Queen Elizabeth National Park – Lodges, Location, Activities, best time to Visit
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most biodiverse Uganda safari parks attracting a significant number of nature lovers each year. Originally, Queen Elizabeth National Park was famously called Kazinga National Park before renaming it after the Queen Elizabeth of England in 1954. It was in 1952 that Queen Elizabeth National Park was officially established as one of Uganda safari parks or National Parks.
Size and location of Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in Western Uganda with 4 districts all surrounding it including Rubirizi, Rukungiri, Kasese and Kamwenge.
This is Uganda’s second largest park, sitting on 1978sq.kms of land area forming part of the vast Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area (QECA).
QENA also extends to cover other 3 wildlife reserves in Western Uganda that is Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Kigezi Wildlife Reserve and Maramagambo Forest Reserve.
Queen Elizabeth Safari Park sits on the elevation range of 884-1337m, lying on the Great Rift Valley Area. Due to its strategic location, Queen Elizabeth Park is an amazing Uganda safari park with distinct landscape that is characterized by unique vegetation zones.
The park’s vegetation cover is comprised of acacia woodlands, savannas, forests and swamp. Besides, there are strikingly stunning Crater Lakes worth exploring on your next Uganda safari tour.
Different Sectors of Queen Elizabeth National Park
Mweya Peninsula is the center point of Queen Elizabeth National Park, found on the Northern bank of the Kazinga Channel. This is where most of wildlife safari activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park are conducted and also an area where Mweya Safari Lodge sits.
The peninsula overviews the scenic Katwe bay of Lake Edward and features incredible tracks such as the Channel track that connects up to Katunguru park gate and extends up to Kabatoro gate. Mweya peninsula is known for its incredible leopard views and other wildlife species.
Extending up to 32kms, Kazinga Channel is a natural channel within Queen Elizabeth National Park that connects two Lakes; Lake Gorge in the East and Lake Edward to the West.
The 32kms long channel is a home to a huge profusion of hippos, Nile crocodiles, water birds and other wildlife species. The channel is perfectly explored on a boat or launch cruise in the morning or afternoon.
Kyambura Gorge- famous as ‘Valley of Apes’ lies within Queen Elizabeth National Park in the extreme Eastern side. The gorge is 1kms across and 100m deep, hosting diversity of wildlife such as primates, birds and more.
Kasenyi Plains or sector is positioned in the Northern side of Queen Elizabeth NP 48kms South-east of Kasese. This is an area with vast savanna grassland and often explored by majority of Uganda safari travelers on a game drive or wildlife viewing. The sector is blessed with diversity of wildlife including lions, elephants, buffaloes, birds.
Ishasha Sector is the Southern sector/area of Queen Elizabeth National Park– a major spot to see the tree climbing lions. The sector is 2 hours’ drive starting from Mweya Peninsula and other than the tree climbing lions, there are also several buffaloes, elephants, antelopes in large numbers for you to see.
Other tourist sites worth visiting on Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth include Maramagambo Forest which occupies the Kichwamba Escarpment. The natural forest is a home to diverse primates such as L’Hoest monkeys, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and more.
Crater Lakes- 3 Crater Lakes are available in and around Queen including the famous Katwe Crater Lake, Bunyarunguru Crater Field along Kichwamba Escarpment and Ndali-Kasenda Crater Field.
The other important sites worth visiting on Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth Park include The Equator and the Queen’s Pavilion; Lake George.
Top Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is without doubt an ultimate Uganda safari destination with plenty of attractions. The top tourist attractions in Queen Elizabeth safari Park include faunal and floral species. About 95 mammal species including primates live in this Uganda safari park, birds, butterflies, crater lakes and more.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The main wildlife species in Queen Elizabeth National Park include 4 of the big five game including lions (the tree climbing lions inclusive), elephants, leopards, buffaloes. Other wide array of animals to see in Queen Elizabeth NP include antelopes (reed bucks, duikers, Uganda kobs, bushbucks, waterbucks), hippos, warthogs, crocodiles, giant forest hogs and more.
Primates in Queen Elizabeth Safari Park thrive in Kyambura Gorge, Maramagambo Forest Reserve and other nearby reserves. They include chimpanzees, l’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys and others.
Birdlife of QENP
Over 620 bird species thrive within the beautiful Uganda safari Park including endemic birds, migratory, aquatic, savanna and others.
They include black belled bustard, shoebill stork, lesser & greater flamingos, papyrus canary, pink backed pelicans, white tailed lark, hooded vulture, grey kestrel, black lored babbler, slender tailed nightjar, pygmy kingfisher, scarlet chested sunbird, spur winged plover, African jacana, black crake, African fish eagles. Others include blue napped mouse bird, martial eagle, open billed stork, black crowned tchagra.
Top Tourist Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Chimpanzee tracking is an amazing primate safari experience Queen Elizabeth National Park has to offer the world. This is done in Kyambura Gorge where habituated chimp communities exist and you have a chance to see not only chimpanzees but also variety of other primate species such as olive baboons, blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys as well as birds.
QENP is famous for its outstanding guided game drive experiences. The park is open for game drives in the morning and afternoon, with a great opportunity to see diversity of wildlife such as buffaloes, lions, elephants, antelopes, warthogs, bird species and more.
Queen Elizabeth Park hosts a total of up to 620 bird species in various habitat making it one of the most visited birding sites. The birding sites in QENP include Katunguru bridge, Kyambura Gorge, Ishasha, Lake Katwe, Kikorongo, Maramagambo Forest, Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi and others.
The list of birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park is long but the must-see include shoebill storks, pelicans, flamingos, nightjars, kingfishers, papyrus gonoleks, sunbirds and more.
Boat cruise or launch cruise is one of the amazing recreational activities not to be missed in QENP. This is done along the 32kms long Kazinga Channel that links Lake George and Lake Edward.
A boat cruise on this channel gets visitors exposed to hundreds of hippos schools, Nile crocodiles, water birds such as saddle billed stork, shoebill stork, pink backed pelicans, skimmers, kingfishers, cormorants and more.
Hot air Balloon Safaris
Hot air balloon experience is a unique activity available and only conducted in Queen Elizabeth safari Park and Murchison Falls National Park for the case of tourists on Uganda safari. You enjoy a view of wildlife in the air rather than in a 4×4 safari vehicle.
Lion tracking is a distinct experience that lets you meet the Kings and Queens of the jungles while on Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
This is a great opportunity to learn how lions behave, feeding habits, take photos and more. Other tracking experiences Queen Elizabeth Safari Park has to offer include banded mongoose tracking and hippo counting.
Guided nature walks/forest walks
Nothing lets you immerse yourself into the wild than a guided nature walk. Get to discover the different habitats, wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park closely on foot. The best nature walking areas in QENP include Maramagambo Forest, Mweya Peninsula, Ishasha River and more.
A cultural walk in Queen Elizabeth Game Park is enjoyable in the different local communities adjacent to it. This lets you explore the rich cultures, traditions and heritage, get entertained from the local dances, music performance.
Busongo fishing villages, Kasonga community among others are some of the best places that are worth visiting for cultural walk/experience.
When is the best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park?
Queen Elizabeth NP safaris are open all year round. The dry season is however noted to be the best for wildlife/game viewing and this takes place from June, July, August, September and December, January to February.
Places to stay – Lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park
There are 3 important categories of accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park- budget, mid-range and luxury.
Top Budget Lodges include Kazinga Channel View Resort, Mweya Hostels, Enjojo Lodge, Bush Lodge in tents; midrange/moderate lodges are Enganzi Game CAMP, Buffalo Safari Lodge, Bush Lodge, Kasenyi Safari Camp while up-market/luxury include Katara Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Jacana Safari Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge.
How to get there
Road and air transportation are the 2 main options available for tourists to reach Queen Elizabeth. By road, take Kampala-Masaka-Bushenyi route- 7hours’ drive or Kampala-Mubende-Fort Portal-Kasese about 6 hours’ drive or Kibale-Fort Portal-Kasese 2-3 hours’ drive.
By air, fly from Entebbe airport to Mweya or Kasese airstrips and you can be right at Queen Elizabeth National Park for your holiday.
More Uganda Safari Parks
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the leading Uganda gorilla safari destination most visited for gorilla trekking adventures. Half of the world’s 1063 mountain gorillas are believed to be thriving within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with 20 gorilla families already undergone through… Read More