Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular game reserve and certainly one of the most scenic. It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori ranges in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, incorporating a wide variety of habitats that range from open savannah to rainforest, dense papyrus swamps and brooding crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward. These make it a little wonder that it is the highest biodiversity conservation game reserve in the world.
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 also attracted many people to come for safari tours to Uganda.
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.
Go Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
This remarkable diversity is reflected in its bird list of 606 species, the largest of any protected area in Africa. Eleven species of global conservation concern have been recorded, and there are old records of three other such species The notable of the 606 bird species in the park include Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, White-winged Terns, Swamp Fly-catcher, Grey-capped Warbler, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Collard Pranticles, African Jacana, Pin-tailed Whydah, Martial Eagle, Gabon and Slender-tailed Nightjars, the lovely Black-headed Gonolek, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Common Squacco Heron, African Skimmer, African Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Sedge Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Great white and Pink-backed Pelicans, African Mourning Dove, African Open-billed Stork, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Yellow-billed, open-billed and Marabou Storks, Egyptian Goose, a number of Gull species, endless list.
In the crater lakes, spectacular flocks of flamingos gather along Katwe Crater Lake, creating the image of a moving pink carpet. The launch trip along the Kazinga Channel between Lakes George and Edward is a memorable way to view the abundant game in Queen Elizabeth and to see an astounding number of bird species. Queen Elizabeth National park has over 95 mammalian species. This ranks it among the best safari destination in Africa with big herds of elephants, a profusion of hippos, the elusive giant forest hog and handsome Uganda Kob which are all regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula.
A Launch Cruise is taken along the Kazinga channel. On the cruise different animals and birds can be seen on the 34km tranquil Kazinga Channel shore. These include large Schools of Hippos and solitary Buffaloes, elephants, reptiles like The Nile Crocodiles and Lizards, water birds like Pelicans, Egyptian goose, Saddle-billed Stork, African Fish Eagles, African Jacana and Kingfishers among others.
Other Important Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
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.