Queen Elizabeth National Park
Approximately 1000 mountain gorillas remaining in the world and only found in East African mountain rain forests in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest protects a little more than half of the total number of mountain gorillas in the world.
To see the mountain gorillas, it’s mandatory that you acquire a gorilla permit which will cost you US$600 in Uganda and US$1500 in Rwanda from the governments.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved drastically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks line with hippos, buffaloes and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda Kob. As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth National Park can be accessed most easily from Kampala via Mbarara town and Bushenyi leads to the center of the park, passing just 22km from Mweya Peninsula, the main tourism hub. Approaching the park from the south via Mbarara covers a distance of 420km while the north through Fortportal covers a total of 410km. En-route to the park, renowned for its chimpanzee tracking. The park can also be accessed from the south from Bwindi Impenetrable National park.
Charter flights can be arranged to existing airstrips of Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha.
Classified as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by Birding International, Queen’s great variety of habitats means it is home to over 600 species. This is the greatest of any East African national park, and a phenomenal number for such a small area. The park’s confluence of savanna and forest, linking to the expansive forests of the DR Congo allow visitors to spot East as well as Central African species.
Tucked beneath the shady canopy if the Maramagambo Forest is the “Bat Cave”. The cave has a viewing from which visitors can observe the resident bats and pythons.
The Kyambura Gorge experience is more than discovering chimpanzees in their natural environment: it teaches visitors about the ecosystem of Kyambura Gorge’s atmospheric “underground” rainforest, including vegetation types; bird identification and behavior; and chimp and money ecology.
For a classic African experience, the tracks through Kasenyi the North Kazinga Plains and the Ishasha Sector offer virtually guaranteed buffalo, antelope and elephant sightings, along warthogs and baboons. Taking an experienced guide in the early morning or at dusk is the most successful way to track down pride of lions, and may be even the odd leopards.
HIKING/ NATURE WALKS
Nature treks are one of the more active ways to explore the landscapes and wildlife of Queen Elizabeth Location include the shady Maramagambo forest. Mweya Peninsula with its scenic views; and Ishasha River, where you may spot a variety of forest and savanna species as well as having a unique opportunity to get extremely close to hippos-on foot.
The Kazinga Channels an oasis for many of the fascinating species that inhabit the park, and taking a boat tour along it gives visitors the chance to cruise just meters from hundreds of enormous hippos and buffaloes while elephant linger on the shoreline.
CULTURAL HERITAGE AND NATURE TRAIL
See the energetic dances of the Kikorong Equator Cultural Performers; workers harvesting salt on Katwe Salt Lake; a traditional Banyaraguru hut; or an agricultural village – all guided by those who know them best – local community members.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH TOUR
For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African fauna, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of the exotic birds and mammals that fill the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surrounding and behavior.