Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda Wildlife Safari tour in Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda Wildlife Safari tour in Uganda was First established as Kazinga National Park in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated in the west of Uganda nearing the Rwenzori Mountains with snowcapped peaks towering at 5,109m above sea level. The National Park of Queen Elizabeth covers a cross section of the western rift valley floor stretching for1, 978km2 land coverage. Queen Elizabeth National Park is currently the most visited park in Uganda and is listed as a world biosphere reserve. It has rich biodiversity concentration with 95 species of mammals, 600 species of birds which makes it the first in Uganda regarding the bird populations, ten (10) species of primate and 20 predator species. Queen Elizabeth is also a habitat for the tree climbing lions dwelling in its sector of Ishasha, the famous Kazinga channel stretching to 45km long connecting Lake Edward and Lake George, the amazing Kyambura gorge with counts of Chimpanzees not forgetting the range of explosion craters some of which are salty lakes while others contain sulphur. This conglomerate to make Queen Elizabeth National Park an ideal destination that can be encountered while on safari in Uganda.
The Park shares the districts of Bushenyi, Kasese, Rukungiri and Kamwenge and is 417km approximately 7 hours of surface drive west of Kampala. Kasese town in the north is the nearby town to the park while Bushenyi is also a few Kilometers to the south. The Park which was first named Kazinga National Park changed its name in 1954 to honor the visitation of the Royal Queen of England and was named Queen Elizabeth National Park. The platform where the Queen stood still exists and is named the Queen’s Pavilion. Queen Elizabeth National Park also extends to incorporate the mature rain forest of maramagambo with great lush canopy with concentrations of bio-diversity.
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has got great concentrations of biodiversity. It has 95 mammal species making it to have the highest standards compared to other parks in Uganda, 10 species of primate which include; common chimpanzee, blue monkey, vervet monkey, red tailed monkey and L’Hoest’s Monkey, olive baboon and black and white colobus. Holding that aside, Queen Elizabeth National Park contain 20 predator species which include; side-stripped jackal, leopard, lion and spotted hyena. Species of Antelope exist in the park including; the Uganda Kob, topi, bushbuck, defassa waterbuck , elusive sitatunga in the papyrus swamps around Lake George while 4 species of duiker thrive in Maramagambo forest. Elephants and Buffaloes are common in the park. Queen Elizabeth National Park also contain the unique tree climbing lions which thrive in the savannah landscapes of Ishasha marked by spaced short trees. Great concentrations of Hippos and Nile crocodiles thrive along the Kazinga channel.
Birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a habitat to 600 bird species making it the first in Uganda, second on the continent of Africa and 6th on a world scale. The varying eco-system setting that mark the park poses a rich ground or existence of a range of birds. The park has savannah, forested and water landscapes that ensures the thriving of many birds that can be encountered on Uganda safari. The following park areas have got range of birds;
Kasenyi Area. The Kasenyi plains are not only famous for wild game viewing but also great birding opportunities. The open savannah landscape offer opportunities for encountering a range of birds including; Hooded Vulture, Palm-nut Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Long-created Eagle, Martial Eagle, Grey Kestrel, African Crake, Black-bellied Bustard, Crowned Plover, Temminck’s Courser, Senegal Plover, Rufous napped Lark, African Wattled Plover, Kittlitz’s Plover, Flappet Lark, White-tailed Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Brown-backed Srub-Robin, Croaking Cisticola, Black-lored Babbler, Grey-capped Warbler, Grey backed Fiscal, Black-crowned Tchagra,Black-headed Gonolek, Pin-tailed Whydah and Fork-tailed Drongo.
The Mweya Peninsula. This is situated between Lake Edward and Kazinga Channel an offer opportunities of encountering birds like; Diederik Cuckoo, African Mourning Dove, Raptors, Swamp Flycatcher, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Squire-tailed Nightjar, Swamp Nightjar, Red-chested Sunbird, Grey-Headed Kingfisher, Blue-naped Mousebird, Pygmy Kingfisher, Nubian Woodpecker, Little Bee-eater, Martins, Red-capped Lark, Swallows, Swifts, Grey-capped Warbler, Lesser Masked Weaver, Black-headed Gonolek, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow-backed Weaver and Slender-billed Weaver.
Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park
This is a forested area and offers opportunities of encountering the following bird species; Little Grebe, African Finfoot, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Coucal, Yellow bill, Blue-throated Roller, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black Bee-eater, Barbets, Red-throated Wryneck, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Honey guide Greenbul, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Green Crombec, Dark-capped Warbler, Croaking Cisticola, Broad-tailed Warbler, African Moustached Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, African Paradise Flycatcher, Brubru, Marsh Tchagra, Brown Illadopsis, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Western Black-headed Oriole, Black Bishop and White-breasted Negrofinch.
Katwe Area. Katwe has concentrations of explosion craters and hollows which make a range of birds to thrive in the water and rocky environments including; Lake Munyanyange has populations of greater and lesser flamingoes. Other bird species in the area include; Pallid Harrier, Eurasian Mash Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Avocet, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Red-capped Lark, Broad-tailed Warbler, African Moustached Warbler, Croaking Cisticola and Southern Red Bishop.
Ishasha Sector. The southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park which is famous for tree climbing lions also offers good birding opportunities. Bird species include; Shoebill, Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bateleur, Long-created Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Crake, Black-bellied Bustard, African Wattled Plover, Senegal Plover, African Green Pigeon, Ross’s Turaco, Striped Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Double-toothed Barbet, White-headed Barbet, Grey Woodpecker, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Greater Honeyguide, White-browed Robin-Chat, Green Crombec, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Grey-backed Fiscal and Cisticolas.
Lake Kikorongo in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Lake Kikorongo is adjacent to Lake George and contain a range of birds like; Common Squacco Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Shoebill, Sacred Ibis, Knob-billed Duck, Black Crake, African Jacana, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Greater Swamp Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek White-winged Warbler and Carruther’s Cisticola.
Katunguru Bridge Area. The Katunguru Bridge area connects Kasese and Rubirizi districts and the papyrus swamp that inhabits the area has counts of birds including; Pink-backed Pelican, Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Tern, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Carruther’s Cisticola, Greater Swamp Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek and White-winged Warbler.
Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kazinga Channel is 45km in length and is one of the naural features in Uganda that leaves Uganda safari undertakers in a state of wonder. The Channel adjoins Lake George in the east and Lake Edward in the west. Lake George is 258km2 wide and 2.4m deep watered by glaciers that flow from the Rwenzori Mountains. Lake Edward covers 2000km2 and is among the major fresh water lakes of Uganda. Kazinga channel contain enormous numbers of Hippopotamus and a range of Nile crocodiles which is the second of all world reptiles in terms of size. The shores of Kazinga channel attract a range of wild life to quench their thirst in the soothing waters that hail fromn the glacial peaks of Ruwenzori Mountains.
Equator in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Holding the birdlife, wild game and water environments aside, Queen Elizabeth National Park is crossed by the world’s main latitude – the Equator that divide the world into the north and south hemispheres which presents photography opportunities and geographical encounters.
Kyambura gorge Queen Elizabeth National Park
Also referred to as the valley of Apes, Kyambura gorge is located on the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park with counts of Chimpanzees some of which have been habituated for chimpanzee trekking experience. The gorge has an impressive forest cover that thrives below sea level. It is 1 km in width and 100m deep with its floor watered by River Kyambura. Regardless of the savannah landscapes that thrive above the gorge, Kyambura gorge has a luxurious mature tropical forest with canopy and chimpanzees thrive in this environment.
Tourist activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park contains the highest number of bird species in Uganda and it is also the second on the continent of Africa and the 6th on the global scale. The Park offers great opportunities for birding in its areas of Katwe, Mweya peninsula, Maramagambo forest, Ishasha sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru bridge area and Kasenyi area. Some of the bird species that may be encountered include; Martial Eagle, Papyrus canary, African broad bill, Pink-backed pelican, Black- rumped Buttonquail, lesser and greater flamingoes, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Carruther’s Cisticola, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, White-browed Robin-Chat, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Green Crombec, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Grey-backed Fiscal and Cisticolas among others. The ideal birding period is 2 – 3 days and birding is best done between December and February.
Chimp tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kyambura gorge has counts of habituated chimpanzees that form the ground for Chimpanzee trekking experience. Trekking chimpanzees in Kyambura is a bit strenuous as it includes hiking the steep gorge slopes ascending and descending in search of chimps. This challenging trek derives an experience of its own making the safari memories to stretch beyond the mere chimps. The chimp trekking in Kyambura tends to take 1 – 3 hours commencing at 8am and 2pm every day. However, the percentage of encountering chimps in Kyambura is relatively low compared to similar destinations like Kibale National Park.
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park contains numerous counts of wildlife thus it is an ideal ground for wild game viewing. The park has four of the big five i.e. lions, leopard, elephant and buffalo. The drive through the channel tracks and Kasenyi tracks offers you chances to encounter the above wildlife species along with antelopes such as Uganda Kob, defassa waterbuck, bushbuck and topi. Other wildlife species that may be encountered include; side stripped jackals, spotted hyena including primates like olive baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, red tailed monkey L’Hoest’s Monkey among others. The Ishasha game drive takes you through the tree climbing lions. The game viewing activity is ideally done in the morning at 6am and 4:30pm in the evening and it tends to take 3 – 4 hours.
Launch trips in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The 45km long Kazinga Channel offers an ideal ground for launch cruise. The channel shore line offers good opportunities to view wild game drinking water including elephants, buffaloes and antelopes. The Hippos and Nile crocodiles thrive in the channel waters and offer impressive encounters throughout the whole launch experience. About 60 species of birds thrive on the channel shores thus providing good birding encounter. Kazinga channel connects Lakes Edward and George and the launch cruise enables you to explore its whole setting. The UWA launch departs at 3pm and 5pm every day while the private launch departs 2pm and 4pm daily lasting 2 hours.
Experiential tours in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park also offers experiential activities that can be encountered by travellers on Uganda safari. These range from Hippo census to Mongoose tracking and Predator tracking such as lions. These activities tend to take 1 – 3 hours and normally done early in the morning, evening and occasionally at night. The travellers have opportunity of getting closer to wildlife than other ordinary game drives and are also allowed to participate in monitoring the movements of migrant species such as mammals and birds that enter Queen Elizabeth National Park with the use of locator devices. These experiential activities are still new and thus can thrill the travellers that prefer new encounters.
Cultural Encounters in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Different tribal communities surround Queen Elizabeth National Park providing a fertile ground for arrange of cultural encounters. Some of these include;
Leopard Village. This is close to Muhokya village covering a land surface of 3 acres at the margin of northern Queen Elizabeth National Park. The village features traditional huts of Basongora, Bakonzo and Banyabingi. They have interesting performances and crafts.
Kikorongo Women Community. This allows you to explore the life in Kikorongo village. The encounter opens you to music dance and drama and traditional fire making practice. The events are followed by themed interpretation from the knowledgeable local guide. The visitors can participate in recycling and craft making by the local women. You can take for yourself a craft souvenir.
Katwe Tourism Information Centre (KATIC). This is an encounter to the salt lake. The activity talks you through the process of salt formation to extraction, processing, packaging and distribution. You will explore how the local people have developed their livelihood around this natural resource. Cultural demonstrations and performances can also be explored.
Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community. This offers the scenic views of explosion craters surrounded by chanting sounds of cranes and eagles. The visitors can explore this Lake with clear waters on a canoe ride amidst sights of primates like monkeys and amazing flora. The cultural museum where traditional tools are stored in a traditional hut and a historic cave combine to give you a taste of the local tradition.
Agro-Tour Walk. This is found in the Katara village in the Kichwamba escarpment that marks the eastern wall of the western rift valley. The activity takes 2 – 3 hours hiking through the farms exploring the local setting and honey harvesting. The activity is ideal in cool morning or in the evening.
Nature walks in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Maramagambo forest offers impressive nature walks. The 1km road stretch between Jacana lodge and the visitor center has primary forest which is ideal for unguided walks at free cost except the standard visitation fees. Monkeys like red ailed monkey, white and black colobus, vervet monkey and rarely the L’Hoest’s Monkey, Chimpanzees and even leopard. Biid sights may not be missed including; greenbuls, sunbirds, woodpeckers and other rare species.
Three guided walks are conducted in Maramagambo forest commencing from the visitor center which include;
The straight walk takes you around Lake Kyasanduka forest shore and tends to last for less than one hour depending of the traveller’s interest in birds.
A famous walk taking about 90 minutes leads to a cave where enormous numbers of bats thrive alongside a rock python.
The walk to Lake Nyamasingiri is ideal for birders. It takes about half day and offers sights of birds like snowy headed robin chat, chestnut wattle eye and scaly-breasted illadopsis.
Other nature walks are done in Mweya peninsular offering scenic views of Kazinga channel, Lake Edward and the impressive savannah landscapes.
How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park can be connected to from the following points
Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be accessed on public means. Buses connect daily from Kampala to Kasese. There are other public means to Katwe and Katunguru trading centers which are very close to the park. From these centers, you can get a private vehicle to connect to your lodge.
Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be connected to by Air travel. Aero link operates scheduled flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese and Mweya Airstrips. Other charter carriers offer the same service from either Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kasese or Mweya Airstrips.
Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952 and it is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the north west of Uganda at the tip of the western rift valley also known as the Albertine rift, Murchison Falls National Park is in a distance of 311km about 5 hours’ surface drive from the city of Kampala. The national Park covers a surface landscape of 3,440km2 while the wider Murchison Conservation Area which embeds Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves combine to cover 5,308km2. . The Murchison Falls National Park is closer to Masindi town 85km about 2- 3 hours’ of surface drive. The Park is bisected by the River Nile which is the longest river in the world as it makes its way from Lake Victoria to Mediterranean Sea leaving a natural wonder famously known as Murchison falls which is the most powerful waterfall in the whole world. The feature derives its nomenclature after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of the Royal geographical society at the time of its discovery by Sir Samuel Baker. This feature is among the hotspots in Murchison National Park thus should not be missed while on safari in Uganda as it squeezes its self to make the way through an 8m ravine before plummeting 43m Read More About Murchison Falls Park
First established as Kazinga National Park in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated in the west of Uganda nearing the Rwenzori Mountains with snowcapped peaks towering at 5,109m above sea level. The National Park of Queen Elizabeth covers a cross section of the western rift valley floor stretching for1, 978km2 land coverage. Queen Elizabeth National Park is currently the most visited park in Uganda and is listed as a world biosphere reserve. It has rich biodiversity concentration with 95 species of mammals, 600 species of birds which makes it the first in Uganda regarding the bird populations, ten (10) species of primate and 20 predator species. Queen Elizabeth is also a habitat for the tree climbing lions dwelling in its sector of Ishasha, the famous Kazinga channel stretching to 45km long connecting Lake Edward and Lake George, the amazing Kyambura gorge with counts of Chimpanzees not forgetting the range of explosion craters some of which are salty lakes while others contain sulphur. This conglomerate to make Queen Elizabeth National Park an ideal destination that can be encountered while on safari in Uganda. Read More About Queen Elizabeth Park
Located in the south west of Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park stretches for 321km2 at an altitude of 1,160 – 2,607 m above sea level. The area is among the East African areas with largest tract of Afromontane forest which existed since the pre historic era and endured through the last ice age forming the ground for great biodiversity concentration with highest number of trees in relation to other areas of its altitude stature. The park has enormous numbers of butterfly species some of which are endemic to the park and it is also holding great concentrations of mammal numbers. Containing about 400 out of 880 mountain gorillas that apparently thrive in the wilderness with none existing in captivity, the impenetrable forest of Bwindi holds the mantle as a great gorilla trekking safari destination. Surrounded by high population density with great agricultural attachment, it’s very interesting that Bwindi still has great biodiversity concentration including; 163 species of trees, 104 species of fern alongside other taxa. 16 species of trees are restricted to the Uganda’s south western region including Lavoa swynnertonii which is globally threatened. Read More About Bwindi Impenetrable Park
Gazetted in 1991, the park covers an area of 33.7 Sq.km making it Uganda’s smallest national park. It is a second refigium of the endangered mountain gorillas after Bwindi. It is also known for its golden monkey. The park has a strong cultural attachment to the pygmy community that inhabits the area. It has three conical features of extinct volcanoes which is part of the spectacular Virunga area. It shares boundaries with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is located about 15 kilometers, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometers, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The entire park is located in Bufumbira County, Kisoro District the extreme south western corner of Uganda thus among the secluded destinations that a traveler can visit while on Uganda Safari. Read More About Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Kibale National Park is found in Western Uganda sharing the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, approximately 320 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Fort Portal in Kabarole District is the nearest large city to the national park. It covers an area of about 795Sq.km and it one of the last surviving tropical forests in Uganda with over 351 tree species some of which are 200 years old and over 55m tall, 70 mammal species, 13 primate species including chimpanzee and over 375 species of birds. The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park creating a 180 km wildlife corridor. It is a significant eco-tourism and safari destination, well known for its populace of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It also acts as the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS). The park is surrounded by two major tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga who rely on the park for food, fuel, and other resources with the assistance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Read More About Kibale Forest Park
Traditionally, two brothers settled on the land that the park currently occupies. These were Mburo and Kigarama. One night, Kigarama dreamt of an area flooding and cautioned his intimate brother to relocate from the area. His brother (Mburo) disregarded the dream and refused to relocate to the adjacent hills like what Kigarama had done. Unfortunately, the dream came true and Mburo was drowned by mass floods the filled the valley to form the lake that was later named Lake Mburo while the adjacent hill was named Kigarama in reference to these two brothers. Before the gazettion of Lake Mburo as National park, the place acted as royal grazing area for king of Ankole vis-à-vis other Bahima pastoralists who refer the area to “Nshara – ensinungyi erikwera”. Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda. The park is situated about 30 kilometers, by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. At 260 square kilometers, the park is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more Read More About Lake Mburo National Park
The fabled mountains of the moon as described by Ptolemy in 150AD present the most exciting treasure that a visitor on a Uganda Safari would live to remember in his journey memoir. Gazetted as a national park in 1991 covering an area of about 996 Sq.km, received a designation status by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its outstanding natural beauty with Margarita peak standing over 5,109m above sea level and without forgetting its coverage by snow throughout the year despite its closeness to the world latitude (Equator) makes it an attraction worth of encountering. Being a mountain range, it was once described as one of the challenging mountains to climb in the Africa travel magazine. The glaciers like Nyamwamba add spice to its scenic view and the park status assures the wild life of their safety making it their closest habitat. The park shelters 70 mammal species, 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation that differ in its five zones including; montane forest zone, bamboo forest zone, tree heath vegetation zone and Afro-alpine moorland zone. Read More About Rwenzori National Park
Kidepo National Park is positioned in the north western part of Uganda in Kaboong district 220km north West of Moroto the biggest town in the sub region and 700 km from Kampala – the Uganda’s capital city. Kidepo National Park was established in 1962 and it covers 1,442km2 of land surface providing habitat to 77 mammal species along with 475 bird species which makes the second in ranking after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interestingly to note is that 60 of these bird species are endemic to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. Besides Birds, Kidepo also contain 5 primate species including the including the localized patas monkeys; 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as the aardwolf, bat eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal and cheetah. Kidepo National Park has 12 species of Antelope which include the Kidepo endemics namely; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other wildlife also exist in the park including; elephant, lions, buffaloes, lions, bush duiker, leopard among other wildlife. Formerly, the area where Kidepo National Park belonged to Dodoth pastoralists and indigenous Karimojong who practiced cultivation before the establishment of wildlife reserve in 1958 to ensure the protection of wild animals from poaching. The park is the most remote of all Uganda National Parks which Read More About Kidepo Valley Park
The park covers an area of over 1,121 Sq.km with the fourth tall mountain in East Africa which was the once the highest mountain in Africa far from Kilimanjaro but only to be reduced to 4,321m due to denudation forces. With the last eruption occurring 24 Million years ago, Mt. Elgon can be considered oldest and largest solitary volcano not only in Uganda but East Africa in general. It houses one of the world’s intact largest caldera stretching to over 42Sq.km supported by 4,000 Sq. km base which is the largest volcanic base in the whole world.It was first gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1929 and in 1940 the area became the Mt. Elgon Crown Forest while in 1951 it became a Central Forest Reserve. Due to encroachment by the Benet-Ndorobo people, the government alloweda 6000 hectare portion of the Reserve for settlement in 1983 though more 1500 hectares were settled illegally and in 1993 the area received a national park status thus can currently be incorporated in your itinerary while planning your Safari to Uganda. Read More About Mount Elgon Park