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Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park, formerly known as the Kazinga National Park, is well-known for its big game, diverse landscapes, rich cultural history, and unique Equator monument. The park erected the monument to mark the exact spot where the park crosses latitude 00. Visitors can take pictures at the monument, indicating their presence in both the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously. Governed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the park covers an expanse of 1,978 km2, and has varying ecosystems including wetlands, lakes, forests, and savannas. Because of the park’s diverse vegetation, it is an ideal habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species, including birds, primates, and big game.

Apart from its impressive wildlife and topography, the park is also celebrated for its rich cultural history. Visitors can mingle among local communities, and take part in activities such as  dancing, storytelling and listening to musical performances. The national park, with its diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and local communities all flourish together, delivering a truly memorable experience to all who visit.

The‌ ‌History‌ ‌of‌ Queen Elizabeth National Park

Before 1906, the national park was occupied by the local Basongora pastoralist people. Over time, the area became plagued with rinderpest and smallpox, which wreaked havoc on the local community. These epidemics wiped out the majority of Basongaora’s people and cattle, leaving the area sparsely populated. Two villages that survived these events tried their hand at fishing, which allowed the surrounding lands and animals to flourish once again, increasing the concentration of game and vegetation.

  • 1906: To prevent unchecked hunting activities, as well as to reduce the pressure on cotton and wheat production, the authorities declared the area located north of Lake George as a game reserve.
  • 1912: By 1912, the reserve, as well as the area surrounding the lake were declared restricted areas, causing the local agricultural and fishing communities to abandon the region.
  • 1952: Persuaded by the Governor and the chief game warden, a national park ordinance was passed legally proclaiming the land as Kazinga National Park, on 31 March. The national park was expanded to include a large portion of the land to the east of Kazinga Channel, and included Lake Edward.
  • 1954: After a visit by Queen Elizabeth II, the park was renamed Queen Elizabeth National Park in her honour.

Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park is famous for its rare animals, including Ugandan kob, giant forest hog, Nile crocodile, and chimpanzee. It is also home to impressive big game such as elephants, hippos, and buffaloes.

If visitors are lucky, they may have the opportunity to spot tree-climbing lions with black manes, and graceful leopards slinking in the tall grass. Queen Elizabeth National Park also surrounds a smaller game reserve, Kyambura Game Reserve. It is the only place in the park where nine species of primates, including chimpanzees, can be found.

With over 600 bird species flying through the sky and nestling into the trees, the park is one phenomenal birding destination. Shoebill and Pel’s fishing owl are two rare birds often spotted within the park. Apart from these elusive bird species, the park is also home to African skimmer, palm-nut vulture, Red-chested Sunbird, Caspian plover, and white-winged tern.

Queen Elizabeth National Park Premier Attractions

✔     Kazinga Channel

One of the most significant attractions in the park, the Kazinga Channel, is Uganda’s natural channel, connecting Lake George and Lake Edward. It is also known for its large concentration of Nile crocodiles. Fed by streams from the Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Georgeflows out through the channel, which then drains into Lake Edward. Lake Edward, with 2,325 km2 of surface area, is one of the great lakes of Africa. Lake George, on the other hand, is also a part of the great lakes system, but is much smaller, with a surface area of 250 km2.

✔     Kyambura Game Reserve

Kyambura Game Reserve, also known as Chambura Game Reserve, covers a 156 km2 area in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Created as a buffer zone to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, the reserve has 13 unique habitats. These varying ecosystems have ensured that Kyambura is currently the only place in Queen Elizabeth National Park to habituate primates, primarily chimpanzees. Other primates found in the region include baboons, black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, and vervet monkeys. This game reserve is famous for its chimpanzee tracking activities.

When To Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

For wildlife viewing, the best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park is during January, February, June, and July, the dry seasons in the park.

In the wet season, August, September, November, December, and March are favourable months to visit. The rest of the wet season exhibits heavy rainfall, making the park dangerous to visit.

The park is a sought-after birding destination with peak visiting times from May to September. This is also the best period for hikers to visit, as the trails are dry and safe to use. For bird watchers interested in migratory bird species, the best time to visit the park is from November to April.

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