Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is the second most visited savannah national park in Uganda after Murchison falls National Park. It was declared a national park in 1952 under the name Kazinga National Park. After two years, it was renamed Queen Elizabeth national park to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth national park covers approximately 1,978 square kilometres, spanning the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi and Rukungiri. The national park encompasses Maramagambo Forest and borders Kigezi Game Reserve, Kyambura Game Reserve, and Kibale National Park in western Uganda. The park also neighbours Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Uganda.

The national park in western Uganda is home to 95 mammal species and over 645 species of birds. The national park is a great destination for wildlife viewing safaris in Uganda-with visitors able to spot a variety of wildlife animals such as the Cape Buffalo, hippos, giant forest hogs, Uganda Kob, Nile crocodile, African leopard, African Bush elephant, chimpanzees and tree climbing lions to mention but a few.

Top Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

There is so much for visitors to see and explore in Queen Elizabeth national park. Some of the top tourist attractions in the national park include;

  • Wildlife; As earlier mentioned, Queen Elizabeth national park shelters over 95 animal species, 645 bird species, butterflies, reptiles, savannah vegetation among others.
  • Tree climbing lions; The national park is famous for its climbing lions which are found in Ishasha sector southern part of the national park. 
  • Kazinga channel; Kazinga channel is a water body in Queen Elizabeth national park that joins Lake gorge and Lake Edward. It harbours quite a number of wildlife species which can be seen during a boat cruise safari.
  • Kyambura Gorge/escarpment; This is a landscape that is found in the eastern part of the park. Kyambura gorge gives you great moments in that it is blessed with biodiversity such as chimpanzee primates, birds, animals, rain forest, savannah, woodland vegetation among others.
  • Lake Katwe salt mine; Lake Katwe is a crater lake located in the northern part of Queen Elizabeth national park, north of Mweya Peninsular. Katwe salt mine is a salty lake with in lets and with no outlets and during the dry season water forms salt pans at the bottom and crystal salt on the surface of the lake due to high concentration.
  • Crater lakes; There are three main crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth national park which include Bunyaruguru craters, lake Katwe and the Ndali-Kasenda craters. 

Activities Offered in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Day game drives; Day game drives in Queen Elizabeth national park are the best for wildlife viewing safaris in the park. Day game drives in the national park are conducted in the morning and afternoon hours and usually last 2 to 3 hours. Some of the wildlife animals that you can get to see during your game drive safari in Queen Elizabeth national park include Elephants, Buffaloes, Uganda kobs, Warthogs, Giant forest hogs, Waterbucks, Bushbucks, Lions, Leopards, bird species among others hence giving you a wonderful experience.

Night game drives; Night game drives in Queen Elizabeth are always the best if you are looking to  see nocturnal animals in the national park. The activity is carried out at night in Mweya peninsula with game rangers and spot lights to clearly spot the nocturnal animals. Night game drives in the park start at around 8pm after the visitors have had dinner at their lodges. Visitors on a night game drive will be able to view some of the animals which they missed to see during the day game drive and nocturnal animals such as Leopards, Lions, Civet cats, Genal, Serval cats, Hyenas among others which gives great experiences to visitors on a safari.

Lion tracking experience; The Lion tracking experience in Queen Elizabeth is the best way for visitors to see the park’s famous tree climbing lions that are found in Ishasha sector, in the southern part of the national park. Lion tracking activity can be done during the day or evening game drives in the park. The Lion tracking experience is run by Uganda Carnivore Program in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority. The lions are tracked using tracking devices which detect the signal from the collars attached to the lions’ necks. During the lion tracking experience, vehicles are allowed to go off tracks regardless of where the lions are visitors will be able to see lions at a close range and other animal species like the buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, bushbucks, waterbucks, Uganda kobs among others. Lion tracking experience takes about 1 to 3 hours and is limited to a few numbers of visitors for the protection of the lions. 

Bird watching; The national park is one of the top destinations for birding safaris in Uganda. The park hosts about 645 bird species including;  African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, African broadbill, Papyrus Gonolek, Pink backed pelican, Martial eagle, Papyrus canary, Yellow throated cuckoo, Sedge warbles among others.  Birding in the park is conducted within the Mweya peninsula, Kyambura gorge, Maramagambo forest, Kazinga channel and around crater lakes near Lake Katwe.

Boat cruise: Boat cruise safaris in Queen Elizabeth national park are conducted on Kazinga channel. You just can’t miss out on the boat cruise when visiting the national park. Visitors on a boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth national park are able to see wildlife like; large herds of hippos on the water banks, Nile crocodiles, buffaloes, elephants, monitor lizards, waterbucks, bush backs, duiker, mongoose among others, aquatic bird species such as king fishers, fish eagle, spur winged plover, African jacana, white faced whistling, white backed pelican among others. You will also get to view local fishing communities around the park at a close range during your boat cruise which lasts 2 hour but provides you with fascinating and magical experiences.

Nature walks/ hiking; Nature walks or hiking expeditions in Queen Elizabeth are a great way for visitors to appreciate the beautiful scenery and wildlife as you explore the national park on foot. Nature walks or hiking trips in the national park normally start early in the morning and are usually carried out in Maramagambo forest where you will see the bat caves different bird species, Mweya peninsula where you will view the banded mongoose, wildlife species and birds, Kyambura gorge where you will view primates like chimpanzees, Ishasha sector where you will see climbing lions in the fig trees, crater lakes like Katwe where you will see salt mines and Kalinzu forest where you will view primates and bird species among others. 

Chimpanzee trekking; Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth is conducted in Kyambura gorge or Kalinzu forest. There are 10 habituated chimpanzee groups in Kyambura gorge which are available for trekking on a daily basis. Visitors will be able to learn their behaviours, feeding habits among others. Kalinzu forest located just a few kilometres outside Queen Elizabeth national is home to about 6 different primate species. During chimpanzee trekking experience in the park, you will be able to view other primates such as Baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys, Butterflies, Moth, Reptiles, Bird species, Flowers among others. 

Cultural encounters; Visit the Kikorogo women community group where you will get entertainment through performances in form of dance, drama, music, visit their art and craft shops where they make and sell baskets, hats, sandals, beads from papers and magazines, learn about local peoples cultures and traditions, taste traditional dishes among others hence giving you interesting experiences on your safari in the park. 

There are other activities which are offered to visitors in Queen Elizabeth which include; Banded Mongoose tracking and Hippo census.

Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth includes; Pumba Safari Cottages, Mweya Safari Lodge, Kasenyi Safari Camp, White House Hotel, Park View Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Enganzi Lodge, Elephant Plains Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, Elephant Hub Lodge, Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge, Queen Elizabeth Safari Camp, Lake Chibwera Camp, Kyambura Tented Camp, Mweya Hostels and Cottages, Katara Lodge, Jacana Safari Lodge, King Fisher Lodge Kichwamba, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Kitandara Hippo Hill Lodge, Ishasha Tented Camp, Ihamba Safari Lodge, Ishasha  Jungle Lodge, Ishasha Ntungwe River Camp among others.

How to get to Queen Elizabeth

The national park is located in the western part of Uganda and can be accessed by either road or air transport means. Visitors travelling to Queen Elizabeth national park by air can fly from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese airstrip or Mweya airstrip in the park. Alternatively, you can fly to Kihihi airstrip from Entebbe airport and then drive to Queen Elizabeth national park through Ishasha.

Visitors can also travel to Queen Elizabeth by road from Kampala city via Mubende and Fort Portal. Visitors using this route can always include chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park with a visit to Queen Elizabeth. You can also access the park from Kampala through Mbarara; with an opportunity to visit Lake Mburo national park in Mbarara.

book a gorilla safari