Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s second-largest national park first gazette in 1952 naming it the Kazinga National Park, following a visit of Queen Elizabeth the second, the park’s name was renamed after the queen. It is one of the oldest biodiverse eco-regions in the country running along the floor of the Albertine rift valley protecting beautiful grasslands, tropical rain forest, volcanic calderas, open waters, and swampy areas along the lakes of Edward and George, acacia woodland. The 1,978 square kilometers national park is known for its tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector south of the area, it is ranked among the busiest destinations of Uganda highlighting the chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura gorge, game drives in the Kasenyi plains, birding in the Maramagambo forest, boat rides along the 40km Kazinga channel between Lake George and Edward and exploring the Katwe or Bunyaruguru crater lakes.
Queen Elizabeth national park comprises vast savannah grasslands, thorny acacia, papyrus swamps, tropical rain forest, supporting about 95 animal species highest compared to any other Ugandan national park animals for example hippos, buffaloes, antelopes, elephants, spotted hyenas, side stripped jackal, Defassa waterbuck, and over 610 species of birds have been recorded to date it is a fine birding area, the Mweya peninsular standing out with aquatic birds on the Kazinga channel.
The national park is divided into sectors, including the Ishasha sector south of the national park, it is best known for its tree-climbing lions, it’s a small rich wildlife area a corridor connecting to Bwindi impenetrable national park and the Kibale Forest National Park, the sector is one of the few areas in Africa to see the tree-climbing lions, they are commonly seen relaxed in the fig trees, northern plains and the Kazinga channel composed of the Kasenyi plains, mweya peninsular, Katwe crater lakes,and the western shores of Lake George, these combined show off queen Elizabeth main tourist attractions, animal species and bird species it is a fruitful game driving region exposing animals like lions, antelopes, hippos, buffaloes. The area between the Kazinga channel and the Maramagambo forest is enclosed to the south by the forest, it is underexplored for tourism however the Kyambura gorge is present for chimpanzees trekking, and the forest can be explored on guided forest nature walks in search of more primate species.
The Kyambura gorge is a treasure within the national park formed as a result of volcanic activity it is popularly termed as the “valley of apes” it has a rich biodiversity of animal species including primates like a chimpanzee the gorge is a world of its own within the national parkand it’s best explored on foot. It is the only place to see primates east of the park drained by the Kyambura River standing out to be the longest gorge in east Africa
Within Queen Elizabeth are crater lakes found along the crater trail in the western part of Uganda a tour around the area is a unique experience to see and find out what takes place around them, the Katwe Crater Lake is north of the Mweya peninsular, ancient salt mining takes place at the crater having scenic views of the Rwenzori mountains, Bunyarugru Craters are placed south of lake George containing both saline and freshwater this crater field is called the Kichwamba in the western part of queen Elizabeth extending along the escarpment and over 20 lakes are present in the area.
Kazinga channel links Lake George and Edward, the 32-kilometer long channel is a dominant feature within the national park having the world’s largest population of hippos, it has the most precious views of wildlife along the banks of the channel, a boat cruise is the best way to explore commonly sighted are hippos, elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks. Waterbirds like the pink-backed pelicans, yellow-billed stock, long-tailed cormorants to mention a few.
Maramagambo forest is an ideal place for guided nature walks at the edge of the park boundaries taking place for 2-3 hours, the forest has different types of primates including baboons, Red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and vervet monkeys, it has an incredible number of forest bird list and famous for its bat caves.
Tree climbing lions are a major highlight of Queen Elizabeth national park, found in the southern Ishasha sector, are found lying the huge fig trees, the presence of Kobs attracts a big number of cats leopards inclusive, the major reason as to why they have this extensive characteristic of climbing up trees is because of the hot grounds during the dry season. Queen Elizabeth national park is placed in the western part of Uganda and can easily be accessed by road approximately 400km from Kampala or air charter flights are organized to the nearest airstrip of Kasese or the small airstrip in the Mweya peninsular. Park entry fees are paid for 45 USD on foreign residents.