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Queen Elizabeth National Park

Location and Habitat
The second largest national park in Uganda at 1,978 sq.km and lies north and south of the equator to the south west of Uganda. It is contiguous with Kibale NP, Uganda Parc Nationale des Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is a world bio-sphere reserve (UNESCO, 1979) includes a RAMSAR wetland site and is a classified Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International. QENP has 568 of Uganda's 1017 species of birds (over a quarter of Africa's bird species), more than any other park in Africa.

In the Queen Elizabeth Park you may see crater lakes filled with huge flocks of flamingos. You will spot eagles soaring and vultures perching. You will view lions relaxing and elephants ambling and giant forest hog snuffling. And, in its lakes you'll see hippos swimming and kingfishers darting. Any visitor to this park cannot fail to be amazed by the enormous diversity in each kingdom of creation. It's simply a visual feast. Take a boat trip, a game drive, a woodland walk or simply enjoy any of the myriad stunning views. The Queen Elizabeth National Park provides an unforgettable and unique experience.

Location & Access
Queen Elizabeth National Park is 1,978 Km2 in area and is situated astride the Equator in the Western Rift Valley of South West Uganda, close to the Southern most tip of the tabled, mist covered "Mountains of the Moon - Rwenzori Mountains and is contiguous with Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). It is a region of varied habitats including, open grassland with thickets, thick bush, forest, swamps and lake-shore. Queen Elizabeth National Park together with Virunga National Park in (DRC) completely encircle Lake Edward which is connected to Lake George by the Kazinga Channel.

Launch trips on Kazinga Channel down the shore of Lake Edward provides a unique vantage for viewing savannah wildlife. A launch trip starts at Mweya the park headquarters along the Kazinga Channel, which joins Lake Edward and Lake George. Truly, this is among the most exciting and memorable experience offered by the Park. While on the trip expect to be thrilled by yawning hippos and a closer view of water birds along the shores. In the southern part of the park is the Ishasha Sector with substantial tree climbing lions found perched on savannah fig trees. The concentration of game in its savannah setting, Lake Edward and River Ishasha flats, Ishasha and riverine forest, Hippo Pool and Congo escarpment provides splendid scenery. Ishasha Sector is known for its expansive savannah landscape teeming with a variety of wildlife possibly due to its continuity cross border migration of wildlife. "Missing Ishasha is simply missing QENP".

Maramagambo Forests
Maramagambo Forest is one of the largest forests in Uganda. It is a medium altitude, moist, semi-decidious forest. Characteristics of such forest are increasingly becoming rare in Africa! It has very spectacular lakes and craters. It is the only place in the Park where one could find Blue Lakes. Other features of attractions in the forest include: primates, e.g. Lhost monkeys, chimpanzees, bush baby, baboons, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, etc. Due to its location, Maramagambo has a high diversity of butterflies. The bat and the hunters cav are other pleasant experiences that the forest offers, and of course some forest birds.

North Crater Area
This area comprises a scenic area of explosion craters, some containing salt lakes, formed by volcanic activity some 8-10,000 years ago. Some of the craters are dry. These unique concentration of unspoiled craters forms a unique scenic vantage point and are important as dry season watering points for animals. The crater area is such a captivating and breathtaking phenomenon. It's impossible to give a fair description of the crater area, there is nothing with which to compare. It is one of the wonders of Uganda/East Africa.

Kyambura River Gorge
Kyambura river gorge is situated on North-Eastern side of the Park (QENP) - 35 kms from Mweya the park headquarters. The Gorge spans a distance of 16 kms or 10 miles long and 100m/300ft deep, while the widest point is over 500 metres. The Gorge emerges between savannah grasslands. It forms an outstanding topographic feature in dramatic contrast to surrounding savannah landscape. The Gorge has a riverine virgin forest that transits to papyrus swamps towards the Kazinga Channel. It is the only place in the Park where you can view the chimpanzees at close range - "Habituated" with other types of primates including B/W Colobus Monkey, Red-tailed monkey, baboons and vervet monkeys. The Gorge is also a habitat for concentration of birds - Peregrine Falcon, Falcon peregrinus, black be eater- Merops Mulleri and African Finfoot etc. The Gorge is an important water source for savannah animals.

Avian Diversity
Among the 568 species are a number of birds whose normal range is west and central Africa and can be found in the park at the easternmost edge of this range, not present anywhere else in East Africa. Five of the parks twelve of kingfishers are in this category. QENP is important over wintering and stopover site for a great number of European migrant species whose numbers can exceed millions at pre-migration build-up times. There are a number of globally threatened species (IUCN, 1991) which can be seen in the park and a number of regional endemics. QENP holds a record 297 species seen in a 24 hour period, one of the highest in the world

The reason for such great species diversity in OE is the variety of habitats: one of the most important of these are the wetlands. Surrounding Lakes George and Edward are vast papyrus swamps with lagoons, rivers and streams. Throughout the park are marshes and seasonal inundations and a number of saline lakes. The vast and hardly explored Songo swamp is the RAMSAR site. The savannah, due to the high rainfall and rich grazing, at one time supported the largest bio-mass and mammals anywhere in the world. The pockets of Acacia woodland hold a particularly great diversity of birds. The semi-deciduous, mid-altitudinal moist tropical forests are represented by the great expanse of the Maramagambo forest which is contiguous with the Kalinsu/Kasyoha-Kitoni forest reserves.

The checklist of mammals of QENP include 66 species. The larger mammalian fauna of the park is characterized by a few species furnishing an exceptionally high biomass. During the late 1960s, the biomass densities recorded from the park exceeded those published for any wildlife community anywhere in the world. To date, the Park main biomass contributors includes: hippotamus, leopard, elephants, buffaloes, Uganda kobs, topi, bushbucks, waterbucks, rare giant forest hogs, advarks, porcupines, pangolins, bush pigs, and warthogs, lions, hyenas, civets, etc.


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