Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most family safari game reserve best for boat safaris along the Kazinga channel & classic big game viewing drives on the savannah track. This park was founded in 1952 and named Kazinga National Park. However, two years later, it was renamed Queen Elizabeth National Park in commemoration of the visit by Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth ll, in 1954.
The queen’s pavilion, where the Queen addressed the masses, still exists in the park. It is a very strategic place for picnic views in the park. Queen Elizabeth National park is located in western Uganda, lying directly astride the equator 00o. The Park is approximately 400 km or 7 hours’ drive from Kampala to Kasese on the west side of the Great Rift Valley between Lake George and Lake Edward.
Queen Elizabeth National Park covers a land area of about 1,978 square kilometres. It runs from the foothills of Mountain Rwenzori in the North to Isasha in the South. The highest point is at 1,350m above sea level found in the Katwe explosion crater, while the lowest point is at 910 on the shores of Lake Edward, covering the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi and Rukungiri.
The park is home to diverse ecosystems, ranging from the sprawling savannah, shady, humid forests, lakes like Edward and George and fertile wetlands, which provide a classic habitat for over 95 mammals. Including but not limited to; Elephants, Cape Buffalos, Giant forest hog, Hippopotamus, warthogs and the antelope species within the park include the kob, bushbuck, waterbuck, and topi. 20 predator species, including; Lions. Leopards spotted hyenas, and side-striped jackals are natives of this park.
Queen Elizabeth National park is also home to 10 primate species, including; Chimpanzees, black and white Columbus monkeys, baboons, red-tailed monkeys and vervet monkeys. Over 612 bird species have been recorded, offering a memorable birding experience to the visitors in this park.
Furthermore, there are high chances to encounter the local communities like the Kasoga community on the shores of Lake George, the Bunyaruguru people on the Kichwamba escarpment on the southeast side of the park. The Kataara women make several useful paper products out of elephant dung. The Bakonzo farmers who cultivate on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountain and the Basongora pastoralists, you will be able to enjoy the experience of their daily lifestyle on a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National Park’s 5 Sectors
Kyambura Gorge is located on the park’s eastern side and is well known for chimpanzee trekking adventures. that’s why the gorge is sometimes called “the valley of apes.” The Kyambura river flows 100 meters below the Kichwamba escarpment through a thick ‘underground forest’. Other Primate species like blue tailed monkeys can be found on the walk in the gorge and birds like; flamingoes.
The Ishasha sector is located 100km South of the Mweya peninsular, is where the tree climbing lions are mostly sighted. On a visit to this sector, you can view the tree-climbing lions and look down, and you will be able to view Kobs and other animals grazing in the savannah grasslands.
You’ll also find bird species like; ross turaco, African crake, black-bellied bustard, and broad-billed roller.
Kasenyi Sector is composed of open savannah, which acts as a breeding area for the Kobs. This sector is located in the northeast. Lions can’t miss out in this area on several activities such as game drives and lion tracking.
Mweya peninsular is located on the northern bank of the kazinga channel, joining lake George to Edward. This sector provides a clear sight of hippos, elephants, buffalos, crocodiles lined along the banks of the Kazinga channel.
The most obvious activities in Mweya include; the boat cruise along the Kazinga channel and night game drives which provides an opportunity to view the nocturnal animals grazing like hippos and predators like lions and leopards looking for prey.
Maramagambo Forest is a natural forest reserve located in the Bushenyi district commonly known for the “bat experience”. The forest is also home to over 7 primates, including chimpanzees, blue monkeys and baboons.
Other animal species in this forest include the giant forest hog, buffalos, antelopes and many Others. Some of the safari activities in this forest include; nature walks, hiking, birdwatching with the bird species like forest flycatcher, black-headed batis, Rwenzori turaco, white napped pigeon, red-tailed bristle and many others.
Things to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The 2-hour Launch safari cruise on the Kazinga channel provides a clear view of the park from the Mweya peninsular to lake Edward. Besides, the banks are lined with hippos, crocodiles, water birds, visit-in elephants, buffalos and antelopes. You also get a chance to view the Katunguru fishing village. This cruise is best done in the afternoon when animals come to the channel for water; that is when the best results are recorded.
Trekking the forest in the Kyambura gorge tracing chimps is an overwhelming experience you would not like to miss on your visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park. You will be able to find the fascinating primates that swing around the forests. Queen Elizabeth is the perfect place to enjoy chimp trekking in the Kyambura gorge, basically gazetted. The area is characterised by tall, thick trees and underground rainforest, an adoptable lifestyle for the chimpanzees.
The activity starts at 8 am, and it lasts for 2-4 hours, involving nature walks up to Kyambura gorge, and on the way, you can view other mammals and the birds while trekking.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is an outstanding park in Uganda that provides excellent game drive experiences due to its vast community of over 95 mammal species. Some of these include; Elephants, Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalos, Kobs, Topis, Waterbucks, Bushbucks, Warthogs and Giant forest hogs, among many other herbivores.
You can spot about 20 predator species on a typical game drive, including lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, and side-striped jackals. Of over 600 recorded bird species, you can’t miss some amazing ones on a game drive in the park, giving you a memorable experience of the visit. The game drives are most common in Kasenyi, Mweya and Ishasha sectors.
Queen Elizabeth national park is a must-visit park for the birders as it has recorded over 600 bird species, both endemic and migratory birds. Some include; the Shoebill stork, Kingfisher, African Fish Eagle, Flamingos, seasonal, broad African bill, martial eagle, the black bee-eaters, owl, the flycatchers, etc. You can spot birds along the Kazinga channel, Kyambura gorge, Maramagambo forest and Kalinzu forest near the wetland area.
Hiking takes place in the Maramagambo forest and the Kyambura gorge. You can’t miss out on the stunning butterfly species in the Kyambura gorge, scenic viewing, bats hanging and hiding in the caves in the Maramagambo forest.
ith this activity, you will be able to encounter local communities that surround the park. For example, the Basongora (pastoralists), the Bakonzo (cultivators) and other groups like the Kikongoro cultural dancers at the equator who are deep-rooted into the African culture they entertain the visitors at the equator. They also make a lot of African crafts, which you can take home as souvenirs from Uganda.
In addition, you also encounter the fishing communities like the Kasoga community, where you engage in canoeing and canoe racing on the waters of Lake George. An agro tour walk in the Kataara village where you can try hand honey harvesting. The Kataara women group also makes paper products out of elephant dung.
How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park is located in western Uganda at the slopes of Mountain Rwenzori, touching the Uganda – Congo (D.R.C) border. You can access it by road and air.
Two major routes are leading to Queen Elizabeth National Park from the capital Kampala or the Entebbe International Airport;
The Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara route is a 7-hour drive from Kampala via Masaka-Mbarara-Bushenyi -Kasese, approximately 390 km. On this route, you can view the equator and lake Mburo National Park en-route.
The Kampala-Mityana-Mubende then Fort portal to Kasese route covers an approximate distance of 415km and a 7 hour’s drive. Kibale National Park and Fort portal town en-route can be great stopovers.
Using both routes, you can access the park through the Katungulu main gate. If coming from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can access the park through the Isasha sector gate.
You can access Queen Elizabeth National Park by air using charter flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield, and the closest airfields are Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha.
To and from Queen Elizabeth, you can connect to other parks like Lake Mburo, Kibale Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable, Mt. Rwenzori National park, Semuliki and Murchison Falls National Park.
Aerolink Uganda operates daily scheduled flights from Entebbe airport to Queen Elizabeth. At the same time, the Charters are also an option for the charter operators at Kajjansi Airfield Fly Uganda and Kampala executive Aviation.
When to Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park experiences a warm climate, with stable annual temperatures astride the equator. During the day, temperatures can rise to about 29°C (84°F) or fall gradually to around 17°C (63°F) during the night.
Queen Elizabeth is open all year round. However, this scenic park is most beautiful in the Wet seasons from March to May and August to December, with the least rain registered in December to January. Still, wildlife viewing is best from January to February and June to July during the dry season, though there is always potential rain.
Where to Stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park is equipped with several accommodation facilities to cater for all your safari accommodation needs ranging from luxury to budget facilities. These include lodges, hotels and camps.
Accommodation in the Northern sector, Mweya and Kasenyi;
Mweya safari lodge is a luxury lodge located on the Mweya peninsular between the Kazinga channel and Lake Edward shores overlooking the Kasenyi plains., It has 14 Classic rooms, 28 deluxe rooms, 2 Superior, 4 Tents and 4 Cottages, and 2 family rooms. The rooms at Mweya Safari Lodge are spacious, with a comfortable lounge and excellent room service. Marasa Africa runs the property.
Buffalo Safari Lodge is located near the Katunguru Bridge. The lodge has both standard and deluxe cottages, making a total of 17 rooms currently, ideal for even large groups of 20 to 30 guests. Buffalo Safari Lodge has fully furnished cottages with art designed for the comfort you deserve in addition to experienced hospitable staff, and a lounge which has a spectacular view of Queen Elizabeth Park and Lakes Edward and George in the close vicinity.
Elephant Plains Lodge is a 4star lodge in Queen Elizabeth national park owned and managed by Uganda Lodges. The lodge feature 8 cottages which include 2 family cottages with en-suite bedrooms. The rooms and the lounge are spacious enough in addition to an eco-friendly swimming pool.
Kasenyi Safari Camp is strategically located in Queen Elizabeth National Park, overlooking lake Bunyampaka. The camp features 8 en-suite tents on raised wooden private decks. Kasenyi Safari Camp has WiFi in the tents. Its strategic location makes it necessary for frequent visits by animals, Including lions, Leopards, Hippos, elephants, waterbucks, hyenas, kobs, and warthogs are frequently seen at the lodge during day and night.
Kikorongo Safari Lodge is strategically located on a cliff overlooking lake Kikorongo and lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kikorongo Safari Lodge has 3 accommodation options, including luxury tents, Cottages, and Rift-valley camp tents.
Bush Lodge is a mid-range accommodation facility located 3.5km from Katungulu gate offering both self-contained tents and Bandas and non-self-contained Bandas with comfortable beds well furnished with nature viewing shade directing you to the waterfront animals at Kazinga channel the bathrooms and toilets for this tents are shared, bedding and towels are provided. The non-self-contained tents are 10 in number and 2 self-contained tents in number, and one can be added on request. They are excellent and spacious for a family stay giving an incredible authentic wilderness experience from the views through private terraces on the rooms.
Kazinga channel view resort, budget accommodation located in Katungulu overlooking the main Kazinga channel, has several rooms ranging from single, double, twins and Bandas.
Mweya hostels and cottages are self-contained, located on the Mweya peninsular a few meters after Mweya safari lodge. Public areas are in perfect condition, including a kitchen, living room, restaurant, and canteen.
Simba Safari Camp is a budget accommodation facility owned and managed by the Uganda lodges limited. It has a total of 70 beds, some in En-suite rooms, a family cottage and dormitories.
Lodges in the Ishasha Sector
Ishasha Wilderness Camp is a luxury camp situated in the southern Ishasha sector on the Ntungwe river consisting of 10 Meru-style tents providing access to game viewing, including the famous tree-climbing lions. Each tent at Ishasha Wilderness Camp has en-suite bathrooms with hot brush showers and eco-friendly flush toilets.
Ishasha Jungle Lodge is a boutique located in queen Elizabeth National park Ishasha Sector about 2 kilometres away from the Katokye gate, along the Ntungwe River. Ishasha Jungle Lodge is an eco-friendly lodge with en-suite cottages on raised wooden decks, hot water powered by solar energy.
Enjojo Lodge is located in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge has 7 cottages, each designed uniquely. Walkways lead to the main area and restaurant, each of the cottages is en-suite with solar heat water and a spacious veranda. A safari house suitable for families and groups, which can accommodate up to 7 guests. it has 2 spacious bedrooms accommodating up to an addition to the self-contained safari tents and the non-self-contained bamboo huts and tents.
Bullrush River Camp is located in close proximity to the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National park. The lodge has 6 En-suite Cottages with 2 family rooms and 6 lazy camping rooms.
Topi Lodge, located a short distance from the Ishasha gate in the south of Queen Elizabeth National Park, has cottages offering a luxurious experience at a budget price, constructed using local material.
Ishasha Ntungwe Safari Lodge, located in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National park’s Ishasha Ntungwe Lodge, is set along the Elephant track overlooking the Ntungwe River the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge features 6 River edge bandas and three elevated wooden chalets, grass-thatched and spacious enough on elevated private wooden decks.
Accommodation in the Kicwamba Sector
Kyambura Gorge Lodge is a top of the notch lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Lodge features 8 en-suite and 4 deluxe cottages. The Kyambura gorge lodge is located with views of the distant mountains of the moon (the Rwenzoris), the Kyambura Gorge and rolling savanna. From a coffee store in ancient times, remoulded to luxurious accommodation in the area.
Katara Lodge, found just 16 kilometres from the Katunguru gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park, is nestled on the escarpment of the Great African Rift valley. With 8 thatched luxurious cottages, Katara is one of the finest lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park. All the cottages beautifully stretch along the hill overlooking the vast savannah grassland of the park.
Twin Lakes Safari Lodge is perched on the edge of the Albertine rift valley escarpment. It is a rustic lodge with beautiful views of Lake Edward and Lake George, the Kazinga Channel, Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Rwenzoris. Twin Lakes Safari Lodge features 9 luxurious en-suite rooms that suit solo travellers, couples, and families.
Parkview Safari Lodge is located on the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth National park overlooking the park and the Bunyaruguru hills. Parkview Safari Lodge was constructed using modern and local materials with an African art design. The cottages are ensuite with private shower rooms. The lodge also has a swimming pool, sauna and massage parlour, all working together for your comfort.
Mazike Lodge, located in the Kyambura region of Queen Elizabeth national park, is perched on the park’s walls with cottages strategically located to give breathtaking views of the park, Maramagambo Forest and Kazinga Channel. The lodge features 8 Opulent cottages spacious enough with 3 King and 5 Twin bedrooms, all with en-suite facilities.
Marafiki Safari Lodge is a mid-range accommodation overlooking the Queen Elizabeth National Park and the magical Rwenzori Mountains and distant edges of Lake George. The lodge offers 4 timber cabins and 3 luxury safari tents.
Enganzi Game Lodge is a mid-range sitting on Kichwamba escarpment designed using local materials featuring African tradition to blend the ecosystem. The Lodge provides 5 cottages with comfortable bedrooms featuring single, twin and double beds.
Baboon Safari Resort is a 2-star lodge in Kichwamba on the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth National park but offers 3-star services. The cottages are spacious enough, en-suite with solar-heated water and above outstanding customer service.
Albertine Rift valley lodge is a boutique lodge in the Kichwamba region of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge has 8 En-suite Cottages furnished to give the desired comfort to guests. The Lodge is spectacularly set up overlooking Maramagambo Forest and Nyamisingiri lake, which is believed to be the largest volcanic crater lake in Uganda.
Pumba Safari Cottages, budget accommodation located in Kichwamba on the eastern side of the park, has three cottages with two beds and en-suite showers and other services like typical restaurant and a well-stocked bar.
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