Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park located in the western part of Uganda is Uganda’s most popular savanna national park and perfectly situated for wildlife safaris in Uganda. The park formerly known as Kazinga National Park was legally gazetted in 1952 and later renamed after two years commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Uganda. Queen Elizabeth national park is rich in wildlife, primates, birdlife with a mix of Lake Katwe explosion crater lakes and open savanna grasslands. The park is often referred to as the “medley of wonders” because of its rich bio-diversity and abundance of wildlife.
Queen Elizabeth national park is located near the border with Democratic Republic of Uganda and the nearest busy town to the park is Kasese town. The park is easily accessible by tarmac road from Kampala – the capital city of Uganda as it is just a seven hour drive from the city centre along a scenic highway. The national park lies within the Albertine Rift Region with a rich Eco system that flanks both Lake George and Lake Edward. Queen Elizabeth national park is the perfect destination for visitors looking to experience a typical wildlife safari experience in Uganda.
Vegetation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is made up of different vegetation types and all these contribute to the greater Eco-system of the park as they provide food for the wildlife resident to the park and impact the rainfall system. The park majorly has open grassland areas and these areas usually have large numbers of antelope species and predators like lions as these areas make the perfect hunting ground for the predators. The lake margins of Queen Elizabeth national park have fringes of vegetation along the Kazinga channel and along the shores of Lake Edward in Katwe Bay. Queen Elizabeth national park also has vegetation types that consist of thicket clamps with herbaceous climbers, lush forest jungles, acacia woodland and scrub that is found around the crater lakes and below the Kichwamba escarpment.
Wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park is rich in wildlife and is home to 95 mammals species. Queen Elizabeth national park is famously known for its abundant wildlife including the tree climbing lions of Ishasha which are best seen while on a game drive in the southern sector of the park. Animals to look out for while on a wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth national park include Lions, Leopard, Spotted Hyenas, Cape Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Elephants, Waterbucks, Topis, Oribi, Giant Forest hog, Warthogs, Olive baboons and Vervet monkeys. The Kazinga channel boat ride also offers a chance to see water animals like the Nile crocodiles and Hippos. The park hosts primate species including the chimpanzees that live in Kyambura Gorge area that can be seen while on a chimp trek however the best place in Uganda to do the chimpanzee trekking activity remains Kibale Forest National Park.
Birds of Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park is a worthy birding destination for the specialist birder as the park is one of Uganda’s Important Bird Area (IBA) with over 620 species of birds being recorded at the park. This makes the park a birding spot while on your Uganda Birding Safari as it offers incredible sightings that include savanna species and Albertine Rift endemics.
Birds to search for while on a birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park include – Sooty Chat, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Crowned Lapwing, Senegal Lapwing, Pin-tailed Whydah, Red-faced Cisticola, Moustached Grass-Wabler, African Harrier-hawk, Banded Snake-eagle,Yellow-billed Oxpecker, African Skimmer, African Spoonbill,Red-necked Spurfowl. While in Queen Elizabeth national park you go on the Kazinga channel boat ride and while here you look out for water birds like the White-breasted Cormorants, Yellow-billed Stork, Great egrets and Marabou Storks. The Kazinga Boat ride is also an opportunity to see wildlife like Hippos, crocodiles, African Elephants, Water bucks and Cape buffaloes that like to come to shores to drink water on a hot day. The park is also home to vultures like the Ruppell’s Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture that can be encountered while feeding on the remains of a lion’s hunt.
Activities to do while in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth national park are the top activities in the park and the best wildlife sightings are carried out in the Kasenyi plains which offer excellent game viewing across the open savanna. You set out for the game drive early in the morning as early as 6:00am in the morning for chances of spotting some nocturnal species before they go into hiding and generally start the day off early. Wildlife to look out for on the game drive include Elephants, cape buffaloes, lions, Uganda kobs, warthogs, spotted hyenas, leopard, hippos etc.
Boat Ride on Kazinga Channel
The boat safari along the kazinga channel is a highlight while on your Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth national park. The 32 km Kazinga channel inter connects Lake Edward and Lake George. The boat ride is a rewarding 2 hour experience that is best done in the afternoon and offers sightings of animals as they come to the drink water and cool off. Sightings include large herds of elephant and buffalo, crocodiles, hippos, water monitor lizards and antelope species. The boat ride also offers sightings of water birds making it a great bird watching spot, birds that can be seen include pink-backed pelicans, pied and malachite kingfishers, yellow-billed stork, African jacanas, long tailed cormorants, African fish eagle.
Tree Climbing Lions in Ishasha
Ishasha is in the south western part of Queen Elizabeth national park and the main attraction in this area is the tree climbing lions. The best way to view the tree climbing lions in Ishasha is on a game drive with your ranger guides. The lions can be seen hanging and relaxing in the fig trees while they escape the afternoon scorching sun and the biting flies. Other animals to be spotted while here include topis, buffaloes, and elephants.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
With over 620 species of birds recorded at the park, Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the best places in Uganda for a birding excursion. The park has more than half of Uganda’s bird species hence offering a fulfilling birding in Uganda experience. Birding is done in the open savanna area, along forested area trails for forest specials and along the Kazinga channel boat ride for water birds and papyrus endemics. Some of the species to look out for include – Sooty Chat, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Crowned Lapwing, Senegal Lapwing, Pin-tailed Whydah, Red-faced Cisticola, Moustached Grass-Wabler, African Harrier-hawk, Banded Snake-eagle,Yellow-billed Oxpecker, African Skimmer, African Spoonbill,Red-necked Spurfowl.
Chimpanzee Trekking and Nature walks in Kyambura Gorge
The Kyambura Gorge is part of Queen Elizabeth national park is completely covered by forest and in this forest you find the chimpanzees. Kyambura Gorge is one of the areas in Uganda where you can do the chimpanzee trek in Uganda. The forest has a small population of about 25 chimpanzees in the habituated community so chances of seeing the chimps are available but minimal since the chimpanzees are always actively moving around the forest in search of food. Other primates to look out for include the red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys and forest bird species.
Visit to the Equator
Queen Elizabeth national park lies astride the Equator making it one of the areas in Uganda where you can visit the Equator and stop by for photos. The park lies between latitudes 30′ S and 15′ N and the 30°E longitude divides it into two portions.
Lion tracking is one of the unique activities in Queen Elizabeth national park that involves heading in to the park with professional research assistant sand using locator devices to locate the lions and observe them. It’s a great activity for visitors looking for an experience of seeing lions in their natural habitat as they learn more on behaviour and existence of the lions.
Lake Katwe Salt Mines
Lake Katwe is located just outside the park and the lake is a source of income for the local groups living near Queen Elizabeth national park. Locals are usually present at the Lake mining salt, a visit to the salt mines takes you to Uganda’s leading source of salt production. The salt mines offer a glimpse into how salt is mined from the lake and while there you can interact with the locals in the area.
Nature walks in Maramagambo Forest
Nature walks in the park are a great way to spend the afternoon while on safari in the park. The nature walk in Maramagambo forest takes you through the lush green forest as you look out for primates like the black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkey, Vervet monkeys and Olive baboons. Maramagambo forest is also a great birding spot as you look out for forest specials.
Drive to the Explosion Crater Lakes
The park is well known for its explosion crater lakes that were formed as a result volcanic eruptions occurring leaving behind deep hollow depressions that were later filled with water hence forming the present day crater lakes. The park has a viewing point set on top of a hill where you have an expansive views of the crater lakes surrounded by lush green acacia trees and woodland.
Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth national park has various accommodation facilities located inside the park, near the park and other facilities located in the neighbouring Kasese town. We however recommend that you book an accommodation inside the park or on the edge of the park for easy transfer to the park headquarters for activities. The lodges range from luxury to mid-range to budget facilities and some of these accommodation facilities include;
Mweya Safari Lodge – This is a luxury lodge situated inside Queen Elizabeth national park and is one of the first lodges to be set up in Uganda. Mweya safari lodge feature comfortable luxury rooms, an infinity swimming pool for relaxation after a long day, a formal dining area that serves delicious meals and is perfectly situated 100 metres away from the Uganda Wildlife Authority information centre that is a starting point for most activities in the park.
Kikorongo Safari Lodge – This safari lodge is set atop a hill on the edge of Queen Elizabeth national park with stunning views of Lake George, Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains. The Lodge is a mid-range facility featuring tented cottages that offer a perfect blend of comfortability and relaxation while on your wildlife safari in Uganda.
Elephant Hab Lodge – This is a mid-range facility located in the Kyambura Gorge are of Queen Elizabeth park and features a swimming pool, eight private cottages, a dining area and beautiful green gardens. The cottages feature a private terrace and you wake up to a stunning expansive view of the Kyambura Gorge. The lodge is also situated well for the visitor here for chimp trekking as it is a 10 minute drive away from the starting point.
Bush Lodge – Bush Lodge is a budget accommodation situated near Queen Elizabeth national park. The budget facility has 12 self-contained bandas spaciously located between the acacia bushes, the lodge is an eco-friendly site. The bandas are raised on wooden platform and have comfortable wooden beds, warm clean linen, a private terrace overlooking the Kamera River for each banda and the rooms all have mosquito nets.
Tour Itineraries to Queen Elizabeth National Park