Queen Elizabeth national park is located in the western region of Uganda in kasese district. The national park is a protected area with a number of wildlife. Queen Elizabeth national park is the second largest with an area cover of 1,978 square kilometers.
The national park was established in 1952 as kazinga national park after combining two game reserves of lake George and lake Edward. It was later renamed after 2 years to remember the visit of Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth national park is one of Uganda’s most famous safari destination that receive the highest number of tourists with activities such as chimpanzee trekking in kyambura gorge, boat cruise on kazinga channel, game drives as well as tree climbing lions in the ishasha sector among others.
ATTRACTIONS IN QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
The national park is located in the western rift valley of Africa and that’s why it has various volcanic craters. Queen elizabeth national park has over 10 crater lakes and tourists while on their Uganda wildlife safari can be told about their formation which is so amazing. The lakes are linked with the beautiful scenery as well as hiking and photography.
Queen Elizabeth national park boosts with 95 mammal species, 600 bird species, bats, reptiles and a number of insects. The national park has the highest population of hippopotamus in east Africa amounting to 3000, 4000 elephants and 2000 buffaloes which make the game drive safari amazing.
Queen elizabeth national park is cut across by the equator at zero coordinates. While at the equator tourists stop and take pictures and are joined by the local children once in a while. Besides the equator there’s a queen’s pavilion which was constructed in 1952 for queen elizabeth the second when she visited uganda. Later in 1954 it was renovated for the royal guests from England.
The kyambura gorge is known to be a strip of a rain forest through the savannah grassland plains. The gorge is called the valley of apes and is located in the eastern region of the national park. The gorge has only 16 habituated chimpanzees that are ready to be trekked by tourists. The gorge has amazing views of the rain forest and well positioned to the equator crossing kyambura.
TREE CLIMBING LIONS
The tree climbing lions are special kinds of lions that are found in ishasha sector. They are only found in queen Elizabeth national park and lake manyara in Tanzania. The tree climbing ions tend to hung up within the candelabra trees when the sun is hot but they do climb the trees to spot their prey such as the Kobs as their grazing in the fields and run away from tsetse flies from the ground.
The channel is a home to wild animals within the national park and mostly during the dry season. The kazinga channel is where the boat cruise is carried out from. Therefore along the shores tourists can spot a number of animals such as hippopotamuses cooling in the water, buffaloes wallowing in the mad, crocodiles trying out the trick hunt as well as elephants showering along the shores, lions alongside their cabs as they run after the birds. The channel has a number of bird species and its among the birding areas in Africa.
ACTIVITIES IN QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Game drives within queen elizabeth national park are best done in the dry seasons in the months of June to September and January to February. This is because the tacks are dry and the grass is short which makes game viewing very easy. While on the game drives tourists can spot the tree climbing lions of ishasha, herds of buffalo, uganda kob, elephants, hippopotamuses and warthogs among others.
The chimpanzee trekking is majorly carried out in the kyambura gorge within queen elizabeth national park. The existence of the chimpanzees have made it to be called other names such as the valley of apes and valley of comedy among others. The chimpanzees in the gorge swing on trees as well walk on land.
The boat cruise is done on the amazing kazinga channel which is a home to a number of various species such as elephants, cape buffaloes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles as well as a variety of bird species. The boat cruise is carried out twice a day and during the high seasons its three times a day. The morning boat cruise starts at 11am and it lasts for 2 hours whereas the evening shift starts at 3pm and ends at 5pm.
Queen elizabeth national park boosts with 619 bird species as well as those recognized internationally. The existence of the savannah woodland, forests like kalinzu and maramagambo as well as wetlands which are habitats to the birds but majority of he birds are spotted at the kazinga channel. Birds include; rare shoebill, swamp flycatcher, long crested eagle, gray-crowned crane, great blue turaco, collared pratincole, black bee eater, crab-plover among others.
Lion tracking is carried out in the ishasha sector and it requires tracking the lions with a radiator collar within the kasenyi plains. This is research and it’s carried out by skilled researchers from the Uganda carnivore program. Lion tracking makes the tourists to learn more about the African lion as well spot the lions hunting down a kob for the days meal.
The lion tracking process is carried out by a few numbers of people in order to avoid interference with natural balance of the wilderness as well as allow deeper learning of the lion and the whole lion tracking experience.
Hiking as well as nature walks are basically done within the crater lakes within queen elizabeth national park. The nature walk exposes the tourist to a number of amazing sceneries such as the undulating hills, vast plains of savannah, marvelous views of the Rwenzori mountains, Katwe salt lake where the tourists get to enjoy the process of mining salt among others.
Hikes can be carried out in maramagambo forest, kyambura gorge and kalinzu forest reserve. While have the nature walks tourists can view butterflies within the gorge, learning more about the forest reserves among others.
While on the cultural tour, tourists enjoy the local stories from the elders of various communities within the national park. Tourists can enjoy the kikongoro cultural dancers which is a group of women who know very well the African culture. These entertain tourists at the equator as well as make African crafts.