Queen Elizabeth National Park – Tree Climbing Lions, Birds, Wildlife and Chimps in the Kyambura Gorge
Queen Elizabeth is a wonderful national park, sometimes referred to as ‘the Pearl of Africa or Switzerland of Africa’. Quite simply this fertile equatorial area is especially scenic, with two lakes connected by Kazinga channel overlooked by a high peninsula. You will also find volcanic craters, grassy plains and tropical forest. As a result it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings in the world.
A total of 95mammals species have been recorded in Queen Elizabeth, the highest for any national park in Uganda.
Primate species present include the Chimpanzees, vervet, blue, red tailed, and L`Hoest`s monkeys, black-and-white colobus and olive baboon. A round 20 predators are found in the park, including side striped jackal, spotted hyena, lion and leopard. The most common antelope species are Uganda kob, bushbuck, topi and Defassa water buck. The elusive semi.aquatic sitatunga antelope occur in papyrus swamps a round Lake George, while four duiker species are primarily confined to the Maramagambo forest. Buffaloes are common and often reddish in colour due to interbreeding with the redder forest buffalo and the Congolese rain forest.
The park’s elephants display affinities with the smaller and slightly hairier forest – dwelling race of elephants found in DRC.
Protected as Lake George and Lake Edward game reserves since the late 1920`s, the present day QENP was gazetted as the Kazinga national park in 1952, to protect the varied landscapes of prolific wildlife of the Rift valley floor between Lake Edward and the Rwenzori.
Attractions and activities
Chimp tracking (Kyambura Gorge): The Maramagambo forest and abutting forest reserve collectively protected one of the largest chimpanzee population in east Africa in the gorge carved by the Kyambura River a long the eastern boundary of QENP. Some 16km long and100m deep, the gorge protects an isolated and contained cover of riparian forest, surrounded for the most part by more open savanna, which means that the resident Chimpanzee community has a restricted territory and is normally quick easy to locate by sound.
In addition to Chimps, black-and white colobus, vervet monkey and olive baboon are regularly observed in the gorge, while less visible residents include red tailed monkeys and giant forest hogs. For bird watchers, Kyambura is one of the best places in Uganda for black bee eater and blue-bellied king fisher as well as a good range of other forest birds is present.
Launch trip: It is the most popular activity at Mweya leading to the mouth of the Kazinga channel and it lasts for 2 hours. Although not perhaps as spectacular as its equivalent in Murchison falls, it’s a great trip, with elephants, buffalo, waterbuck, Uganda kob and large hippo pods seen on a daily basis, and giant forest hog, leopard and lions arte also observed from time to time.
These are done early morning and in the late afternoon hours by driving through the park for the purpose of viewing animals. The game tracks pass through the mating grounds of the great Uganda Kob and gives you an opportunity to view a wide range of wildlife including Elephants as they make their way down to the water, giant forest hog, buffaloes, bush backs and hungry lions searching for prey. The beautiful views of the crater lakes offer a breath taking experience. Seeing the marvellous specie diversity can only be possible if you are in a top up roof vehicle for game drives and at a reduced speed.
Maramagambo Forest walk
Three different guided walks can be undertaken from the visitors centre at Maramagambo. The most straightforward loop around the forested shore of lake Kyasanduka, and should not take much longer than an hour, depending on the how interested you are in profile of birdlife. A more popular walk, of roughly 90 minutes` duration, leads to a large cave where significant concentrations of bats are residents, as well as a rock python that’s regularly observed by visitors.
For dedicated birdwatchers, the most rewarding walk is likely to be the longer loop a round the back of Lake Nyamusingiri, which typically takes half a day to complete, and offers the opportunity to seek out rarities such as scaly-breasted illadopsis, snowy-headed robin-chat and chestnut wattle-eye
Traditional Salt Work Visit
Salt works are in Katwe which is a home to Uganda’s oldest salt mine industries rewarding at the enclave of L. Katwe town. Since the 14th Century, salt has been mined by traditional methods and is still in the use today and with peaks during the dry season.
It is in the known as the true pearl in the southern part of the park covering 100km. Idyllic campsites frequently visited by Colobus and other monkeys are situated along the winding Ishasha River. The famous tree climbing lions can be spotted on large fig trees in this part of the park. Topi, Uganda Kob and Buffaloes Graze in the Acacia studded savannah.
A wide range of bird species are found in the savanna , wetlands and lowland forest. This in habits over 606 species of birds including the Grey headed Kingfisher, Black headed Gonek, Pin tailed Whydah, Slender tailed Nightjars, Red-capped lark, African Mourning dove, Lasser flamingos, the rare Shoebill stock and many more.
Experienced guides who know the most interesting birds are used as birding guides around swamps, lakes and other interesting habitat. Queen Elizabeth national park offers you a good chance of spotting Uganda’s most sought after bird the prehistoric looking shoe Bill stork! Other key species include; the African fish eagle, martial eagle, papyrus ganolek, African Skimmer and many more. A trip plan for a minimum of 2-3 days gives one the best chance to see these beautiful birds.
This ranges from up market to budget accommodation
- Mweya safari lodge
- Ishasha wilderness camp
- Jacana safari lodge
- Mweya hostel
- Bandas at Ishasha
There are also camp sites outside and within the park include; king fisher camp located on escarpment and hippos camp.