlife habitats such as River Ishasha, the marshland close to lake Edward and the savanna woodland which offer shelter to different wild animals like the internationally renowned yet very unique tree climbing lions as well as the rare shoebill stork bird.
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve
This wildlife reserve protects the shores on the southeastern side of the Kazinga Channel, and it comprises of four crater lakes, around which thousands of flamingos dwell. It’s a beautiful stopover on your safari in Uganda
The green Maramagambo forest significantly differs from the sun-burnt plains close to the Kazinga channel. This is one of the largest tropical forest areas in the whole of Uganda. Maramagambo forest is popular for its multitude of primates as well as birds. Additionally you will find a number of rewarding trails in the forest which will lead you towards Lake Nyamusigire. However the Game viewing in this area differs each day, yet some of tourist activities that are guaranteed include a visit to the bat caves (which is home to numerous bats that feed the pythons within the caves) and a visit to the Blue Lake with large copper deposits.
This is home to the Habituated chimpanzee groups of queen Elizabeth national park. These live in this verdant gorge that is 100m deep etched by River Kyambura that flows on the rift valley floor towards the Kazinga channel. You can participate in the Guided walks and above all enjoy the chimpanzee tracking experience which starts in the early morning at 8:00am. This is among the highly enjoyable activities by visitors that travel into Uganda. If you wish to organise a safari to Uganda, pleased contact us gorillas-safaris.com