Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the 10 national parks of Uganda along with Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Murchison falls national park. Queen Elizabeth National Park is found in kasese district on the south western side of Uganda. She covers an area of 1,978 square kilometers. It was previously called the Kazinga National Park but just after 2 years was renamed Queen Elizabeth National park honoring the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. This park was founded initially in 1952. This park is crossed by the equator with both entrance sides having an equator mark where it crosses at latitude 00. The queen elizabeth national park stretches up to the Democratic Republic of Congo borders with the view of the Rwenzori mountains seen from afar while in the park. This national park is a five-hour drive from Kampala city. Queen has an equatorial climate meaning it is warm all throughout the year with nights much colder. The best times to visit the park are the drier seasons which are January to February, then June to July as they are great for game viewing and bird watching.
Queen Elizabeth national park is home to about 95 different fauna and 600 birds which has over the years made it a popular tourist attraction in the country. In Queen Elizabeth national park, you are able to spot the big five animals that is the lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and the buffalo. These are considered the big 5 because of their equal contribution to the ecosystem and are the most sought after animals while on a game drive.
Game drives in queen happen twice a day that is very early in the morning to catch the early risers and also later in the evening where you get a chance to see the diurnal animals retire as the nocturnals are getting ready to start their hunting. The night game drives can be thrilling however if you choose to go on an evening game drive, be sure to have your night vision binoculars so as to not miss out on the action. The game drives are carried out in Ishasha where the famous tree-climbing lions are usually spotted and the Kasenyi plains where more of the animals of Queen are viewed for example the national animal of Uganda that is the Uganda kob, the elephants, hippos and hyenas.
There are also chimpanzee treks that happen in the Kalinzu forest of Queen Elizabeth National Park which is famous for the six different primate species that is the blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and the chimpanzees. This forest covers about 147 square kilometers and you can also do some camping if interested. The chimpanzee treks are guided and can go for about 4 hours searching and spend one hour with these playful primates. There are about 414 different tree species in this forest and almost half of the bird species of Queen.
Some of the bird species of Queen Elizabeth include several water and forest birds like the martial eagle, pink backed pelican, African skimmers, African broadbill, the greater flamingo, black bee eater, the famous shoebill, papyrus gonelek, and several others. The best spots for birders in Queen Elizabeth are the Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo forest, Ishasha, Kikorongo, Katunguru bridge area, katwe region, kasenyi and the Kazinga channel which you can take a boat trip. A boat trip in queen Elizabeth usually goes for about 30 to 40 USD and can be booked directly through a trusted operator like Explore Rwanda tours after a game drive. It can be a relaxing activity with the lake breeze and beautiful scenery. Queen Elizabeth national park is an Important Birding Area (IBA) as it was classified by Birding International. It was recognized for having the biggest number of bird species in all the parks of East Africa and yet in such a small area.
While in Queen Elizabeth national park, you can also visit the large volcanic explosion crater lake that is Lake Katwe which has a salt mining plan and get to see the process of salt making in Uganda and also get to be told a few myths that the area has. This salt plan has for a long time been a source of employment for the local community and source of income. This crater lake is at the park’s highest point of elevation at 1,350 metres above sea level. This visit to Katwe salt mine can double as a cultural experience however, there are several cultural experiences that you take on like the Kikorongo Women community where you get to be a part of the handcrafting process, cultural dances and learn some of the cultures of the people of Kasese. This experience is a real one and also a chance to interact with the local communities so as to know more about their way of living. There is also a coffee tour, agro tour walk, Nyanz’ibiri cave visit, which can all be organized while on your visit to Queen Elizabeth national park.
There are several great accommodation options in Queen Elizabeth national park like the Mweya Safari Lodge, Katara Lodge, Park view safari lodge, Elephant hub, Buffalo safari lodge, Pumba safari cottages to mention but a few and all classes of accommodation are represented in this park. With this diverse ecosystem and numerous attractions, why not book your trip to Queen as it can be a one-stop point.
Get in touch with Explore Rwanda tours to arrange for you a fully inclusive tour to this beautiful and have a life-changing experience while in Uganda. It is a highly recommended spot for bird lovers and culture enthusiasts.