Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s most famous National Parks that is explored annually by thousands of travelers because of its wildlife diversity. Queen Elizabeth National Park was named after the Royal Queen Elizabeth II of England and was established in 1954. It is located in Bunyaruguru district in the western part of Uganda. It is called a melody of wonders due to its attractions ranging from Tree climbing lions, chimpanzees, zebras, leopards, hippos, crocodiles, buffalos, variety of bird species, variety of insects and many more attractions.
Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Also, there are very many activities taking place which include Game Drive, Cultural Encounters, lion’s experience, Nature walks, Hippo Census, Bird Watching and among others that will leave a visitor very happy with a joyous lifetime memory as explained below;
- Game drive: This activity is best done early in the morning when there is a high chance for the visitor to watch several animals including lions, mongoose, elephants, buffaloes, a variety of antelopes and other wildlife in the park, however, the game drive can also be done in the evening hours and at night. This activity is charged differently for foreign residents, foreign non-residents and Ugandans, and East African community members. However, Night game drive is done on a special offer and it includes some additional charges.
- Hippo Census: In Queen Elizabeth National Park, this activity is carried out mainly on the Kazinga channel where there is a variety of Hippos. These animals spend most of their time in the water to shield against the sun and to cool their huge bodies this drives us to call them semi-aquatic animals. These Herbivorous animals eat grass and other plants around the Kazinga channel. They normally eat at night. The hippopotamus is the second-largest land animal in the world only after the elephant which is the biggest land animal. In this process of the Hippo Census, the tourist joins the game rangers in counting the hippopotamus to determine the exact number. The population of Hippos is reducing in Uganda and the entire world because they are always hunted for their hide- tusks that are sold as ivory, meat and also killed by the locals because they are considered harmful to the communities living in the park and the surroundings.
- Hiking: This is another activity tourists love to engage in when they visit Queen Elizabeth national park. This activity is carried out in the Maramagambo forest through the Kyambura Gorge. While hiking, the visitor will hike through enjoy the vegetation with the beautiful scenery in the kyambura gorge, the tall trees of tropical rainforest, the beautiful bird species and insects in the forest and the underground forest in Kyambura Gorge which harbors a lot of wild animals that will capture your attention. You will definitely enjoy the hike when you visit Queen Elizabeth national park.
- Chimpanzee Trekking: the chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth national park is carried out in the Kyambura gorge sector which is best known as the valley of apes because it harbors a large number of habituated chimpanzee families. The chimpanzee trekking is an activity where the visitor moves with the tour guide or game ranger to the already habituated chimpanzee groups and once there, the visitor is allowed to spend some time with chimpanzee communicating and learning their behaviors. Before trekking the chimpanzee, visitors are supposed to obtain the chimpanzee trekking permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority to ease the trekking process. Chimpanzee trekking is usually done during morning hours where the chimpanzees are moving around the park in search of food. Before entering the park, don’t forget to obtain the Chimpanzee Trekking Permit. This is an identification card issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and is used by the visitor to trek the chimpanzee and this permit costs differently according to the location of the trekking that is; the cost of chimpanzee trekking permit in kyambura is different from that in Karinzu forest both in queen Elizabeth national park . However according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, chimpanzee trekking in queen Elizabeth national park is always done in kyambura Gorge.to trek chimpanzee, the visit must obtain the chimpanzee trekking permit from UWA. The cost of chimpanzee tracking permits in Kyambura Gorge is quite lower than in Kibale National Park according to the (UWA) and this has been done in order to promote this activity with in Queen Elizabeth national park. Kyambura Gorge is a hidden rain forest with in a vast savannah grassland. This has made the tourists bypass the opportunity to see the wonders that exist in this strip of beauty with in a vast wilderness. The charge for chimpanzee tracking in kyambura Gorge is exclusive of the park entry fee. However, chimpanzee trekking permits of Kyambura Gorge come along with an armed. Each chimpanzee family in Kyambura Gorge is supposed to be visited twice a day by a number of just six persons per shift. This means that every day only two groups of tourists are permitted to engage in the chimpanzee trekking activity within Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park. A number of 12 permits are issued to only 12 tourists in a day. However, the Uganda Wildlife Authority also stipulated an annual entrance park entrance fee for only foreign residents and east African community members.
- Birding/bird watching: Uganda has a diversity of bird species and these attract the attention of the visitors that tour our parks. Queen Elizabeth national park has a variety of bird species that makes it the best bird watching national park in Uganda Ranging from Blue weaver birds, fish eagles, squacco heron, flamingoes, African fish Eagles, king fishers, speckled tinker birds and many more bird species. The best birding hours on Queen Elizabeth national park is early morning and late in the evening and the best birding season is from December to February.
- Lion tracking: In this activity, a visitor gets a chance to watch several lion species including the tree climbing lions which are found in the Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park. These amazing lions always climb the trees during the afternoon hours due to high temperatures on the ground and hot sun in the sky so they do climb in the tree branches to get shade and take some rest. Since the lions in Queen Elizabeth national park are scarce, the few available ones normally have tracking devices that are tied around their necks for easy allocation by the game rangers and the tourist during the lion tracking experience.
- Cultural encounters: In this activity, the visitors walk with in the community meeting and interacting with the different residents of the Queen Elizabeth National Park and the surrounding communities. Interested Visitors are also given a chance to harvest honey with their hands in an Agro-Tour Walk in the eastern wall of the Rift Valley. The visitors meet the Kikorongo women community who practice cultural performances as they entertain the visitors. These women also make the beautiful Kikorongo handcrafts that will impress the tourists. The word Kikorongo means sunshine in the local language Lukonzo. During the cultural encounter, visitors are allowed to visit Lake Katwe through the Katwe Tourism Information Centre. Lake Katwe is famously known for salt mining and the water in this lake is too salty.
- The boat cruise: Visitors engage in boat cruise at Queen Elizabeth National Park. This activity is done on the Kazinga channel that channel connects Lake George in the east and Lake Edward in the west. In the process of boat cruise, the visitor gets a chance to see the big mammals like crocodiles, the yawning hippos, variety of buffaloes, elephants, zebras, waterbucks, bushbucks, warthog, forest hog, reedbucks, duiker, mongoose, swamp antelopes, spotted hyena, bathing Hippos and at times Lions along Kazinga channel. Also, different bird species such as water birds are seen along the channel as they play around and many other interesting species.
- Mongoose tracking: In this tracking process, a tour guide helps the visitors in tracking these small animals. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mongoose are always tracked at the Kazinga channel and this activity takes at least three hours. Trust me after having time with the swinging chimps, climbing, and lazy lions, then hiking through the Maramagambo forest, you will automatically go back home a glimpse of a smile on your face.
Note: Foreign residents are the foreigners that are staying in Uganda and have worked in Uganda for a long period of time not less than a year. Therefore, for the foreign residents to get a park entry permit at Queen Elizabeth national park, they must present a valid working permit for not less than a year to confirm their status. Whereas, non-resident foreign are foreigners who are not staying in Uganda and their major reason for the visit to Uganda is tourism. These must present a valid passport to obtain a park entrance permit.
And finally, for Ugandans and all other members of the E.African community, they must present valid national identity cards to obtain the park entry permits before accessing Queen Elizabeth national park.