Queen Elizabeth National Park, Wildlife Safaris : Rwenzori Mountaineering Service.As Combing a Wildlife safari to Queen elizabeth national park with visit to Rwenzori mountains can be the best adventure holiday that is recommended to travelers that wish to climb rwenzori mountains national park in south western Uganda with Rwenzori Mountaineering Service.
Queen Elizabeth national park was first known as Kazinga national park in 1925 when the area was set aside as a national park to protect the abundant wildlife along the flow of the rift valley from lake Edward up to the magnificent Rwenzori mountains. The park was later renamed in 1954 after the queen of England to the area and to commemorate her visit the park was called Queen Elizabeth national park.Queen Elizabeth National Park is surrounded by Lake Edward plus River Ishasha to the west on the border with Virunga National park Congo, to the north by Kasese as well as the Rwenzori foothills, by kalinzu forest reserve, the kyambura gorge and Lake George to the east and by Kigezi Wildlife Reserve in the south. most of QENP is mainly an open savanna, in a number of areas it is studded with a thick cover of umbrella acacia tress plus euphoria trees however it as well holds large areas of dense swamps close to Lake George, the wide-ranging Maramaganbo Forest in the south-east, as well as the forested Kyambura Gorge on the border with Kyambura Game Reserve.
The park has a wide range of habitats ranging from savanna and wetlands to riverine and low land forest. The area is dominantly covered with water and 250 square kilometers of Lake Shores. Lake George, Lake Edward, The Kazinga Channels, Ishasha River and a series of crater lakes provide a rich habitat for both mammal and birds offering a brilliant wildlife viewing opportunities to visitors. Added to all this is the beautiful scenic spectacular panorama and terrain.
The park has 10 primate species; chimpanzee, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys. There are also predators like lion, leopard, spotted hyena, side stripped jackal and also numerous antelope like bush back, water buck, oribi, topi, the shy and semi aquatic sitatunga and four species of duiker. Other Mammals in this park include; buffalo, elephant, hippo, mongoose, waterbucks, kobs. Reptiles like crocodiles, monitor lizards among others.
Tourists Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Below are some of the things you will expect to see in queen Elizabeth national park as you visit;
Queen Elizabeth national park is a home to 95 mammal species of which 20 are predators. Of the big 5 mammals, the park has 4 of them. Some of the animals that live in the park include; Elephant, buffalo, lion, kobs, topi, hippos, hyena, crocodile, topi, bushbuck, chimpanzee, white and black colobus monkeys.
The park is home to over 700 bird species, some of which are endemic to the area. The time of year will also affect which birdlife you will see, non-native species that migrate over the country en route between Europe and summer nesting sites in South Africa. Some of the bird species in the park include; Goliath Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Blue breasted Bee eater, Common Squacco Heron, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Godwit, a Water Thick-knee, African Spoonbill, Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Geese, a Eurasian Marsh Harrier an African Fish Eagle, Pied Kingfishers, yellow-billed Oxpeckers, Marabou Stork, White-winged Terns, Great Long-tailed Cormorants, African Skimmers, Great White Pink-backed Pelicans, Saddle billed Stork, Great White Egrets, Eagle Owls.
The peninsula is the heart of sightseeing activities with excellent accommodation in the park. The only way to enjoy your tour in this park is by touring with a ranger guide. This person helps you explore the park as well as the distant parts of the peninsula. Mweya information center organizes all the activities that tourists may want to get involved in. The most exciting aspect about this peninsular is the fact that its overlooks Katwe bay of Lake Edward. More still, it has a souvenir shop full of Uganda safari items that will always remind you of park.
There are also chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth national park. They live in the stunning Kyambura gorge that is located in the far eastern corner of the park. the gorge is approximately 1km wide and about 100 meters deep and is drained by Kyambura river.
The Kazinga channel is a 40km long water body that joins Lake George to Lake Edward. The channel harbors the world’s largest concentration of hippos. It also attracts a lot mammals like buffaloes, elephants, bush bucks, water birds like African fish eagle, pelicans, cormorants, pied kingfishers, marabou storks and reptiles like crocodiles, monitor lizards all year round.
Tree Climbing Lions
The Ishasha sector located in the south region of the park covers an area of about 100km. the area is majorly visited because of the tree climbing lions that live there.
Lake Katwe is a crater salt lake found in Queen Elizabeth national park. Tourists always visit the lake and learn about the mining process. You also have a chance to see and touch the unprocessed salt.
There are a number of must-see huge round volcanic basins scattered across the National Park for those with a particular interest in the region’s fascinating geological history. The 27km drive between Kabatoro gate and Queen’s Pavilion takes in views of the enormous craters, circular lakes, the Rift Valley escarpment, Kazinga channel and Rwenzori Mountains.
Safari Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has areas where game drives can be done and the areas have high concentration of wild life; Kasenyi plains, Kazinga plains and the Ishasha sector. You will be required to have a skilled guide who will take you around the park. These guides know the tracks in the park and areas where animals always concentrate or help you spot different animals and savanna birds.
In the Kazinga plains, commonly seen animals include; warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, elephants, hippos and frequently lions as well as the rare giant forest hog that is usually seen during the daylight hours. Leopards are also a common sight in this section of the park and due to them being unusually habituated Kasenyi plains; this stretches towards Lake George and a typical African savannah.
The sector has the largest wildlife concentrations in the park. Some grassland bird species can be spotted here; grey-crowned crane, red-throated spurfowl and yellow-throated long claw. Some tracks in the region pass through large mating grounds of great herds of Uganda Kob. Commonly spotted animals are; buffalo, lions, elephants, kobs, waterbucks among others. Ishasha sector; this sector is a home to the tree climbing lions. As you track the lions, you will expect to see animals like elephants, topi, buffalos, and various bird species.
Boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth national park is done on the Kazinga channel which is a 40 km long water body that joins Lake George to Lake Edward. The activity starts at the Mweya peninsula jetty and normally there is the morning boat that starts at 9am and the afternoon boat that starts at 2pm and at times there is an evening boat that goes at 5pm. The activity always takes about 2 hours and gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the fresh river breeze and you spot various animals and birds. There will be a ranger guide in the boat who will tell you a lot about the park, different animals that you will spot and birds, and able to answer all your questions.
Some of the animals you will expect to see include; hippos, elephants, buffalos, water bucks, bush bucks, giant forest hog, you will as well see smiling crocodiles on the banks, monitor lizards and various water bird species like; water thickknee, yellow-billed stork, various plovers, white pink-backed Pelicans, white-bellied cormorants, marabou storks, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfisher, African jacana among many others. The boat will go up to the point where the Kazinga channel joins Lake Edward and then return to the starting point.
Chimpanzee tracking in Queen Elizabeth national park is done in the Kyambura gorge that is located in the east of the park. The vegetation ranges between from savannah grassland, riverine, to papyrus swamps. The gorge is about 1km wide and 100 meters deep and it is crossed by the amazing Kyambura River. The gorge has an impressive landscape and with a diversity of wildlife like primates, birds, and various mammal species. The best time to trek the chimpanzees is in the morning, trekking is also available in the afternoon but this time slot may be more undesirable due to the likelihood of increased temperatures. Trekking chimpanzees at Kyambura Gorge is considered to be slightly harder than at Kibale Forest National Park. Apart from the chimpanzee, you will expect spot monkeys, baboons, bushbucks, duikers, and various forest bird species.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth national park is a habitat to over 600 bird species with both savannah, water and forest birds. Most of the birding activity in and around the park is done at; Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge area and Katwe Area.
Some of the savannah birds that live in the park include; 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, Some of the water birds include; Great-white and Pink-backed Pelicans, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Common Squaco Heron, African open-billed Stork, 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 which are all common. There are also some migrant birds which can be spotted during months of February and march some of these are; white winged terns, sand martins, yellow wagtails, Curlew Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh, common and Wood sandpipers, Spotted Redshank among others. The forest birds can be seen in the Maramagambo forest that is located in the south of the park. Apart from birds, chimpanzees and monkeys can as well be spotted in the forest.
In Queen Elizabeth national park, nature walks are done at; Kyambura gorge, Maramagambo forest, Kyambura gorge, Mweya peninsula. Nature walks in Maramagambo forest is one of the exciting activities as you will expect to see some crater lakes, creeks, caves and various birds and primate species. The hike along the Mweya peninsula will take you through the airstrip where you will stop various bird species and to the banded mongoose research project. Kyambura gorge walk will reward you with various bird species, mammals as well as primates. While in queen Elizabeth national park, you might consider hitting some of the mount Rwenzori hiking trails.
Visit to the Crater Lakes
There are several crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth national park some of which include; lake Katwe, lake Nyamununka, lake Munyanyange among others. The lakes offer beautiful and breathtaking scenery of the park and the surrounding environment. You will also spot some animals as they visit the lakes to quench their thirst. Lake nyamununka has sulphur in it and therefore some wounded animals visit the lake and wallow in the mad so as to get their wounds treated. Visit to the Salt Plains and Fishing Villages
Katwe Salt Lake is home to Uganda’s oldest industry. Here salt is mined in the traditional way and the salt looks the same as it did in the 14th century. The salt mine has been divided and distributed to various tribes in Uganda according to traditional cultural expectations. There are various local communities with in and around the park borders. You might choose to Visit one of the local fishing villages and learn what is involved in their day to day life.
How to Get to Queen Elizabeth National Park
By road; Queen Elizabeth National Park can be accessed most easily from Kampala. The tarmac road from Kampala via Mbarara town and Bushenyi leads to the center of the park, passing just 22 km from Mweya Peninsula, the main tourism hub. Approaching the park from the south via Mbarara covers a distance of 420km while the north through Fort Portal covers a total of 410 km. By air; Charter flights can be arranged from Entebbe or kajjansi to existing airstrips of Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha.