A DIVERSITY OF WILDLIFE and scenery to delight any visitor.
Uganda’s most scenic and diverse park enjoys a fabulous location on the floor of the Albertine rift valley,914 metres above sea level, at the foot of 5,100 metre rwenzori mountains. Varied habitats, the 40km kazinga channel which connects lakes George and Edward, open savanna, acacia woodland, closed forest and vast wetlands support an impressive95 mammal species and over 600 species of bird-a remarkable total for a park that is less than 2000sq km in area and is surpassed in Africa only by the neighboring and larger Virunga national park in Congo.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is uganda’s second biggest national Park after Murchison Falls occupying close to 1,978 km square. A world bio sphere reserve with a RAMSAR wetland site, the park is located astride the equator and located in south western Uganda lying on the base of the rift valley between Lake George and Edward. The National Park borders democratic Republic of Congo on its western side. It is some times referd to as the Pearl Of Africa. In Uganda Queen Elizabeth National Park is basically known for the big four animals that is the elephants, lions, Buffalos and the Leopards. It is also classified as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.
From boat trips on the kazinga channel in the centre of the park, to the scenic drive between volcanic craters in the north, chimpanzee tracking in the depths of Kyambura gorge, walks into the dark Maramagambo forest and game drives beneath the vast skies of the isashs wildernesses in the far south, QENP has plenty to occupy any visitor.
CLIMATE: The park experiences two rainy seasons, during march-may and August- November. Its location on the low lying rift valley floor is hotter and drier than most parts of Uganda with a mean maximum temperature of 28 oc(80 F).
LANDSCAPE: QNEP lies on the floor of the albertine rift valley and is surrounded by the valleys’ bounding escarpments, the rwenzori mountains and lakes Edward and George.
PEOPLE: the plains beneath the rwenzori mountains to the north are inhabited by Basongora pastoralists while Bakiga,Banyaraguru and Ankole people live south of the kazinga channel.
Getting there; this park can be accessed most easily from Kampala. The tarmac road from Kampala via Mbarara town – Bushenyi leads to the par centre passing a mere 22 km from Mweya Peninsular, the main tourism hub. Approaching the park from the south via Mbarara covers a distance of 420 km while the North through Fort Portal covers a total of 410 km. en-route to the famed park, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy short detours to Lake Mburo National Park and Kibale National Park renowned for chimpanzee tracking. The park can also be approached from the south from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Accomodation; A variety of accommodations caters for all budgets. They include; Mweya Safari lodge, Jacana Safari lodge, Ishasha Widerness camp for up market accommodation while Mweya Hostel and Ishasha bandas provide budget accommodation. Other accommodation facilities include Katara Lodge, Simba Safari camp, Mweya institute of ecology Hostels, Hippo Hill camp and Ihamba Safari Lodge.
QENP’S most enduring activity is the two-hour return launch trip from Mweya peninsular along the kazinga channel to lake Edward. The shore line is home to crocodiles, hundreds of hippos and a variety of waterbirds, while herds of elephant’ buffalo, leopard, waterbuck and Uganda kob are regular visitors from the rift valley plains beyond.
BIRD WATCHING: Birding opportunities range from easy waterbird sightings from the comfortable Mweya launch to careful searches for rare species in the maramagambo forest. The following is just a small selection of striking and/or rare birds: black-rumped button –quail, broad- billed roller, papyrus gonolek, western banded snake eagle, African fish eagle, white backed night heron, pel’s fishing owl, black bee eater, shoebill, rufus-belled heron, great blue turaco, black and white casqued hornbill, and African fin foot.
GAME VIEWING: East of Mweya, the kasenyi grasslands are knownfor the lion prides that prey on the large herds of resident Uganda kob. In the far south of the park lie the remote grasslands of Isasha. These are home to elephant, topi, buffalo and the parker’s most famous residents, the isasha prides of tree-climbing lions.
VOLCANIC CRATER: A 24 km drive winds through a scenic cluster of extinct volcanic craters filled, variously, with lakes, forest and savanna. Flamingos regularly visit additional craters in the adjacent kyambura wildlife reserve. At katwe salt lake, just outside QNEP, visitors can see salt being produced, in a centuries-old fashion, from ebaporation pans.
FOREST WALKS: Savanna experiences in QNEP are complemented by walks in shady forest. Trails through maramagambo forest enable bird watchers to add forest species to their water and grassland sightings while a descent into the kyambura gorge offers the chance to track chimpanzee and other primates in theirn natural habitat.
ACCOMMODATION: Hotels and lodges exist for all budgets. Options include up market lodges and tented camps as well as basic hostels, cottages and campsites. Mid-range and budget options are found outside the park boundary.
TRAVEL: Two roughly equidistant routes, both on good tarmac, lead from Kampala to Mweya in the heart of the park. A northern approach runs via Fort Portal and the Rwenzori (410km) and a southern route passes Mburo (420 km). Ishasha, in southern QNEP, is just 63 km from Buhoma, the main gorilla tracking trail head in Bwindi impenetrable national park.