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QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

The world renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park is a 2000-square kilometre wonderland where wildlife comes home. The vastness of the land accommodates a host of activities and ecological zones that allow for the most natural and remarkable interplay of wildlife. From Lions to Chimpanzees and Savannahs to rich rivers, Queen Elizabeth National Park literally has it all. It is rightly touted as Uganda’s most visited national park and puts most other national parks surrounding it in its shadow.

Description
This 7 day Uganda wildlife and gorilla tracking safari takes you to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s second largest national park, with plenty of wildlife, birds and primates. This park also...
Stay Options
Basic camping, Budget lodging, Mid-range accommodations
$1540

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Description
Spanning over 12 days, this Uganda tour is a spectacular choice to cover almost everything that the country has to offer. The glorious Bwindi National Park which Is renowned for its...
Stay Options
Basic camping, Budget lodging, Mid-range accommodations
$2650$2944*per person

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Description
This 9-days safari takes you to the misty Bwindi Impenetrable forest, which is home to more than half the population of the remaining 720 Mountain Gorillas in the world. Gorilla tracking is the most...
Stay Options
Basic camping, Budget lodging, Mid-range accommodations
$1970

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Introduction

Extending to 4 districts within Uganda, the mainland of the national park includes the Kigezi and Kyambura Game reserves, the famous Kibale National Park as well as the Virunga National Park that extends into the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is good reason why the national park is home to such myriad wildlife - Lake George marks its north-eastern edge while Lake Edward falls to the south-west edge of the national park. The Kazinga channel also connects both these lakes, making for a perennial and lush source of water that attracts and supports a variety of wildlife, truly depicting the beauty of Africa.

History of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Gazetted as the Queen Elizabeth National Park after the Queen’s visit in 1954, it was previously comprised of isolated game reserves created around the two lakes - George and Edward. In the initial quarter of the 1900’s, they set up a separate department to stop elephants from rampaging through nearby villages, destroying life and property. The whole idea was to create separate boundaries for elephants and humans, thus protecting them both. Additionally, back in the day the area of the current Queen Elizabeth National Park was largely de populated due to constant cattle raiding by the Buganda kingdom.

As a result of such partitions, several reserves and sanctuaries were formed over the years. Across the boarder in Zaire, Parc national des Virunga was designated in 1925 by the Belgian colonial authorities and pressure to protect the adjoining ecosystem in Uganda led to the establishment of L. George game reserve and L. Edward game reserve in the in the late 1920’s. The land area protected within the Lake George Game reserve was expanded considerably to include large area to the east of Lake Edward and Kazinga channel. Using the 40-kilometre long natural Kazinga channel that connects both lakes, the area was made into a national park that consisted of the most diverse animal population within Uganda.


Animals of Queen Elizabeth National Park

The Queen Elizabeth National Park now houses over 90 species of mammals, the highest in Uganda. It also is home to 10 species of primates and over 600 species of birds. It also stands as the most diverse area for bird watching in an Uganda Safari. It is home to some rare species of primates like the colobus monkey and the L'hoest's monkey. It is also one of the very few places in the world where you can find tree-climbing lions! You can also find Chimpanzees in the Kyambura Gorge, while the Equator also crosses through the national park. Not only this, there are land and water safaris to offer to tourists at the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Clearly, a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park is filled with myriad experiences and would equate to one of those unmatched moments in life.

The Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts some staggering figures when it comes to wildlife. This is largely due to the fact that the national park has savannahs and grasslands along with the hills, swamps and marshlands. There are natural river systems as well as forests that provide abundant ecological variety for animals to co-exist and thrive in. As for big game, it hosts them in abundance as well. The park is home to approximately 5000 hippos, around 10,000 of Cape Buffaloes and more than 3,000 elephants. Along with the big game, there are also Warthogs, Waterbuck, Uganda Kob, Topi and even the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelope.


Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park

One of its more famous areas is the Ishasha area - the place where the famous tree-climbing lions are found. Lions are not known to be the best tree climbers, nor do they exhibit such behaviour regularly. However, there are patches within this national park where lions are known to laze and relax on trees, even using them as a vantage point for spotting prey. While the tree-climbing cats are usually Leopards, it is a peculiar act of nature that researchers have tried figuring out for a while now. They have tried several reasons to justify such behaviour including those of tsetse flies as well as an escape from the draft of hot air that hugs the African plains. Whatever it may be, you might find yourself in luck when you visit the Queen Elizabeth National Park and witness one of the most peculiar acts in nature.


The Kazinga Channel

Another fascinating area within the national park is the Kazinga channel area that provides quite a diverse setting for many animals. It is home to Nile crocodiles as well as one of the richest areas for hippopotamus. It supports the highest concentration of hippo within the Ugandan landmass, while also being the lifeline for several marshes and swamps along its length that thousands of species of birds call home. Not only is it home to the rare shoebill stork, a trip along the Kazinga channel will allow you to notice Martial Eagles, African spoonbills, Cormorants, African Skimmers, Pelicans and Papyrus Gonolek flying right along the surface of the water. Apart from the birds and the hippos, the waters are the lifeline for most land mammals that inhabit that area. Elephants and buffalo often come to cool off and grab a drink in the sweltering heat. Nile crocodiles are the happiest swimming in these waters that are frequented by large animals that could potentially be dinner. At $30 for the cruise, all in all, it certainly comes as a fascinating contrast to the usual grassland terrain that the African safaris are loaded with. It will also be one of the best settings to grab those picturesque images that typify your African experience.

Kyambura Gorge - Chimpanzee Tracking

If these varieties of animal are not enough, you can find scores of chimps at the Kyambura gorge on the eastern side of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Chimp tracking activities are quite popular in this area as well. However, the rolling slopes along the gorge are quite cumbersome to traverse while tracking these chimps. A better idea would be to walk along the relatively dense forest that runs along the foot of the gorge. Chimps might not be as abundant within this area of the national park but still frequent the forest enough to catch a glimpse of a few of them. Just a little north from the Gorge area is the Kibale reserve area that is world-famous for the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience or “Chex”. It allows visitors to spend large parts of the day with the chimps and observe them in their natural habitat. It makes for one of the most fascinating experiences as one develops a sense of the intelligent behaviour that is specific to these creatures, along with other intellectual traits like socialisation and emotionality. However, each of these requires permits of varying length and fees, so booking in advance is highly advisable.

Lake Katwe and Night Game Drives

As is elicited through this article, a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park is filled with experiences that will last with you forever. It forms for one of the most diverse and varied safari experiences in Africa owing to the diversity of the terrain and land features that it boasts. Even a halt at Lake Katwe to watch the salt formation is surreal in many ways. If the exposure to the abundant wildlife was not enough, a visit to the Kikorongo women community near Lake Edward makes for a fantastic viewing of local culture and allows for appreciation of their lives. A few communities of fishermen also inhabit the shores of the Kazinga channel - you will spot them while on the boat cruise. Their simple way of life along with the finesse of fish-catching they display is truly remarkable. From centres made for viewing the traditional art and craft to the dances that they perform, these cultural encounters are truly enriching and inspiring. Therefore, make sure you spare enough time to visit the Queen Elizabeth national park - it has a range of offerings that only a handful of national parks would be able to provide. Along with the usual game drives, certain locations within the national park also provide night-drives that come as a completely different experience. Lack of visibility adds an eerie sense of suspense in the air as several animals are on the prowl for prey and much-needed meals.

Queen Elizabeth National Park Entrance Fee

The Uganda Wildlife Authority or (as commonly referred to) UWA (pronounced ooh-er!) is the body responsible for all national parks and wildlife reserves in Uganda.UWA is in charge of management of 10 National Parks, 12 Wildlife Reserves, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries and provides guidance for 5 Community Wildlife Areas. The body is also responsible for setting up visitation fees and entry permits for all the national parks and wildlife reserves.

All visitors must produce valid ID proof in order to determine their resident status and applicable fee.

A day’s entrance ticket is valid for 24 hrs from the time of entrance.




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