Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
Queen Elizabeth National Park occupies an estimated 1978 square kilometres. It lies in the districts of Bushenyi, Kasese and Rukungiri. The park extends from Lake George in North East to Lake Edward in South West and includes Kazinga channel which connects the two lakes.
Park at a Glance
The park was named after Queen Elizabeth II and was established in 1954.
Queen Elizabeth spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00. The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.
The park covers and area of almost 2,000 sq Kms and lies between the Rwenzori Mountains to the east and Lake Edward to the west., approx 470kms from Kampala.
The park can be accessed most easily from Kampala passing through Mityana, Mubende, Kyenjojo, Fort portal to kasese.Its location is approximately 376km by road South west of Kampala.
The second route is slightly longer via masaka and Mbarara. This is also the main route to Lake Mburo national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Mgahinga National Park and the Ugandan Equator.
The park is also accessible from Kabale or Bwindi via Kihihi.
Things to See
The park is home to over 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species. This park’s wildlife once suffered from heavy poaching, but recent conservation efforts have restored much of the game and it now claims to be one of the best places on the continent to see high concentrations of hippo.
Other animals found are elephant, buffalo, Uganda kob, variety of antelope, baboons and chimpanzees and the famous tree-climbing lion. There are also over 500 different specifies of bird making it a excellent destination for ornithologists.
The Katwe explosion craters mark the park’s highest point at 1,350m above sea level, while the lowest point is at 910m, at Lake Edward.
Birders can spot some of the 500 plus species of birds including grey crowned crane, marshal eagle and flamingos.
In addition to the big game viewing, Queen Elizabeth national park includes Kyambura forest gorge home to chimpanzees. It makes fantastic opportunities for chimpanzee tracking and nature walks offer sightings of primates, birds and butterflies.
Queen Elizabeth is a park where wildlife co-exists peacefully with humans. The surrounding cattle herders as well as farmers live along the boundary with predators. There are excellent village walks. Visit Katwe salt mining lake and learn about the life and work of salt miners.
The park is also known for its volcanic features comprising volcanic cones and deep craters many with crater lakes such as Lake Katwe from which salt is extracted.
The park includes Maramagambo forest and birders Kigezi game reserve, Kyambura game reserve.
Things to Do
There are several things to do on a Uganda safari through Queen Elizabeth National Park. From traditional safaris to boat safaris along the Kazinga Channel, there are amazing adventure activities that you can engage in during your safari;
Game drives; This is carried out in different sectors i.e. Kasenyi ground, Crater Lake area, and Ishasha sector. There is a high chance of spotting animals like predators which include; Bush bucks, water bucks, Oribi, Topi among others. Mammals include Buffalo, Elephants, Hippos, and Mongoose. All these can be viewed in all game drives.
It is known for its wildlife which includes Hippos, Elephants, Leopards, Lions, Chimpanzees and many more. The park is also famous for tree climbing lions in Rukungiri district in the ishasha sector.
Launch trips; This is carried out around kazinga channel. It offers chances of viewing variety of bird species and animals while taking water.
Guided nature walks in Maramagambo Forest.
Chimpanzee tracking; This is carried out in Kyambura gorge and the walks in this area attract large number of flamingos that are not found elsewhere in Uganda.
Traditional salt work visit is carried out around Lake Katwe.
Bird watching; This boosts 606 bird species around Kazinga Channel
- Student’s camp and hostel offered by UWA.
- Campsites for independent campers in Mweya sector
- Banda are available in Ishasha sector
- Simba safari camp
- King fisher
- Kazinga channel view resort
- Mweya safari lodge
- Jacana safari Lodge located at Lake Nyamusingiri in Maramagambo Forest.
- Kyambura game lodge
- Enganzi lodge
- Bush lodge
- Katara lodge
June to September is the driest time when most animals remain near water, but be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms at any time.
The hot dry time is January to February and is a good time to visit. Dry season temperatures average 80°F (25°C).
Rainy Season: It rains anytime from October to December and March to May when many roads become impassible.
When to Visit
A boat trip along the Kazinga channel between Lake George and Edward is a rewarding method of game viewing. The best time of the year to visit the park is just after the rains, between October and November and March and April when high concentrations of animals roam the whole area.
Where to Stay
The best feature of Queen Elizabeth national park is the abundance of wide range of accommodations, which make it relatively an affordable safari destination. The tree climbing lions in Uganda can be viewed only in the Ishasha’s southern sector and this is one of the most amazing adventures in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Mweya Safari Lodge, jacana lodge and others. Other lodges are located in and outside the park. You can use Simba safari camp outside the park. for community activities, the elephant centre is your gate way booking accommodation around Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori mountains National Park. Please ask about the available community activities at the elephant centre, or to book your packed lunch, accommodation or game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park if you connect by public transport.