Queen Elizabeth II is ranked among the world’s most powerful Queens. By the same token, Queen Elizabeth National Park, a wildlife sanctuary named after her, comes across as one of Africa’s most outstanding across all fronts; beauty, diversity, scenery and accommodation options.
The nature and the rivers here are just awe-inspiring. The 1978km2 wide park gets quite crowded but if you’re lucky enough to come in the low peak seasons, you will find only a handful of people. This will allow you enjoy the majesty of the place without pushing and shoving.
Expect to be greeted by spectacular crater lakes that have been repeatedly ranked among the most beautiful on Earth.
The park is split into two hemispheres by the Equator of Uganda that passes through it; the Northern and Southern hemisphere.
Largely, the Northern hemisphere features untamed experiences that appeal to the hard-core adventurer. Among its most visited attractions is an underground forest called Kyambura gorge. Also known as the valley of apes due to its healthy population of chimpanzees and monkeys, Kyambura offers endearing hiking experiences that leave many in tears of joy.
Then there is open Savannah: a vast network of game tracks that makes it easy to see the king of the jungle as it hunts – the lion. Within easy reach from this side is Ishasha, a zone in the park famed for having tree climbing lions.
That said, if you are the kind of traveller who prefers laid back experiences, the South Wing of the park will rock your holiday. It features astonishing safari lodges offering services that leaves one feeling 7 years younger.
During the boat cruise, you will see over 100 bird species. Boat cruises are done at Kazinga, a wide channel connecting two lakes in the park, Lake George and Lake Edward. It really is magical.
Things to Do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
There is only one park in East Africa that has over 600 bird species. Your guess is right, Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here are some of the park’s resident species as listed in alphabetical order. African finfoot, African skimmer, Ayres’s hawk-eagle, Black-rumped buttonquail, Broad-billed roller, Collared pratincole, Great blue turaco, Great white pelican, Grey-winged robin-chat, Papyrus gonolek, Pink-backed pelican, Rufous-bellied heron, Sand martin, Shoebill, Siberian gull, Western banded snake eagle, White-winged tern, Yellow-bellied wattle-eye……
Both the Southern and Northern wing of the park are served by well maintained roads. This enables accessibility even to remote zones, thus granting you excellent chances of finding a particular species you are yearning for. The best time to spot wildlife is early morning when the animals are very active. They tend to shy away into distant shades as the sun gets hotter.
Though it is possible to have a self guided nature walk in the park, a guided nature walk is highly recommendable. Why? The ranger guides have a deep understanding of the routine that animals in the park follow. For instance, they know the respective spots where you will find lions throughout the day.
One of the best places to go for a boat cruise is Kazinga. It is a vast freshwater river connecting Lake Gorge to Lake Albert. It is less than 20 kilometers long, however, you will have a hard time believing that as it is so compact with animals. It is one of the rivers in Uganda with the biggest concentration of hippos and the most perfect killing machines-crocodiles. During you morning or afternoon cruise, you will catch sight of over 60% of the animal species to which the park is a haven. The cruise which lasts about two hours costs 30,000UGX(East Africans) in the general boat belonging to UWA.(and $30 for non East Africans) Private charters cost roughly $200.
When traveling to this park, using a 4WD car is not an option. It is a must, as most of the roads feeding the park are rough.
The park is one of the two most visited in the country. If you don’t like crowds, you can opt to explore it in the low peak tourism season from February to June.
The best times to see wildlife is early morning and late evening. They tend to shy away around midday to find shade from the heat.
Some stretches of the park, especially river banks, are infested with tse-tse flies. It is advisable to carry insect repellents and long-sleeved clothing for protection.
Trenches measuring five feet deep and seven feet wide have been constructed around the park to stop wild game from invading farms of neighbouring communities. Locals are hired every year to maintain the trenches.
By the same token, the National Agricultural Research Organization has been brought on board so as to research on the invasive weed species that have conquered several parts of the park as a result of global warming. The weeds are wiping out edible shrubs thereby causing wildlife to migrate to inaccessible parts of the park.
While high end accommodation in the park costs roughly $400, mid range costs $150 and budget costs $50.
One of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s most preferred accommodations is Simba Safari Camp, a comfortable lodge found in a setting with a rich concentration of birds.