Initially gazetted as Kazinga National park in 1952 along with Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination visited by travelers taking safaris in Uganda on discovery trips into Western Uganda. The park attained its current name in 1954 in commemoration of the Queen’s visit to Uganda and since then a number of British royalists have visited the park.
The park spreads over an area of about 1,978 square kilometers (764 sq miles) covering the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri in the Western part of Uganda. It is located approximately 376 kilometers (234 mi), by road, South west of Kampala; Uganda’s capital.
The park’s lowest point is at 910m above sea level at L. Edward and the highest is at 1,350m above sea level at the Katwe explosion craters.
The park’s magnificent vistas of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kobs have been attributed to its location at the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains.
Queen Elizabeth’s array of ecosystems that ranges from sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, has made it an ideal habitat for a wide diversity of wild life species. The park’s burgeoning bird list of about 619 species is the 2nd highest of any park in Africa and 6th in the whole world.
The park’s mammal species’ list is about 100, making it the most diversified national park in East Africa. The park also embraces about 10 species of primates including our closest relatives- the chimpanzee and enormous monkey species in Kyambura and Maramagambo forest.
The park’s most popular residents are the tree climbing lions of Ishasha whose unusual character has been attributed to either escape from the tsetse flies or a mechanism for survival to have a wider view of the prey. The crocodiles along Kazinga channel have returned in the recent past following their elimination from L. Edward for about 8000 years as a result of toxic ash from local volcanoes.
The banks of this peaceful channel that connects two lakes are often thronged by several bird species including African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, Pink-backed pelicans, Papyrus canary, Shoebill stork, martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail as well as the great flamingos. Animals also flock the channel in the afternoon for water including the elephants, buffalo, an array of antelope species and the permanent residents like hippos and crocodiles that always navigate the water. The cat family members like the lions and leopards together with other meat eaters like hyenas can be seen on early morning game drive.
The park is also home to a number of crater lakes including the Katwe crater that is well known for its rock salt that is extracted using traditional methods. Other craters are good sites for birding like Munyanyange which is a sanctuary for the lesser flamingoes.
Also known as the ‘Medley of Wonders’, Queen Elizabeth National Park offers an outstanding Cultural history with an opportunity to meet and interact with the local people, enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more that explains their origins and history to the present day lifestyles.
Explore this and more of this park and other parks in Uganda and other East African countries with Africa Adventure Safaris. We celebrate in aiding you towards achieving a memorable safari as we unfold with you the secret treasure of this home of the Africa’s friendliest people-the Pearl of Africa, where the West African jungle meets the East African Savanna and where the climate is friendly all year round.