QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK:
One of Uganda’s best National parks, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, the Bushenyi and Bunyaruguru areas to the East, Kibale forest and the Rwenzori Mountains districts to the north and the Kigezi areas of Kihiihi and the Virunga system in the south. The Queen Elizabeth National park extends over an area of 1978 square kilometers at the floor of the rift valley and hosts plains Savannah, tropical forests, Rivers, Swampland or marsh, caves, gorges as well as some beautiful crater Lakes teeming with migrating birds and endemic species of birds.
The vegetation of Queen Elizabeth National park is comprised of Euphorbia candelabrum, Acacia seberiana, savannah grassland from which the wildlife safaris are centered, fig trees in the south of the park which attracts hordes of tree climbing lions and the strangler figs of the Maramagambo and Chambura gorge.
The Queen Elizabeth National park lies alongside the Uganda Equator and from any of the safari lodges, one may be able to spot the snow covered peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains right at the Equator.
The average elevation in the floor of the Queen Elizabeth National park is around 1250metres above sea level.
Wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National park.
On the gameviewing safaris in this part of the park, you are expected to see the Hippos on the 30 kms Kazinga channel, also at the Hippo pool in the southern most ends of the park in the Ishasha plains along the banks of the River Ntungwe. Other animals include the Uganda Forest Musk shrew, Jackson’s shrew which loves feeding off lizards and tadpoles on the Kazinga Channel and other water bodies; Tiny Musk shrew, Black Rat, striped grass rats and Kaisers bush rats which may be encountered on the drives into the park to see other wildlife. Mongooses which frequent the Mweya peninsula, are now used to the tourists due to years of research by the scientific study teams.
Bats of different species can also be seen at dusk on the evening or night safaris. These include: Yellow winged bats, white winged serotine, hairy slit faced bats, Hildebrandt’s horseshoe bat, lappet eared free tailed bats and other nocturnal flying mammals which inhabit the Caves in the Maramagambo forests.
You may also see reptiles on the Kazinga channel boat cruise where the Nile Monito lizard can be seen feeding on fish and eggs of other nesting birds. Other reptiles in the park feature the Agama lizard, a conspicuous lizard which is characterized by the constant nodding as a way of attracting the females and a sign of territorial dominance. House Gecko African rock pythons at the Bat Caves are also seen on the nature walk. The side striped chameleon and the green night adder may also be encountered especially on the night time safari.
The larger land mammals usually seen on a tour at Queen Elizabeth includes; African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Giant forest Hog, Deffassa water buck, Topi, Warthog, Bush pig, leopard, Hyena, Olive Baboon, Chimpanzees, Rare reedbuck, Lions.
Butterflies of the Queen Elizabeth national park include species like the endemic Crocidura Selina, Bicyclus S. Safitza, Catacroptera C. Cloanthe, Catopsilia florella, Axiocerces Hapax Uganda, euchryops marthana, charaxes brutus natalensis and Danus Chrysippus among many of the butterfly checklists of the park. These are usually seen along the puddles of water on the game viewing track or at forest margins.
Uganda Bird watching species seen at Queen Elizabeth National park include the following for the checklist: Golden-breasted Bunting, Yellow-fronted Canary, White-breasted Negrofinch , Black-bellied Firefinch, Pin-tailed Whydah, Papyrus Gonolek, Black-headed Gonolek, Grey-backed Fiscal, Moustached Grass-warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chin-spot Batis, Swamp Flycatcher, Great White Pelican, Great Cormorant, Goliath Heron, Cattle Egret, Saddlebill, Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, Egyptian Goose , Palm-nut Vulture, Tawny Eagle, Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Greater Painted-snipe, Spur-winged Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Black-headed Lapwing, Ring-necked Dove, Diederik Cuckoo, Speckled Mousebird, Striped Kingfisher, African Pygmy-kingfisher, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Lesser Black-winged Lapwing, White-winged Tern, Laughing Dove, African Black Coucal, Mozambique Nightjar, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Crowned Hornbill, Banded Martin, Yellow-throated Longclaw, White-browed Robin-chat, African Dusky Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Golden-backed Weaver, Brimstone Canary, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-chested Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Winding Cisticola, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Sooty Chat, Pink-backed Pelican and Long tailed Cormorants among the many birds that bird watching safaris feature on a trip to Queen Elizabeth National park
Cultural safaris in and around Queen Elizabeth national park.
Kikorongo Cultural centre near a Crater Lake of Kikorongo is named after the local language name referring to the scorching sun which characterizes the high temperatures of the area. In the shades of the African homesteads, the different women’s groups will provide traditional dances, drama and demonstrating old ways of starting fires using tinder. You also get to participate in the cultural activities like learning to make a basket, recycling old used paper to make lovely bracelets, necklaces and beautiful beads. A craft shop is available for one to buy a souvenir of a straw hat, mat or a basket while on a safari at Queen Elizabeth Park.