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Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

The Queen Elizabeth National Park is by far the most well-loved tourist destination in Uganda. It is situated in the western portion of the country, spread across the regions of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri, and is the capital as well as the biggest city of Uganda with an area of 764 square metres. The reserve starts at Lake George in the northeast and stretches to Lake Edward in the southwest. The Park was formed in 1954 and named after Queen Elizabeth II. The various ecosystems that include vast plains, dense forests, glimmering lakes and abundant wetlands, make for the perfect environment for large game, ten primate types and more than 600 bird species. Ishasha (located in the Rukungiri region) is renowned for its tree-climbing lions, the males of which grow unique majestic black manes.

Another feature for which the Park is well-known is its volcanic cones and deep craters. Many of these contain crater lakes, such as Lake Katwe, from which salt is extracted. The Queen Elizabeth National Park is nestled against the beautiful background of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains and boasts some incredible views. These views include the dozens of huge craters engraved into undulating hills, wide vistas of the Kazinga Channel with its game-lined riverbanks (including hippo, buffalo and elephants), and the never-ending Ishasha savannahs, whose fig trees conceal patient lions stalking unsuspecting Uganda kob. The Queen Elizabeth National Park and The Queen Elizabeth Country Park in England are combined in an effort of cultural transformation and shared support. This joint project has its primary focus on supporting Conservation through working closely with and empowering local communities.

An area prolific with animal, bird and plant life, the Park offers various activities in which to partake, the most popular of which is birdwatching safaris. Uganda contains more than one thousand species of bird, with over six hundred being located in the reserve. Some of the magnificent birds to be seen in this region are the African skimmer, Chapins flycatcher, Pink-backed pelicans, Papyrus canary, Shoebill stork, martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail and great flamingo. Aside from this activity, you could also spend time checking out the Kazinga Channel, Lake Katwe, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest and Kensenyi Plains, as well as embarking on some of the exciting cultural tours offered here. You could also choose to take part in game drives, scenic safaris and boat launches.

One of the most popular activities in which to partake within the Park is paying a visit to the Kyambura Gorge, which is one of the few areas in Uganda where chimpanzees can be observed in their natural, wild environments. The Gorge houses a large range of wildlife, including the only primates in the entire reserve. The area is a crucial source of water for a variety of game and is encircled by plains, but is known for its large population of primate species situated in the Gorge. Taking part in a chimpanzee tracking is most certainly worth the extra bit of spending money, providing you with the opportunity to experience unforgettable close up encounters with chimpanzees in their natural habitats. Kyambura is the only place in the Park where habituated chimps can be spotted, amongst other primates such as red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus, baboons and vervet monkeys. In addition to its marvellous wildlife attractions, the reserve has an intriguing cultural history and gives tourists the chance to meet with local communities where they enjoy storytelling, dance and music. This park is definitely a must-see when in Uganda.

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on August 6, 2013
Filed under  Africa Blog • Destinations • Uganda 
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