QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK – A FEAST FOR ALL SENSES

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Kazinga Channel boat cruise, Queen Elizabeth National Park
By :

Baluku Geoffrey

It’s no idle boast that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill christened Uganda the “The Pearl of Africa.”

When it comes to wildlife conservation and eco-tourism, Uganda does command outstanding respect. However, a visit to the country cannot be complete if some time is not set aside to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The park can be reached from Kampala either by air or road. From Kampala, the park can be approached from the south via Mbarara (420 km) or the north passing through Fort Portal (410 km). Three airstrips serve Queen Elizabeth National Park and these include Ishasha, Mweya and Kasese airfield.

This 2,056 square kilometre park was established in 1952 when the two game reserves of Lake George and Edward were merged into Kazinga National Park. Two years later it was renamed Queen Elizabeth National Park when Queen Elizabeth II of England visited Uganda.

It is one of the oldest national parks in Uganda and is designated as a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under the auspices of UNESCO. Together with Kyambura and Kigezi wildlife reserves, the park forms one of the most diverse eco-systems in Africa.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is really enticing. Take time off and visit it this festive season. Visit with your family or that special person in your life, but go prepared to fall in love all over again for the park is blessed with spectacular scenery and attractions to fill one action packed holiday and still leave scores of other experiences to be enjoyed on a return trip.

The low attitude and its location directly on the equator mean that the temperatures can be warm, rising from a mean minimum 18ºC to mean maximum of 28ºC. The park receives up to 1250mm of rain mostly from March to May and September to November.

The melting glacier waters of the Rwenzori Mountains create a vast wetland system comprising of two main lakes George and Edward. Edward was named by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley after the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

The two lakes are connected by a 40km long channel whose shorelines are populated by thousands of hippos and birds all year round.

This park is a paradise for dedicated ornithologists as well as the novice bird watcher. The bird list is 612 species including the rare Shoe Bill, the Martial Eagle, Papyrus Gonolek, White tailed lark, Verraux’s Eagle Owl and the Lesser and Greater Flamingos.

The park is an ultimate feast for all senses. There are over 95 mammalian and hundreds of butterfly species.

Activities like the launch cruise along Kazinga Channel will offer you a unique unequaled wildlife experience. It puts one right in the heart of nature where many buffalos nest in the water while big herds of elephants can be seen enjoying themselves along the channel banks.

Many who experience it consider it the highlight of their entire African safari. The launch cruise schedules run in the morning and afternoon.

The open savannah dotted with Acacia and Euphorbia trees provides habitat for lions, leopards, buffalos and Uganda kobs. Among the many other animals seen frequently are the water bucks, giant forest hog, hyenas and topi.

Networked by over 200 kilometres of well-maintained tracks, the visitors get access to the park’s game as some of the tracks pass through large mating grounds of the Uganda kob.

The Kasenyi sector on the east side of Kasese road is best known for lions which prey on large populations of the Uganda kob while the famous tree climbing lions can be spotted on large fig trees in the Ishasha sector which is 100 km south of Mweya Lodge.

Another principal feature of the park is Kyambura Gorge. This steep gorge was formed by turbulent waters of the roaring Kyambura River. It provides a lush riverine forest that is home to chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, black and white Columbus monkeys, olive baboons and other primates.

The park also has one of Uganda’s largest tracts of tropical forest – maramagambo forest which translates as “the forest beyond description”.

This forest stretches from the foot of the Kichwamba escarpment to Lake Edward. Pythons are often observed in the crevices of the bat cave floor using the bats as a source of food.

The cave is near the copper rich blue lake and hunters’ cave. Beautiful crater lakes are spread throughout the park, the most notable being the Katwe explosion craters.

This cluster of extinct volcanoes north of Mweya peninsula can be explored by the winding 27km crater drive between the main and equator gates which provide superb views into the numerous craters.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is truly amazing – take your camera, for you will want to record all the wonders you will see!

In trying to guide on where families and other travelers could stay, Africa Tembelea continues to conduct surveys amongst select tour operators and safari guides seeking their opinion on what they considered as top safari lodges and eco resorts in and around Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Some of the reasons given for their choice include among others client satisfaction and welfare to the safari guides.

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Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Kyambura Gorge Lodge, is not only a place of luxurious comfort but also one of those rare, eclectic, contemporary safari lodges that has joined the Past with the Present immersed in tasteful subdued elegance.

“Kyambura Gorge Lodge is more than a room, more than a banda or cottage, it is an experience, the location alone is reason enough to stay here,” said Robert Begumisa of Abacus Vacations.

This eclectic safari lodge, which fully upgraded around 2018 and 2019 with entirely remodelled public areas and gardens, has been converted from an old coffee store to create breathtakingly beautiful space.

Located on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park with sweeping views of the rolling savannah, the distant Rwenzori mountains, and the sunken Kyambura Gorge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge has eight unique luxury bandas, reflecting the local building style (4 of them deluxe bandas).

The stylish bandas also have a contemporary theme with the accent on local artifacts re-imagined in a new context. The swimming pool has been redesigned and upgraded.

Ready to book your stay, you can call +256 772 741 720 or send an email to [email protected]

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Katara Lodge

Katara Lodge

Situated on the Great Rift Valley escarpment with uninterrupted views of the savannah, Lake Edward and the Virunga as well as the Rwenzori ranges, Katara Lodge is indeed wildly serene.

Located 16kms from the Katunguru gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Katara Lodge is one of the ideal bases from which to explore the park.

The lodge offers accommodation in eight thatched cottages on a beautiful stretch of hills overlooking the open savannah in a serene and relaxing atmosphere. Each spacious cottage was hand crafted using locally available materials and carved into the hillside by the Katara village community.

For bookings and inquiries; you can call +256773011648 or send an email to: [email protected]

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Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Never a dull moment at Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Ishasha Wilderness Camp is situated within the Southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park on the Ntungwe river, an idyllic retreat for people who truly enjoy the wilderness.

This exclusive camp offers superb quality accommodation and services in this un-spoilt remote sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for its tree climbing lions that can sometimes be spotted resting in the branches of the large fig trees in the area.

Being within the park the wildlife is free to also pass through the camp and elephants can be seen bathing in the river, buffalo enjoy grazing and resident troops of Black-and-White Colobus and vervet monkeys are frequently viewed.

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Kasenyi Safari Camp

Kasenyi Safari Camp

Kasenyi Safari Camp is strategically located on the rim of lake Bunyampaka in the Kasenyi Savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The camp has four tents all with en-suite bathrooms, spacious living areas and private decks.

Many animals frequent the camp during day and at night. Lion prides, hippo, leopard, buffalo, elephant, waterbuck, kob, hyena and wart hog are frequently seen. The night comes alive with sounds of hyenas howling and lions roaring.

The camp has an elevated dining structure that is meticulously thatched.

For reservations & information requests call +256756992038 or send an email to [email protected]

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Elephant Plains Lodge

Elephant Plains Lodge Uganda.

Perched 941 metres above sea level, high upon the western escarpment of the Albertine rift in the north east of Queen Elizabeth National park, Elephant Plains Lodge offers panoramic views stretching for miles over the huge open grasslands to lake George.

Guest accommodation is in 6 spacious double/twin en-suite cottages with large private verandas and huge glass windows to take advantage of the incredible views. An additional 2 family cottages offer accommodation in 2 separate en-suite bedrooms with plenty of space for up to 5 people. All the cottages have large bath tubs as well as showers and are spaced out along the hill top offering privacy and tranquility. All the rooms overlook lake Kikorongo where from your veranda you can see elephants and buffaloes come to drink.

The main area provides an extensive lounge with comfortable couches and intimate seating areas for you to enjoy a Ugandan gin and tonic and take in the wonderful views under the cooling breeze rolling in off lake George. The Bar is well stocked, with a wine cellar and has bistro style seating for a more informal experience. The spacious restaurant has an outside dining deck with 270 degree views serving an international menu inspired by local flavours, all presented with the warmest hospitality from our professional team.

The lodge also has a large eco-friendly swimming pool for guests to cool off at the end of the day and continue to take in the amazing views offered from everywhere around the lodge.

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Mweya Safari Lodge

Mweya Safari Lodge

Located on a peninsula within the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mweya Safari Lodge is surrounded by the magical Rwenzori Mountains aptly described as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’.

For those guests seeking the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity, Mweya Safari Lodge offers numerous configurations of cottages to suit your needs and requirements.

Families may be more comfortable in the lodge’s affordable, family cottages, namely “The Rwenzori Cottage” and “The Royal Cottage”.

For those demanding something more luxurious and exclusive, the “Queens Cottage” and “The Presidential Cottage” will be sure to meet your demands.

– The Presidential Cottage, The Queens Cottage, 2 Family Cottages, 2 Luxury Tents, 2 Standard Tents.

Other facilities include a swimming pool with a panoramic view of Kazinga Channel, which separates Lake George and Lake Edward. You can peer across the channel and identify the different wild animals cooling off in the waters.

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Kyangabi Crater Resort

Kyangabi Crater Resort, Rubirizi District

Kyangabi Crater Resort located in Rubirizi District, borders Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda.

The Resort has double, twin and family rooms as well as 2 noise free conference halls; one that accommodates 80 people on average and another that accommodates 120 people.

For those who enjoy their drink, the resort has a fully stocked bar and restaurant that serves both local and continental dishes.

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Marafiki Safari Lodge

Marafiki Safari Lodge

Overlooking Lake George, Marafiki Safari Lodge has been hand crafted using environmentally friendly local materials fitted by artisans from the surrounding community. The lodge offers spacious private Banda’s with raised wooden floors, constructed from eucalyptus gum poles and canvas, giving you the freedom to roll up the walls and enjoy breath-taking views over the lake and game park.

With an en-suit open-air shower, you can experience a truly perfect African morning, bathing as the sun comes up over the lake, then in the moonlight under the stars, before dining next to the campfire. For the slightly more adventurous the lodge has three luxury furnished Safari Tents complete with park views and for the budget travellers a luxurious timber cabin, which can accommodate 16 people in four spacious dormitory rooms is available.

For bookings; contact Matt by phone +256 (0) 775 941 189 or email [email protected]

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Twin Lakes Safari Lodge

Twin Lake Safari Lodge. (Photo/Courtesy)

Twin Lakes Safari Lodge is a rustic and intimate lodge set in the beautiful surroundings of the Bunyaruguru great crater field in Uganda.

It’s exclusive position on the Eastern rim affords it some of the most spectacular views.

The lodge can accommodate up to twenty guests in eight spacious canvas tents under permanent grass-thatched rooms, each with a cupboard storage, a writing desk and an en suite bathroom.

From your private verandah, overlooking Queen Elizabeth Park and the flat-topped acacia trees, look out for occasional elephants as they graze and wander by.

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Enganzi Lodge

Enganzi Lodge

Enganzi Lodge has a stunning location on an escarpment overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge’s seven isolated cottages; overlook the huge expanse of the park.

What else can one ask for? Enganzi Lodge, truly a perfect gateway to the mighty Queen Elizabeth National park.

For bookings; call Acaali Nahabwa +256 702386244

Do you have any other luxury resorts in and around Queen Elizabeth National Park that you would like us to publish? Please reach us through [email protected] or WhatsApp: +256785828023 /+256752975961

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