At the size of 1,978sqkm the park is Uganda’s most visited national park after Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Queen Elizabeth National Park being a world bio-sphere reserve with a RAMSAR wetland site is sometime referred to as the pearl of Africa. The park is situated astride the equator and located in the southwestern Uganda lying on the base of the rift valley between Lakes George and Edward and borders Democratic Republic of Congo on its western side.
Brief history about the park
The park’s conservation can be traced back in 1925, when a department was set up to stop Elephant from raiding villages and destroying cultivation with the overall aim being protecting both Elephant and people within to keep the certain boundaries. At the same time series of game reserves, sanctuaries and national parks were established over the years across the border in Zaire, Virunga National Park by the Belgian colonial authorities. This resulted in in pressure to protect the adjoining ecosystem in Uganda hence the establishment of Lake George game reserve and Lake Edward game reserve in the late 1920’s. It was gazetted into a national park known as Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park together with the Kyambura and Kigezi wildlife reserve covers 2475 sq. km. The wettest seasons in this park are usually incurred in March to May and October receiving rains ranging from Kabale or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Kihiihi to Ishasha gate. Charter flights can be arranged to a choice of airstrips at Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha.
This park can be accessed most easily from the south from Kampala via Mbarara town Bushenyi via Katunguru covering a distance of 420km while the north through Fort Portal Kasese via Katunguru coves a total of 410km. The park can also be accessed from the south from kabale or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Kihiihi to Ishasha gate. Charter flights can be arranged to choice of airstrips at Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha. More so after the budget gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park you can reach Queen Elizabeth National Park via the Ishasha southern sector famously know for the African tree climbing lions.
En-route to Queen Elizabeth, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy short stopover tours to Lake Mburo National Park, Kibale Forest National Park renowned for chimpanzee tracking and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Kihiihi to Ishasha gate.
What to see in Queen National Park
The peninsula is Queen’s focal point of sightseeing activities both morning and evening game drives with excellent accommodation in the park and also the departure point for the Kazinga channel launch trip and is still jam packed with birds and animals. The only way to enjoy your tour in this park is by touring with a ranger guide. This person helps you explore the park as well as the distant parts of the peninsula. Mweya information center organizes all the activities that tourists may want to get involved in.
The Kazinga channel launch cruise is the most relaxing way to enjoy a wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The most popular activity at Mweya is the launch trip to the mouth of the Kazinga channel. The shores of the lake attract a large concentration of mammals, birds as well as reptiles all year around. The animals can be viewed well by the Nile cruise or probably at the entrance of Lake Edward. The operation of the cruise run from 15.00 and 17.00 furthermore voyages run 11.00 and 13.00 depending on the demand of the tourists.
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 buy a souvenir .The Queen’s Pavilion is easily spotted by the northern entrance to the Crater Drive. In 1954 Queen Elizabeth gave a provision shelter for this site until in 1959 when a permanent pavilion was constructed for the visit of Queen Elizabeth. Renovations were made by second visit of Duke of Edinburgh in 2007 with better facilities such as coffee shop and internet facilities.
The papyrus swamps of this Ramsar wetland site are home to the semi- aquatic sitatunga antelope. One can spot the elusive shoebill plus other native birds on the lake like white winged warbler, papyrus Gonolek and papyrus warbler and during the northern winter large concentration of migrant waders and waterfowl.
One of the most famous lookout points in Uganda is in the Katwe- kabatoro community on Katwe salt lake where traditional salt mining has been practiced since the 16th century. The neighboring lake Munyanyange is a bird sanctuary, as well as a migratory location for the lesser flamingo from August to November.
There are a number of must see huge round volcanic basins scattered across the Queen Elizabeth National Park for those with particular interest in the region’s fascinating geological history. The 27km drive between kabatoro gate and queen’s pavilion takes in views of the enormous craters, circular lakes, the rift valley escarpment and the Kazinga channel all in front of the might backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains.
The vast savannah of kasenyi is the perfect setting for a classic African safari experience. Kasenyi plains stretch from Kasese road towards Lake George. Huge herds of Uganda kobs attract prides of lions warthogs graze bent down on their knees guinea fowl scuttle through the grassland and huge dark elephants stride across the game drive tracks providing dream photo opportunities for visitors.
The Kyambura River flows through this thick ‘underground forest’ 100 meters below the Kichwamba escarpment. The gorge is best for their resident chimpanzees -some of which are habituated and can be tracked through the forest with trained UWA guides. While walking through the gorge, you may spot other primates and some of the many birds found in the forest. The entrance to the gorge is also a pleasant spot for a picnic.
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve
The beautiful crater lakes of this reserve, located to the east of Kyambura gorge, offer excellent opportunities to observe many water birds including greater and lesser flamingoes and the great egret.
The forest harbours primates, including chimpanzees, baboons and several monkey species, the species, the forest is also alive with numerous birds including the rare forest flycatcher, whiten -aped pigeon and the striking Rwenzori Turaco. One can also visit the ‘cormorant house’ a large tree that has been turned white by the birds that roost here at night. The shady forest also conceals crater lakes and a ‘Bat Cave with a specially constructed viewing room.
Activities to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Game drives are usually done very early in the morning and in the evening hours. Over 200km of well-maintained tracks give visitors access to the park’s game and slower you drive the more you will see. There are basically three dame drives in Queen including the northern crater area game drive.
Launch trip on Kazinga channel
A launch trip is the most popular activity to the mouth of the Kazinga channel. The 40km long channel connects to Lake George and to Lake Edward providing the park’s prime wildlife spectacle and its shoreline attracts large numbers of birds, mammals and reptiles year round. Ready with your camera or binoculars expect to see hippos, elephants, buffaloes and water birds, along the banks of the Kazinga channel.
One of Uganda’s largest tracks of tropical forest is the Maramagambo notable for its primate and bird populations. Trails explore the forest around Lake Nyamusingire. Wildlife sightings vary from day to day, but guaranteed events include the Bat Cave with a resident bat-hungry Python, and the copper-rich Blue Lake.
Chimps tracking in Kyambura Gorge
Habituated chimpanzees live in the 100m deep gorge carved by the Kyambura River that flows across the rift valley floor towards the Kazinga channel. This is the most popular tourist draw in this part of the park with habituated chimpanzees that can be tracked with the confines of the forested river gorge carved into the surrounding flat savannah. Guided walks to search for chimpanzees start at Kyambura’s Fig tree camp at 8:14am and 2:00pm
Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts 600 species of birds. You can encounter them by using experienced guides and they know the most interesting bird species around swamps, lakes, and other interesting habitat of the park. Among these include African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, Pink-backed pelicans, Papyrus canary, Shoebill stork, martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail as well as the great flamingos.
Ishasha tree climbing lions
Ishasha covers an area of about 100km southwest of Mweya and is ranked with the most alluring game viewing areas in the country with two main game circuits in the southern and northern loops. It is famous with tree climbing lions. It is also home to many buffaloes and elephants, herds of Uganda Kob as well as the rare shoebill. The region is convenient to pass through on the way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Accommodation in and around Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park has luxury accommodation that will favor all visitors. It also caters for the budget travelers. Mweya safari lodge and Jacana lodge have excellent services and Ishasha wilderness camp with lavishness accommodation. Budget accommodation includes Mweya hotels and Ishasha bandas with average standards that will make your stay memorable. The park also has camping sites such as Maramagambo, Ishasha and Mweya alternatively; one may take on the Hippo Hill Camp adjacent to Katwe along with Kingfisher camp on a beautiful Kichwamba escarpment. Kyambura Uganda safari wildlife is also establishing a luxury lodge that will surely meet your needs
At Mweya there is an up market lodge, a campsite and budget hostel. Another up market lodge fringes a Crater Lake in Maramagambo Forest. A low-key camp is found in the Ishasha Sector.
- Simba safari lodge
- Ishasha Wilderness Camp.
- Kitandara Hippo Hill Camp
- Ihamba Safari Lodge
- Kingfisher Lodge Kichwamba Uganda
- Bush Lodge
- Tembo safari lodge
- Salaam lodge
- Kyambura game lodge
- Kazinga channel view resort
- Kabatoro guesthouse
- Hippo Hill Lodge
- Kyambura Gorge lodge
- Mweya campsite
- Mweya safari lodge