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Queen Elizabeth National Park

QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK.

Queen Elizabeth is arguably Uganda’s second largest national park with an area size of 1978km and the first being Murchison falls (3,893 sq.km).  Located in western Uganda, queen Elizabeth national park is shared by seven district administrations these include kamwenge, Kasese, ibanda, rubirizi, mitoma, Rukungiri and sheema. The park founded in 1952 as Kazinga national park a name that was later changed to queen Elizabeth national park to commemorate the visit of her majesty the queen of  England the second. Queen Elizabeth national park is located in Western Uganda adjacent to Rwenzori Mountains on the western rift valley floor. It is a habitat to 95 Species of mammals and 619 Species of birds, 10 primate species and over 40 reptile species partly which make it the most visited park in Uganda.

How to get there?

Located in western Uganda, shared by over seven districts, Queen Elizabeth national park is just 5-6 hours from Kampala on a tarmac road via Mbarara, and can also be reached on a dirt road from Bwindi impenetrable national park. Accessing the park from Kampala can either be through Mbarara (420 kames) or Fort Portal via Kasese (410kms). Queen Elizabeth national park can also be reached via Ishasha sector, which is north of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

By Air there are always chattered flights that can be can be arranged from Entebbe international Airport/Kajjansi to Mweya Airstrip and Kasese Airstrip in Kasese town and these flights usually take 45mins to 1 hour.

Climate and Geography

The climate in Queen Elizabeth is warm. Temperatures remain stable year-long being near the equator line that crosses the park at Kikorongo. Day temperatures rise as high as 28°C/82°F and slowly fall to around 16°C/61°F at night. Queen Elizabeth national park is known for having an unstable dry season, so there is potential for rain at any moment. Rain happens less during December through January whereas June and July have been known for being dry. Wet seasons come in March-May and also in August-December. The western Rift Valley covers Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura and Kigezi wildlife reserves. The protected area borders the foothills of the mountain Rwenzori in the north to Ishasha sector in the south, and also falls within seven district administrations which include Kasese, rubirizi, kamwenge, Rukungiri, mitoma, ibanda and sheema. Lake Edward, the Kazinga channel, Lake George, the Ishasha River and series of crater lakes provide an ideal habitat for 95 mammals, 619 birds, 10 primate species and over 40 reptile species offering wonderful wildlife experiences for the visitors. Its temperatures range from18oc to 280c. The wettest seasons in this Park come in March to May and September to November receiving rains ranging from 750mm-1250mm with an altitude of 910m above sea level at Lake Edward to 1,390 m above sea level in the crater area. However the park can best be timed from December-February and the tour can be for at least 2-3 days.

Uganda safari Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National park  

Maramagambo Forest as a Safari Attraction in Queen Elizabeth National Park

This is famous for short medium and long guided nature walks that can be adventurous and yet exciting at the same moment. Huge Pythons are often observed in and near the bats cave floor which usually prey on these bats.  More interesting about this cave is it is near the Blue lake and hunter’s cave which gives the visitors a double experience if you happen to go there. The other trails in this forest lead into the heart of the Maramagambo forest surrounding it is home to many primates including chimpanzee.

Kyambura gorge as a Safari Attraction in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The steep Kyambura gorge formed by the turbulent waters of the roaring Kyambura River provides a lush riverine forest, home to chimpanzees, black and white colobus and red-tailed monkeys, Olive baboons and other primates as well as plenty of forest birds. A guide nature walks takes visitors into the gorge and offers a great chance to track habituated chimpanzee in their natural habitat.

Kazinga channel as a Safari Attraction in Queen Elizabeth National Park

It is at the most significant feature in the park and is a 32Km² long channel that links the lakes of Edward and George. It has an average depth of 7.9ft and its waters flow from the streams of Mt. Rwenzori

Communities as a Safari Attraction in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Kasese, a district where most of the park is concentrated is on an elevation of 1,000m altitude. It has about 101,679 people (census 2014) and is 360Km away from the Capital Uganda. Economic activities such as copper and cobalt mining at Kilembe, farming are ongoing in the district. The main cash crop grown is coffee which is favored by the altitude of the area.

The district has its 3 power stations each generating 5 megawatts mini-hydroelectricity. All the three power stations are built on River Mubuku.

Kasese is at the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and is located along the equator (00 11N 30 05E). It is part of the Rwenzururu Kingdom with the King Charles Mumbere.

Two languages are spoken in the region; Rutoro originally for the Toro Kingdom in Fort portal and Rukonjo.

Tourist Activities

Game drives as a Safari Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park

For any visitor coming to Queen Elizabeth national park can be rewarded by a game drive which will definitely bring you closer to the marvelous diversity in the park. This is usually done very early in the morning and late in the evening hours. Well-maintained tracks give visitor access to the park’s game. Some tracks pass through large mating grounds of great herds of Uganda Kob and buffalos. The slower you drive the more you will see. The Kasenyi plains in north eastern part of the park are the best places for game drives.

Boat cruise on The Kazinga channel as a Safari Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park

A boat trip along the hippo crowded banks and the basking crocodiles on the Kazinga channel will give you a unique unmatched water based experience. Here you encounter and experience the yawning hippos surrounded by a vast number of water bird like the great cormorants, egrets, pelicans, kingfishers and flamingos. This boat cruise puts any visitor in the right heart of nature and a unique water based experience. Many buffalo rest in water with the basking crocodiles being a common sight along the shores of the Kazinga channel. Occasionally leopards and hyenas can also be seen on the banks of the Kazinga channel.

Traditional Salt Work Visit as a Safari Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park

A visit to one of the oldest salt mines and industries in Uganda is rewarding at the enclave of L. Katwe town. Since the 14th Century, salt has been mined by traditional methods and is still in the use today. Salt production peaks during the dry season.

Game drives in Ishasha as a Safari Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Ishasha is the true pearl in the southern part of the park. Campsites frequently visited by Colobus and other monkeys are situated along the winding Ishasha River. The famous tree climbing lions can be spotted on large fig trees in this part of the park. Topi, Uganda Kob and Buffaloes Graze in the Acacia studded savannah.

Bird Watching as a Safari Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth boasts 619 bird species and one can encounter them by using an experienced guide and they know the most interesting bird spots around swamps, lakes and other interesting habitat. Queen Elizabeth national park offers you a good chance of spotting Uganda’s most sought after bird the prehistoric looking shoe Bill stork! Other key species include; the African fish eagle, martial eagle, papyrus gonlek, African Skimmer and many more.

Accommodation

Bush Lodge

This is conveniently situated for your safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Located close to as well the chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge as to the prime game viewing areas in the park, it forms an excellent base for your exploration.

In the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park and overlooking Kazinga Channel, The Bush Lodge offers a unique safari experience. The coming and going of game witnessed from the terrace of your room, hippos lingering in the shallow waters of Kazinga channel, or a lion’s roar while seated at the campfire.

The lodge currently consists of 6 self-contained units which are spaciously placed between the indigenous bushes. The rooms are stilted buildings on wooden platforms and are made from a fine combination of local materials. Huge windows allow you to fully absorb the environment and to feel one with nature. Each room is comfortably equipped and has its own private bathroom with an eco-toilet and an outside shower where 2 showerheads allow couples to take their starlit shower together. Dining is given great importance at The Bush Lodge and our excellent cuisine is matched by an impeccable service. The restaurant is a safari inspired concept of an open tent which lit with romantic light transforms it into a charming setting to end a perfect day.

Mweya Safari Lodge

Mweya Safari Lodge is fabulously located on a peninsula within the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National Park overlooking the Rwenzori Mountains described as the ‘mountains of the moon’ and surrounded by the Kazinga channel. The location provides stunning views from most if not all rooms, as well as the bar, lunch area and pool. Relaxing in the middle of the day by the pool and seeing elephants, buffalos, hippos and crocodiles around the Kazinga Channel. Staying here, you are also minutes away from the launch point for the Kazinga Channel boat rides, which are a real highlight of Queen Elizabeth National park.

The lodge consists of 50 rooms (standard, deluxe and presidential) and also consists of a pool, bar and dining area, outdoor lounge as well as a conferencing facility. The rooms have a nice view of the Queen Elizabeth national park and during the mornings it is easy to shoot wonderful pictures. The ‘safari luxurious’ interior décor meets colonial design with much of the original infrastructure having been carefully preserved. The spa at Mweya provides massages and other body treatments. A complete gym and steam room is also available.

Meals are carefully prepared every day depending on the season and ingredients are locally sources from surrounding farming communities. Breakfast is typically continental while lunch and dinners are a combination of barbeques, table d’hote and a la carte menus. The service is gracious and kind – the lodge is a part of Marasa that also owns Paraa Lodge and the most awesome lodge in Uganda – Chobe Lodge, both Paraa and Chobe are at Murchison Falls Park.It’s a fifteen minute drive from the main road, but the scenery is nice. Mweya Safari Lodge Facilities include the following types of accommodation: 12 Deluxe Rooms with Air-conditioning, 32 Standard Rooms, recently renovated, very spacious and luxurious, with large beds enclosed walk-in mosquito netting, sliding glass doors on a private verandah, 2 Suites.

  Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Ishasha wilderness camp is situated inside the remote southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for its tree climbing lions that can sometimes be spotted resting in the branches of the large fig trees in the area.

Accommodation at Ishasha Wilderness camp:  Each of the 10 spacious framed canvas rooms, situated in the wooded area besides the river, is comfortably furnished and with its own private en suite bathroom and dressing area providing running water, hot water ‘bush’ showers and a flushing eco-friendly toilet. A central dining area, also under canvas, provides a comfortable environment for meals and an outdoor lounge area besides the river, and evening “fireplace” venue for guests completes the unique bush experience offered at this camp.

A central lounge / dining area, under a cool thatched roof, provide a comfortable environment for meals and relaxing during the day. A shaded area beside the river offers al fresco dining and an evening ‘fireplace’ for guests to relax with sundowners and share their day’s experience. Solar power is used for lighting with power points limited to a central area allocated for recharging cameras and videos.

Simba Safari Camp Lodge:

Simba Safari Camp is situated at the border of Queen Elizabeth Nation Park, only 2 km from the equator. It is the closest accommodation for Kasenyi game drives with high chances of spotting lions. The rooms are modest, but very clean and comfortable. Each room has a private front porch and lovely landscaping featuring some of Africa’s finest flowers and plants.

Rooms:

  • 1 Family cottage, consisting of 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a sitting room with

1 extra bedSimba Safari Camp – Main Building

  • 8 Twin rooms with en suite facilities
  • 1 Triple room with en suite facilities
  • 4 Dormitory rooms, each with 5 or 6 double-decker beds

Jacana Lodge 

Jacana Lodge is fabulously located along the edge of  the largest crater lake in Uganda, Lake Nyamusingire in the center of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge is on a beautiful lake in the forest.  Nice pool, restaurant with atmosphere (there is a huge fireplace to have your aperitif) and the rooms/houses are spacious enough. Breakfast is served out on the lake shore, a magical and wonderful way to experience the tranquility that surrounds Jacana Safari Lodge.

The Lodge has 10 luxury en-suite chalets, and a family cottage. The rooms are spacious and well-designed Jacana Lodge Queen Elizabeth National Park to provide maximum comfort, including an enclosed verandah with large panoramic windows offering picture-perfect views of Lake Nyamusingire. The lower deck together with the Sundowner Bar hangs over Lake Nyamusingire edge and leads to the jetty nestled on the water’s edge and the Captain’s Table, a floating pontoon for meals and exploration of the Lake. The Captain’s Table, a one-of-a-kind floating pontoon, is the best way to maximize your experience of being on the lake and for dining.  The swimming pool area is located next to the Lake, perfect for viewing fabulous sunsets. Also in this part of the Lodge is a sauna and massage area that provides a soothing holistic experience that perfectly completes the day’s adventures.

Katara lodge

Katara lodge is a little way out of Queen Elizabeth National Park and in a small village but with fabulous views from the lodge. Located on the Kichwamba escarpment the view goes on for miles all the way to the imposing Rwenzori Mountains on the horizon. This means that there’s no need to pay the park entry fees just to stay in the lodge.

The lodge has eight spacious individual cottages with en suite bathrooms which include a shower and bath with solar heated running hot water. The cottages are situated below the main lodge area and one has amazing direct views over the savannah. The main lodge area is spacious and has a pool area with a separate bar area.

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