Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular national park in Uganda. It’s said to be one of the good places for game viewing and boat rides. This park is Uganda’s most protected area having diverse ecosystems including sprawling savanna, shady forests, sparkling lakes and lush wetlands that provide ideal habitats for the classic big game, forest primates, chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Queen Elizabeth National Park occupies an estimated area of 1,978 km. making it the second -largest in Uganda hence protected by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a body that governs all the national parks of Uganda. This park is found in Kasese in Western Uganda. It is surrounded by several districts of kasese, Kabarole, Rubirizi, Rukungiri, and Kanungu.
Park at a Glance
The park was named after Queen Elizabeth II and was established in 1954.
The park occupies an area of 1978 square kilometers in the parts of rolling hills and plains in the East of Lake Edward and runs through the foothills of the popular mountain Rwenzori. The size of Queen Elizabeth National Park makes it beautiful since it covers landmarks like the equator line monuments on both two sides showing the 00 latitudes. The park was established in 1952 as Kazinga National Park and later after 2years, named Queen Elizabeth NATIONAL PARK after the Queens visit.
Driving directly from Kampala can take at least 8 hours along a tarmac road. There are two routes from Kampala, via Mbarara to the east of the park (covering a distance of 250miles), OR Fort portal to the north 9slightly longer at 260 miles). Most visitors choose to include stops at other parks along the way rather than driving direct from Kampala to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The park can also be accessed through air transport means such as Aero link airlines which operates scheduled or chartered flights from Entebbe Airport/ kajansi Airfield to kasese airstrip or Mweya Airstrip which take about one hour. After landing at the airstrip your driver guide will transfer you to the lodge.
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 hippos. Since it’s the source of the water bodies in the park, many mammals are seen uniting for water mostly during dry season and it is a place of birds that stay around this area such as the rare shoe bill stork, greater flamingos, kingfishers among others.
There are other animals too, eg; elephant, buffalo, Uganda kob, variety of antelope, baboons and chimpanzees and the famous tree-climbing lion. There are also over 500 different species of birds making it an excellent destination for ornithologists.
The Katwe explosion crater marks 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 too. 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 birders Kigezi game reserve, Kyambura game reserve.
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, and 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.
This is carried out in Kyambura gorge and the walks in this area attract the large number of flamingos that are not found elsewhere in Uganda.
Traditional salt work visit is carried out around Lake Katwe.
Birding watching is possible throughout the year at Queen Elizabeth National Park. We do recommend that you go bird watching from June to September for higher chances of good weather. Foreign non-residents and foreign residents are charged USD 100 per person and East African citizens are charged UGX 100,000 per person. The park has over 600 bird species making it a must-visit destination for birders.
ACCOMMODATION AT (QENP) ;
- Budget Accommodation
- Student’s camp and hostel offered by UWA.
- Campsites for independent campers in the 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 Nyamasingire in Maramagambo Forest.
- Kyambura game lodge
- Enganzi game 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 a wide range of accommodations, which makes it a relatively 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 center is your gateway for booking accommodation around Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori mountains National Park. Please ask about the available community activities at the elephant center, or book your packed lunch, accommodation, or game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park if you connect by public transport