Explore Queen Elizabeth National Park while on a Safari

Explore Queen Elizabeth National Park’s scenic views

Exploring Queen Elizabeth National park while on a safari is one the most amazing things that you can do when in Uganda. Queen Elizabeth National Park was named after the queen of England, it’s undeniably majestic. This amazing national park is found in Western Uganda. There’s a lot one can explore while on the safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park is dreamy as its surrounded by water bodies; Lake George, Lake Edward, and the Kazinga channel. The park has a wide variety of terrain, including volcanic craters, grassy plains and tropical forest.

The Kasinga Channel has the largest concentration of hippos in the world! This gives it an advantageous point of beautiful views over other National Parks in Uganda.

Exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park is popular with tourist

Queen Elizabeth is the most visited national park in Uganda. A visit to Uganda is not complete until you explore Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park is much more than just the picturesque views.

The park has shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes, and fertile wetlands, making it the ideal habitat for classic game.

It also has ten primate species including Chimpanzees and Colombus monkeys.  It was opened in 1952 along with Murchison Falls National Falls.

For birders, exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park is a sanctuary for birds. Bird devotees would be able to find over 600 species of birds just in one national park.

Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Like other parks in Uganda Queen Elizabeth has a variety of wildlife. These range from buffaloes, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, warthogs, lions, leopards, hyenas, giant forest hogs and elephants.

On the southern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park, known as Ishaha, you will spot tree climbing lions, Leopards and Topis.   Also, you will see primates in the Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo forest.

The bird species you may have a chance to see include African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, Pink-backed Pelicans, Papyrus Canary, Shoebill stork, martial eagle, Black-rumped buttonquail and flamingos.

Boat ride in Queen Elizabeth National Park

A boat ride on the Kazinga channel is one experience you will enjoy. It’s a relaxing two-hour boat ride on the Kazinga channel. While on this ride you will see plenty of bird species and with a good camera you will be able to capture all the colourful birds on the shoreline.

You will encounter fishermen, fishing on the channel. They fish for both domestic and commercial purposes.

Also what you won’t miss are the schools of hippos and herds of elephants along the shoreline of the Kazinga channel. The boat always has entertainment and soft drinks for the 4-hour ride.

Birding experience

Queen Elizabeth is known for its birding experiences. It’s home to over 550 bird species. For bird watchers, this has become a popular destination for them.

Uganda is among the most well-known birding destination in the whole of Africa. It has a diversity of bird species a number of which are not easily spotted in any other part of the African continent.

There are several birding destinations within the country and these have made Uganda certainly one of the finest birding paradises.

As you take time to marvel at the spectacular birds, you will certainly come across a diversity of additional wildlife that will turn your bird watching safari into a very memorable encounter.

The most ideal time to spot these birds is actually early in the morning as well as late in the evenings.

Tree Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is notably recognized for its Tree climbing lions that are an exceptional attraction and one among the highlights on all safaris taken within Queen Elizabeth National park.

These tree climbing lions can only be found in two National Parks in the East African region. That’s Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania.

The Ishasha tree-climbing lions are not to be missed as this is one of the best safari experiences you can be part of. It’s certainly one of the very memorable experiences in Africa.

Chimp Tracking in Queen Elizabeth

The Kyambura Gorge experience is more than discovering chimpanzees in their natural environment: it teaches visitors about the ecosystems of Kyambura Gorge’s atmospheric “underground” rainforest, including vegetation types; bird identification and behaviour; and chimp tracking and monkey ecology.

Exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park is a must. All you need is an experienced tour guide to show you around. Not forgetting the tour company to handle all the logistics for you. When you’re ready I recommend StarMount Safaris they are a trusted company that will guide you through your planning process.

Murchison Falls National Park Simple Guide

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest of all the national parks in Uganda.

It’s found in the North Western part of Uganda. It takes about 5 to 6 hours to get to Murchison Falls thus very easy to access.

Your trip could start from Kampala or Entebbe International Airport. Either way, you will find that Murchison Falls is easily accessible. It’s on Masindi road.

Getting to Murchison falls is easy. You can use public transportation or book through a tour company – StarMount Safaris.

Flying to Murchison Falls from Entebbe International airport to Pakuba or Chobe airfields.
The safest way to get there by public transport is by bus or a taxi.

You can jump on to one from the city centre. At the bus park or taxi park. Due to unstable fuel rates, the fares may differ from time to time.

As a result, the bus fares range between $5 to $6, while the taxi which is a faster option charges about $7 to $9 for a one-way trip.

Public Transport 

The bus and Taxi are don’t take you inside the National Park. They will drop you off in Masindi and you will hire a special hire Taxi to the National Park at a fee of $40 to $55 for a one-way trip. These take a maximum of 5 people.

I recommend that you book through a tour company, all you have to do is show up and they will do all the heavy lifting for you.

The tour always includes transportation from when you arrive at the airport up until the day you leave. So getting there is way easier when using a professional.

Accommodation inside and outside the Park

Accommodation in and around Murchison Falls National Park may vary from budget, mid-range to luxury. This accommodation can be found inside and outside the national park.

Inside accommodation is highly recommended as it is cheaper and it reduces on the time you spent in the car.

However, if you can’t find accommodation inside the park as it gets booked out fast, the outside accommodation too is good and gives you an opportunity to see the locals in their natural settings.

Once your there and checked in, Murchison Falls is yours to explore there’s is a variety of things that you can do in the National Park;

Game drives

With the help of a tour guide or a ranger, you can go for a game drive either in the morning or in the evening.

You have higher chances of seeing animals in the morning or evening but not in the afternoon.

A game drive is $ 20 per day, you could decide to do two game drives if you have time. One in the morning and one in the evening.

While in Murchison Falls National Park you will be able to spot a variety of animals. These will include Giraffes, Elephants, Buffalo, Lions, Kobs, antelopes, warthogs, bushbucks, reedbuck, duikers, kobs, oribi and the unusual-looking hartebeest. The guides or rangers know where you can spot the lions and if you’re lucky you may spot a leopard.

Boat Ride

The boat ride usually takes place twice a day at 9 am and at 2 pm. You could use a private boat or a shared boat. Either way, they all charge $30 per person.

While on this boat ride you will see schools of Hippos and a variety of birds. If you’re a birder, this boat ride is a piece of heaven for you. If you’re lucky you may see the elusive Shoebill.

The waterfall is Murchison Falls National parks biggest attraction. The boat ride will take you closer to the falls. You can hear the gushing sounds of the waterfalls.

For those that would like to take a nature walk, they can be dropped off and take a hike to the top of the falls. A level of fitness is required for this activity. Once you’re at the top, the hike is so worth it.

This ride takes 4 to 6 hours. And if you’re on the 2 pm boat ride, you may enjoy views of the sunset as you return back the mainland. And for those that hike up to the top of the falls, a vehicle picks you up and transfers you back to your lodge.

Chimpanzee tracking

Chimpanzee tracking is done in Budongo forest which is next door to Murchison Falls National Park. Budongo forest is the biggest forest with mahogany trees in the East African region. It’s also a habitat of the largest number of the chimpanzee population in Uganda.

The major tourist sites within this forest are the Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site, Busingiro Ecotourism site and Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site which are located at boundaries to Murchison Falls National Park and dominated by Mahogany and Iron-wood trees.

Rhino Trekking

This is must activity for anyone on a safari! Get the opportunity to watch these endangered, magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

As these rhino are free to move around on 7,000 hectares of land, it is often necessary to drive to the areas where the rhinos are, before taking the bush trek. Recommended time for the tour is 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm.

Other activities that you can partake are cultural dances, fishing, nature walks in the National parks, Hot air balloon safaris and community activities with the locals.

Activities are arranged on request through a tour company or through the hotel.

When to go

Pick season is January, February, March, July, August, September & December. Low season is April, May, June, October and November. However, anytime is a good time to take a safari.

Cost

They vary the depending on your requests and what you would like to do.

The cost will be given to you in 3 categories, budget, midrange and luxury. Accommodation and type of vehicle use for the safari determine the cost.

Bugs

Beware the Tsetse flies, they bite! These painful and annoying flies are attracted to dark colours – especially blue and black. This is one of the reason everyone on safari wears white or tan clothing!

Photography – if there’s one place where you’ll want to splurge on a zoom camera lens, it’s on safari in Africa. I would recommend something at least 200mm, but 400mm is even better.

What to wear

Keep it casual and comfortable with tee shirts, long-sleeved shirts, shorts, hiking boots, and hats.

Travel Insurance

Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad.

Any questions about going on safari in Murchison Falls? Are you planning a trip? Drop us a message in the comments below!

Tooro Cultural Experiences in Western Uganda

Tooro kingdom is one of the four traditional kingdoms in Uganda.

The Batoro have a rich culture of oral tradition, indigenous handicrafts and patriotism.

Tourists can visit the following places or attend some ceremonies to learn about the Toro Culture.

The Royal Palace of Toro is a great place for history and culture.

The Palace has a beautiful view of the low lying Fort Portal town and the Rwenzori Mountain ranges.

Empaako is a naming system in Toro Kingdom.

It can defuse tension or anger.

Using Empaako sends a strong message about social identity and unity, peace, and reconciliation.

It is a positive affirmation of social ties if you address someone by his or her empaako.

The ceremony is performed at the home.

The clan head presides over the ceremony.

The paternal aunts receive the baby and examine its features.

If the child has any any resemblance with the existing relatives then he is given the name.

The tourists can also visit Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru (Breasts of Nyina Mwiru) Caves and the three Crater Lakes during their visit to Fort Portal or Kibale National Park.

 

 

Sabei Cultural Encounters in Eastern Uganda

The Sebei are an ethnic group of Uganda and Sudan.

They speak Sebei and Kupsabiny.

Many members of this ethnic group live in Kapchorwa District, Uganda.

The Sebei people lead fairly simple lives.

They are mainly cattle keepers and farmers.

The Sipi Widows’ Group will take you on a guided walk through the coffee plantation.

They will demonstrate how to plant, pick, grind, store and wash the coffee.

You will also learn about the life of the Sebei as you meet local residents, and participate in traditional weaving.

You will learn about African cuisine through the preparation, cooking, and tasting of local dishes.

You will visit the women’s handicraft shop in the trading center.

Proceeds from the tour and shop are invested in maintaining the coffee trees, raising awareness about the dangers of female circumcision, and paying school fees for orphans.

 

Karamojong Cultural Encounters

The cattle-herding Karamojong occupy Northeastern Uganda, in an area covering one-tenth of the country.

You will discover the unique culture of this remote tribe with the Lorukul Cultural Group. The group is located just outside Kidepo Valley National Park.

Their main livelihood is herding livestock. The guide will explain to you the social and cultural importance as you walk to the traditional Karamojong manyattas (homesteads), granaries and cattle enclosures.

You will learn how the villagers make their distinctive beads,and sample the local cuisine. You will also meet the Karamojong King. He will narrate the tribe’s folklore and beliefs.

The fee for this tour has contributed to the construction of a clinic and the training of midwives. These are essential facilities in this isolated region.

Ankole Traditional and Cultural Experiences in Uganda

Ankole Cultural Experience:

Ankole is one of the oldest kingdoms in Uganda and was created in the 15th Century.

Ankole’s cultural heritage is fast fading.

Igongo Cultural Museum and Nshenyi Village are trying to preserve some of the Ankole Culture.

Nshenyi Village is a cultural homestead.

Many farmers grow millet, banana and local tomatoes. They also engage in cattle keeping and beekeeping in rocks and caves.

Tourists are able to engage in different activities. They can also cook for themselves sometimes as part of the community.  They can do bird watching in Nshenyi forests.

Nshenyi Cultural Centre is also home of the Batwa Community who live in isolation. They do blacksmith and pottery related activities. The Batwa mold pots naturally without the help of any tool. They sell the souvenirs to the tourists.

During the cultural experience tourists are able to:

  • Listening to traditional music and dances of South Western Uganda
    •Traditional fishing
    •Milking and processing of milk
    •Night campfire
    •Nature walks
    •Bird watching walks
    •Visiting the Batwa Pygmy community

Igongo Cultural Museum is a collection of art crafts, photos, information panels, norms and customs. It also exhibits the culture of South Western Uganda and her neighboring kingdoms.

Activities at Igongo Cultural Centre:

  • Visit the Ankole Farm
    •Hiking the eclipse hill and eclipse monument of the 1520 AD
    •Tour of the traditional huts, milk and millet processing
    •Fishing and Canoeing
    •Visiting Ankole’s Royal Tombs
    •Visiting former King’s Palace

Batwa Cultural Experiences in Uganda

5 Things to Experience with the Batwa culture in Western Uganda

For great Batwa Cultural Experiences, here are five things you need to do when you visit western Uganda. The Batwa pygmies are indigenous people who lived in the forests.

Batwa Pygmies cultural experience is an activity can be done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Buhoma side).

The half-day Batwa cultural trail is an incredible experience that the tourists can engage in during the gorilla tracking experience.

The Batwa lead visitors through the forests and introduce them to their old home and the techniques they used to survive.

Other activities include showcasing hunting skills, honey harvesting skills and demonstration of making bamboo cups.

You will also visit the pharmacy and the walk to the sacred Ngarama cave.

The Batwa Cultural Experience can be done in Semuliki National Park.

In Semuliki National Park the Batwa guides take visitors to their cultural sites in the forest, such as the king’s burial site and palace.

A day spent with the Batwa gives you an opportunity to enjoy the following:

  • Hike in the forest with the people of the forest. You will have a guide and you will an opportunity to see the forest and its habitats through their eyes.
  • See how they lived and hunted in the traditional manner. Enjoy trying out your hunting techniques as the Batwa teach you how to shoot with a bow and arrow.
  • Visit a traditional Batwa homestead and learn from the women how to prepare, cook and serve a meal. You will also have the opportunity to sample the dishes.
  • Interact with medicine men and learn about the medicinal properties of the forest flora.
  • Listen to ancient legends and traditional songs.

Reasons You Should have Great Zimbabwe on Your Bucket List

Reasons you should visit Great Zimbabwe

Have you never visited Zimbabwe? It posses one of the Seven Wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls. It’s a must go to destination. Amazing Wildlife.

If you haven’t, could it be because when you Google or hear about Zimbabwe chances are that you read, hear more about its negatives and less of its positives?

The highlighted problems are usually more political and economic problems. This kills all the interest one may have to visit Zimbabwe.  It’s off-putting to want to go to a destination that you believe is not safe, especially when you know no one there to say to you, look, it’s really safe, nothing to worry about.

Well, here’s the good news, Zimbabwe is a very safe and secure country. The people are friendly, highly educated, very welcoming and that’s beside the amazing attractions that the country poses.

With the right information and guidelines about what you can do and what you can see in Zimbabwe, you will easily add this country to your bucket list.

Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Zimbabwe.

The Victoria Falls – Victoria Falls is among the Seven Wonders of the World. The falls are about 1.7km wide and this provides travellers with a chance to walk the whole length through the rainforest while taking in every part of the falls. It’s during the dry season that you’re able to see the Falls outline, it’s at this time that you can really appreciate the Victoria Falls. However, during the Wet Season, the water gushing from the falls creating a thick fog that you’re unable to see the outline of the falls.

The other way of viewing the fall is by taking a 13 minutes helicopter ride above the falls. It’s one of the best ways to see the falls! While in the helicopter, you will be able to get an Arial view of the spectacular falls, a chance a lucky few get to experience.

Zimbabwe has the best frontage of the falls and the best view of the deepest channels running along its side. While the Zambian side of the falls is dried up during the dry season, the Zimbabwean side of the falls will still be gashing.

There are a variety of other activities that one can take part in while at Victoria Falls; The Lion encounter, this is an active conservation program that is passionate about ensuring a secure future for the African lion. This is ideal for travellers passionate about the cause or travellers that have never had close encounters with a lion. At the lion encounter, they let you take walks with the lions, feed them, watch them play, take pictures with them and also stroke them gently. And you would still live!

For the more courageous, the bungee jump off the Victoria Falls is a must do, it’s the second highest jump in the world. There’s also Zip lining, canoeing, kayaking and many more other activities.

The Hwange National Park – This National Par particularly gives you a reason why you should do a game drive while in Zimbabwe! It’s a popular park for animal lovers. At 5,657 square miles, its home to a wide range of wildlife like; Elephants, Buffalos, Zebras, Giraffes, Baboons, Impalas, warthogs and wildebeests. As if the abundance of wildlife in Hwange isn’t enough of a reason to visit, there are almost 400 different species of birds that can be found in the National Park – making it a birders paradise! Hwange National park is easily one of the highlights when visiting Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabweans – Around one in five Zimbabweans (the Ndebele and Kalanga groups) speak Northern Ndebele, commonly known as Sindebele. Both Shona and Sindebele are Bantu languages originating from the time when Bantu-speaking tribes populated the region over 1000 years ago. Other ethnic groups in the southeast, representing around one per cent of the population each, are Tonga in the Zambezi Valley, the Shangaan or Hlengwe in the Low Veld, and the Venda on the border with South Africa.

The Zimbabwean people are highly educated and speak fluent English. It would be very difficult for any traveller to find someone that cannot speak English in Zimbabwe.

That’s not the only interesting thing about the Zimbabweans though; the most interesting thing is their Names! Many of them are named after their parent’s struggles, triumphs or circumstances around the time they were born. While traversing the country you will come across Zimbabweans with names like; Moreblessing, Praise, Given, Whatmore, Stubborn, Beauty, Trust, Onward, Lovemore, Trymore, the list goes on.

The Big Tree (Baobab) – The big tree is one of the largest trees in southern Africa and the tallest native tree in Zimbabwe. Its height is about 65 m and has a trunk diameter of about 4.5 m at the base. Situated at the southern part of the 950 ha Chirinda Forest Botanical Reserve at a place called the Valley of Giants, The big tree is estimated to be more than 1,000 years old (some estimate 2,000 years). The big tree is facing challenges of re-growth after its tip was once struck by lightning. Also, travellers would put inscriptions of their names on its trunk posing so much danger on its bark development. A visit to the Big Tree is highly recommended!

General Security – Zimbabwe is a very secure country. Other than the regular roadblocks on the highway that seems intimidating, you feel safe the entire time while in the country, it doesn’t matter what part of Zimbabwe you in. The protest may happen in the city of Harare but it never gets out of hand. The security is pretty much the same as in other countries.

Just like in any other country, travellers are urged to take extreme precaution while travelling. And take safety measures to ensure they don’t fall victim to petty crimes.

Zimbabwe has a lot more to offer! With just these five reasons, you’re set to go on a big discovery of Zimbabwe. And do you know what the best part is, you will want to discover more about Zimbabwe and there’s much more to see and experience while in Zimbabwe.

The Mighty Sipi Falls – Eastern Uganda

Sipi Falls, located in Kapchorwa, just outside Mt Elgon National Park in Uganda, undoubtedly defines the attraction of Eastern Uganda. If you haven’t been to Sipi Falls, it conjures. It invites, lures, snares and draws you in. Sipi Falls is  a popular destination for tourist.

It also gives​ you a soul and a fix that, implodes in you and sends you into a frenzy of wanting to tell all. They say, “To travel is to live!” And who are we to disagree with whomever came up with that line of thought?

The trek to the top of the falls; We were feeling energetic at this point as we were excited to actually get to the top of the falls. As we trekked, we had the opportunity to meet the locals (that probably dont understand what we were fussing about). They educated us on a couple things like; their culture, way of life and past experiences having lived there for a long time. while trekking as we got hire, the scenic views were amazing! At some angles you able to see Mount Elgon covered in the morning mist, really beautiful!

Finally at the top of the Falls, this is at 100ft high. Was super excited that i had made it all the way up. Majority of us were not or we did not physically fit to trek up 100ft but we did! Our next activity, abseiling 100 ft down the mighty Sipi Falls! For me the Adrenalin junkie, i could not wait to get suited! It seems scary as you start the abseiling, however, when you start abseiling you realise how fun it actually is to abseil! Abseiling is safe!

As you stand at the bottom looking up, you realise how exciting, challenging and fun it was. Sipi Falls is a must visit. #starmountsafaris#funmemorableexperiences