Situated in the Albertine Rift with the Rwenzori’s to the north (Mountains of the Moon), the Blue Mountains of the DRC to the west and the string of volcanoes on the southern border to Rwanda, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is one of the best parks in Africa in terms of variety of habitats and wildlife viewing. Extending over 1197km2 and formed in 1952, the park runs alongside Lake Edward on its western banks.
This park includes five different habitats – grasslands, woodland, open plains with fig and acacia trees, riparian forests and swamps. Because of this superior biodiversity diversity of environments one finds a whole host of animals making this one of the most productive wildlife areas in the country.
Acacia Siberiana, Whistling thorn (acacia drepanolobium), and Leonotis Myelesina, abundant Euphorbia’s and Fig trees provide fruit, shelter and nesting places for the prolific birdlife. The park also encompasses Maramagambo Forest, home to wild chimpanzees and giant forest hog, and Kyambura Gorge home to a family of habituated chimpanzees that intrepid visitors can trek to see. The forest is a flutter with a kaleidoscope of butterflies in every colour especially in the rainy seasons.
Visitors can of course do game drives into the park where one can see lions, elephant, kob, olive baboons, buffalo, hyena and waterbuck but there have also been over 600 recorded bird species spotted here including little bittern, pelicans, terns, goliath herons, red throated beater, blue cheeked beater, wattled lapwing, turnstone, scarlet chested sunbird, croaking cisticola, Klaus’s cuckoo, fish eagle, long crested eagle, great white pelicans, Mousebirds, black headed Gonolek, Harrier Hawk and anteater chat.
We recommend spending a few days in QENP because apart from the fabulous bird watching, chimpanzee trekking and game drives, another must do activity is a boating excursion on the Kazinga Chanel that links Lakes Edward and George.
To the north of Lake George is a RAMSAR Site and hence this is certainly a wetland that attracts a host of wonderful birdlife. The Kazinga is always productive – the birdlife along this natural channel is simply astounding. Spend another morning walking with researchers from Kampala University and learn about a family of banded mongoose that have been habituated.
In southern end of the park lies the Ishasha, a land known for its tree climbing lions, and birds such as Ross’s turaco, northern wheatear and white headed barbet. Lions are often seen on the Kasenyi plains and the park is further extended with Rwenzori National Park, the Kalinzu Forest Reserve and Virunga National Park.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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