Discover Uganda’s Wildlife Gem: Queen Elizabeth NP – Must-Visit!

Located in Western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most beautiful African parks you should consider a must-visit. Boasting of its huge profusion of wildlife, this park is truly nature lovers’ treasure on Uganda safaris. It supports a variety of wildlife, especially the significant population of small and big mammals plus bird species.

Location of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is geographically lying in the western part of Uganda and its boundaries stretch in the districts of Kasese, Bushenyi, Rukungiri and Rubirizi districts. The park was gazetted in 1952 and initially operated as Kazinga National Park before it was renamed after the late Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth NP is a vast park, and Uganda’s second largest after Murchison Falls National Park.

Lying at the altitude of 884 and 1337 meters, Queen Elizabeth N. Park features a breathtaking landscape. This is characterized by wetlands, Lakes, savanna grasslands, and forests. The park spans over 1978sq.km, encompassing Kazinga Channel, Maramagambo Forest, Kyambura Gorge, Kigezi Game Reserve, Katwe Explosion Craters and Ishasha Areas.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is positioned within the Albertine rift valley area and to the East, it is adjoined by the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve. Other surrounding conservation areas include the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Kibale National Park and Semuliki Wildlife Reserve/Park.

The vegetation in the park of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth N/Park prides itself of exceptional landscape which is characterized by unique vegetation. The park contains five vegetation levels and includes Lakeshore, swamp vegetation, acacia woodland, bushy grassland and forest cover. The main sectors to explore on Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park include Mweya Peninsula, Kyambura Gorge, Kazinga Channel and Maramagambo Forest.

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Wildlife / animals within Queen Elizabeth National Park

Over 95 mammal species and 620 bird species are all contained in the various habitats of Queen Elizabeth National Park. There are 4 of the big 5 game living within this park plus other wildlife including the cape buffaloes, banded mongoose, hyenas, leopards, lions, elephants, warthogs, waterbucks, primates like olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, among others

Birds within Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda

Queen Elizabeth NP offers not only magical big game encounters but also incredible bird sightings. The park supports terrestrial and aquatic birds including the black-bellied bustard, slender-tailed nightjars, pink-backed pelicans, African wattled plovers, handsome francolin, blue-napped mouse bird, black-crowned tchagra, pygmy kingfishers, papyrus canary, white-tailed lark, hooded vultures, yellow-throated cuckoos, palm-nut vultures, rufous napped larks, African hobby, green crombec, Nubian woodpeckers, Caspian plovers, green blue turacos, African fin-foot, bateleurs, double toothed barbets, wahlberg’s eagle, squire-tailed nightjars, lappet-faced vultures, common sand martin, grey kestrel, brown snake eagle, black-lored babblers, and others. These and more make Queen Elizabeth National Park an important birding area in Uganda.

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Top Safari Activities to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park

A game drive is one of the leading tourist activities that is done in Queen Elizabeth NP. It is a must-do experience for guests on Uganda safaris to this park and the main areas/tracks to explore wildlife include Kasenyi Plains and Ishasha regions. Wildlife or animals to expect sighting on a safari in this park include buffaloes, warthogs, elephants, Uganda Kobs, bushbucks, leopards, reedbucks, waterbucks, lions, and bird species. The daily game drive can last for 2 to 3 hours and different sessions are available offering exceptional opportunity to encounter the park’s animals. You can enjoy the morning or an afternoon guided game drive or wildlife viewing.

Cruise experience

Boat cruise experience is enjoyable on the Kazinga channel, an extensive natural channel which links Lake Edward and George. There are plenty of aquatic life to be spotted and include the Nile crocodiles, hippos, and avifaunal species. This is a 2-3 hours recreational experience, carried out in the morning or afternoon.

Chimpanzee tracking

Primate trekking, especially chimpanzee tracking offers a remarkable opportunity to guests to enjoy up close and personal with chimpanzees. The Kyambura Gorge is an amazing location to explore on a guided chimpanzee trek. The gorge is 100 meters deep and its valley is dominated by the tropical forest. Over 10 species of primates dwell within the Kyambura Gorge and include chimpanzees, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, among others

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Bird-watching

Queen Elizabeth National Park is an Important Birding Area in Uganda, the home to over 620 bird species. These include flamingoes, long-tailed cormorants, black-rumped buttonquail, martial eagle, black-headed gonoleks, lappet-faced vultures, long-crested eagle, slender-billed weavers, African fin-foot, Caspian plovers, Nubian woodpeckers, Egyptian geese, African emerald cuckoo, malachite kingfishers, red-chested sunbird, water-thick knee, ross’s turacos, red-shouldered cuckoo-shrike, double toothed barbets, African green pigeon and others. The park’s best birding areas include Mweya Peninsular, Maramagambo Forest, Kyambura Gorge, Katunguru Bridge, Lakes and Kasenyi Plains, and others.

Lion tracking

Queen Elizabeth National Park offers memorable lion trekking experiences in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. The lion tracking/trekking involves exploring lions’ behaviors along the Kasenyi Plains, the Northern area of the Park and you have a chance to also encounter other wildlife, birds and more.

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Nature walks

Nature walk in Queen Elizabeth National Park is excellently done in the Maramagambo Forest, the home to diverse bird species and primates. The area supports primates such as bush babies, l’hoest monkeys, pottos, colobus monkeys and chimpanzees although these haven’t been habituated for tourism.

Balloon tours

Hot air balloon tours provide a unique wilderness experience and exceptionally ideal for guests who prefer aerial wildlife viewing. Balloon tours in Uganda are offered only in the 2 parks and the other is Murchison Falls National Park.

Community tours

There are plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with residents living adjacent to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The cultural visits or community tours can be arranged together with wildlife tours and you visit the nearby local communities such as the Leopard Villages, Kasoga Community Experience, Nyanzi’ibiri Cave Community and more.

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The best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park can be conducted at any time of the year, however, the most ideal time is during the dry season and this occurs twice a year. The long dry months run from June to early September, December to February. These are the most preferred months of the year to explore and experience the park’s animals on a guided game drive.

Accommodation facilities in and around Queen Elizabeth Park

There are accommodation facilities inside and outside the park and include budget, midrange and luxury lodges and camps. They include Twin Lakes Safari Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge, Katara Lodge, Buffalo Safari Lodge, Elephant Hub Lodge, Enjojo Lodge, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, Enganzi Game Lodge, Kasenyi Safari Camp, Irungu Forest Safari lodge, Marafiki Safari Lodge and Ishasha Wilderness Camp.

Reaching Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park is easier to reach on road or air. By road, you travel in our 4×4 tourist vehicle from Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Bushenyi route which is about 7 to 8 hours’ drive or drive via the Kampala-Mubende-Fort Portal route about 6-7 hours’ drive or connect from Kibale Forest after chimpanzee tracking, about 2-3 hours’ drive. By air, flights can be scheduled or chartered from Entebbe Airport/Kajjansi airfield and you land at Mweya/Kasese airstrip.

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