QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Queen Elizabeth National Park was Named after the Queen of England, her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the National park is found southwest of Uganda. It covers a total area of about 1,978Km²; stretching in districts of Kasese (17%), Bushenyi (50%), Rukungiri and Kamwenge (33%). Queen Elizabeth National park stretches from the foothills of the Ruwenzori range in the north to the shores of L.Edward and Ishasha River. Queen Elizabeth is the most popular and visited national park in Uganda; characterized by a rich biodiversity and Eco system such as wetlands, humid forest, lakes, savanna vegetation, wildlife animals, birds and many more. When the queen visited Uganda in 1954, the area was named Queen Elizabeth National Park to commemorate her visit. Initially, Queen Elizabeth National Park was known as Kazinga Channel and later Ruwenzori National Park.
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Originally, the area was a grazing land for the Basongora pastoralists, a tribe belonging to the Bantu people. Upon arrival of the British explorers, Laggard and Stanley, the area was reported to be densely populated due to a large number of tsetse flies and existence of smallpox in the 1980’s; alongside cattle raiding by the Bunyoro and Buganda Kingdoms. The presence of smallpox and tsetse flies however played a big role in the increase of wildlife population and Vegetation expansion, since most of the human population had migrated to safe areas. There was a reduction in poaching and other human activities in the park. Those who remained in the park were forced to resort to fishing because they feared that the wildlife was infected too. In order to prevent what was believed to be unregulated hunting by Ugandans and land clearing by Europeans to grow cotton and Wheat, the area north of Lake George was declared a game reserve by the protectorate administration in 1906. Later, the entire Ishasha and Lake George areas were declared restricted areas in 1912 and that around Lake Edward in 1930. Due to further outbreak of sleeping sickness, the area was declared as Kazinga national park on the 31st March 1952.The park is a partner to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park in England. The two parks partner in a Cultural exchange project which emphasizes conservation of both the environment and wildlife through working closely and empowering local communities.
Lying along the Western arm of the Albertine rift valley; East of the Rwenzori mountain range; and being crossed by the equator, Queen Elizabeth National Park has annual rainfall of about 1,250mm. The rain season runs from the month of March to May (wettest), and August to November. receives the highest rainfall amount and Kazinga Channel area receives the least of about 750mm. This could be as a result of interference with air circulation by the Rwenzori mountain in the North east and Kichwamba escarpment in the East. The rest of the year is the dry season with temperatures ranging from 16 to 28°C.
Facts about Chimpanzee in Queen Elizabeth Park
- Their hair is typically black and brown
- Males and females differ in size and appearance.
- Adult Males weigh between 40 to 90Kg and grow up to 5ft. Adult females weigh between 30 to 79Kg and grow up to 3ft.
- They have a life span of up to 70 years.
- They live in groups of about 30 to 80 individuals, with subgroups of up to 9 members. The sub groups usually have one dominant male and females with infants.
- A group’s territory can range from 30 to 150 miles.
- The males usually patrol the boundaries to look out for intruders. Meeting with rival group results into serious injuries and sometimes death.
- Alpha male protects the group and leads it to a new location or on a patrol.
MAIN SAFARI ATTRACTIONS IN THE PARK
- Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Kyambura Gorge
- Crater Lakes
- Black and White Colombus Monkeys
- Birds in Queen Elizabeth
- Maragambo Forest
- Communities found in Queen Elizabeth
- Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth
MAIN SAFARI ACTIVITIES IN THE PARK
- Launch Cruise
- Crater lakes Expedition
- Chimpanzee Tracking in Queen Elizabeth
- Community Encounters
- Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth
- Ishasha sector
- The Equator and Queens Pavilion
- Birding in Queen Elizabeth
WHERE TO STAY ON YOUR SAFARI
- Mweya Safari Lodge
- Katara Lodge
- Kazinga Channel view resort
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is bordered by Kigezi game reserve to the south, Kyambura game reserve to the East, Kibale Forest National park to the North East and Rwenzori National park to the North West. It is intercepted by the Kazinga channel river which links the Lakes of George and Edward.
Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The channel is the most significant feature in the park, stretching about 32Km long and having a depth of about 7.9ft. The channel adjoins the Lakes of Edward and George. It flows southwards from Lake George into Lake Edward. Kazinga Channel comprises of sections such as the North Kazinga and Kasenyi plains. The sections offer magnificent andbreath taking sceneries of riverine vegetation and wildlife as they encroach the Channel’s waters. Kazinga Channel is one of the areas in the world with the largest concentration of hippos and Crocodiles.
Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The word ‘Kyambura’ is a Rutooro word which means ‘it’s lost’. The gorge spans about 11Km long and supports a dense forest which is home to a number of bird species and primates like the chimpanzee. Due to the existence of a number of primate species, it is sometimes referred to as the Valley of Apes. Apart from the Chimpanzees, other primate species found in the area include the red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, vervet monkeys and many more primate species. The 11 Km long Kyambura River flows off the Kichwamba escarpment into the Kazinga channel; and marks the Northeastern boundary of the park. Kyambura gorge lies about 30Km Northeast of the parks headquarters.
Crater Lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Crater lakes are formed as a result of volcanic activity. Upon eruption of a mountain, a depression is created within the crater rim or center and is filled with water. The water might be collected due to groundwater circulation caused by hydrothermal fluids; precipitation, which includes rain, snow and hail. The water levels rise until equilibrium is reached between the inflow and outflow water. The volcanic field in Queen Elizabeth National Park includes lakes of Katwe, Nyamunuka, Munyanyange and others.
Chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Sometimes called chimps, the chimpanzees are an exclusive African species of extant great Ape. The species is classified in the primate’s order and Pan Genus, troglodytes. It shares DNA with humans at about 98%, unlike other great Apes like the gorilla and other monkeys which share about 94% DNA with humans. The species is omnivorous, eating a wide variety of foods which include fruits, nuts, seeds, insects and others. They prefer living in dense tropical rainforest; but can also be found in woodlands, bamboo forest, swamps and open savannah land.
Black and White Colombus Monkeys in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The word colobus is derived from a Greek word ‘Kolobos’ which means docked. The primate species is an Old World Monkey of the Colobus genus which is native to Africa. They are named Colobus because they don’t have a thumb. The species are herbivorous and have a ruminant kind of digestive system i.e. they feed on leaves, fruit, flowers and twigs. Black and white colobus monkeys are endemic in higher density logged forests. However, they also live in riverine forests and wood grassland. Being herbivorous, black and white colobus monkeys are of importance to their habitant because of seed dispersal which causes germination of seeds into plantations hence expansion of vegetation in the Park. This is because of their sloppy eating habits. The species live in social groups of up to 9 members with a dominant male, females and offspring’s. Newborns are completely white and are taken care of by only the mother.
Birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth is one of the prime viewing destinationsin Africa. It has about 619 bird species which include the grey headed kingfisher, Red-chested sunbird, Swamp Fly catcher, African skimmer, black-bee eater, shoebill storks, falcons, eagles, flamingos, 11 types of King fisher and many more bird species.
Maragambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The forest derives its name from the Lutooro words “ekibira e’kiniimaramagambo” which literally means ‘this forest makes words disappear’. Its naming comes from a myth that assertsthat one day, a group of children were taking a walk within the forest when they failed to find their way out. Eventually, they were able to find the way out of the forest. When asked by the elders what had happened, the children literally failed to explain how they had gotten stuck in the forest.The locals of the nearby village then uttered the words “ekibira e’kiniimaramagambo” hence the name Maragaambo. The forest stretches from Kichwamba escarpment across the shores of Lake Edward, witha rich eco system characterized by a Canopy rainforest and rich bio diversity of birds; primates such as Chimpanzees, Baboons, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys and others. There is also a bat cave which was formed due to volcanic activity.
Communities found in Queen Elizabeth National Park
They belong to the Bantu ethnic group and mainly live along the slopes of Mt.Rwenzori in Kasese district. Bakonzo people are also known as Bakonzo or Konzo. They live in hills and mountains at an altitude of about 2,200m. Traditionally, they are agriculturalists, cultivating crops such as beans, sweet potatoes, rice, wheat, cassava, bananas and other crops. They speak the ‘Rukonjo’ language, which is 77% similar to that of the Nande in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were once part of the Toro Kingdom but detached themselves to the Rwenzururu movement which led to the formation of the Rwenzururu Kingdom. They became part of the Rwenzururu Kingdom in 2008 which. Rwenzururu then becamethe first Kingdom to be shared by two tribes. The second tribe in the Kingdom is the Amba. During the colonial period, the Bakonzo had been placed under the Toro Kingdom which neighbors Rwenzururu to the East.The tribe highly emphasizes Circumcision. Among the Bakonjo, you are not considered a man unless when you are circumcised. The Bakonzo, just like the Bagisu of Mbale in Mt.Elgon National park, Eastern Uganda; have circumcision as one of their most entrenched cultural practices. However, Bakonjo do not carry out an entertaining initiating ceremony just like the Imbalu of Bagisu; neither do they force any one to get circumcised. There is no mobilization of Circumcision just like the way Bagisu people do. Before the influence of modernization, Marriage among the Bakonzo was arranged by the parents. When a woman gave birth to a girl child, fathers with male childrenoften visited her home with gifts which were used as an attention seeker in terms of who would be her future in-law. It is from these gifts that the girl’s parents decided which family would take their daughter for marriage. The gifts were a symbol of interest in the newly born girl baby, by the different fathers on behalf for their young sons. They would also determine the financial status of the boy’s family. When the girl was 7yrs old, she was to be moved to the boy’s family and start familiarizing with her intended husband. At the age of 12yrs, she would start having a sexual relationship with the boy. It is believed among the Bakonzo that at that age, she is ready to conceive. If the girl conceived twins (Abahasa), she would get the title of Nyabahasa. However, she would have to have a onetime sexual intercourse with the boy’s nephew in order to go back to her husbands’ bed. The event was known as Olhuhasa. A house would be built in the middle of the Boys compound, where the event was to happen. If the olhuhasa didn’t happen, it is believed that the twins would die. Bakonzo have unique criteria of naming their children. Bakonjo are given names depending on their birth positions in the family. Baluku/Mumbere, Bwambale, Masereka, Kule, Thembo/Mbusa are names given from the first to fifth sons respectively. Masiko/Musoki, Biiro, Kabugho, Mbambu, Ithungu, Kyakimo and Nziabake are names given from the first to seventh daughter respectively. However, some of the cultural tracks of the Bakonjo have died out today due tomodernization and education.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The parks wildlife and vegetation has made it Uganda’s most popular and visited National park. It is home to about 95 mammal species, including 4 of the big 5, Rhinos being absent. Some of the animals include the famous tree climbing Lions which are easily seen, hippos, elephants, Leopards, Hyena, Antelope, Crocodiles, Uganda Kob, Buffaloes and many others.
Safari Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Launch cruise trips are mainly conducted on the 32Km Kanzinga channel. The Kazinga Channel launch cruise is extremely rewarding. It is regarded as one of the finest and most liked launch trips in the Uganda. The cruise makes viewing of hippos, crocodiles, birds, buffaloes, elephants and other species possible. It is approved that the plains of the channel such as that at Kasenyi plains and Ishasha plains are a prime game viewing spot. Enjoy the Kazinga Channel launch cruise that takes about 2 hours, operating from 3pm and 5pm, whereas additionally expeditions are done at 11am and 1 pm basing on the tourists preference.
Crater lakes Expedition
The lakes are as a result of volcanic activity that is estimated to have occurred about one thousand years ago. All the crater lakes are located north of the park and they include:
- Lake Katwe: The Lake is located north of the park. Lake katwe is a salty lake which is 3265ft deep. Salt is extracted from the lake, processed and put on sale for both local and international market. It has contributed to the economic growth of Uganda. In pre-colonial time, salt was as vulnerable as gold and mass extraction of salt went on at the lake.
- Lake Nyamunuka. The name Nyamunuka literally means animal smell in the Konjo language. The lake is named Nyamunuka because of the strong smell of sulphur is polluted from the water. The lake covers an area of about 4km.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Chimpanzees are the closest relatives that human beings have, sharing 98% DNA. Chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth National Park are widely spread. They are found in areas of Kyambura gorge which marks the North east boundary of the Park; and Maragambo forest. However, most of the Chimpanzees in the park are habituated in Kyambura gorge. The encounter with chimps in Kyambura gorge is conducted twice a day both in the morning at 8am and in the afternoon at 2pm. Each group of trackers is permitted to compose of not more than 9 individuals. Chimpanzees are swift climbers and set up their nests high up in the trees. The nests are built in few minutes by just bending branches and inter weaving them to create a platform for resting.They feed on fruits and about 80 diverse plant foods. They supplement the food with meat like that of antelopes and goats. They also eat termites, but using sticks as the folks. This is done as a safety measure of not being bitten by the termites. They use rocks to crash nuts open and use branches as a weapon against enemies. They throw the branches at an enemy or threat that approaches their territories, like leopards.
Community Encounters in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Enjoy community walks guided by Bakonzo guides as they illustrate to you the daily activities of their community. Visiting the community will give you an idea of how the locals survive without electricity, gas, technology equipment’s and other modern world requirements. The encounter will involve the following activities
- You will be taught by the Bakonzo women how to prepare food using firewood and fresh ingredients from the garden.
- You will meet the local basket weavers and they will teach you how to make items such as baskets, mats other items made out of papyrus.
- An encounter with the community’s traditional healer. Learn about how he treats diseases with just local herbs got from the slopes of Mt.Rwenzori.
- You will be entertained by the locals with a dance accompanied with strong energetic drumming. You could get involved in the drumming and dancing.
Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth is a prime game viewing destination with about 95 mammal species; including 4 of the big 5, Rhinos being absent. Some of the animals include the tree climbing Lions which are easily seen, hippos, elephants, Leopards, Hyena, Antelope, Crocodiles, Uganda Kob, Buffaloes and many others. There are two wildlife view points in the park, Kasenyi and Ishasha. Both lie along the Kazinga channel in the north and southwest respectively. Game drives are most rewarding in the morning, but can also be done in the evening.
Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The area has the highest concentration of wildlife and is situated in Kanungu district near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, 100Km south of Mweya. The sector is significantly different from the rest of the park because of its habituation to the famous tree climbing lions. Other animals you can be able to view at the sector include, elephants, warthogs, antelopes and others. There are also bird species such as Broad-billed Roller, African Green Pigeon, White-browed Senegal Plover, Ross’s Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Greater Honey guide, White-headed Barbet, Grey Woodpecker, African Wattled Plover, Striped Kingfisher, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin and many others. The area has a river, Ishasha River; and is characterized by savannah woodland and marsh.
The game drive at Kasenyi sector will make viewing of several animals possible. Some of the animal species you will be able to see easily include large herds of Kobs and buffaloes; Lions, elephants, guinea fowl, warthogs and many more.
The Equator and Queens Pavilion
The place where the equator crosses the park is marked by two concrete circle blocks along Kasese highway. The place also has a craft shop where you can buy a Souvenir. The Queens pavilion is easily seen at the entrance to the crater drive. The pavilion was constructed on commemorate the Queens visit in 1954. It was constructed in 1957 and later renovated upon the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 2007. There are facilities such as an Information center, coffee shop and internet.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National park is one of the prime birds viewing areas in Uganda. It is home to about 619 bird species which includes grey headed kingfisher, Red-chested sunbird, Swamp Fly catcher, African skimmer, black-bee eater, shoebill storks, falcons, eagles, flamingos, 11 types of King fisher and many more bird species, Broad-billed Roller, African Green Pigeon, White-browed Senegal Plover, Ross’s Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Greater Honey guide, White-headed Barbet, Grey Woodpecker, African Wattled Plover, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin and many others. Birding can be done in Maragambo forest and along the Kazinga channel; together with its sectors of Kasenyi and Ishasha.
UGANDA WILDLIFE SAFARI TOURS
Lake Mburo National Park is the closest National Park to Kampala 240km about 3 – 4 hours’ drive and boasts of counts of biodiversity and amazing scenic landscapes. The park is situated in the traditional range lands of the Bahima pastoralist.
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest savannah park in Uganda with 3,840 Sq.km. It shelters a great deal of African game including the Big 5 of Land animals that include Rhinos in the adjacent Ziwa sanctuary, elephants, lions, leopard and buffaloes
The 2 Days Uganda Safari to Queen Elizabeth NP is a short safari that will fit in your weekend break. It takes you to Queen Elizabeth National Park one of the most popular Uganda safari destinations. The safari features a game drive where possibilities
The 3 Days Uganda Safari to Murchison Falls NP allows you to explore the Big five of land animals namely; the Rhinos which exist in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, the Buffaloes, elephants, lions and leopards. This comes along with other wild game including Rothschild Giraffes, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Oribis
The 5 Days Uganda Gorilla and Chimpanzee Safari takes you to Kibale National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The prime safari activities include the gorilla tracking and chimpanzee trekking. Encountering the critically endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats and the chimpanzees
The 8 Days Uganda Safari features Uganda’s prime safari destinations of Murchison, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The prime activities include wild game viewing where you explore the Big five including Rhinos on Ziwa Sanctuary, elephants, leopards, lions and Buffaloes in Murchison Falls
The 10 Days Uganda Gorilla, Wildlife and Adventure Safari is among our newly introduced packages that feature novelty products on the market. The Safari commences and ends in Kampala featuring cycling in the tea estates of Mpanga, the heritage tours in Amabere caves, adventure hike to the Fort Portal crater lake field and the Rwenzori Mountains, the cultural tours at Rwenzori Art foundation
The 3 Days Uganda Safari to Queen Elizabeth NP features wild game viewing, recreational boat cruise and chimpanzee trekking. Queen Elizabeth NP also referred to as the medley of wonders boasts of being the most popular destination in Uganda with a diverse ecosystem that features forested, savannah grassland, water environments and wetlands supporting counts of big game, primates like chimpanzees.
Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Upscale/Luxury lodges – hotels
Mweya Safari Lodge
The lodge is located along the Western boundary of the park in Mweya. It is situated near the shores of Lake Edward, overlooking the Kazinga Channel to the East. It has en-suite rooms, each with a private balcony; varying from standard, deluxe, suite tents and cottages. It has facilities such as a health club and spa; airstrip, fully stocked bar and modernized swimming pool.
|ROOMS||Bed & Breakfast (US$)||Full Board
The lodge has one family and 7 en-suite thatched cottages which overlook the open savannah. The cottages have wooden floors and grass thatched roofs. Rooms have facilities such as solar water heaters, a double bed that can be wheeled out to the balcony so as the guests can sleep directly under the starlit African Sky if they wish to. The Family cottages have two separate bedrooms with two single beds in one room for children and one double bed in the other room for adults. It has an outside sitting area with a swing couch and two hammocks.
|Extra bed||+ 75|
NB: Rates are on a Full Board plan but exclude drinks.
Budget lodges/hotels for accommodation
Kazinga Channel view resort
Kazinga Channel View Resort is a budget / basic accommodation establishment in Katunguru area on the boundary of Queen Elizabeth National Park a popular Uganda Safari destination.
The Kazinga Channel View Resort overlooks the famous Kazinga Channel that connects Lakes George and Edward. Rooms vary from Single, Doubles, Twin and Bandas
Most of the rooms are positioned in the main block some with self-contained units and others with shared facilities within the block. Facilities include Restaurant, Bar , Camping ground, Reception area
|Room||Bed & Breakfast||Half Board||Full Board|
Hot to Get to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara – Kasese 386Km 5Hrs (via Kabatoro or Katunguru Gate)
The distance from Kampala to Masaka is 131Km and Lasts for approximately 2Hrs.
From Masaka to Mbarara (also known as the land of Milk because of high number of cattle in the area); the distance is approximately 138Km and lasts for about 1Hr 50min.
From Mbarara to Kasese, the distance is about 155Km and lasts approximately 2Hrs. While connecting from Mbarara to Kasese, you will be able to view Queen Elizabeth National Park starting at Kichwamba area.
Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara – Bushenyi320Km 4Hrs 30Min (via Ishasha Gate)
A chattered can be arranged from Entebbe international Airport or Kajjansito :
- Mweya Airstrip in mweya
- Kasese Airstrip in Kasese town (And there after connect to Queen Elizabeth National park by road).
Flights usually take 30mins.