Queen Elizabeth National Park

Destination Guide

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Imagine an African wildlife adventure where you can spot lions lounging in trees, cruise down a hippo-filled channel, and trek through a rainforest searching for chimps! That's Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Nicknamed the "pear of all parks," it's got a stunning mix of landscapes - from savannas teeming with wildlife to crater lakes reflecting the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.

Here, you'll go on game drives searching for classic safari animals like elephants, buffaloes, and lions. But keep an eye out for Queen Elizabeth's special residents: tree-climbing lions that chill in the branches of acacia trees! Boat trips on the Kazinga Channel are epic, with a chance to see crocs and hippos basking in the sun. And for something different, venture into Kyambura Gorge, a lush rainforest where chimpanzees swing through the trees.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a great stop on a longer Ugandan safari. Combine it with a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you can trek through the mist to see mountain gorillas in the wild - an unforgettable experience!

When to Visit

When to Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts lovely weather year-round, thanks to its location near the equator. Expect warm days around 29°C (84°F) and slightly cooler nights around 17°C (63°F).

While you can visit any time of year, here's a breakdown to help you decide:

  • Wildlife Viewing at its Peak: Head to the park during the dry seasons (January-February and June-July). Animals gather around water sources, making them easier to spot.
  • Lush Landscapes: If you're all about stunning scenery, the wet seasons (March-May and August-December) paint the park with vibrant greenery. December and January see the least rain.
  • Important Note: Even during the dry seasons, a little rain is always possible in this tropical environment.

The 5 Sectors

1. Kyambura Gorge

Nestled on the eastern edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura Gorge is a true primate paradise! Dubbed the "Valley of Apes," this lush ravine is famous for its thrilling chimpanzee trekking adventures.

Descend 100 meters into the gorge, where the Kyambura River carves its way through a dense "underground forest." Keep your eyes peeled for other primates like blue-tailed monkeys, and listen for the calls of colorful birds, even the occasional flamingo!

2. Ishasha Sector

Journey south from the Mweya Peninsula, deep into Queen Elizabeth National Park, and you'll find yourself in the incredible Ishasha Sector. This is where the magic happens – the realm of the famous tree-climbing lions! Imagine looking up to spot these majestic creatures lounging in the branches, gazing out over the savanna where herds of kob and other fascinating animals roam.

Ishasha isn't just about the lions, though. Birdwatchers, get ready! This sector teems with vibrant species like the ross turaco, African crake, black-bellied bustard, and the dazzling broad-billed roller.

4. Mweya Peninsula

Imagine yourself on the Mweya Peninsula, a lush finger of land jutting into the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here, the mighty Kazinga Channel connects Lake George and Lake Edward, teeming with incredible wildlife. Hippos wallow in the shallows, elephants lumber to the water's edge, and buffaloes gather in vast herds. Don't forget to scan the banks for crocodiles basking in the sun!

Mweya offers some of the park's most iconic experiences. Embark on a leisurely boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel for close-up encounters with its residents. As darkness falls, venture out on a thrilling night game drive – spot hippos grazing on land, and maybe even glimpse the stealthy moves of lions and leopards on the hunt.

3. Kasenyi Sector

Picture vast, golden savannahs stretching as far as the eye can see – welcome to the Kasenyi Sector in the northeastern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is the heartland of the Uganda Kob, where herds of these graceful antelopes thrive.

But Kasenyi isn't just about the kobs! Lions rule this landscape, and thrilling game drives offer the chance to spot these powerful predators in action. For the ultimate adventure, try lion tracking – follow the experts and experience the thrill of searching for these elusive big cats!

5. Maramagambo

Delve into the ancient Maramagambo Forest, a lush reserve in the Bushenyi district known for its fascinating "bat experience." Explore caves inhabited by these intriguing creatures and watch for playful primates like chimpanzees, blue monkeys, and baboons swinging through the trees.

What else can I see in Maramagambo Forest? Keep your eyes open for giant forest hogs, buffalos, and a variety of antelopes. Birdwatchers will be in paradise, with the chance to spot species like the forest flycatcher, black-headed batis, Rwenzori turaco, and the beautiful white-naped pigeon.

Activities in Maramagambo Forest: Lace up your hiking boots for nature walks, and immerse yourself in the symphony of birdsong. This forest offers a unique change of pace from the savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Things To Do in Queen Elizabeth NP

Game Drives

Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is a game drive paradise! With over 95 mammal species roaming its landscapes, you're in for some incredible wildlife encounters. Get ready to spot majestic elephants, lumbering hippos, powerful Cape buffalos, graceful kobs and topis, and many more fascinating herbivores. Keep your eyes peeled for predators too – lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, and side-striped jackals could all make an appearance.

Birdwatchers will be in awe! The park boasts over 600 recorded bird species, and you're likely to see many of them on your game drive. For the best game drive experience, focus on the Kasenyi, Mweya, and Ishasha sectors of the park – they're teeming with wildlife.

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Boat Cruise

Experience the magic of Queen Elizabeth National Park from the water! Embark on a 2-hour launch cruise along the scenic Kazinga Channel, connecting Lake Edward and the Mweya Peninsula. Get ready for incredible wildlife encounters – the banks teem with hippos, basking crocodiles, and countless waterbirds. You might even spot elephants, buffaloes, and antelopes coming to drink. Don't miss the chance to observe the bustling Katunguru fishing village, offering a glimpse into local life.

For the most spectacular sightings, opt for an afternoon cruise. This is when animals flock to the water, creating an unforgettable wildlife spectacle.

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Chimpanzee Trekking

Trek through the lush Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, searching for our closest cousins – chimpanzees. The gorge, with its towering trees and dense underground rainforest, is a haven for these fascinating primates. Imagine the excitement of hearing their calls and watching them swing through the branches!

Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge starts at 8 am, with a guided nature walk that takes you deep into the gorge. Keep your senses alert – you might spot other rainforest creatures and vibrant birds along the way. The chimp trek can last 2-4 hours, offering a truly immersive primate experience unlike anything else in the park.

Why Queen Elizabeth National Park?

  • Unique Setting: The Kyambura Gorge offers a special glimpse into a hidden rainforest world.
  • Accessibility: The chimp trekking experience in Queen Elizabeth is well-organized and perfect for those looking for a less remote experience.

Bird Watching

Calling all bird lovers! Queen Elizabeth National Park is an absolute must-visit, boasting a staggering 600+ bird species. From the iconic shoebill stork and vibrant kingfishers to the majestic African fish eagle and even seasonal flamingos, this park teems with avian wonders.

Here, you'll spot rare gems like the broad African bill, the mighty martial eagle, the dazzling black bee-eater, secretive owls, and the elusive flycatchers.

Best Birding Spots in Queen Elizabeth National Park:

  • Kazinga Channel: A haven for water birds
  • Kyambura Gorge: Search for rainforest species
  • Maramagambo Forest: Lush and diverse birdlife
  • Kalinzu Forest: Discover wetland specialties

Community & Cultural Experience

Step beyond the boundaries of Queen Elizabeth National Park and immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures surrounding it. Community walks offer a chance to meet fascinating people like the Basongora pastoralists and the Bakonzo cultivators, gaining insights into their traditional ways of life. Be captivated by the Kikongoro cultural dancers, who celebrate their rich African heritage through music and dance. Don't miss the chance to bring home a piece of Uganda – browse beautiful African crafts made by skilled artisans.

Visit the fishing communities near Lake George. Try your hand at canoeing, maybe even join a thrilling canoe race! Visit the Kataara village for an unforgettable agro-tour – learn the art of honey harvesting and see how the incredible Kataara women group transforms elephant dung into beautiful paper products.

Tip: Community walks offer a chance to give back. Consider purchasing local crafts or supporting initiatives focused on sustainability and community development.

Nature Walks

Lace up your hiking boots and discover the hidden treasures of Queen Elizabeth National Park! Explore the lush depths of Maramagambo Forest, where ancient trees shelter caves filled with bats. Trek through the vibrant Kyambura Gorge, a haven for stunning butterflies and breathtaking scenic views.

Hiking in Queen Elizabeth isn't just about the physical challenge. It's about immersing yourself in the park's diverse ecosystems, uncovering secrets and surprises along the way.

Tip: Pack light, bring water, and be prepared for the possibility of rain, even in the dry season.

How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Nestled against the majestic Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a diverse safari experience. Here's how to get there:

By Air: The Fastest Route

Skip the road trip and fly directly into Queen Elizabeth National Park. Charter flights are available from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield, landing at the closest airfields: Kasese, Mweya, or Ishasha.

Flight Options:

  • Aerolink Uganda: Offers daily scheduled flights from Entebbe Airport to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Charter Operators at Kajjansi Airfield:
    • Fly Uganda
    • Kampala Executive Aviation

By Road: Explore at Your Own Pace

For a more scenic journey, consider driving to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here are the two main routes from Kampala:

  • Route 1: Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara (approximately 390km, 7 hours): This route takes you past the equator and offers a glimpse of Lake Mburo National Park (85km, 1.5-2 hours drive from Queen Elizabeth Park's main gate at Katunguru).
  • Route 2: Kampala-Mityana-Mubende-Fort Portal-Kasese (approximately 415km, 7 hours): This route lets you explore the charming town of Fort Portal or delve into the world of primates at Kibale National Park (66km, approximately 1.5 hours drive from Kasese).

 

Important: Both road routes lead to the Katunguru main gate. If you're coming from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, access is through the Ishasha sector gate.

Connecting to Other Parks:

Queen Elizabeth National Park makes an excellent base for exploring Uganda's national parks:

Tips:

  • Book your flights in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Consider renting a car for more flexibility when exploring the park and surrounding areas.

 

Uganda Wildlife Safaris

Where to Stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a fantastic range of accommodations, catering to every taste and budget. Whether you seek luxurious amenities, mid-range comforts, or the thrill of a budget-friendly safari camp, you'll find your ideal lodging within the park.

Northern Sector (Mweya & Kasenyi)

Mweya Safari Lodge

Experience classic luxury on the Mweya Peninsula, overlooking the Kazinga Channel and Kasenyi plains. Choose from spacious rooms, elegant suites, cozy cottages, or family-friendly options. Enjoy comfortable lounges and excellent room service during your stay.

Buffalo Safari Lodge

Nestled near Katunguru Bridge, this lodge is ideal for groups seeking a comfortable stay. Relax in fully-furnished cottages designed with your comfort in mind, and soak in spectacular views of Queen Elizabeth Park and Lakes Edward and George from the lounge.

Elephant Plains Lodge

Discover spacious elegance at this 4-star lodge. Choose from charming cottages, including family options, and unwind by the eco-friendly swimming pool.

Kasenyi Safari Camp

Embrace a touch of wilderness luxury with en-suite tents perched on private decks overlooking Lake Bunyampaka. Enjoy frequent wildlife sightings – lions, leopards, elephants, and more – right from your camp! It even offers WiFi for convenience.

Kikorongo Safari Lodge

Perched on a scenic cliff, this lodge offers breathtaking views of lakes Kikorongo and George. Choose from luxury tents, cozy cottages, or the unique Rift-valley camp tents.

Bush Lodge

Immerse yourself in the authentic spirit of the bush! Opt for self-contained or shared tents and bandas, all comfortably furnished with private terraces perfect for watching wildlife at the Kazinga Channel.

Kazinga Channel View Resort

This budget-friendly destination offers a range of rooms to suit couples, solo travelers, and families, all with views of the Kazinga Channel.

Mweya Hostels and Cottages

Enjoy self-contained accommodations just steps from Mweya Safari Lodge, with convenient common areas like a kitchen, living room, restaurant, and canteen.

Simba Safari Camp

A great budget option with a mix of en-suite rooms, a family cottage, and dormitories.

Accommodation in the Kichwamba Sector

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Experience unmatched luxury with breathtaking views. This former coffee store transformed into a haven features 8 en-suite and 4 deluxe cottages overlooking the Kyambura Gorge, savanna, and even the distant Rwenzori Mountains.

Katara Lodge

Nestled near Queen Elizabeth National Park's entrance, Katara Lodge boasts 8 luxurious thatched cottages perched on the Rift Valley escarpment, offering panoramic savanna views.

Twin Lakes Safari Lodge

Enjoy rustic elegance at this lodge bordering the Albertine Rift Valley. Choose from 9 luxurious en-suite rooms with stunning vistas of Lakes Edward and George, the Kazinga Channel, and the Rwenzori Mountains – perfect for all types of travelers.

Parkview Safari Lodge

This lodge blends modern and traditional African design for a unique experience. Overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Bunyaruguru hills, it offers en-suite cottages, refreshing amenities like a pool, sauna, and massage parlor.

Mazike Lodge

Perched strategically on the park's edge, Mazike Lodge's 8 opulent cottages treat you to breathtaking views of the park, Maramagambo Forest, and Kazinga Channel. Choose from 3 king and 5 twin bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms.

Marafiki Safari Lodge

Discover mid-range comfort with spectacular park views and a glimpse of the Rwenzoris. Experience nature in 4 timber cabins or 3 luxurious safari tents.

Enganzi Game Lodge

Immerse yourself in African tradition! This eco-friendly, mid-range lodge sits on the Kichwamba escarpment, featuring 5 cottages with cozy single, twin, and double bed options.

Baboon Safari Resort

Enjoy 3-star service at a 2-star price! This lodge offers spacious, en-suite cottages with excellent customer service, perfect for the budget-conscious traveler.

Albertine Rift Valley Lodge

Set against the backdrop of Maramagambo Forest and volcanic crater Lake Nyamisingiri, this boutique lodge features 8 en-suite cottages for a comfortable and scenic stay.

Pumba Safari Cottages

Discover the true spirit of adventure at this budget-friendly option. Choose from three cottages with two beds and en-suite showers, and enjoy essentials like a restaurant and well-stocked bar.

Lodges in Ishasha Sector

Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Experience luxury in the heart of tree-climbing lion territory! This camp on the Ntungwe River boasts 10 spacious Meru-style tents, each with en-suite bathrooms featuring hot bush showers and eco-friendly amenities.

Ishasha Jungle Lodge

Embrace rustic elegance at this eco-friendly lodge within easy reach of the Katokye gate. Enjoy en-suite cottages perched on raised wooden decks, powered by solar energy, and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Ntungwe River.

Enjojo Lodge

Discover unique design and comfort in Ishasha. Choose from 7 individually styled cottages, each with en-suite bathrooms, solar hot water, and spacious verandas – perfect for relaxing after game drives. Enjojo also offers a spacious safari house ideal for families and groups, plus a variety of tents and huts for different budgets.

Bullrush River Camp

Experience a blend of comfort and affordability near Ishasha. Choose from 6 en-suite cottages with family options, or opt for the unique experience of the 6 lazy camping rooms.

Topi Lodge

Enjoy a luxurious experience on a budget, just steps from the Ishasha gate. These locally-crafted cottages offer comfort and affordability.

Ishasha Ntungwe River Lodge

Located along the elephant track overlooking the Ntungwe River, this lodge blends nature and comfort. Choose from 6 riverside bandas or 3 elevated, spacious wooden chalets for a truly memorable Ishasha experience.

Tip: The Ishasha Sector is famous for tree-climbing lions, so factor that into your lodge choice to maximize your chances of spotting these unique creatures!