Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park formerly called Kazinga National Park was founded in 1952, it acquired its new name in remembrance of the visit of Queen Elizabeth ii of England in 1954. Its known for its wildlife including Nile crocodile, African Bush Elephant, African Leopard, Lion, African Buffalo, Ugandan Kob, Chimpanzee and Hippopotamus.
The park covers an area of 1,978km² and lies on the Equator, the Monuments on the either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses at 0° latitudes.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular tourism destination because of its humid forests, sparkling lakes, savannah and fertile wetlands, which makes it an ideal habitant for primates, big game and over 600 species of birds.
The park has enormous magnificent craters carved into rolling hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga channel with its banks lined with beautiful animals like the Hippos, Elephants and Buffaloes and the endless Ishasha plains whose fig trees hide lions that are ready to pounce on the herds of Uganda kobs.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the South-Western Uganda and borders the districts of Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Kamwenge and Kasese and 420kms from Kampala with the duration of 4½hrs. this park is the most visited destinations in Uganda.
In addition to its exceptional wildlife attractions, the park also has an interesting cultural history where by the local people entertain the tourists in local dances, storytelling, music, cooking, roosting maize and so many other things.
The park has some craters like Lake Katwe that mark the highest points of 1,350m above sea level, and the lowest at Lake Edward is at 910meters.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is also composed of Rift Valley landscapes and tropical forests which is good for the extensive variety of flora and Fauna. It is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and has the following on its Menu Savanna safaris, Boat voyages, Forest hikes, mountain climbing and wildlife research activities.
ACTIVITIES IN QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
ISHASHA TREE CLIMBING LIONS
Background information about Mweya Peninsular.
About 5,000yrs ago, this place was a human settlement area. An explorer Henry M Stanley reached Mweya Peninsular in 1889 and saw a smoke or formless void and reported it back home. He thought that most possibly the smoke was caused by the bush clearing fires since he had seen by that time of his arrival 81 huts with a lot of goats and sheep.
In 1891 another Explorer called Fredrick Lugard, made his way to this place and found out that the huts had been disserted, this might have happened before Lugard came to Mweya Peninsular. Since the area is said to have been closed from human settlement due to the outbreak of Rinderpest. Though later in 1952, the area was gazetted for wild life and renamed from Kazinga National park to Queen Elizabeth National Park after the Queen’s visit to Uganda.
Mweya Peninsular has communities of people that make up the population of over 450 people, and one wonders how this population lives wildlife composed of Leopards, Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, hippos, chimpazzes and so many others.
Mweya Peninsular is the central focus of the park, with a variety of sightseeing activities with the variety of excellent accommodations. It is located 20kms west of the road from Kasese town to Mbarara. It has a good access since all types of vehicles between Kasese and Mbarara can go through Katunguru town.
Another exciting attraction apart from animals is the luxurious accommodation of Mweya Safari Lodge within the Mweya Peninsular overlooking the Kazinga Channel. Its adjacent to Lake Edward which offers a breath taking view.
This Peninsular is composed of the chunky cover with dense vegetation dominated by thorny bushes and Candelabra. The only way to enjoy your tour in this park is to get a Tour Guide, he/she helps you explore the park and the distant parts of the peninsular. Mweya information centre organises and carries out all the activities that the tourists are involved in.
Some unique activities in the Peninsular;
You get a chance to visit the communities around Mweya Safari lodge and hold interactions with them, see the way they live, their cultural dances, best foods, behaviours, farming practices and so much more.
A Guide leads the way through the trails and tracks the Mongoose, this is done on foot at Mweya Peninsular. The activity involves watching and learning rodent behaviours, it’s a 3hour activity. Then you get chance and study also the behaviours of few wild animals like warthogs, baboons and others and some birds.
Precautions to take while in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Follow the instructions of the Tour Guide;
- No eating during the tour in the wild
- Do not litter the park
- Control un necessary noise that might alert the big cats
- Do not chase wild animals
Kazinga channel is comprised of two sections, the Kasenyi plains and the North Kazinga. The plains offer breathe taking points of sporting games, game tracking voyages, Nature walks and game drives with animals like Buffaloes, Elephants and other animals that live in the grassland thickets in the Northern Kazinga near Mweya.
The most convenient and favourable place to spot the Lions is within the Eastern section of Kasenyi plains and Kasese road on which they prey on the large number of resident kobs within that area. The best time for Game drives is in the mornings and later in the afternoons. It’s the duty of the Ranger to offer you adequate information about the wildlife within the park and help you identify some of the attractions that you may have not noticed and also to ensure you get a memorable experience on this Safari.
The shores of Kazinga channel draws a number of wild animals, reptiles and birds throughout the year with the largest population of Hippopotamuses in the world plus Nile crocodiles. These animals can be seen well on a Boat cruise down the course of the channel and on the entrance of Lake Edward.
Boat cruise in Kazinga channel is the most rewarding, finest and most liked Launch trips in all National parks of the Country, it’s done between 11:00am to 1:00pm local time basing on the tourist preference and booking is done at Mweya Safari Lodge.
Kazinga channel is 32kms long connecting lake George on the East and lake Edward on the West. It’s one of the important features and attraction in queen Elizabeth National Park. On the Eastern side of the Kazinga channel is Lake George with the depth of 2.4metres and 250km², its fed by the streams flowing from the spectacular Rwenzori Mountains just North of this Lake. The out flow from lake George flows through Kazinga Channel and drains west into the adjacent Lake Edward which is the main fresh water lake in Uganda that covers an area of 2,000km².
Fishing on these three water bodies Kazinga channel, Lake George and Edward constitutes the major economic livelihood and a source of food security for the majority of the people in the rift valley part of Kasese district. Over 20,000 people depend on the fishery of Lake George and the Kazinga channel while an estimated 15,000 depend on lake Edward for their livelihood.
ISHASHA TREE CLIMBING LIONS
Location of Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Ishasha plains and forest is located in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park and this is the part that extends from Democratic Republic of Congo to Kivale Forest. It’s a wildlife corridor with forest elephants, Buffaloes, a number of antelopes and others.
Queen Elizabeth National park is one of the most protected national park in Uganda which lies directly on the equator gazetted in 1925 as the Lake Edward and Lake George reserves which later was upgradedin1952 to create one of Uganda’s first National parks at the time. Queen Elizabeth National Park harbors a total of 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species more than any other national park in Uganda. The mammal species include elephants, hippos, buffaloes and many more. Along kasenyi and Ishasha plains, chances of finding lions are likely with classic game viewing under vast rift valley skies. The bird species include flamingoes on kyambura and katwe soda Lakes among other bird species good for bird watching