KIGEZI WILDLIFE RESERVE.
Kigezi wildlife reserve was established in 1952 situated on the western arm of the central African rift valley south of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The reserve is located in Rukungiri district covering an area of approximately 265 square kilometers, the reserve is largely covered with vast plains, forests and savanna woodland and open grassland. Kigezi is dotted with acacia and Albizia, deciduous forests and so much more flora. Kigezi wildlife reserve has a wide range of mammals which include; Lions, leopard, elephants, topi, oribi, bushbucks, waterbucks, giant forest hogs, hippos among others. The reserve acts as a barrier between the ishasha area of queen Elizabeth national park and Maramagambo forest
Kigezi wildlife reserve is also endowed with primates and birds. Primates found here include; chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, eastern black and white colobus monkeys. Birds include; grey crowned cranes, marabou stork, hamerkop, saddle billed stork, peregrine falcon, red faced barbets, verreaux’s eagle owl and so many other birds.
The reserve is known for harboring a large population of elephants which roam around the region, these come from the Rwindi plains in the democratic republic of Congo and from the south of queen Elizabeth national park. the elephants move mostly during rainy seasons.
How to reach Kigezi wildlife reserve.
The reserve is approximately 318 kilometers from Kampala city, Uganda’s capital. You can use masaka Mbarara road passing via Ntungamo and Rukungiri.
When to visit Kigezi wildlife reserve.
The reserve can be visited all year round but the best time to visit is during the dry seasons of June to September and December to February. But if you are interested in watching the hug group of elephants, its better you come in the rainy seasons of October to November and march to April.
Where to stay
Unfortunately, there are no accommodations inside the reserve currently. But there are plenty of accommodations in Rukungiri the nearby district. These include but not limited to, ishasha river lodge, rukungiri inn, savannah resort hotel and Ronda vales.
On top of Kigezi wildlife reserve, you can visit queen Elizabeth national park which has attractions like;
Wildlife viewing and game drive.
Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the parks in Uganda that will fulfill your wanderlust, due to a lot of animals you will see in the wild when you visit. The park has over 90 species of mammals, reptiles, over 600 bird species and a lot of insect species. The park has over 3000 hippos, over 4000 elephants and over 2000 buffalos. Queen Elizabeth national park has the unique tree climbing lions, these are viewed in the Ishasha sector which is found in the south side of the park. These lions climb trees in order to spot for prey mostly the kobs that are always down grazing, to run away from tsetse flies that disturb them and sometimes to cool down when temperatures are hot on the ground, they later take a nap or eventually sleep while in the branches. It is advised to be cautious when you stand or seat under tree shades while in the park at the Ishasha side. There are higher chances of you spotting the big five and the big cats.
Lake Katwe salt works.
Lake katwe is located in the northern part of the Mweya peninsular, north west of queen Elizabeth national park. katwe lake is a saline crater lake which is known for the crater drive. In the dry seasons the lake becomes concentrated and forms salt pans on the bottom with crystalized salts on the surface. While here, you can participate in the salt mining process with the locals as they tell you the history of the lake. Apart from salt mining you can visit the historical Germany salt factory that was operated by Germans but later stopped and went back to their country and left the factory.
Located in the western valley of East Africa, Queen Elizabeth national park has over 10 crater lakes. These include; Katwe crater lake, Bunyaruguru kichwamba crater fields, Ndali-Kasenda crater field among others.
The scenic famous crater drive takes approximately 24 km between the volcanic craters. the craters are filled with lakes, the savannah grassland and rain forests. A lot of birds most especially flamingos are seen in this area every day.
The queen’s pavilion.
The pavilion was constructed in 1952 to host the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth when she visited the park. It was later renovated in 1954 for the royal guests from England. The pavilion has the best views of the park and it’s a good spot for photography.
This is a rain forest in the savanna grassland plains shaped by the kyambura river. The gorge hosts a lot of accommodation facilities that have great views of the park. Accommodations in this area include; kyambura escarpment lodge, this an excellent accommodation for those who would like to go chimp trekking, game drives and boat cruise.
Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the parks in Uganda with beautiful landscapes. The park has golden brown savannah grassland vegetation that are breathtaking when seen from a far distance. The park is near Mountain Rwenzori which gives a chance for you to see the Rwenzori Mountain ranges touching the sky. It is the best spot for photography with the mountain ranges acting as your back drop.
Game drives are conducted around kasenyi area and ishasha sector for tree climbing lions. Apart from lions you will get an opportunity to see the African elephants, African buffalo, Ugandan kob, warthogs, hipos, giant forest hog, Nile crocodiles, leopard, spotted hyena and chimpanzees.
However, if you want to go for chimpanzee trekking kyambura Gorge and kalinzu forest reserve are the best destinations. You can go for a forest walk in Maramagambo forest which has bat caves.
The channel is 40m long, it harbors a lot of wild life that you can see while on a boat cruise. You will see schools of hippos bathing in the water, herds of buffalos graving, lions, and crocodiles waiting to catch some food. It’s a good spot for those who love watching birds, birds are all over the shores of the channel.
The park has more than 600 bird species recorded, making it a birder’s haven. Some of these birds are endemic to the park while others are migrant birds from Asia and Europe. The most spotted birds in queen Elizabeth national park are; the African skimmers, Egyptian goose, lesser flamingos, malachite kingfisher, sacred ibis, African fish eagle, pied king fisher, spur- winged plover among others.
Local community visits.
Queen Elizabeth national has a number of communities you can visit and have a true feeling of being in Uganda. These communities offer different cultural experience from the other. These include; the leopard village,
Kikongo women community.
This community organizes cultural dances and entertainment, they will teach you how to make their traditional craft like making paper, beads, banana fiber bowls among others.
This village will show you how they co-exist with wildlife in the park. You can visit to replicas of traditional huts of Basongora, banyabindi and bakonzo and their library.
Busonga fishing village.
This is found on the shores of lake Gorge. You can do boat cruise racing with the locals, fishing, cultural performances and storytelling.
Nyanzi’ibiri cave community -crested crane. It’s while at this village you will see the volcanic crater lakes, you can paddle a canoe known as kamunzuku. They also offer campsite called DAVE THE CAVE
Omwani coffee plantation
Omwani women’s cooperative is a women group dedicated to producing organic Arabic and robuster coffee. They sell to the local market and also export to other countries. They make sure they add no chemical manure to the plantations with an aim of producing organic coffee. The plantation is a good site to visit for coffee lovers and those who love supporting women. Many women have benefited from this initiative, they have been able to take their children to school, feed them and help in the financial needs of their home.