Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is the second largest national park located in western Uganda in four districts which include Rukungiri, Kamwenge, Rubirizi and Kasese. The park was established in 1952 and covers a total area of 1,978 square kilometers which is comprised of savannah grasslands, woodland, forests, swamp vegetation, wetlands and lakes.
Queen Elizabeth national park is a home of different mammal species including elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, other animals like Uganda kobs, warthogs, bushbucks, waterbucks, primates like chimpanzees, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, different bird species like papyrus canary, pygmy kingfisher, lesser and greater flamingo, black crowned Tchagra among others. Queen Elizabeth national park is also famously known for harboring the tree climbing lions which are found in Ishasha sector in the southern part of the park.
Attractions in Queen Elizabeth national park
Wildlife, Queen Elizabeth national park is a home of over 98 mammal species such as the big four mammals out of the big five mammals which include buffaloes, lions, leopards, elephants, waterbucks, bushbucks, Uganda kobs, warthogs, hippos, primates like chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons among others.
Birds, the national park is one of the top birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors more than 600 bird species including lesser and greater flamingo, scarlet chested sunbird, papyrus canary, pygmy kingfisher, slender tailed nightjar, African wattled plover, martial eagle, pink backed pelican among others.
Kazinga channel, Kazinga channel is a 40km long channel that connects Lake Edward in the west and Lake George in the east. The Kazinga channel acts as a habitat for various wildlife species such as variety of bird species, large concentrations of hippos and many others.
Activities in Queen Elizabeth national park
Game drive is the major activity in Queen Elizabeth national park where you will get an opportunity to explore the park in the comfort of a 4 WD pop up safari vehicle with a professional safari guide. Game drives in the park can either be done very early in the morning, in the afternoon or at night. During the game drive which is commonly done in Kasenyi plains you will be rewarded with great views of animals like buffaloes, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, elephants, warthogs, lions, leopards among others.
Boat cruise is an interesting and exciting activity which is carried out on Kazinga channel a 40km long water body that connects Lake Edward and Lake George. Boat cruise on Kazinga channel is done in schedules that is the morning schedule which starts at around 9:00 and 11:00pm and the afternoon schedule which starts at around 2:00pm and 4:00 pm. During the boat cruise which takes about 2 to 3 hours ride you will be able to enjoy great views of the beautiful scenery, view large concentrations of hippos in water, Nile crocodiles basking along the water banks, animals like elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, antelopes drinking water along the shores, view aquatic bird species like cormorants, pelicans, fish eagles, herons, kingfishers, hornbills among others. You will also be able to view fishermen along the shores preparing their fishing nets for night fishing.
Queen Elizabeth national park is a home of more than 600 recorded bird species including endemic species which are only found in the park, near endemic species which are also found in other destinations, water birds, forest birds and migratory bird species which make it the best birding destination in Uganda. Bird watching in the park is done in different areas like Maramagambo forest, Mweya peninsula, Kasenyi plains and Ishasha sector with an experienced bird guide who will help you to spot different bird species like black cuckoo, blue breasted kingfisher, African finfoot, Diedeik cuckoo, slender tailed nightjar, African mourning dove, brown snake eagle, palm nut vulture, hooded vulture, helmeted guineafowl, African wattled plover, yellow billed oxpecke, Bateleurs, martial eagle, black headed gonolek, Bateleurs, ruppells griffon vulture, chapins flycatcher, pink backed pelican, white winged warbler, African skimmer among others.
Chimpanzee trekking is an adventurous activity which involves moving on foot into the forest in search of chimpanzees and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Chimpanzee trekking activity is done in Kyambura gorge and the activity starts with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow during trekking. After the briefing you will start trekking in the forest with a park guide who is well conversant with different chimpanzee trekking trails.
During trekking you will be able to view other primates like red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, varity of bird species, butterflies, plants among others. Once the chimpanzees are found you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural environment which gives you an opportunity to observe their behaviors, lifestyle, watch them feed, hunt, play, breastfeed, groom young ones, take photos and record the breathtaking moments to show people back home.
Nature walk is an exciting activity in Queen Elizabeth national park where you will get out of the comfort of a safari vehicle and explore the park on foot accompanied by an experienced park guide and an armed park ranger. During the nature walks which are carried out in different areas like Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha River, Kyambura Gorge and Mweya peninsula you will get up-close and personal with wildlife species like elephants, Uganda kobs, warthogs, waterbucks, hippos, view different bird species, primates like red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, listen to sweet sounds of bird species, enjoy the beautiful scenery, cool breeze, take beautiful pictures among others.
Where to stay during your safari in Queen Elizabeth national park
There are a wide range of accommodation facilities in the park where you can stay during your safari. The accommodations range from campsites, budget, midrange and luxury including Mweya Safari Lodge, Kasenyi Safari Camp, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Pumba Safari Lodge, Elephant Plains Lodge, Park View Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Enganzi Lodge, Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, Queen Elizabeth Safari Camp, Jacana Safari Lodge, Katara Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, King Fisher Lodge Kichwamba, Kyambura Tented Camp, Lake Chibwera Camp, Ihamba Safari Lodge, Ishasha Ntungwe River Camp, Kitandara Hippo Hill Lodge among others.
When to visit Queen Elizabeth national park
Queen Elizabeth national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season also known as the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season the park receives less rainfall therefore access road, chimpanzee trekking and hiking trails will be passable. Also during the dry season animals gather around the water bodies to drink water which gives you an opportunity to view different animals and take incredible pictures.
Queen Elizabeth national park can also be visited in the wet season also known as the low season in the months of march to may and November because that’s the best season for bird watching where bird lovers will be able to view migratory bird species from Europe.
How to get to Queen Elizabeth national park
Queen Elizabeth national park is the one of the oldest national parks located in western part of Uganda and it can be accessed by both road and air transport means.
Road transport means, when using road transport means to Queen Elizabeth national park you will drive from Kampala or Entebbe via Mubende-Fort Portal road or Masaka- Mbarara road to the park headquarters which takes about 6 to 7 hours drive in a 4 WD safari vehicle.
Air transport means when using air transport means to the park you will book scheduled or charter flights with Aerolink Uganda from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Mweya airstrip or Kasese airstrip. Flights to Queen Elizabeth national park can be booked by your tour operator.