Queen Elizabeth National Park
At Queen Elizabeth National Park, the sky sometimes seems to be much closer. Not surprising, this protected area of nearly 2000km2 is higher in altitude than Kampala. The park was named to honour the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in the early 1950s and is one of the most popular for visitors though the reasons are not hard to find.
Volcanic action in the distant past has left picturesque features like Lake George to the northeast and Lake Edward to the southwest boundaries of the park. The area also craters filled with forests that occasionally remind one of Jurassic park, but there are no dinosaurs here. Just a large variety of wildlife against a backdrop of natural beauty rarely found anywhere else. In 1959, Dr. Hugh Catt said: “Uganda’s parklands fulfil a deep human need. For in these tracts of the earth not only the animal’s creation but the man himself can find a sanctuary and retreat from routine into the reality of a world apart,” he was referring to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Accessing this awe-inspiring park from Kampala is either on tarmac through Mbarara(420km) or Fort Portal via Kasese(410km). Accommodation for you within the park for you to enjoy the wilderness is available as well as in the neighbouring towns of Kasese, Fort Portal and Bundibugyo.
With a variety of wildlife and attractions, The Park can be so overwhelming. Visitors enjoy game drives around the park with high chances of spotting the big five and the big cats. While a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel on the Nile River brings breathtaking experience with a riverbank full of birdlife and wildlife, a visit to the Ishasha sector of this park is yet another mesmerizing encounter. At Ishasha, one gets to see the rare tree-climbing lions, captivating and gentle yet shrewd while hunting their prey.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
There is always 99.9% chance of seeing 4 of the big five in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Visitors marvel at the giant elephants across the park, the gentle hippos, charging buffaloes, lucky moments with the shrewd leopards and the astonishing tree-climbing lions.
The significance of the elephant’s close relationship to the park is erected in this statue on the grounds of Mweya Lodge. Elephants are very closely knit, usually led by a matriarch and woe to anybody who tries to disturb their peace.
After a long trek through the grasslands, having a bath is considered one of the high points of the elephant’s day. Along the Kazinga Channel, it’s hard to miss the giant hippos sun-bathing. In ancient Egypt, the hippo was considered as the deity for pregnancy. Perhaps that explains why the women drove it out of the Nile valley in protest. Queen Elizabeth National Park has the highest concentration of hippos in the world.
Birdlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
More than 660 bird species have been recorded in this park, making it a bird haven and an attraction for many birders. There is plenty to occupy the die-hard bird watchers. Quite a number of these species follow the migratory trend of breeding in Asia and Europe but wintering in Africa. Enthusiasts will have feverish nights trying to guess what rare bird will get focused on their binoculars the next day. Bird watchers with a life list will be able to add more after a week at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The most common bird species found here include Egyptian goose, spur-winged plover, African fish eagle, pied kingfisher, sacred ibis, malachite kingfisher, lesser flamingos, African skimmers.