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Queen Elizabeth is not only famous for beautiful landscapes, 600 bird species, 95 mammal species, the Kazinga Channel or the magnificent forest reserve (Maramagambo forest) and Kyambura gorge, but it is also popular for captivating cultural encounters and wildlife safaris in Uganda. This National Park is situated in Western Uganda and is the second largest Park after Murchison Falls National Park. When you visit Queen Elizabeth National Park, do not expect to only see the wildlife and bird species but also to relish. Here are some of the most captivating cultural encounters to expect when you visit Queen Elizabeth National Park;

Kikorongo Women Community

Kikorongo means “Too Much Sunshine” in the local language of Lukonzo – but the intense heat of the African plains has done nothing to diminish the energy of the Kikorongo Equator Cultural Performers! This vibrant performance, which takes place at lodges around the park, is a wonderful glimpse of life in Kikorongo, with dance, drama, music, singing and even a fire-making competition. An interpreter from the village explains the significance of the performances – why the wooden puppets are used, how the traditional healer treats his young patient, and how the villagers call on their ancestors through energetic dances. Sit back and watch life in a Bakonzo village unfold in front of you!

The Women’s Community also offers African ArtCraft Workshops, teaching guests how to weave baskets and bowls using natural fibers – it´s not as easy as the expert teachers make it look! They also demonstrate how to recycle magazines into colorful paper beads, which can then be made into unique necklaces. And of course, if your own craft skills are not up to scratch, beautiful items made by members of the women´s group, such as baskets, bowls, purses and woven belts are available to purchase.

Katwe Salt Lake and Bird Watching Tour
This unusual lake is far too salty to support much wildlife – though since the 16th Century it has ensured the survival of the Katwe villagers, who spend their days under the equatorial sun, harvesting salt from its milky waters. Unique networks of paths and huts criss-cross the lake and support the hundreds of
salt miners who depend on the lake for their livelihoods.

Katwe Salt Lake Tour tour gives visitors a unique insight into the fascinating yet tough process of salt mining, as well as providing an alternative income for Katwe. You will see community members at work on the lake, cross the mud walkways and enter one of the traditional grass huts, used to shelter and store
tools. You will also pass the nearby bird sanctuary lake, home to thousands of birds, including flamingoes from October to May.

A bird watching boardwalk will be ready for visitors in 2012. What´s life like in the village next to the salt lake? During Katwe Village Walk, visitors are welcomed to a traditional homestead, to experience what the villagers come home to after a hard day harvesting salt. Cooking demonstrations introduce the food of this region, and the traditional methods used to cook and prepare the meals. Visitors will also enjoy a trip to the local school.

The Leopard Village

This interesting Village is community-managed and social-economic development project that advocates cultural and wildlife conservation through ecotourism development.  This project is situated next to Muhokya Village and covers an area of 3 acres bordering the Northern sector the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Tourists who visit the Leopard Village have the chance to explore some of the replicas of the ancient traditional huts of the Bakonzo, Basongora and the Banyabindi tribes, also watch the different traditional songs and dances of the tribes and buy some of the handcrafts made by the local community members.

This project-the Leopards Village is collaboration between the Uganda carnivore program with support from the Sanctuaries and Zoos in the United States and Germany, and the local community members of Hamukungu, Muhokya and Kahendero and the proceeds from the project and the donations go towards Community development projects, Education projects, conservation projects and individual artists around the area. For more information and booking for activities, contract them on telephone through +256 791 779442 and +256 791 492245 or send an email to leopard.village@gmail.com or visit their website on www.uganda-carnivores.org/leopard-village

Agro-tour Walk

The hanging Kichwamba escarpment is part of the Eastern wall of the Great African Rift Valley. The 2-3 hour Agro-tour walk starts from the rural Kataara Village with the hike transversing the local farms of the Escarpments in the chilly mornings or early evenings. This walk is conducted in the company of expert local guides who explain some of the identified beautiful bird species, medicinal plants and places of cultural importance as well as elaborating on the local farming methods. Tourists also learn about the continuous human-wildlife conflicts faced by the local communities living around Queen Elizabeth National park. After the walk, tourists hike back up the escarpment and return to their respective lodges.

For more information and bookings, contact them through the Kataara Lodge by calling +256 779 552446 or +256 773011648 or +256 712 812560.

Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community

Refresh your body after a long game drive or nature walks by involving in the scenic walks within part of the Uganda beauty at this community site known as the Nyanz’ibiri Cave. You will relish the breathtaking views of the Volcanic Crater Lakes to the numerous bird species such as the African Fish eagles and the Grey crowned Cranes. Paddle a canoe and sight some of the 8 species of primates.

The interesting local attractions to look out for include the ancient cave and the cultural museum that homes the Banyaruguru huts filled with precious local artifacts that were once used by these people in the past. This project is a community-managed establishment that provides three well-maintained private bandas and a campsite for exquisite accommodation of the guests. There is also a restaurants and bar on-site where tourists can also enjoy traditional songs and dance performances, and most of the proceeds from the activities and the accommodation go to the Community Development Projects, Conservation and Educational Projects. Contact the Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community Campsite through +256 772 863399 and +256 792 863399 or send an email to nyanzibiriecotour@gmail.com for more information and bookings.

The Katwe Tourism Information Center (KATIC)

The outstanding Lake Katwe is too salty to support wildlife but has ensured the survival of the Katwe local community members who spend their lives under the equatorial sun, transversing the networks of Paths that pass the lake and harvest Salt from the Calcium carbonate-filled waters. The Katwe Salt Lake Tour provides tourists with exceptional understanding of the magnificent although tough process of salt mining and offering an alternative income for the local community members around Katwe. While on this activity, you will encounters some of the migratory bird species including the flamingos usually sighted during the Rainy season especially from October to May.

In conclusion, Queen Elizabeth National park is a destination that is truly a medley of wonders because it is not only known for the nature but also cultural encounters that include the Katwe Tourism Information Center (KATIC), Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community, the Agro-tour Walk, the Leopard Village and the Kikorongo Women Community.