QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK.
The widest range of wildlife and savannah vegetation in Uganda is found in Queen Elizabeth National park characterized by a range of habitats - grassland savannah, lakes, forests and wetlands.
Queen Elizabeth whose coordinates are; 00 12S, 30 00E (Latitude: 0.2000; Longitude: 30.0000) is situated in the Kamwenge, Kasese, Bushenyi and Rukungiri districts of western Uganda about 376Km from Kampala city. It covers total area of 1,978Km (744 square miles); 33%, 50% and 17% of the land covers Rukungiri, Bushenyi and Kasese districts respectively stretching from Lake Edward southwestwards to Lake George northeastwards including the joint of the lakes; Kazinga channel.
The park was gazetted in 1954 getting its name from the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth (II). Much as queen Elizabeth national parks’ fauna was highly affected by the Uganda-Tanzania war, a multitude of animals like elephants, hippopotamuses, lions, chimpanzees and leopards have recovered. It currently harbors 606 bird types and 95 mammal species making it a reliable destination to any tourists interested in East Africa.
On the eastern wing of the park lies the mighty Kyambura Gorge, The valley of Apes, well known for its abundant forest dwelling monkeys and chimpanzees. Kyambura river carves the gorge about one kilometer through its width and a hundred meters deep. Chimpanzees contribute to the seven primate varieties that dwell in Kyambura Gorge.
612 bird species have been recorded, making QENP among the few national parks on earth with six hundred plus bird species. Chapin’s flycatcher, Rwenzori and the Great Blue Turacos, the White Napped Pigeons, Papyrus canary, Martial eagle, Black-rumpled Buttonquail, among others are some of the noticeable species.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous for its diverse mammal species in Africa having over 95 of them. Uganda Kobs, Waterbuck, Warthogs, Lions, Leopards, Hyenas, Giant Forest Hogs, numerous antelopes contribute to the mammal’s list in the park. Only the lucky one can take a glimpse of Topis in the Ishasha sector. The Ishasha area is as well known for climbing lions and dark manes that prefer resting on fig trees.
The park is less than Kibale NP by three primate species having ten of them including the rare Chimpanzees. Maramagambo Forest in the south-east of Queen Elizabeth National Park has seven primate types; Chimpanzees, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Baboons, Red Tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, and Vervet Monkeys, as well as 2 nocturnal species: Pottos and Bush babies.
Dominance of climbing lions on the grassy Kasenyi plains makes QENP the most reliable park for lions in Uganda. Forgetting not the buffalo and elephant herds in the savannah and magnificent hippopotamuses in the Kazinga channel.
This is a 40 kilometer connection between Lakes Edward and George that gives a conducive environment for glancing the parks’ flora and fauna. The best views are found on its shores and during a boat trip. Cruising through the fascinating wetlands, Kazinga Channel and the two lake shores filled with Hippos, Cape Buffaloes, Elephants and Crocodiles in addition to various wetland birds like African skimmer, Pink-backed pelicans, Shoebill stork and great Flamingoes beautify the tour.
The only way to see most nature in their natural setting like buffalos, giraffes and other fauna living in the grassland thickets of the Northern Kazinga towards Mweya is through a boat cruise on Kazinga channel. Lions can be spotted in the Eastern Kasenyi plains and along Kasese road. The most appropriate time for game drives is morning or late afternoon hours under the guidance of range guides who feed you with information about the park and her wildlife residents.
Tree Climbing Lions in Ishasha.
Covering about 100Km south of Mweya and a landscape of savannah woodland divided by the Ishasha River neighboring Lake Edward forms Ishasha. It is famous for animals like climbing lions, rare shoebill stork, Topis, hippos, buffaloes, elephants and so much more.
Home of the bat caves. Visitors’ attention is caught by millions of bats preyed upon by pythons roaming the caves living off the bats. A secure view of the bats is provided by a shed built in conjunction with The American Centre for Disease Control.
The Magnificent Scenery.
The Rwenzori mountains, Kazinga channel, Lakes Edward and George plus at least ten crater lakes, the accessible open savannah, forested areas of Kyambura and Maramagambo (open to the public) create an awesome scenery in the park.
Equator And Queen’s pavilion.
The best destination for any photo shooter is the Uganda Equator and the Queen’s pavilion bearing fine craft shops where you can get best souvenirs. The Queen’s Pavilion is situated at the entrance of Crater Drive. Queen Elizabeth permitted a provisional shelter for this site in 1954 until a permanent pavilion was constructed for the visit of the Queen herself. Renovations with better facilities like internet and a coffee shop were made in 2007 following a visit of Duke of Edinburgh.
BEST VISITING TIME.
However much the dry season is the best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National park, March to May and August to December wet season beautify the park’s environment, you can meet the joy of migratory birds as the pass by. Though chimpanzee trekking is best in drier months.