Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in western Uganda, focusing on four districts; Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi and Rukungiri. It lies within the western range of game land neighboring game reserves like Kyambura game reserve, Kigezi Game reserve, Maramgambo Forest, Kibale Forest National Park and Virunga National Park.
Positioned within the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountain range, this park offers everlasting views of Lakes Edward and George and diversity in wildlife. Queen Elizabeth National Park is not only one of the oldest National parks in the country but it is without doubt one of the most visited game areas and destinations in the entire country as well.
Queen Elizabeth has gathered most of its fame from the 95 mammal species that have made the park their home; including a large pride of tree climbing Lions whose males spot black manes. The park also has about a bird count of over 500 bird species making it one of the best choices for birders flowing into the country to catch some winged action.
How to get there:
Queen Elizabeth National Park can be accessed from Kampala city via Mbarara – Masaka highway over a 6 hours’ drive with a distance of 410 kilometers or the Mityana road to FortPortal and Kasese. The later will glide over many outstanding features including the Equator and Lake Mburo National Park. By air, a local plane can be chartered from Entebbe to Mweya and Kasese airstrips.
Ishasha sector and Mweya Peninsular:
The Ishasha sector refers to the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park where you will find the tree (or cactus) climbing lions of Uganda. The area is a Lion stronghold but you will see more animals here. The Mweya peninsular of the other hand is a unique land extension piercing into Lake Edward and covered by lush green savannah plains and candle stick thorns.
The Kazinga Channel is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is a 32km long fresh water Channel that joins Lakes Edward and George. Enjoy a boat safari in this channel to view a variety of animals like Hippos and Nile crocodiles. Its banks are often a stop point for Elephants and Flamingoes among other animals.
Katwe crater lakes and salt works:
The Katwe crater lakes are situated north of the Mweya peninsular and are the highest elevation point in the park. The Lakes feature salt rocks that have greatly boosted the livelihood of the natives by using them as salt mines. From the Katwe lakes, indulge in some sight-seeing of the Rwenzori Mountain range, Lakes Edward and George, the Great Rift Valley and the Kazinga Channel.
The Kyambura gorge is a dark 100m valley covered in thick canopy that almost completely cut off light supply from the sun. The gorge is located in the eastern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park and is famously referred to as “the valley of apes” owing to the many primates that hide out here. In fact, Chimpanzee tracking in the park can be carried out here.
Maramagambo forest is a natural forest located within south western Uganda spreading from the shores of Lake Edward and covering apart of Queen Elizabeth. The forest is famous for large numbers of African Rock Pythons and bat caves. With a guide leading you, this area is perfect for some hiking and nature walks.
Owing to the fact that there are 95 mammal species in this park, it is only fair that you embark on a game drive through the various plains of the park especially the Ishasha sector. Animals to see in the park include; Lions, Elephants, Mongoose, Buffalos, Hippos, Warthogs, Civets Servals and some good species of antelope and primates.
Tracking Chimpanzees is the highlight of a safari in Queen Elizabeth. Delve deep into the “valley of Apes” to find the curious primates as they swing from branch to branch and rest on branches. This activity is perfect for morning hours so that you do not miss out on the action as the primates leave their nests and go out to find food.
A birder’s guarantee of a mind blowing adventure can be realized in Queen Elizabeth National Park. There are over 500 bird species in the area with bird belonging to the central Congo biome species. Do not leave your binoculars and pointer behind as you get to meet the day’s specials such as Shoe bill stork, Flamingoes, Eagles and some Kingfishers.
Boat launch or cruise:
If you have had a physically draining day, say from tracking Chimps in the Kyambura gorge; then a boat safari on the Kazinga Channel is the perfect way to lift your spirits. Continue viewing game without having to move but just from the comfort of your boat. Expect lots of animals like Hippos, Nile crocodiles and some good volumes of water birds.
Meet the natives that have made a life for themselves out of mining lake from the Katwe explosion carter lakes. You might have the opportunity to watch right from how the salt is mined, its purification and crystallization to the point of sale. The activity is mainly done by women and most of them sell the salt on a barter trade basis.
Accommodation (where to sleep):
Choose from the plenty of accommodation facilities lined within the park’s premises to kick off from your tiresome day. Most of the lodges especially the luxury and midrange facilities have pools so you can embark on an evening swim. Some options include; Mweya safari lodge, Ishasha wilderness camp, Engazi lodge, Park view lodge, Kitandara Hippo Hill lodge and Kyambura gorge lodge.