Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park are the interesting features that the park possesses for example wildlife which might entice travelers to visit the park. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda and it is the second-largest national park covering a total land area of 1978 kilometers after Murchison Falls national park which is the biggest national park in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth national park was established in 1952 and is located in western Uganda in Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi and Rukungiri districts. Queen Elizabeth national park is a home of various wildlife species ranging from Vegetation types, Forests, Animal species, Reptiles, Bird species among others.
How to get to Queen Elizabeth national park
Queen Elizabeth national park is located in western Uganda and can be reached by either road or air transport means.
- Air transport: When getting to Queen Elizabeth national park by air you will book scheduled and chartered flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kasese airstrip or Mweya airstrip which is located within the park.
- Road transport: When getting to Queen Elizabeth national park by road you will drive from Kampala City via Masaka, Mbarara, fort portal, Kasese and then to the park which takes about 6 to 7 hours’ drive. You can also connect to Queen Elizabeth national park from Bwindi Impenetrable national park in south western Uganda via the Ishasha sector which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is rich in various attractions which include
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park: Queen Elizabeth national park harbors different wildlife species including 95 animal species which are classified into the big game animals which such as hippos, elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks, warthogs, Uganda kobs, giant forest hog, Topi among others which can be viewed during the game drive in Kasenyi plains, Mweya peninsula and along the water banks on Kazinga channel during the boat cruise.
- Big cats: big cats in Queen Elizabeth national park include the lions, leopards, civets, Serval and Genal cats. These cats are usually seen during the nocturnal game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park and the park is also known for its tree-climbing lions which are found in the Ishasha sector and can be viewed during the game drive in Ishasha sector.
- Primates: Queen Elizabeth national park is a home of 10 primate species which include the red tailed monkeys, chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons among others. Primates in Queen Elizabeth national park are found in Kyambura Gorge also known as the valley of Apes in the eastern part of the park and within the Maramagambo forest.
- Birds: Queen Elizabeth national park is also known as the birders’ paradise because it harbors the biggest number of bird species which is equivalent to over 612 species. Bird species in Queen Elizabeth national park include hooded vulture, African crake, black-bellied bustard, crowned plover, long-crested eagle, martial eagle, African white-backed vulture, Rufous napped lark, black-headed gonolek, yellow-backed weaver, black cuckoo, yellow bill, common greenshank, southern red bishop, palm-nut vulture, papyrus gonolek, yellow wagtail, gull-billed tern among others. Bird watching is a common activity carried out in Queen Elizabeth national park in various sectors namely Kazinga Channel where you will be able to view various aquatic birds, lake katwe, Ishasha river, Maramagambo forest, Kyambura Gorge, Mweya peninsula, Kasenyi plains among others hence making your birding safari exciting.
Mweya Peninsula: Mweya peninsula is another attraction in Queen Elizabeth national park located on the northeastern shores overlooking the Katwe Bay where the Kazinga Channel joins the lake. Mweya peninsula is a great destination for game drives where you will be able to view various animal species such as the elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, leopards, mongoose tracking which is an interesting and exciting activity among others. You can also take a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel where you will be able to view different animals on the water shores especially during the dry season such as large herds of hippos, bird species like malachite king fishers, black bee-eaters, eagle owls among others. Mweya peninsula has a souvenir shop that sells are craft items and a luxurious accommodation Mweya safari lodge which offers great views of the Kazinga channel and the Rwenzori Mountains.
Kazinga Channel: Kazinga channel is a 40kilometre long natural channel that connects Lake Edward and Lake George where Lake Edward is situated in the western part of the park and Lake George is located in the eastern part of the park. Kazinga channel offers boat rides as the most popular activity where the boats leave four times a day on a scheduled time table but you can hire a small boat from Mweya safari lodge in case you want to go at your own time. Boat cruise at Kazinga channel can be done either in the morning or in the afternoon but most visitors prefer the afternoon boat cruise. During the boat cruise on the Kazinga channel, you will be able to view large herds of hippos in the water, and other animals like elephants, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, antelopes on the water shores. Kazinga channel is great destination for bird watching where the bird lovers will be able to view different bird species such as spur-winged plover, yellow-backed weaver, fish eagle, pink backed pelican, long-tailed cormorant, African jacana, Squacco heron, pied kingfisher, Wattled plover, yellow-backed weaver among others. During the afternoon boat cruise, you will also be able to see the fishermen from the neighboring fishing villages on Kazinga channel setting out in their small boats for night fishing in that there won’t be the hippos to disturb them during the night because they will be grazing on the land.
Tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector
Ishasha sector is located in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park and harbors the tree climbing lions which are usually seen lazily lying and relaxing in the fig tree branches. The tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector climb trees due to heat from the ground, to avoid bites from insects and also for clear views of their prey the antelopes which graze in the open savannah woodland. The tree climbing lions are the major attractions in Ishasha sector Queen Elizabeth national park and they are seen during the game drive in Ishasha area though the area has other animal species like the Uganda kobs, elephants, buffaloes and different bird species like Senegal plover, striped kingfisher, martial eagle, white-headed barbet, hooded vulture, African crowned eagle among others. Ishasha Sector is a must-visit destination in Uganda in that you will be able to view the unique tree-climbing lions which are not found elsewhere in Uganda.
Kyambura Gorge: Kyambura gorge also known as the valley of Apes is a tropical forest located in the western rift valley in the eastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park. Kyambura Gorge is popularly known for chimpanzee trekking where you will see other primates like red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, bird watching with bird species like blue-headed bee-eater, African broadbill, pink backed pelican, white tailed lark, African skimmer, natural forest walks among others.
Maramagambo Forest: Maramagambo is one of the largest forests in East Africa and Uganda; it’s located in Queen Elizabeth national park bordering Lake Kyasanduka and Nyamasingiri crater lakes. Maramagambo forest stretches from Kichwamba escapement to Lake Edward and is a home of various wildlife species including the Elephants, Bush pigs, Pygmy Antelopes, Pottos, Bushbaby, Chimpanzees, Red tailed monkeys, Black and white monkeys, L-Hoest monkeys, bats, bird species like Rwenzori Turaco, forest flycatcher among others. When you visit the Maramagambo forest you will get an opportunity to engage in different activities including bird watching, nature walks, primate viewing, cultural encounters, visiting the bat caves among others hence making your safari in Queen Elizabeth national park enjoyable.
Crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park: Queen Elizabeth national park harbors 10 crater lakes including Lake Katwe an ancient salt mining lake situated on the northern side of the Mweya peninsula and was formed by volcanic eruption many years ago. Lake Katwe is a salt lake where the local people in Kasese extract rock salt dry it for sale. During your visit to Lake Katwe, you will have an opportunity to interact with the salt miners as they explain their experience in mining and the process used when mining salt. From Lake Katwe you will visit Lake Munyanyange a seasonal lake which is located 2km away from Lake Katwe. Lake Munyanyange is known for birding with bird species such as Black-headed gonolek, Long-tailed starling, African hoopoes, White-browed robin chat, Seagulls, Black terns, Black winged stilt, Pied avocet, Flamingos and migratory birds from Kenya and Canada. Queen Elizabeth national park harbors other crater lakes like Lake Nyamunuka, Lake Munyampaka situated in Kasenyi plains among others and each Crater Lake has a different historical story to tell which is worth listening.
The Equator and the Queen’s pavilion: The Queen’s pavilion is located near the northern entrance to Queen Elizabeth national park overlooking the crater lakes and near the equator monument. The Equator monument is good for photos while on your safari in Queen Elizabeth national park and the Queen’s pavilion is a great place to chill out and relax after a morning or evening game drive for a cup of coffee with internet facility. The Queen’s pavilion also has a souvenir shop that sells art and craft items like hats, sandals, baskets, paper bead jewelry where visitors can stop by and buy craft items.
Accommodation in around Queen
Queen Elizabeth national park has a wide range of luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation facilities where visitors on a safari in the park can sleep including Kasenyi Safari Camp, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge, Katara Lodge, Enganzi Game Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Pumba Safari Cottages, Parkview Lodge, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Elephant Plains Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, Kyambura Tented Camp, Lake Chibwera Camp among others. These lodges provide comfortable shelter with hot and cold water, charging facilities, spacious rooms, prepare international and local foods, free internet, fire camps, great scenic views of water bodies like Mweya Safari Lodge and wildlife species such as elephants, buffaloes, hippos, bird species, reptiles, butterflies among others which make the visitors to stay at home as they enjoy their safari in Uganda.