Tourist Hotspots in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Tourist Hotspots in Queen Elizabeth National Park: There are five major tourist hotspots in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Areas of interest in the national park include; Ishasha, Mweya, Kasenyi peninsular, Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo forest.
Queen Elizabeth national park is located in the western part of Uganda in Kasese district. It is the second largest national park in the country covering approximately 1,978 square kilometers. Given its wide variety of wildlife species, the park attracts a large number of tourists annually. Some of the commonly sighted wildlife animals in the park include; antelopes, cape buffalos, savannah elephants, crocodiles, Jackson’s hartebeest and impala among others.
Each tourist hotspot in Queen Elizabeth national park has a unique aspect to it as you will find out in the following article;
Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth national park is located in the south western part of the national park and is famously known for the tree climbing lions. During your safari in Ishasha sector, you will embark on a guided game drive in the savannah plains where you will be able to view the tree climbing lions lying up in acacia, fig tree branches resting and looking down on the Uganda kobs which will be grazing in the savannah plains. It’s believed that lions in Ishasha sector climb trees to have a clear view of their prey, to run away from insects like tsetse flies which bite them, to run away from the strong heat on the ground. Tree climbing lions are a unique species and can only be found in Queen Elizabeth national park and Lake Manyara national park in Tanzania.
Lion tracking is one of the unique tourist activities offered in Queen Elizabeth national park. Lion tracking in Uganda is only carried out in the national park under the Uganda carnivore project. The activity allows a limited number of visitors and it’s conducted twice in a day either in the morning or late afternoon with a team of researchers and trackers who will track lions with radio collars. Lion tracking takes about 3 hours and during the activity you have 95% chance of viewing the lions which are sometimes viewed in their hiding areas because you are allowed to go off track during the activity. You will also learn about the habituation call of the lions, monitor their weather, behaviors, take photos, record the moments and the results from monitoring will be added to the data base. Visitors interested in lion tracking can book for the activity 24 hours in advance and book through the Visitor Information Centre at Mweya as a Tourist Hotspots in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Ishasha sector also offers other safari activities like bird watching therefore bird lovers should look out for bird species like Ross’s Turaco, African crake, black bellied bustard, broad billed roller, white headed barbet, helmeted guineafowl, African crowned eagle, grey woodpecker, striped kingfisher among others.
Kasenyi sector in Queen Elizabeth national park is situated about 48 kilometers from Kasese town in the north eastern part of the national park. The sector is comprised of open savannah and a breeding area for the Uganda kobs which means that lions are can also be seen around the area. Visitors exploring Kasenyi sector can engage in a number of activities such as;
Game drive, game drives in this area of park are carried out in Kasenyi plains. It has a large concentration of wildlife species like the Uganda kobs, some lions, elephants, buffaloes, bushbucks and bird species like the yellow throated long crow, grey crowned crane, red throated spur fowl, palmnut vulture, brown snake eagle, hooded vulture, martial eagle, grey capped warbler, white tailed lark, black bellied bustard among others. The game drive can either be carried out early in the morning or late in the afternoon in an open roof safari vehicle which allows you to view the animals clearly and also take plenty of photos.
Kyambura Gorge sector
Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park in the eastern part of the national park. It is also known as the ‘valley of apes’ and offers visitors spectacular views of wildlife in the park as well as the landscape. If you are exploring this sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, you can engage in thrilling activities like;
Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth national park is majorly conducted in Kyambura gorge. The activity can either be carried out in the morning or in the afternoon but starts with a briefing about expectations, rules and regulations to be followed during trekking. After the briefing you will trek the habituated chimpanzee family where trekking takes about 2 to 3 hours or even longer depending on the location of the chimpanzees because they like to move deep into the forest in search of food and once the chimpanzees are found, you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat, learning about their behaviors, habits, taking photos and recording the moments which gives you fascinating and lifetime memories.
Bird watching, Kyambura gorge is also one of the areas in the park harboring bird species therefore on your Uganda safari in Kyambura gorge you can look out for bird species like blue headed bee-eater, napped pigeon, swamp flycatcher, African bird among others.
Guided nature walk, this is an interesting activity where visitors move on foot within the park as they explore beautiful scenery, landscapes, wildlife among others. Guided nature walk in Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park can either be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon following trails with views of black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, giant forest hogs, birds among others and the activity takes about 2 to 4 hours.
The Mweya Peninsular in Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the most visited areas in the national park. It is located on the northern bank of Kazinga channel which joins Lake Edward and Lake George. Visitors exploring this sector of the national park can engage in different activities such as;
Boat cruise, this is an exciting activity that is carried out on Kazinga channel starting from the landing site near Mweya safari lodge. Boat cruise in the park is done on schedule where the first session is done in the morning at 9:00am and another session at 2:00pm in the afternoon lasting for 2 hours. During the boat cruise you will have great views of the animals like hippos, crocodiles which will be in water, other animals like elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, Uganda kobs among others which will be along the water banks drinking water especially during the dry season, water birds like pygmy kingfisher, swamp nightjar, African mourning dove, red capped lark, swamp flycatcher, little bee-eater, scarlet-chested sunbird, Diederik cuckoo among others.
Night game drive, this is a thrilling activity in the park where visitors move at night in a safari vehicle with an armed park ranger and spotlight torches to view the nocturnal animals. Night game drive in the park is only conducted in Mweya peninsular because Kasenyi plains are always filled with vehicles and visitors during the day therefore that why night game drive is not allowed there so as not to stress the animals. During the nocturnal game drive you will view hippos grazing, get a chance of viewing the lions, leopards, hyenas, civet among others.
Maramagambo forest is a natural reserve that is located in Bushenyi district and commonly known for its large population of cave bats. The forest is a home of 7 primate species namely chimpanzees, blue monkeys, baboons, animal species like the giant forest hog, African buffalo, bush pigs, pygmy antelopes, python among others. If you choose to explore this sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, you can engage in activities like a guide nature walk which takes about two to six hours following trails in the forest. As you explore the forest, you will have great views of waterfalls, a variety of tree species and crater lakes such as Kyasanduka and Nyamasingiri. Take the primate tracking tour where you will view some of the seven primate species including chimpanzees, baboons and blue monkeys among others. You will also stand a chance to spot wildlife animals like; bush babies, potto, bats, and even bird species like forest flycatcher, black headed batis, Rwenzori Turaco, white napped pigeon, red tailed bristle among others.
Best time to visit sectors in Queen Elizabeth national park
The park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to January. During this time there is less rainfall in the park; therefore most of the activities will be successful in that there will be short grass for clear viewing of the animals, many animals will gather along the water banks therefore you will take plenty of photos, the chimpanzee trekking and nature walk trails will be passable as compared to the wet season when they be wet and slippery.