Queen Elizabeth National Park

The 1978km2 Queen Elizabeth National Park enjoys a stunning location on the rift valley floor between Lakes Edward and George where a mosaic of habitats supports 95 mammal species and a remarkable 612 species of birds. Forty years ago, Douglas Willocks described the diverse features that led to its creation in 1952. There still exists no better introduction or a more enticing invitation to visit the park.

Scenically the area had everything. Thirty miles to the north, in the blue Rwenzori explored from the plain, a composite jagged mass of mountains, sixty miles long and forty wide and looking in certain light as if you could reach out and touch them. Across Lake Edward to the west, the Mitumbe hills stood sentinel on the Congo, blue too in the long sight but in the closer green, wooded, precipitous, unfriendly and epitomizing darkest Africa. The eastern boundary of this possible park was marked by the calm green escarpment of the western rift valley. And between all the hill, mountains and lakes was endless savanna, its constantly repeated motif the branched cactus arms of the candelabra euphorbia trees.

Queen Elizabeth National ParkThe park forms part of an extensive system of contiguous protected areas, namely the Kigezi (256km2) and Kyambura (154km2) Wildlife reserve, Kalinzu Forest reserve, and neighbouring DRC, the 200km2 Virunga National Park. Rwenzori National Park lies a few kilometres north.

The park is home to 95 mammal species while the bird list is 612 species long. This diversity is the result of an impressive range of habitats. Fifty-seven vegetation types have been identified though these can be summarized as just five: forest, grassland, bushy grassland, and Acacia woodland and lake shore/swamp vegetation.

Queen Elizabeth National ParkResidents of the parks grasslands include elephants, cape buffalo, Uganda kob, water-buck, warthog, giant forest hog, lion, leopard and hyena. Topi are found in Ishasha, while forest primates are found in Kyambura gorge and maramagambo forest.
In Africa protected areas, the parks impressive birdlist is exceeded only by the neighbouring (and far lager) Virunga National Park. To name but a few species: martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, African skimmer, chapins flycatcher, pink-backed pelicans, white-winged warbler, papyrus canary, corncrake, lesser and greater Flamingo, and shoebill stork

Around the park

Kazinga Channel.

The 40m-long channel that connects lake George to lake Edward provides the parks prime wildlife spectacles. Its shoreline attracts large numbers of birds, mammals and reptiles year round. These can be seen from two covered launches, topi and simba, tah cruise between mweya jetty and the channels entrance into lake Edward.

North Kazinga and Kasenyi.

The plain north of the Kazinga Channel is the primary game viewing area. A network of tracks enables you to find elephants, buffalo and other animals in the mosaic of grassland thickets that covers the North Kazinga area near Mweya. However lions are most reliably sighted on the open Kasenyi plain east of the Kasese road where they prey on a large population of Uganda Kobs. Game drives are most rewarding in early morning and late afternoon. A ranger guide is recommended to help you make the most of your experience.

Katwe

The Katwe Salt Lake is home to Uganda's oldest industry. Salt has been extracted from the lake using evaporation beds and the process is continued today.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The Equator and the Queen's Pavilion

The spot where the equator crosses the Kasese road is marked by two concrete circles which provides a popular photostop. The Queen's Pavilion stands nearby the northern entrance to the Crater Drive. A temporary shelter at this site hosted H.M Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954; a permanent pavilion was built in 1959 for a visit by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. This was restored for a second visit by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2007. A new information Centre on the site includes internet facilities and a coffee shop.

Ishasha

100Km south of Mweya, the park's remote southern sector provides a true wilderness experience. Diverse habitats, including the Ishasha River, savana woodland, and the marshy Lake Edward flats support a variety of wildlife including Ishasa's famous tree climbing lions and rare Shoebill stork.
Queen Elizabeth
Source: Uganda Wildlife Authority