Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Extending over 1197 square kilometer and formed in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park runs alongside the western banks of Lake Edward in the Albertine Rift with the Rwenzori Mountain to the north (Mountains of the Moon), the Blue Mountains of the DRC to the west and the string of volcanoes on the southern border to Rwanda. Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is one of the best game reserves in Africa in terms of variety of habitats and wildlife viewing.
The park includes five different habitats – grasslands, woodland, open plains with figs and acacia trees, riparian forests and swamps. Because of this superior biodiversity diversity of environments one finds a whole host of animals making this one of the most productive wildlife areas in the country.
Acacia Siberiana, Whistling thorn (acacia drepanolobium), and Leonotis Myelesina, abundant Euphorbia’s and Fig trees provide fruit, shelter and nesting places for the prolific birdlife.
In Queen Elizabethe NP you also find Maramagambo Forest, home to wild chimpanzees, the giant forest hog, and Kyambura Gorge home to a family of habituated chimpanzees that intrepid visitors can trek to see. The forest is a flutter with a kaleidoscope of butterflies in every colour especially in the rainy seasons.
The park’s visitors can of course do game drives into the park where one can see lions, elephant, kob, olive baboons, buffalo, hyena and waterbuck but there have also been over 600 recorded bird species spotted here including the little bittern, pelicans, terns, goliath herons, red throated beater, blue cheeked beater, wattled lapwing, turnstone, scarlet chested sunbird, croaking cisticola, Klaus’s cuckoo, fish eagle, long crested eagle, great white pelicans, Mousebirds, black headed Gonolek, Harrier Hawk and anteater chat.
We recommend spending a few days in QENP because apart from the fabulous bird watching, chimpanzee trekking and game drives, another must do activity is a boating excursion on the Kazinga Chanel that links Lakes Edward and George.
To the north of Lake George is a RAMSAR Site and hence this is certainly a wetland that attracts a host of wonderful birdlife. The Kazinga is always productive – the birdlife along this natural channel is simply astounding. Spend another morning walking with researchers from Kampala University and learn about a family of banded mongoose that have been habituated.
In southern end of the park lies the Ishasha, a land known for its tree climbing lions, and birds such as Ross’s turaco, northern wheatear and white headed barbet. Lions are often seen on the Kasenyi plains and the park is further extended with Rwenzori National Park, the Kalinzu Forest Reserve and Virunga National Park.
Game Viewing in Queen Elizabeth NP
Game Drives through Queen Elizabeth National Park are usually done early morning or evening hours. Driving in the open savannah grasslands. Elephant and buffalos are very common, and lions are surprisingly easy to spot. Hyena can occasionally be spotted, while giraffes and zebras are not existent in the safari park. There are many interesting antelope species such as Uganda kob, topi and bushbuck. Hippo and crocodile are common in Kazinga channel. A troop of chimpanzee has been habituated for tracking. Nine more primate species are found, including the black-and-white colobus monkey.
Tree-climbing lions are a specialty of the Ishasha sector of the park, where they can often be found in huge fig trees. Giant forest hog, is unusually easy to see in the park, both on drives and from a boat trip. Buffalo are particularly attractive as they are often reddish brown due to interbreeding with forest buffalo from neighboring Congo. Chimp trekking is available in the steamy, tropical forest of Kyambura Gorge.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyanbura Gorge
Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura gorge is one of the most popular tourist activities for tourists to Queen Elizabeth national Park. The stunning Kyambura (or Chambura) Gorge also called the “Valley of Apes” is located in the far eastern corner of the well- known Queen Elizabeth National Park in south western Uganda. Approximately 1 km across – at its broadest point and about 100 meters deep, this gorge is actually drained by River Kayambura. The landscape is among the most impressive you will find in Uganda and it is swarmed a rich wildlife bio-diversity that comprises of primates, wild animals as well as birds.
Enter into this amazing Gorge and you will be marveled by the verdant, rich Tropical Rain-forest right close to the Equator crossing. The gorge is another world on its own. while the Savannah above has a reasonable amount of light, plus sun shine that offers brightness, the tree canopy within this under-ground forest comprised of rich blocks of plant life shut out most of the sun rays and unless you are standing within a clearing you certainly will not require sunglasses or sun- hats since you may actually need to have a clearly view so as not to miss out on the great assortment of Wonders within the Kyambura Gorge.
Tracking permits are a requirement for all trackers before tracking the chimpanzees. All trackers are first briefed about the tracking experience before they embark on tracking chimpanzees in the 16 kilometer long Kyambura gorge.
Best Time for Wildlife Viewing
Queen Elizabeth National Park can be visited throughout the year, but the best time for wildlife viewing is the Dry season (from June to August and January to February) when animals are concentrated near rivers and waterholes. Some of the roads can become impassable after heavy rain.