The 1978km queen Elizabeth National Park enjoy a stunning location on the rift valley floor between lakes Edward and George where a mosaic of habitats supports 95 mammal species and a remarkable 612 species of birds.
Forty years ago, Douglas willocks described the diverse featured that led to its creation in 1952.there still exists no better introduction or a more enticing invitation to visit the park\
Scenically the area had everything. Thirty miles to the north, the blue Rwenzori exploded from the plain, a composite, jagged mass of mountains, sixty miles long and forty wide and looking in certain lights as if you could reach out and touch them. Across Lake Edward to the west, the mitumbe hills stood sentinel on the Congo, blue too in the long sight but in the closer green, wooded precipitous, unfriendly and epitomizing darkest Africa. the eastern boundary of this possible park was marked by the calm green escarpment of the western Rift Valley, and between all the hills, mountains and lakes was endless savanna, its constantly repeated motif the branched cactus arms of the candelabra euphorbia tree;
The park forms of an extensive system of contiguous protected areas, namely the Kigezi (265km) and Kyambura (154km) wildlife reserved Kalinzu forest reserved, Kibale Virunga National Park. Rwenzori mountains national park lies a few kilometers north.
The dramatic scenery is largely due to mountains beyond the park boundary. The park itself lies on the valley floor where it rises 480m from 910m at the kazingu channel to 1390m in the explosion crater field. The low altitude and its location directly on the a mean minimum of 18c to a mean maximum of 28c.the park receives up to 1250mm of rain, mostly during march
May and September November.
How to get there
The park is easily accessible. The tarmac Mbarara-Kasese-fort portal high way runs through its center. Passing just 22km from the main tourism hub at Mweya. From Kampala, the park can be approached from the south via Mbarara (420km) or the north passing through fort portal (410km) or be combined to create an attractive circuit with short detours to visit lake Mburo,semuliki and kibale national parks. The park can also be reached from the south from Bwindi impenetrable national park.
A variety of accommodation caters for all budgets. mweya safari lodge, jacana safari lodge and the Ishasha wilderness camp offer up market accommodation while the mweya hostel at mweya and Ishasha bandas provide budget accommodation.
Camping is possible at mweye, maramagambo and ishasha. convenient options just outside the park include hippo hill camp close to katwe and kingfisher camp on the lovely Kichwamba escarpment, a new lodge is under construction in the Kyambura wildlife reserve.
Flora and fauna
The park is home to 95 Mammals species while the bird list is 612 species long. this diversity is the result of an impressive range of habitats. fifty-seven vegetation types have been identified through these can be summarized as just five: forest; grassland; bushy grassland; acacia woodland and lakeshore/swamp vegetation.
Residents of the park’s grassland include elephant, cape buffalo, uganda kob, waterbuk, warthog, forest hog, lion, leopard and hyaen. topi are found in ishasha, while forest primates are found in kyambura gorge and maramagambo forest.
In Africa protected areas, the park’s impressed birdlist is exceeded only by the neighboring (and far larger) virunga national park.
To name but a few key species: martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, African skimmer, chapin’s flycatcher, pink-backed pelicans, white-winged warbler, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, corncrake,
Around the park
Lesser and greater flamingo, and shoebill stork.
The peninsula is the hub for tourism activity and accommodation in the central section of the park. a natural walk with arrange guide enables you to explore remote parts of the peninsula, this and other activities can be arranged from the mweya information centre.this facility overlooks the scenic katwe bay of the Edward and contains a souvenir shop and exhibits that describe the channels entrance into lake Edward. the launches run at 15:00 and 17:00.additional voyages run at 11:00 and 13:subjects to demand
North kazinga and kasenyi
The plain north of the Kazinga channels is the primary game viewing area.a network of track enables you to find elephants, buffalos and other animals in the mosaic of grassland thickets that covers the north Kazinga area near Mweya,
.however lions are most reliably sighted on the open kasenyi plain east of the kasese road where they prey on a large population of Uganda kob.game drive are most rewarded in early morning and late afternoon. a range guide is recommended to help you make most of your experience.
The Katwe salt lake is home to Uganda’s oldest industry. salt has been extracted from the lake using evaporation beds and the process is continued today.
Katwe explosion craters
This cluster of extinct volcanoes north of mweya safari lodge can be explored by the windind 27 km crater dives between the main and equator gates. This provides superb views into numerous craters, some filled by lovely lakes, as well as well as towards the Rwenzori and across the rift valley floor
The equator and the queen’s pavilion
This spot where the equator crosses the Kasese road is marked by two concrete circle which provide a popular photostop. the queens pavilion stands nearby at the northern entrance to the crater drive.a temporary shelter at this site hosted H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Ediburgh in 1954; a permanent pavilion was built in 1959 for a visit by queen Elizabeth, the queen mother. This was restored for a second visit by the Duke of Edinburghj in 2007.a new information centre on the site includes internet facilities and a coffee shop.
100km south of mweya, the park’s remote southern sector provides a true wilderness experience. divere habitals, including the ishasha river, savanna woodland, and marshy lake Edward fasts support a variety of wildlife including ishasha’s famous tree climbing lions, and the rare shoebill stock.
Kyambura wildlife reserve
This area, which protects the south-eastern banks of the kazinga channel, contains four crater lakes, in which thousands of flamingos periodically congregate.
The dark depths of maragambo forest contrast starkly with the sunny plains around the kazinga channel. one of Uganda’s largest tracts of tropical forest, maragambo is notable for its primate and bird population. Trails explore the forest around lake nyamusigire. Wildlife sightings vary from day to day, but granted events include the bat cave (with a resident, bat-hungry python), and the copper-rich blue lake.
Habituated chimpanzees live in the 100m deep gorge carved by the kyambura river as it flow across the rift valley floor towards the kazinga’s fig tree camp at 08.00 and 14.00.0the 3km road to the gorge is clearly signposted from the main highway.