Located in Western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National park is one of the best places to go birding in Africa. The park is situated in the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rukungiri and Bushenyi. The park location is located approximately 376 kilometers by road, southwest of Kampala, which is Uganda’s capital and the largest city. The town of Kasese also lies outside the northeastern edge of the park, while the town of Busheyi is also situated just outside the National Park.
The park also occupies an estimated 1978 square kilometers of which 17% lies in the district of Kasese, 50% in Bushenyi district and 33% lying in Rukungiri District. The area of the park also extends from Lake George in the northeast to Lake Edward in the southwest and includes the kazinga channel which connects the two lakes. This park has attracted many people to come for safaris in Uganda including royalties, nobles and statesmen.
This park is named after Queen Elizabeth II and was established in 1954, the park was later renamed Ruwenzori before it returned to its royal name. It’s also known for its wildlife, although many animals were killed in the Uganda Tanzania War. The many species which are found within the park include; the hippopotami, elephants, leopards, lions and the chimpanzees which are found in Kyambura Gorge Reserve. It’s also a home to 95 species of mammals and over 500 species of birds. The Ishasha sector is also common for the safari tree climbing lions, whose males sport black manes which is a feature unique to the lions in this area.
The park is also famous for its volcanic features, comprising volcanic cones and deep craters, many with crater lakes such as the Katwe craters, from which salt is extracted. This national park also includes the Kigezi Game reserve, Maramagambo Forest, Kyambura Game Reserve and Kibale National Park which is also found in Uganda, virunga National Park which is found in the democratic Republic of Congo. The queen Elizabeth Country Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park are twinned in a project of cultural exchange, mutual support and has its main emphasis on supporting conservation through working closely with the local communities.
Queen Elizabeth National park has also got many tourist activities that tourists enjoy on their Uganda safaris through this park. These include; a boat cruise which is carried out on Kazinga channel were you will view many animals including the crocodiles, hippos, water birds and many more, the game drives can also be carried out with in the park and the animals which can be viewed in this park also include; the buffalos, antelopes, elephants, lions, kobs, and many more, chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge, and many more activities like the nature walks and the night game drives.
Go Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park hosts over 550 bird species. These species have played a vital role in making this park a charming destination for guests that love bird watching safari. The park is found in Rukungiri District in the southwestern Uganda covering a total land of 1978 km2. It lies at an altitude of 900 meters on the adjacent Lake Edward up to 1845 meters on the side of the rift valley escarpment. Among the bird habitats offered within this park are open woodlands, rivers, open grassland, lakes, seasonal and permanent swamps.
Some of the aquatic birds like spur winged plovers, squacco heron, fish Eagle, pink and white backed pelicans, white face whistling, long tailed cormorants, African jacana, yellow backed weavers, open billed stork, water thick knee, pied kingfishers, wattled plovers, the black crake and the knob billed ducks can be viewed along the impressive Kazinga channel.
Some other birds that are spotted in queen Elizabeth national park include; Martial Eagle, Black- rumped Buttonquail African Skimmer, White winged terns, White-winged Warbler, shoebill, African skimmer, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Grey-headed kingfisher, papyrus gonolek, Papyrus Canary, , black-ramped buttonquail, Collard Pranticles, papyrus canary, verreauv’s eagle-owl, black bee-eater, squacco heron, African fish eagle, swamp fly-catcher, long-tailed cormorants, Martial Eagle, Black- rumped Buttonquail , African Skimmer and these are normally heard in the morning echoing in the tree branches.
Kazinga channel is a natural channel which is 32km long and it links Lake Edward to Lake George. Kazinga channel is one of the selling points of Queen Elizabeth national park hence the oasis that quenches the thirst of both humans, reptiles and numerous animals. It attracts a varied range of animals and birds with one of the world’s largest concentration of hippos and numerous Nile crocodiles.
Besides birding, Queen Elizabeth national park has many activities you can engage in while on Uganda safari like boat cruise, game drives, nature walks, chimpanzee tracking, among others. When it comes to attractions, Kazinga channel is not the only feature in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Other features that make Queen Elizabeth national park a must visit destination, include tree climbing lions, wildlife, Kyambura gorge, forests, among others.
The best time for bird watching excursion on Kazinga channel is between December and February. In order to exhaust the bird species in this park, it is better to take 2 to 3 days of bird watching safari in Queen Elizabeth national park. The safari will reward you with a chance to spot more than half of 550 birding species recorded within the park.