This is what you need to know about Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth is located about 400km, west of Kampala. For road transport, public and private means is easy to arrange. The two routes that can be used to access the park are;
o Kampala-Mubende road through fort portal
o Masaka-Mbarara road.
The third transport route option is flying from Kanjansi (Entebbe Road) to Kasese airstrip. Scheduled flights are available twice a day on most days of the week. Chartered flights can be arranged any day.
History of the park:
Queen Elizabeth is the second oldest park of Uganda. Its size is 1978 square km, making it the second-largest in Uganda. This park was established in the year 1952 as Kazinga National Park, a name that lasted only two years. When it was two years old, it was renamed to its current name to commemorate the visit of the queen of England. From the traditional tales, the land currently occupied by the park was a hunting ground for the local tribes. These tribes include the Batagwenda and Banyaruguru in the Bunyaruguru highlands and Bakonzo on the Rwenzori Mountains side. The main reason this land was never settled is due to the infestation of tsetse flies that were in the area. As a result, the people who used to live there moved to other neighboring landscapes leaving the park to remain as an exclusive wildlife habitat until this current day. When it was turned into a national park, hunting from here was reduced but the tribes kept hunting the stary animals that would go to the human residential areas, that were equally forested and sparsely settled like today.
Queen Elizabeth is home to over 95 mammals and more than 500 bird species and a variety of reptiles and small insects. The common animals you will see during your visit include;
o African savannah Elephants
o Giant forest hog
o Uganda Kob
o African Buffalo
o Nile crocodile
o Vervet monkeys,
o Black and white colobus monkeys
You will surely not miss on birds as you drive on safari or take the Kazinga channel boat cruise.
Attraction and wildlife activities:
In Queen Elizabeth national park, you have a long list of activities to participate in during the visit. The key activities include;
o A wildlife safari in Kasenyi
o A wildlife safari on Mweya peninsular
o A wildlife safari in Ishasha looking for tree climbing lions
o Chimp tracking in Kyambura gorge
o The night game drive
o Looking for the shoebill in the southern (Ishasha) sector.
o Mangoose tracking
o Bird watching tours.
Other specialized activities include research activities such as the Hippo census, the carnivore research activities. These two only happen at the restriction of the research team. You need to book in advance or get exclusive permission to participate in them.
Queen Elizabeth is also surrounded by other reserves that are also of interest. These include; Kalinzu forest, Maramagambo forest, The crater lakes in Bunyaruguru and Katwe salt lake. In these areas, you can do a number of activities including;
o Chimp tracking
o Forest nature walks
o Site seeing walks
Community experiences around the park:
Queen Elizabeth is a human biosphere. The park is a good demonstration of local community coexisting with wildlife. In and around the park you will find a good number of human settlement communities. These include the fishing villages, salt mining villages and other farmer communities living around the park. The communities bring an opportunity for visitors to learn the local ways of life. The community experiences you will be able to choose to participate in include;
o Katwe traditional salt mining tour
o The crater lakes tours
o The village tours around the farmers’ villages or fishing villages
o The bodaboda safari through the park and villages
o The traditional dance performances
o Crafts making workshops
o The farm tours on the hills overlooking the park
Schedules for boat cruises and activity timing:
A boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth offers the ultimate wildlife viewing experiences that no one should miss during their visit. All boat wildlife viewing cruises in Queen Elizabeth national park is conducted on the Kazinga channel. During the boat, you see wildlife at close range when the cool off on the banks of the channel. The wildlife line and drink or play in their natural habitat despite human appearance over the boats. They are so used to this and it gives an opportunity to see wildlife happily living their normal life like they would be in paradise. You will see multitudes of mammals, birds and some reptiles including the monitor lizards, the Nile crocodile and sometimes snakes.
Unless there is a special arrangement, all boat cruises on the Kazinga channel go for around two hours. You will find two categories of boat cruises. One at Mweya, inside the park, that is scheduled going two times a day, at 11:00 am and 03:00 pm. The second one is the community boat cruise that can go at any time between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, in intervals of two hours apart. The other boat option is MV Kazinga that is mainly on Lake Edward and the western part of the Kazinga channel. All boats require prior booking before arrival.
Transport in and around the park:
Queen Elizabeth is dissected by a national public highway from Mbarara to Kasese/ fort portal. This road is tarmacked and all-weather standard. It makes a loop from Kampala and back to Kampala on both ends. This makes it easy to access Queen Elizabeth national park by public transport. You can easily find buses from Kampala or Matau (shared taxis) in the neighboring towns passing through Queen Elizabeth. No one will be allowed to enter beyond the national park gates on foot. This means if your lodge is inside the park, if you want to do a boat cruise at Mweya or any other activity, you will need to have private transport. The cars can be easily hired from outside the park at Katunguru, at your lodge or other local centers around the park.
Neighboring national parks and how to get to them after your stay in Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth is located in the center of natural wonders. Its neighborhood makes up other unique national parks that can be reached in a few hours. To the north, you find Kibale national park, the home of chimps and other primates.
To the west, you find Rwenzori mountains national park forming the wonderful backdrop during the safari. Rwenzori is the adventure park for those who want to do all levels of scenic adventurous mountain climbing.
South of Queen Elizabeth, you will find Bwindi forest almost touching ends with each other. This is the home of the famous mountain gorillas.
From the immediate neighbor parks, you will find other parks such as Semuliki national park to the northwest, Murchison falls national park to the far north and Muganinga gorilla national park to the far south.
It is possible to travel from Queen Elizabeth to any of these parks within one day. If you haven’t figured how to travel to/ from Queen or you need any other on-ground help, please feel free to contact us now. We will provide support from the smallest to the most complex travel details, including travel, hotel reservation, and wildlife safaris or booking other destinations around Uganda.