Queen Elizabeth National Park is ranked as the second-largest park in Uganda after Murchison Falls National Park and it sits on the western side of the country. In 1952, it was founded as Kazinga National Park before its name was changed to Queen Elizabeth National Park in 1954 in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II visit the park.
Compared to other Uganda safari parks, Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated astride the Equator and spreads up to 1978sq.kms of land area from the scenic Lake George in the North-east to Lake Edward in the Southwest. Lake George and Lake Edward are linked by the Kazinga channel where boat cruise is conducted. This magical Uganda safari park is surrounded by western districts of Uganda; Kamwenge, Kasese, Rukungiri and Rubirizi.
Queen Elizabeth National Park remarkably one of the most popular safari destinations explored by most tourists on Uganda safari tour. It boasts of its bio-network that dwell mostly in the park’s scenic lakes, vast savanna grassland, swamps, tropical rain-forests to mention but a few.
While on Uganda safari tour in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the major areas of interest to explore include among others the explosion crate lakes, Lake George, Mweya Peninsula, Katwe, Kasenyi sector/plains, Ishasha area, Kyambura Gorge, Kazinga channel, Maramagambo Forest and Kyambura Wildlife Reserve.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
What makes Queen Elizabeth National Park an outstanding Uganda safari park is its huge profusion of wildlife. The park hosts an estimate of over 2500 elephants, 10000 buffaloes, 5000 hippos, crocodiles, lions (inclusive of the tree climbing lions at Ishasha area), leopards, warthogs, topis, Uganda Kobs, jackals, civet cats, sitatunga antelopes, waterbucks and a lot more.
Over 10 primate species also exist in the park’s rain-forest areas and they include chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys.
Birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has a record of about 620 bird species that dwell in its diverse habitat right from the savannas, wetlands to rain-forests. This makes it one of the best birding tour destinations in Uganda. On Uganda bird watching tour in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the different bird species to expect to spot out include the elusive shoebill stork, corncrake, black bee-eaters, Chapin’s flycatcher, African skimmers, white winged warblers, papyrus gonoleks, pink backed pelicans, martial eagle, lesser and greater flamingos, African fish eagles, papyrus canary, grey headed kingfisher, Squacco heron, sedge warblers, verreaux’s eagle owl, long tailed cormorants and many more.
Tour activities to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
While on Uganda wildlife safari tour, a game drive is one astonishing experience you shouldn’t miss out. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one magical Uganda safari park offering the best game viewing experiences to most visitors on tour in Uganda. A game drive in this park is carried out along Kasenyi track in the North and Ishasha area in the south.
Using a 4×4 Safari Land Cruiser or Safari Van with an open roof top, expect excellent game viewing experience. A game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park comes with lots of possibilities and most importantly, you will enjoy amazing sight of savanna dwellers like African bush elephants, antelopes, buffaloes, warthogs, lions including the unique tree climbing lions at Ishasha sector, leopards, birds and others. Interestingly, there is possibility of you engaging in a morning game drive, afternoon and night game drive. Each of these comes with unique wildlife encounter.
Birding is one of the exciting activities you should expect to participate while on Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It involves identifying different bird species including among others the elusive shoebill stork, corncrake, black bee-eaters, Chapin’s flycatcher, African skimmers, white winged warblers, papyrus gonoleks, pink backed pelicans, martial eagle, lesser and greater flamingos, African fish eagles, papyrus canary, grey headed kingfisher, Squacco heron, sedge warblers, verreaux’s eagle owl, long tailed cormorants, black ramped buttonquail and swamp fly catchers.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best Uganda safari parks offering a memorable boat cruise experience. This recreational experience is carried out along Kazinga Channel that extends about 32kms connecting Lake Edward and Lake George.
A launch trip along Kazinga channel lets you enjoy the best view of hippos, crocodiles, water birds (including Squacco heron, shoebill stork, martial eagle, pelicans, verreaux’s eagle owl, papyrus canary and others), elephants, buffaloes and many more. You can participate in a 9:00am or 2:00pm boat cruise.
Chimpanzee tracking is an exceptional primate experience you should expect to take part on Uganda safari travelers in Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is carried out in Kyambura Gorge, a haven to not only chimpanzees but also to L’Hoest monkeys, colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, birds such as African fish eagles, long tailed cormorants, black ramped buttonquail to mention but a few.
Guided nature walk
Participating in a guided nature walk is one way to explore Queen Elizabeth National Park’s diverse wildlife and birdlife. There are many trails connecting to different habitats in and around the park. You can take a short walk via the short savanna grassland, Kyambura Gorge, Maramagambo Forest Caves and many others.
The other unique activities to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park include lion tracking experience, mongoose tracking, hippo census and a lot more.
When to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park
The best months of the year to consider when planning a Uganda safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park start from June, July, August, September and December, January and February. These are the dry months of the year and they are characterized by low rainfall. The game trails are drier during the dry season making it the best to navigate through Queen Elizabeth National Park while on a game drive.
However, due to its favorable climatic and weather conditions, it is also possible to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park during the wet season. This starts from March, April, May and October, November.
Where to stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park
How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park
The best way to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park while on Uganda safari is either by road or by air. By road, tourists can drive from Entebbe or Kampala via Masaka-Mbarara-Bushenyi through Katunguru, approximately 420kms and this is considered to be the longest route.
The shortest route starts from Kampala-Mubende-Fort Portal-Kasese and this covers about 410kms. However, you can drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park through Kabale or Kihihi to Ishasha the southern area of Queen Elizabeth National Park taking you about 3-4 hours’ drive. It is also possible to reach this park from Kibale Forest National Park via Fort Portal city about 3 hours’ drive.
There is also an alternative of flights starting from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Mweya airstrip, Kasese or Ishasha airstrip.