QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

 

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the leading wildlife safari destinations in Uganda, most popular for its outstanding game viewing experiences. The park lies in the Western side of Uganda and it is part of the vast Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area which encompasses the Kyambura Game/Wildlife Reserve, and Maramagambo Forest.

Queen Elizabeth N/Park is an open savanna protected area, a recognized bios-sphere reserve with plenty of exciting safari activities. This park also features acacia trees, euphoria trees and swamps.

Location

Queen Elizabeth N. Park is situated in Western Uganda and its boundaries extend covering the surrounding districts like Kamwenge, Rubirizi, Kasese and Rukungiri. It is surrounded by splendid protected areas such as Kibale Forest National Park, Virunga National Park, and Rwenzori Mountains National Park. In 1952, this protected area was gazetted as the Kazinga National Park, and in 1954, it was changed to now Queen Elizabeth National Park, the name it takes from the late Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Attractions in Queen Elizabeth N. Park

If you are an enthusiastic traveler and need to watch abundant savanna wildlife, then a visit to Queen Elizabeth N.P should be a must-do. The park is blessed with abundance of wildlife, breathtaking sceneries and bird species.

Wildlife species

Queen Elizabeth National Park holds over 95 mammal species, 620 species of birds, reptiles and amphibians. The available animal species to see on a safari in Queen Elizabeth NP include topis, spotted hyenas, serval cats, sitatungas, Uganda Kobs, warthogs, waterbucks, mongoose, crocodiles, forest pigs, leopards, lions (tree climbing lions), cape buffaloes, hippos, jackals, elephants, and hippos. There are also interesting primates to be spotted including blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys.

Bird species

Queen Elizabeth N/Park holds a huge profusion of birds and a record of over 620 species of birds. The birds in Queen Elizabeth Park include the African fish eagles, white-winged terns, African jacanas, Open-billed storks, African white-tailed lark, Pin-tailed whydahs, black-headed gonoleks, Pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, Verreaux’s eagle-owl, great and long-tailed cormorants, shoebill stork, African skimmers, open billed stork, squacco herons, Gabon and slender-tailed mourning dove, white-winged warblers, black-rumped buttonquail,

Papyrus gonoleks, collard pratincole, swamp fly-catcher, pink-backed pelicans, papyrus gonoleks, sedge warblers, Egyptian goose, hammerkops, African sacred ibis, Eastern plantain eater, Ross’s turacos, palm-nut vulture, African fin foot, grey crowned crane, hooded vultures, lappet-faced vulture, black-chested snake eagle, yellow rumped tinker bird, blue-breasted bee-eaters, red-throated bee-eaters, black and white casqued hornbill, western banded snake eagle, red-chested cuckoo, white-thighed hornbill, common waxbill, red-collared widowbird, crimson-rumped waxbill, emerald cuckoo, Southern red bishops, chocolate-backed kingfishers, Southern ground-hornbill, white-browed coucal and more.

Amazing things to do in Queen Elizabeth NP

Game drives

There are many opportunities to explore Queen Elizabeth NP on a game drive, especially the designated wildlife tracks including Ishasha sector (ideal for tree climbing lions), and Kasenyi plains. On a game drive, expect to come across different wildlife including Uganda Kobs, spotted hyenas, African bush elephants, cape buffaloes, bushbucks, waterbucks, warthogs, lions, and birds.

Launch/boat cruise

Launch cruise is excellently conducted along the Kazinga channel and offers visitors a great opportunity to see a huge profusion of aquatic species such as water birds, hippos, and crocodiles. Along the river banks/shores, you can also encounter a variety of other wildlife species as they converge to take water including the cape buffaloes, elephants, and more.

Chimpanzee trekking

In Queen Elizabeth NP, chimpanzees can be encountered on foot in Kyambura Gorge, lying along the Eastern side of the park. This is where some of the chimps have been habituated but other primates can also be spotted including olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys.

Nature walks

Embark on a guided nature/forest walk and stand a chance to explore the rich natural wonders of Maramagambo Forest. This natural rainforest is home to diverse primates, forest birds and floral species.

Tour Katwe salt mines

Katwe salt mine tour allows you to explore how the salt in Lake Katwe is mined using traditional methods. You will be taken through the process and the mines have been sub-divided and distributed to the different tribes in Uganda.

Birding

Queen Elizabeth National Park is recognized among the important birding areas in Uganda. The park features incredible birding spots including Kazinga channel, Budongo Forest, Kyambura Gorge, Kasenyi Plains and Craters. The bird species to be identified on birding tours in Queen Elizabeth N/Park include wood sandpipers, yellow backed weavers, yellow-throated cuckoos, white-faced whistling, Verreaux’s eagle owl, white-tailed lark, Carruther’s cisticolas, white-winged terns, white and Abdim’s storks, water thick-knee, swamp fly-catchers, Wahlberg’s eagle,

Slender-billed stork, spotted redshank, spur-winged plovers, slender-tailed mourning dove, African wattled plovers, pied kingfishers, papyrus gonoleks, shoebill storks, grey-headed kingfishers, grey kestrel, sedge warblers, papyrus canary, red-chested sunbird, ringed plovers, knob-billed ducks, jack snipe, lesser and greater flamingos, red-chested sunbirds, pink-backed pelicans, little stint, African fish eagle, brown snake eagle, Gabon and slender-tailed nightjars, Eurasian wigeon, curlew sandpipers, bar-tailed Godwit, black-rumped buttonquail, brimstone canary, African skimmers, squacco heron, corncrakes, long-tailed cormorants, curlew sandpipers, African open billed stork, African harrier hawk, African broadbill, and black bee-eaters.

Research safaris

Queen Elizabeth NP also provides amazing experiential tours including lion tracking, mongoose tracking, and hippo census. These are conducted by trained researchers, scientists and conservationists.

Hot air balloon safaris

Hot air balloon experience is a newly introduced in Uganda and Queen Elizabeth NP is one of the places where you can take part. The hot air balloon tours offer typical of aerial game viewing experience and photography. You can go for the morning or afternoon session.

When to visit Queen Elizabeth NP

The dry season is the best time for tourists to excellently enjoy the view of Queen Elizabeth National Park wildlife. This is from June to early September and December to February. The park often becomes more scenic during the wet/rainy season that is March, April, May & October to November.

The lodges to stay on a safari in Queen Elizabeth N/Park

The available places to book for a night stay in and around Queen Elizabeth NP are enormous ranging from budget to luxury. They include Kasenyi Safari Camp, Mweya Safari Lodge, Jacana Safari Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Mazike Lodge, Buffalo Safari Lodge, Wild Track Safari Lodge, Bush Lodge, Elephant Plains Lodge, Ihamba Safari Lodge and Simba Safari Camp.

 

How to get to this national park from Kampala/Entebbe

Queen Elizabeth National Park is about 420 km away from Kampala, about 7-8 hours’ drive through the Masaka-Mbarara-Bushenyi route and 410 km (6-7 hours’ drive) along the Mubende-Fort Portal route. By air, there are daily chartered/scheduled flights connecting visitors from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Mweya or Kasese airstrip.