Covering an expanse of 1, 978 sq kilometers and situated in south western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park has plenty of primates to be viewed .These have attracted tens of thousands of tourists. The speculations that the park is the world’s main biodiversity conservation game reserve are based on the varieties of vegetation that range from open savannah, rainforests, impenetrable papyrus swamps and large crater lakes close to the size of lake Edward.
The park has more than 100 mammal species and over 600 bird species (the highest number found in any African park), together with large groups of elephants, huge forest hog, numerous hippos, and the gorgeous Uganda kob which are commonly seen roaming around the different villages on the Mweya Peninsula.
QUEEN ELIZABETH BIRD WATCHING
The malachite, Collard Pranticles, Pied kingfishers, White winged terns, Whydah Martial Eagles, Grey-capped warbler, long tailed cormorants, Grey-headed kingfisher, the mourning dove, swamp fly-catcher, African skimmer, African jacana, white & pink back pelicans gabon, thin tailed Nightjars, African fish eagle, shoebill stork, the black head gonolek, papyrus gonolek, squacco heron, verreauv’s eagle-owl, black bee-eater, white tailed lark, white- winged warbler, African open billed stork, papyrus canary, blackramped button-quail, are some of the prominent bird species in the park.
THE KYAMBURA GORGE
The Kyambura gorge is habitat to a number of habituated chimpanzees. The Kyambura River flows through this “thick underground forest” 100 metres below the Kichwamba escapment. The gorge is also a pleasant spot for picnics.
The Maramagambo forest that is habitat for the mysterious forest elephant, forest monkeys, numerous flamingos and a wide variety of birds, is a tropical rainforest located in Queen Elizabeth Park. Tremendous features like the blue lake and bat colony in the “Bat Cave” with resident python snakes which feed on the bats are also thrilling and quite unforgettable.
QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK’S ACCESSIBILITY
In about 6 to 7 hours drive, one can access Queen Elizabeth national park on a tarmac road from Kampala via Mbarara through Bushenyi to the centre of the park from the south, 420 km and from kampala via Fort Portal in the north, 410 km. Finally use a dirt road that starts at Bwindi to the park. A private charter flight can also be arranged for fascinated travelers who wish to travel to the park by air. It flies from Entebbe international airport or kajjansi airstrip up to the airstrip in Kasese.
There are a variety of trails in the park for game drives. You will discover a variety of big game in the characteristic African savannah during the course of your drive. Some of the large animals in the park are: leopards, Elephants, Hyenas, Uganda Kobs, Lions, Waterbucks, Warthogs and buffaloes. During the early sunrise and sunsets is the most suitable times for having game drives.
Queen Elizabeth National park prides in more than 600 bird species that have turned it into a fascinating place for its guests that adore bird watching. A number of aquatic birds like the White-faced Whistling, Squacco Heron, white & Pink backed Pelicans, open billed Stork, Water-Thick knee, Wattled Plovers, Knob-billed Ducks, Pied kingfishers, Yellow backed Weavers, Long tailed Cormorants, African Jacana, Fish Eagle, Spur-winged Plovers and the Black Crake an ducks can be seen along the Kazinga Channel within the park.
This is taken on the Kazinga channel, and while on it different birds & animals can be sighted at along the shores of the 34 km peaceful Kazinga channel. Among the animals there are Elephants, Hippos and Buffaloes. Crocodiles and Lizards are among the resident reptiles where as the Egyptian goose, African fish-eagles, pelicans , saddle-billed stork, kingfisher and the African jacana are the water bird species.
GUIDED FOREST WALKS
A guide walk is perfect treat in the adjacent Maramagambo tropical forest which is characterized by quite low trees and tender slopes. The Egyptian fruit bats’ cave known as the Bat cave, the blue lake and the hunters’ cave together with various tree species like medicinal species are some of the precious features to marvel at while in the forest.
In the gorge located in the impressive Kyambura wildlife reserve that lies in the eastern region of the park is where chimpanzee tracking is carried out. Black & white colobus and red-tailed monkeys in addition to Olive baboons are some of the other resident primates in the reserve. The king fisher, horn birds and sun birds are some of the birds.
The 72 huge round basins scattered across the equator are evidence of the Albertine Rift’s bubbling volcanic past, and are a must-see for those with a particular interest in the region’s fascinating geological history.
KATWE SALT LAKE
One of the most famous lookouts in Uganda is in the Katwe- Kabatoro community on Katwe salt lake where traditional salt mining has been practiced since the 16th century. The neighboring lake Munyanyange is a bird sanctuary, as well as a migratory location for the Lesser flamingo from August to November.
This is a remote southern region of the park and those that venture this far may be rewarded with sightings of Ishashas most famous residents- the Tree Climbing Lions- lounging in the branches while keeping a close eye on the herds of Uganda Kob. You can also find many herds of Topi- Antelopes as well as many teeming herds of buffalos and elephants.