Queen Elizabeth National Park is among the most popular game reserve for anyone on a holiday in Uganda and with a dedicated interest in wildlife safaris, beautiful nature and scenic view. The Uganda Safari park was established in 1954 and named after Queen Elizabeth II.
Geographically, the park runs from the foothills of the Rwenzori crater in the north to the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, Lake George and Kazinga Channel, combining a wide variety of savanna, wetlands and lowland forests among others. Among the biggest national parks in the country, Queen Elizabeth National Park is ideal for Uganda Tours is known for its wildlife variety like hippopotamuses, elephants, leopards, lions and chimpanzees among the many. It is now home to over 95 species of mammal and over 600 species of birds.
The park is known for its volcanic features, comprising volcanic cones and deep craters, many with crater lakes such as Lake Katwe where salt is mined. The national park has Maramagambo Forest and neighbors with Kigezi and Kyambura Game Reserves, Kibale National Park plus the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kasese lying on its north-western wing.
About the Park
1. It’s found in Kasese, Bushenyi and Rukungiri district.
2. Size: 1978 km sq.
3. Over 600 bird species.
4. Best time for tour: December – February.
5. Ideal time for the tour: 2-3 days
6. Altitude Range: 900 metres on Lake Edward to 1845 metres above sea level at the top of escarpment of the Western Rift Valley.
7. Habitat: Medium altitude moist semi-deciduous forest, moist thicket, riparian forest, riverine bush land, open woodland, open grassland, seasonal and permanent swamps, lakes and rivers.
The Key Bird Species
African Mourning Dove, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Swamp Fly-catcher, Grey-capped Warbler, The beautiful Black-headed Gonolek, Collard Pranticles, Pin-tailed Whyda Martial Eagle, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Common Squaco Heron, Shoebill Stork, African Open-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, African Skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Great white and Pink-backed Pelicans plus the White-winged Terns.
Queen Elizabeth Safari Activities:
(a) Chimpanzee trekking
(b) Guided walks
(c) Game Drive Safaris
(d) Bird watching,
(e) Launch trip on the Kazinga Channel that links Lake Edward to Lake George.
Bird Watching Safaris
The main camp at Mweya is attractively positioned with fine views of the Rwenzori Mountains aumber of widespread bush species may be seen in the vicinity of the airstrip watch for African Mourning Dove, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Swamp Fly-catcher, Grey-capped Warbler, The Beautiful Black-headed Gonolek, Red-chested sunbird, Slender-billed, Yellow-backed and Lesser Masked Weavers, Pin-tailed Whydah and brimstone Canary, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, are fairly common along the airstrip.
The Kazinga channel is a magnet for water birds and a launch cruise reveals species like the Great-white and Pink-backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Common Squaco Heron, African open-billed Strok, White-faced Whistling and Knob-billed Ducks, African Fish Eagle, Black Crake, African Jacana, Water Thick-knee, Spur-winged and African Wattled Plovers, Malachite and Pied kingfishers, Swamp flycatchers and Yellow backed Weavers are all common and conspicuous.
The numbers of migrants peak in February and March and are nothing short of spectacular with hundreds of thousands of White-winged Terns hovering over the water, millions of common sand Martins and Yellow -wagtails roosting in reed-beds and lesser numbers of palaeartic waders such as the Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh, common and Wood sandpipers, Spotted Redshank and common Green shank feeding along the marshy fringes.
A number of national rarities have been recorded from the hippo wallows along the channel including Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Northern Pochard, Mongolian Plover and Jack Snipe. Hundreds of African Skimmers may be seen roosting on sandbars near the entrance to Lake Edward but are migrants from southern tropics and usually present only from December to May.
The Kazinga channel may also be viewed from the Katunguru Bridge on the main Mbarara-Kasese road where Pelicans, Terns, Greater Swamp and winged Warblers, Winding and Carruther’s Cisticolas and Papyrus Gonolek may be seen.
Accessing the Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is about 5-6 hours drive from Kampala going through Masaka, Mbarara, Bushenyi and can also be reached from Bwindi. The Main Camp and Park HQ at Mweya is a convenient base for exploring the sites in the northern part of the park, whilst the road network running from Ishasha Camp and Ranger Post, 80 km to the south, provides access to the Ishasha area.
Accommodation Options in the Park
1. Mweya Safari Lodge – this 5-star luxury lodge ideal for relaxation, it has swimming facilities and different bird species can be seen around the area.
2. Simba Safari Camp – this newly built safari accommodation on the border of the national park and only 2 km from the Equator is on a hill and offers spectacular views of Lake George, the Kazinga Channel and the savannah plains.
3. Jacana Safari Lodge – this luxury lodge on the banks of a crater lake is good for relaxation and refreshment for utmost comfort.
4. The Institute of Ecology – this is a basic hostel accommodation style.
5. Camping – can be done at Mweya, Maramagambo Forest and Ishasha sector. Better to move along camping with facilities.
Enjoy an African Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda