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Queen Elizabeth National Park

The beautiful landscape lying on the Albertine Rift floor in the presence of varied bionetwork of the beautiful lakes, extensive savanna, the natural forests and fertile swamps renders Queen Elizabeth National Park undoubtedly Uganda’s most famous national park and traveler’s destination. The awesome view of the beautiful crates lakes winding through the rolling hills, the panoramic display of the Kazinga channel, the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori range in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the south, incorporating a wide variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands and the lowland forest.

The Scenic wonders and wildlife meet in Queen Elizabeth National Park displaying a true African wilderness experience like no other. The park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination due to its diverse ecosystems which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands rendering it an ideal habitat for classic big game, primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.

Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent features include the beautiful lakes, extensive savanna,the natural forests and fertile swamps, dozens of enormous craters carved, views of the Kazinga channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffaloes, elephants, and the endless Ishasha Plains whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kobs.

This remarkable diversity of Queen Elizabeth National Park is reflected in the variety of habitats such as Savannah Grassland mixed with various kinds of trees, shrubs, including the candelabra Euphorbia trees, the remarkable wildlife, alongside the attractive heritage/ culture history. The famous Kazinga Channel which dissects the park is famous for its boat rides that offer visitors a chance to view pods of hippos and large numbers of seagulls, cormorants and other water birds. Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park is bordered by the Ishasha River to the south, which is the boundary between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, Lake Edward borders to the west, the famous Rwenzori Mountains, to the north and Lake George and the the Kyambura Gorge, the famous Maramagambo rainforest to the east presenting the best scenic experience ever.

Wildlife & Birdlife

Queen Elizabeth National Park has a diversity and variety of Flora and Fauna and is a habitat for over 95 mammal species with about 612 species of birds including African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, Pink-backed pelicans, Papyrus canary, Shoebill stork, martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail,the great flamingos, the bird list here that exceed that of the neighboring Virunga National Park. The unique vegetation diversity in the park of around 57 vegetation species in 5 levels of vegetation includes bushy grassland, Acacia woodland, Lakeshore or swamp vegetation along with forest grassland. The grasslands of the park settle wildlife such as Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, warthogs, lion, leopard, hyena, giant forest hog as well as elephants. Topis, Uganda kob.

Queen Elizabeth National Park has a record of about 5000 hippos, 3000 Elephants and there are over 10,000 of Cape Buffaloes, Warthogs, Waterbuck, Uganda Kob, the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelope, ten species of primates including chimpanzee, Vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys are easily spotted in the trees.

Attractions

Every traveler that visits Uganda is interested in visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park due to the various attractions attached to it that cannot be seen elsewhere including;

Mweya Peninsula: The peninsula is the heart of sightseeing activities with excellent accommodation in the park, enjoy your tour in this park with a ranger guide who helps you explore the park as well as the distant parts of the peninsula as it overlooks Katwe bay of Lake Edward.

Kazinga Channel: The Kazinga channel is about 40m long adjoining Lake Gorge to Lake Edward with a perfect view of the parks’ major wildlife ventures. The shores of the lake attract a large concentration of mammals, birds as well as reptiles and can be viewed on the Nile cruise or probably at the entrance of Lake Edward.

The Equator and the Queen’s Pavilion: Uganda’s Equator provides a beautiful place for photo shooting along and can easily be spotted on the northern entrance to the Crater Drive.

Ishasha Tree Climbing Lions: Ishasha Sector is in the south sector of the park and covers an area of about 100 km giving a genuine Africa wilderness experience. Among the inhabitants in this place include savannah woodland, Ishasha River along with Lake Edward that has a diversity of wildlife such as the Famous climbing lions, rare shoebill stork and many others.

Kyambura Gorge: The Kyambura Gorge is the longest chasm in East Africa and it’s watered by stream Kyambura that keeps the forest with loads of food and water for the wildlife. It is a piece of the mainstream energizing Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda where you can spot the outstanding chimpanzees and other primates.
Kyambura Gorge traverses a separation of 11 km and connections to the Kazinga Channel, which frames the northern limit of the hold.

Kalinzu forest: Kalinzu Forest is home to more than 414 types of trees, bushes as you discover 379 types of birds which is an astounding fortune trove for birders including the Great Blue Turaco, Black and White Casket, Cuckoos and Sunbirds alongside six distinct Species of Primates including the Blue Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys and Chimpanzees, 262 Butterflies, 97 Moths, Reptiles.

Maramagambo Forest: The Maramagambo Forest located in the Queen Elizabeth National Park starts from the edge of Kichwamba all through to the Lake Edward.The forest is the perfect reason for climbing the mountains and having nature walks with seven diverse primate species which you may spot amid your guided nature stroll among which are Chimpanzees, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Baboons, Red Tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, and additionally the Vervet Monkeys.

Queen Elizabeth National Park - Cruise

Queen Elizabeth National Park - Elephants

Activities

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one the most visited parks in Uganda and every traveler should not miss it out on their safari itinerary as they are many activities to enjoy including;

Game Drives: Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park are so delightful, as the park is home to 3000 Elephants, over 10,000 buffaloes, warthogs, waterbuck, Uganda Kob, Topi Antelopes, the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelopes with webbed toes, lions, leopards, civet cats, genal, and serval cats.

Boat Safari on the Kazinga Channel: The launch cruise on the Kazinga Channel lasts 2-3 hours where you can see hippos, crocodiles, monitor lizards, elephant herds, buffaloes, antelopes and many hundreds of different kinds of water birds.
This is one of the highlights of your safari in Queen National Elizabeth Park with one of the largest concentration of hippos in Africa.

 Mongoose Tracking: Mongoose Research Tracking takes place on the Mweya Peninsula and is a 3-hour activity that can be done with a guide who accompanies you as you set off to the Mongoose Research Area where you can observe the Banded Mongoose and learn about their habits.

Lion Research Tracking: In the company of researchers, you will engage in lion research tracking where you will learn the habits of the Lions in Queen Elizabeth Park. The acting is done in the morning or late afternoon lasting between one to three hours as you tracks lions with radio-collars attached to them.
This Lion Tracking Experience is limited to just a few visitors and one must be booked ahead of time in order to take part in this unique lion tracking.

Birding: Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda with over 619 species that are found in this Birders Paradise.
It is an incredible activity where you will view many water birds, woodland and forest dwellers in the Maramagambo Forest, 54 raptors and various migratory species. Key species include 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, Bar-tailed Godwit.

Nature Walks and Hiking: On these walks, you will get to explore areas such as Maramagambo Forest, Kyambura Gorge which is part of the Western Rift Valley, the Mweya Peninsula, and a  hike along the Ishasha River in Ishasha.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge: Kyambura Gorge is one of the best place to go on a Chimpanzee Trek due to its fascinating terrain,as you descend into the valley you will be simply amazed.
There are 10 species of primates found in Queen Elizabeth Park – the most popular one is the Chimpanzee which is found in the gash in the Savannah of the Kyambura Gorge.

Accommodation

Queen Elizabeth has various establishments for accommodation in both the Mweya sector and the Ishasha sector that range from Upmarket to Midrange to Budget in accordance to the traveler’s preference.

The park is mostly very busy so during the peak seasons, its advisable to book early to ensure availability and some of the options are;

  • Mweya Safari Lodge
  • Kyambura Gorge Lodge
  • Ishasha Wilderness Camp
  • Elephant Plains
  • Engazi Game lodge
  • Ishasha Jungle Lodge
  • Kasenyi Safari lodge
  • Katara Lodge
  • At the River Ishasha
  • Queen Elizabeth Bush lodge
  • Emin Pasha Lodge

How To Get There?

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in western Uganda in the districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Bushenyi and is approximately 5-6 hours from Kampala on a surfaced road via Mbarara.The park can either be accessed by road or by air

By Road

  • Kampala through Mbarara (420 km)
  • Kampala through Fort Portal via Kasese (410 km).
  • Bwindi through the Ishasha sector- southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

By Air

Scheduled flights or Charter flights can be arranged to the  airstrips of Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha.

The main entry point into Uganda is Entebbe international airport (EBB) which is about 26k m from Kampala.

When To Visit?

Queen Elizabeth national park is open all year long and can be visited anytime of the year but game viewing is at its best during the dry season; months of January, February and June to August.
Lying on the rift valley at an altitude range of 480m to 1390m, the park is located directly on the equator. At a low altitude, the temperatures range from 18°C to 28°C receiving heavy rains of about 1250mm during the rainy months of March-May and September-November.

During the rainy seasons of April, May and September to October, some roads are slippery and impassable interrupting the safari activities.

When travelers come to Uganda, they visit various destinations inclusive of  Queen Elizabeth National Park which one of the most out parks in Uganda. Travelers mostly combine Queen Elizabeth safari with gorilla trekking safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alongside a tour in Murchison Falls National Park.

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