Located in the southwest of Uganda near Kasese, covering 1978 sq km. Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is Uganda`s most popular and accessible savanna reserve. It was declared as a bios-sphere reserve purposely to harmonizing human activities with the conservation and protection of wild life , wet lands and natural resources in 1979.
QENP is bounded by the Ishasha River and Lake Edward to the west along DR Congo boarder, by Kasese and Rwenzori foothills to the north, to the east by lake George, kyambura/chambura gorge and kalinzu forest reserve, and by the Kigezi Wildlife Reserve to the south. Much as QENP is primarily known for open savanna,in some areas studded with a dense cover of acacia and euphoria trees but it also embraces large area of thick swamps around Lake George,the extensive Maramaganbo Forest in the southeast, and the forested Kyambura Gorge along the border with the Kyambura Game Reserve .Endowed with at least ten crater lakes within the park, including the highly accessible cluster right north of the main road to Mweya safari lodge, as well as the whole Ugandan shore of lake Edward,the western and northern shores of lake George, plus the connecting Kazinga channel QENP has a lot to offer to any tourist and a one of Uganda`s Eco tourism destinations.what a life time memorable site it is!.
Having been protected as the lake George and lake Edward game reserve since the late 1920s, the present day QENP was gazette as Kazinga National Park in 1952, purposely to protect landscapes of prolific wildlife typical of the Rift Valley flow from lake Edward to the Rwenzori mountains. In 1954 it was renamed QENP in memory of the Queen of England’s visit to this place.
With a total of 95 mammal species recorded here and the highest for any Ugandan national park,its makes this park a remarkable Uganda wildlife safari spot. These include ten primate species,including chimpanzee, black -and- white colobus and olive baboon,the vervet blue,red-tailed and L’Hoest’s monkeys, and around 20 predators are native to this park, the side-striped jackal among,the spoted hyena,lion and leopard,the beautiful Uganda kob, bushbuck,topi and Defassa water bucks- all antelope species. In her papyrus swamps around lake George duels the elusive semi-aquartic sitatunga antelope and four duikers species are resident in Maramaganbo Forest. Buffaloes are common sight and are usually redish in colour due to interbreeding with the Congolese forest redder forest buffalo.
Today, QENP boasts with around 2500 species of Elephants and with at least 200 readily observed Lions. This park is home to 610 species a remarkable aspect for a reserve of her size basing on continental standards which explains why it is Uganda`s leading wildlife tours-safari destination. In addition to her 54 raptors, this park has virtually every water bird species found in Uganda,as well as a variety of woodland and forest birds,the later largely confined to maramagambo forest.
Birding safaris-tours are common here because QENP has a variety of bird species that majorly include; Open-billed Stork, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, African Skimmer, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Grey-capped Warbler, African beautiful Black-headed Gonolek, Swamp Fly-catcher, Pin-tailed Whyda Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Common Squaco Heron, Shoebill Stork, African Fish Eagle, African White-tailed Lark, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Collard Pranticles, Gabon and Slender-tailed Mourning Dove, The Nightjars, Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Black Bee-eater, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Great white and Pink-backed Pelicans,Papyrus Canary, White-winged Terns.
The ethnic groups virtually attached to this area are; Banyankole, Bakiga, and Bakonjyo.these carry out a variety of traditional and contemporary economic activities-notably salt mining,crop and animal farming,and have a greatly reach diversity of dressing codes as well as languages, an interesting discovery to interested tourist.
With such a fusion of attractions I can strongly assert that QENP is a wonder tourist destination that has a lot to stain a life time memory of a great Africa tour-safari in to the minds of any great traveler/tourist.
TOURISTS ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS
An experience of this game drive in Q.E.N.P will automatically get you an exciting Uganda adventure to tell the rest of your life there is to live!.This involves driving through the park so as to view animals. It is best done in the early morning and late afternoon hours when the weather is calm. QENP has well-maintained tracks, giving visitors quick access to the park’s wildlife and other attractions. These tracks cut through the mating grounds of the great Uganda Kob as the outstanding gigantic forest hog is seen moving around the park bush. You will enjoy a memorable sight of Elephants as they make their way down to the waters during hot days, hungry lions looking for their prey while bush backs and buffaloes can be found on the channel track and juxtaposed circumference. The out unique panorama along the crater track leads you to volcanic craters at the foothills of the misty mountains of the moon, outstanding of all, the great overlooking Mt.Rwenzori shall be seen.
The Launch Cruise
This is a boat trip along the hippopotamus crowded banks of Kazinga channel and it gives you a unique unbeaten wild life experience. Crocodile are a common sight and occasionally a common leopard can be seen. Many buffaloes rest in the waters while big herds of elephants enjoy them-selves drinking and playing along the channel banks. You will See Hippos as surrounded by vast numbers of migrants and resident birds, this boat cruise puts one, right in the heart of amazing nature.
In Maramagambo Forest; these are short to long guided nature walks offered at the great Q.E.NP. This will expose you a diversity the wild; the pythons in the ostracism of the bat caves floor with their prey-the bats. This bat’s cave is near the attractive blue lake and hunter’ cave. Other trails lead you to the heart of the surrounding craters and habitats to many forest birds as well as some primates like the Chimpanzee.
A Nature Walk to The Kyambura Wild Life Reserve
It is found in the eastern part of the protected area and supports similar mammals to the rest of the park.
It harbors three saline crater lakes, which attract a large number of flamingoes- not found anywhere else hence a great birding safari destination in Uganda. This steep Kyambura gorge, formed by the turbulent waters of the roaring Kyambura River, provides a luxuriant Riverine forest, habitant to Lions, chimpanzees. Black -and – white colobus monkeys, olive baboons and other primates as well as plenty of forest birds. snakes and many others. A visit to the gorge presents a great opportunity to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
The Ishasha Visit
This trail to southern part of the park will let you See the tree climbing lions a on the large fig tree,see the Topi, the Uganda Kob and Buffaloes graze in the acacia studded savannah.
A visit to The Traditional Salt
You will see how the salt ore looks like since the 14 century, here, salt has been mined by traditional methods to date. You will also understand how the salt mines have been sub divided and distributed to the various tribes in Uganda. As explained by your guide, you will lean the interesting cultural strings attached to the salt mines.
How to get there and away
-From kampala; Take an early morning Mbarara-Kabale road,turn off the main at ntungamo and follow the new 45km road to rukingiri.From here drive 70km olong a murram road to ishasha via Kihihi.
–From kabale/bwindi via kahihi;
Mweya safari lodge, Jacana safari lodge at maramambo forest and bandas located in Ishasha sector, Ihamba lodge, Camp sites at Mweya, Maramagambo forest and Ishasha Toilets or pit latrine, shower or bathing shelters are provide at these sites. The park hostel at Mweya with 48 bedrooms of 6.
-Get your permit before entering the park.
-Drive only between 7:00am and 7:00pm and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
-Do not drive more than 45km per hour.
-Do not bring pet animals into the park.
-Do not bring firearms or ammunition into the park.
-Give animals right of way and don’t disturb wild life.
-Stay in your vehicle except at designated areas.
-Do not sound your horn.
-Do not pick or cut any plants as well as kill any animal/living creature.
-Do not litter.
-Do not start fires or throw cigarettes ends.