In traveling to Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will be rewarded with beauty and adventure. It is one of Uganda’s most beautiful national parks with some of the best game views. Located in Kyambura, it surrounds the southeastern banks of the Kazinga Channel consisting of four crater lakes, with a sector in Ishaka that contains a variety of wildlife and the Maramagambo forest stretching up to the eastern escarpment.
Located in the middle of south western Uganda, it amalgamates with Kigezi and the Kyambura Wildlife Reserves to form one of Africa’s most unique ecosystems stretching from the views of the crater lakes region on the linings of the tall standing Rwenzori Ranges extending along the shores of Lake Edward to River Ishasha in the southern part of the national park.
Experience the beautiful variety of wildlife, plenty of scenic craters blended into rolling green hills, views of the Kazinga Channel which is blessed with hippos, buffalo and elephants along its banks, and the endless Ishasha plains with a series of Lakes of different types and sizes which range from great fresh water lake and inland salt lakes to mirror surfaced crater lakes.
The best sighting of animals is with the morning game rides where you have the opportunity to see them as they wake up and cross the plains in search of a little morning sun. You can never go wrong with the concentration of wildlife here.
Vegetation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Blessed with small acacia and euphorbia trees that are varied with broad crater lakes and swamps, Queen Elizabeth presents a natural serene habitat with plenty of Savannah plains covered by the snow-covered peaks of the Mountains of the Moon. This different vegetation including forest, grassland, bushy grassland, Acacia woodland and swamp vegetation, depicts the ability of the park to house 95 types of mammals and 612 species of birds, more than are found in any protected area in Africa.
What to see in Queen Elizabeth
As already mentioned, the tourists love traversing the diverse scenic and tranquil flora and fauna in the park. It has numerous attractions that contribute to what almost every traveler dreams of seeing when traveling to Africa. These include;
- Mweya Peninsula
At this peninsula, one can get a look at Katwe bay of Lake Edward which is one of the activities with excellent accommodation in the park and according to game rangers; this is the best site to recommend.
- Kazinga Channel.
This channel stretches about 40 meters long adjoining Lake George to Lake Edward with great scenery of the park’s major wildlife venues. There is a large concentration of mammals along its shores with birds as well as reptiles all year.
- Tree Climbing Lions
These are located along Ishasha River and Lake Edward. Another opportunity is the rare shoe-bill stork which gives a genuine Africa wilderness experience.
- The Equator and the Queen’s Pavilion
The Uganda’s Equator provides a beautiful place for photo shooting along with craft shops that can make you get a lifetime experience, you win a lottery with the Uganda’s Equator. It has a Queen’s Pavilion easily seen at the northern entrance to the Crater Drive.
- Katwe Explosion craters
These magnificent volcanic craters spread along the 27 kilometers drive between Kabatoro gate and Queen’s pavilion with sight-viewings of the enormous craters, circular Lake, the Rift valley escarpment and the Kazinga channel all in beautiful and gigantic backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains
- Kasenyi plains and Lake George
There is a plain Savannah grassland opportunity in the Kasenyi plains that depict the dream of photography in this scenic area therefore a trues safari experience of the Uganda Kob breeding ground that attract lions, warthogs grazing down on their knees, large dark elephants, buffaloes and numerous grassland bird species.
- The Swamp between Lake George and Kikorongo
I recommend this for bird lovers; this is the best for you to sight the rare shoe-bill stork and many native birds on the Lake and papyrus endemics like papyrus gonolek and papyrus warbler and white winged warbler and during the northern winter big number of migrant waders and waterfowl.
There is also the semi aquatic sitatunga antelope in this papyrus swamp presenting an opportunity for photo shoots.
- Maramagambo forest and Kyambura gorge
They are in southeastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park harboring chimpanzees, baboons and many monkey species with the Kyambura gorge being a residence to crater lakes, chimpanzees and bird species such as the greater and lesser flamingos and great egrets.
- The Kasyoha – Kitomi Forest Reserve
The Kasyoha – Kitomi Forest is near Queen Elizabeth Park, south of the Kazinga Channel and Lake George is a place of discovery with primates, birds, hiking trails and crater lakes.
To conclude, if you are drawing plans for your next vacation, the beautiful Queen Elizabeth National Park ought to be included.
Top things to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Being one of the most visited destinations in Africa, travelers should anticipate a number of activities which include:
- Boat Safari along the Kazinga Channel
Being 32-km-long and wide connecting Lake Edward with Lake George, Kazinga Channel offers an opportunity to experience nature in Queen Elizabeth Park with a bunch of animals and 60 species of birds during a boat ride including the great white and pink-backed Pelicans, African shoebill, yellow-billed stork and long-tailed cormorants with one of the world’s largest concentrations of hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, antelopes and buffaloes that invade the areas from the surrounding Savannah to drink and search for some fresher pastures.
- Game Drives/ safari
Wildlife Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth are proven beautiful journeys with an awesome number of animal life including 3,000 Elephants, over 10,000 buffaloes, warthogs, waterbucks, Uganda Kob, Topi Antelopes, the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelopes that have webbed toes.
- Nocturnal Game Drives
These present an opportunity to find the feline cats that traverse the parks on during the nights. They present an opportunity of photography due to their glittering eyes.
- Chimpanzee tracking in the Kyambura Gorge
This gorge is drained by the Kyambura River and includes some of the most impressive landscapes in Uganda. It houses a variety of wildlife in its tropical rainforests. Here you will find chimpanzees, baboons, colobus, vervet, and red-tailed monkeys as well as many other mammals and birds.
- Tree-Climbing Lions in Ishasha
The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is known as the home to the famous tree-climbing lions and is thought that they sit in the branches to get away from the tsetse flies and to enjoy a cool breeze.
- Nature Walks in the Kyambura gorge
Try taking a nature walk in this amazing gorge where you will be treated by the amazing spectacular sights of three crater lakes, which attract large numbers of flamingos that are not found anywhere else in Uganda. A guided nature walk takes visitors into the gorge and offers a great chance to track habituated chimpanzees in their natural habitat alongside the black and white colobus and red-tailed monkeys; you can view Olive Baboons and other primates as well as plenty of forest birds.
The park has always been considered one of the best birding locations in Uganda with over 619 species including 54 raptors and various migratory species such as the Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Pink-backed Pelican, African Broadbill, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Corncrake, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, Shoebill, and Bar-tailed Godwit.
- Traditional Salt Work Visit
You can visit one of the oldest salt mines and industries in Uganda Lake Katwe town. This lake is too salty to support much wildlife, but has ensured the survival of the Katwe villagers as they harvest salt from its milky and pure waters.
- Mongoose Tracking on the Mweya Peninsula.
This is a rare opportunity to see mongoose and other wildlife, birds along the hikes of Kazinga Channel on the Mweya Peninsula. One can see mongoose for a maximum of 3 hours, which is ample time to learn about their habits.
- Lion Research Tracking
The Lion Tracking Research Experience lasts between 1-3 hours where you can view lions with radio-collars attached to them. You will be with researchers and learn the habits of the Lions in Queen Elizabeth Park.
- Leopard Village
Leopard Village is a community-run, socio-economic development initiative that promotes cultural and wildlife conservation through ecotourism. Visitors can tour replicas of the traditional huts of the Banyabindi, Bakonzo, and Basongora ethnic groups, watch the traditional song and dance performances, and buy handicrafts made by local communities.
These are just the few of the activities that travelers can engage in on their visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park as part of your Uganda safari activities or as an extension from the Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Where to stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Because the park is frequently visited, a variety of lodging services with a range of budget friendly options are available. The lodges are located either in the Ishasha and Mweya sectors of the park including;
- Kyambura Gorge Lodge
- Mweya Safari Lodge
- Ishasha Wilderness Camp
- Ishasha Jungle Lodge
- Park View Safari Lodge
- Bush Lodge
- Enjojo Lodge
- Mweya Hostels and Cottages UWA
- Kasenyi Game Lodge
- Sandton Guest House Kasese
Best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park
December, January, February, June, July, August and September are best months to travel here although one can visit any time. June, July, August, January and February are the driest months of the year during which the animals can easily be viewed as they draw closer to the water sources. This is the best time to go on game drives to view wildlife, take guided walks and go on chimpanzee tracking expeditions when the trails are not slippery and impassible.
During the wet season of October, November, December, March, April and May, the scenery in and around the park is extremely beautiful with green and lush vegetation capturing the true picture of the tropics. There are migratory birds from Europe and Northern Africa in the park during this season, which makes it the best for bird watching.
How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park lies within the Western Rift Valley of Africa running from the north through neighboring Malawi and south to Uganda. It is between the Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri districts in southwestern Uganda.
According to one’s preference, one can use either air or road transport as follows;
- By Road
- The main route from Kampala takes you through Masaka, Mbarara taking Kasese road through Bushenyi to Rubirizi and then to the park. The driving distance is estimated to be 420kms depending on where you will be staying. This tends to be the direct route and commonly used for those who starting from Kampala direct to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- The second route would be from Kampala to Kasese through Fortpotal and then lastly to Queen Elizabeth National Park. This and the above route all connect you to the northern sector of the park and from there you can connect to the southern.
- For those coming from the south west, that is Bwindi or Ntungamo/ Kabale, Queen Elizabeth can be accessed through Kihihi and then to Ishasha which is the southern sector of the park.
- By Air
Queen Elizabeth National Park is also accessible by air through the nearby airstrips of Kasese, Mweya or Ishasha by scheduled flight or chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala.