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Queen Elizabeth National Park In Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park was established in 1952 in the west of Uganda in the Albertine rift as Kazinga National Park overlooking the magical mountains of the moon – the Rwenzoris. It stretches across the rift valley floor about 1,978km2.  Queen Elizabeth National Park provides shelter to 95 mammal species, 600 bird species in Uganda making it the first park in Uganda with great bird count, second in Africa and sixth on the African continent, 10 primate species and 20 species of predator.  The park is also a home of the tree climbing lions in its southern sector of Ishasha which only exist here and in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania, the famous 45m long Kazinga channel connecting Lakes George and Edward, the Kyambura gorge with its counts of Chimpanzees and a series crater lakes some of which are salty such as Lake Katwe. The combination of these makes Queen Elizabeth National Park an ideal Uganda safari destination no wonder it is apparently the most visited park in Uganda.

The park shares Kasese, Bushenyi, and Kamwenge and Rukungiri districts and is 417km about 7 hours west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The adjacent towns include Kasese in the north east and Bushenyi in the south of the park. The name of the park was altered from Kazinga National Park to Queen Elizabeth National Park to commemorate visiting of the Queen of England in 1954.

How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park can be connected to from the following points.

  • Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be accessed on public means. Buses connect daily from Kampala to Kasese. There are other public means to Katwe and Katunguru trading centers which are very close to the park. From these centers, you can get a private vehicle to connect to your lodge. 
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be connected to by Air travel. Aero link operates scheduled flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese and Mweya Airstrips. Other charter carriers offer the same service from either Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kasese or Mweya Airstrips.

Tourist Attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park contains one of the great bio diversity rankings in the world’s national parks. The combination of 10 primate species, 95 mammal species and classic big game with four of the big five and 20 species of predators. The wildlife species in Queen Elizabeth National Park include; lions, side stripped jackal, spotted hyena, leopard, Uganda kob, water buck, topi, and bush buck, elephants, hippos, warthogs Buffaloes, chimpanzees, blue monkey, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkey. The southern sector of Ishasha contains tree climbing lions while Kazinga channel has concentrations of hippos.

Birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park contain 600 species of birds which qualifies as the number one park with the highest counts of birds in Uganda, second in Africa and 6th in Africa. These counts of birds dwell in varied ecosystems which can be seen below;

Kasenyi Area. Though the savannah plains of Kasenyi area are known for game viewing on Uganda safaris, the area has a range of birds among which include the following; Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture African White-backed Vulture,  Rappel’s Griffon Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlbergs Eagle, Bateleur, Long-created Eagle, Martial Eagle, Grey Kestrel, African Crake, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, Crowned Plover, Senegal Plover, African Wattled Plover, Rufous napped Lark, Kittlitz’s Plover, Flappet Lark,  White-tailed Lark, Brown-backed Srub-Robin, Zitting Cisticola,  Croaking Cisticola, Black-lored Babbler, Grey backed Fiscal, Grey-capped Warbler, Black-crowned Tchagra, Pin-tailed Whydah, Fork-tailed Drongo and Black-headed Gonolek.

The Mweya Peninsula; this is between Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward and the range of bird species that can be encountered by birders on Uganda safari include; African Mourning Dove, Diederik Cuckoo, Raptors, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Swamp Flycatcher, Squire-tailed Nightjar, Swamp Nightjar, Grey-Headed Kingfisher, Red-chested Sunbird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Nubian Woodpecker, Pygmy Kingfisher,  Little Bee-eater, Swallows, Red-capped Lark, Martins, Swifts, Grey-capped Warbler, Lesser Masked Weaver, Black-headed Gonolek, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow-backed Weaver and Slender-billed Weaver.

Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth national park of Uganda; the maramagambo forest is a famous mature tropical forest with a range of forest birds among which include; African Finfoot, Little Grebe, Red-chested Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Yellow bill, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black Coucal, Black Bee-eater, Barbets, Blue-throated Roller, Red-throated Wryneck, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Honey guide Greenbul, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Dark-capped Warbler, Green Crombec, African Moustached Warbler, Broad-tailed Warbler, Croaking Cisticola, Black-headed Batis, Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, African Paradise Flycatcher, Brown Illadopsis, Marsh Tchagra, Brubru, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, Western Black-headed Oriole and White-breasted Negrofinch.

Katwe Area. The range of crater lakes in this area supports a range of birds among which include; lesser and greater Flamingoes on Lake Munyanyange Others include; Eurasian Mash Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Avocet, Little Stint, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Red-capped Lark, African Moustached Warbler, Broad-tailed Warbler, Croaking Cisticola and Southern Red Bishop.

Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda. The southern extension of Queen Elizabeth National Park is not only known for tree climbing lions but for a range of birds including; Palm-nut Vulture, Shoebill, Hooded Vulture, African Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, White-backed Vulture,  Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Long-created Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Martial Eagle, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-bellied Bustard, African Crake, African Wattled Plover, African Green Pigeon, Senegal Plover, Ross’s Turaco, Broad-billed Roller, Striped Kingfisher, Double-toothed Barbet, Greater Honeyguide, White-headed Barbet,  Grey Woodpecker, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, White-browed Robin-Chat, Green Crombec, Cisticolas, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and Grey-backed Fiscal.

Lake Kikorongo; Lake Kikorongo is very close to Lake George and hosts a range of waders. Other bird species encountered by Uganda safari undertakers on this lake include; Common Squacco Heron, Shoebill, Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Black Crake, African Jacana, Knob-billed Duck, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Greater Swamp Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek and Carruther`s Cisticola.

Katunguru Bridge Area; while crossing the Kazinga channel from Kasese to Rubirizi or either way, there is a bridge with a papyrus swamp which hosts a range of birds including; Pink-backed Pelican, White-winged Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Pied Kingfisher, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Malachite Kingfisher, Greater Swamp Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek and White-winged Warbler.

Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda

The 45m long Kazinga channel connects Lakes George in the East and Edward in the west. It is considered as one of the striking attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Lake George which is a small lake about 2.4m deep and 259km2 wide and gets its waters from the glaciers of Rwenzori mountain. The Kazinga channel provides an outflow for this lake connecting to Lake Edward which is bigger and is considered to be among the main fresh water lakes of Uganda which stretches to 2 000 km2.  Kazinga Channel has a range of aquatics including; the Nile crocodile which is the second largest reptile in the world after salty water crocodile, Hippopotamus among others alongside a range of wild game that drinks on the channel shores and abundant birdlife that dwells along the shores of Kazinga channel. All this makes Kazinga channel worthy of encountering on Uganda safari.

Equator in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Besides wildlife, Queen Elizabeth National park is also crossed by the equator which is the world’s main latitude dividing the world into the southern and northern hemispheres. The site provides a ground for water experiments to justify this divide and it is also impressive for photography. 

Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda

Situated in the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura gorge is about 1km in width and 100m in depth. The Kyambura gorge is well known for populations of chimpanzees along with other primates like Monkeys. Interestingly, the gorge has got a lush tropical forest flourishing below sea level. The floor of the gorge is traversed by a flowing Kyambura River. The combination of these makes Kyambura an attractive place to encounter on Uganda safaris.

Tourist activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park is seen as an Important Bird Area in the world with 600 species of birds making it the first in Uganda, second in Africa and the sixth in world thus posing a rich ground for ideal birding opportunities while on Uganda safaris. There are a range of birds that can be encountered in the following parts of the park including; Kazinga Channel, Ishasha Sector, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Katunguru Bridge area, Kasenyi Area, Katwe Area and Lake Kikorongo. Bird species that can be encountered include among others; Martial Eagle, African broad bill, Papyrus canary, Pink-backed pelican, Black- rumped Buttonquail, lesser and greater Flamingoes, Martial Eagle, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-bellied Bustard, African Crake, African Wattled Plover, African Green Pigeon among others.

Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park is ideally done from December to February and two to three days stay can be enough to explore the range of birds in the park for a lasting experience on Uganda safari.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park has got counts of chimpanzees in the Kyambura gorge that has been habituated for chimpanzee trekking experience. The chimp trekking in Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura is one the challenging activities that you can encounter on Uganda safaris. The chimp trek in Kyambura does not only expose you to chimpanzees but also to lush tropical forest that thrives with in the gorge that is below sea level, the beautiful flowing river on the gorge floor and amazing steep landscapes. The encounter with chimpanzees in Kyambura gorge is conducted twice a day both in the morning at 8am and in the afternoon at 2pm.  

Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Game drive is among the key tourist activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The rolling savannah combretum that mark the flat landscapes of Queen Elizabeth National Park offers impressive game viewing encounters. The Kasenyi and channel tracks exposes you to a range of wildlife including; lions, elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, leopard, baboons, warthogs among others.   The drives in the Ishasha sector offer you chances of spotting tree climbing lions. The game drive activity is best done in the morning starting at 6:30 am and in the evening at 4pm lasting for 3 – 4 hours. 

Launch trips in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

The 45m long Kazinga Channel offers rewarding launch trip for travellers on Uganda safari. The launch trip which is best done in the afternoon exposes you to populations of Hippos, Nile crocodile, over 60 species of birds and a range of wild game drinking on the channel side. The Kazinga Channel launch cruise takes 2 hours. The UWA launch leaves at 2pm and 4pm daily.

Experiential tours in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

The experiential activities are designed to enable you have the close encounter with wildlife. The experiential tours include; mongoose tracking, predator tracking and Hippo Census. The activities tend to last between 1- 3 hours and is normally done early in the morning, evening and sometimes at night. It also involves monitoring species that migrate into the park with the help of locator devices, learning the habituation calls and monitoring atmospheric conditions.

Cultural Encounters in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

There are various tribal groups that surround Queen Elizabeth National Park with diverse heritage and traditions that can be explored on Uganda safari.

Leopard Village around Queen in Elizabeth National Park in Uganda;

The leopard village nears the Muhokya village in the north of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This village exposes you to the traditions of the locals including the traditional huts of the Basongora, Bakonzo, and Banyabindi along with their handicrafts and performances.

Kikorongo Women Community in Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda;

The Kikorongo Women Community offers impressive encounter of the traditional life in Kikorongo village it involves interesting music dance and drama, fire making and craft making.

Katwe Tourism Information Centre (KATIC).

The Katwe Tourism Information Center (KATIC) takes you through the offerings at Lake Katwe Salt Lake exploring the process of salt making, extraction and eventual production and how the people have molded their livelihood around tis natural product. They also have interesting traditional performances and handicrafts.

Nyanzibiri Cave Community

This community encounter exposes you the scenic views of the volcanic craters that are surrounded by rewarding tunes of cranes and eagles. The encounter allows you to take a canoe ride on the lake with pure waters amidst sights of primates and birds. The community takes you to their cultural museum and the Banyaruguru hut where various traditional artifacts are gathered.

Agro-Tour Walk

The Kichwamba Escarpment in the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Agro-tour walk commences from the Katara village lasting 2–3 hours involving hiking through farmlands in the cool morning or in the evenings. There is also provision for honey harvesting.

Nature walks in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be explored on foot.

There are rewarding nature walks in Maramagambo forest. The walk from Jacana lodge and the visitor center stretches for 1km and can be conducted unguided at a free cost except for the standard visitation fees.

Three guided walks are carried out in Maramagambo forest starting from the visitor center including;

  • The straight walk takes you around Lake Kyasanduka forest shore and tends to last for less than one hour depending of the traveller’s interest in birds.
  • A famous walk taking about 90 minutes leads to a cave where enormous numbers of bats thrive alongside a rock python.
  • The walk to Lake Nyamasingiri is ideal for birders. It takes about half day and offers sights of birds like snowy headed robin chat, chestnut wattle eye and scaly-breasted illadopsis.

Other nature walks are done in Mweya peninsular offering scenic views of Kazinga channel, Lake Edward and the impressive savannah landscapes.

Accommodation Facilities in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda  

Ihamba lodge

Ihamba Safari Lodge is situated by Kahendero Fishing Village on the shores of Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Ihamba Safari Lodge consists of 10 family cottages. The cottages have a couch that turns to a double bed to contain children with terrace for chilling at and viewing the environs. The rooms can stretch up to 3 mature people or 2 adults with children below 12 years.

Room Facilities:

  • Private bathroom and shower
    • Desk
    • Drinking water
  • All guests enjoy the use of:
    • Swimming pool
    • Housekeeping and laundry services
    • Internet access in common areas.
    • Library
    • On-site bar
    • Ample and secure parking
  • Standby generator. 

Jacana lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Jacana Safari Lodge overlooks Lake Nyamusingire on the eastern border of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). Jacana offers ten spacious, luxury chalets and a family cottage with two interconnecting rooms. Rooms are well versed with en-suite washrooms even with warm showers and with a terrace to allow scenic views of the adjacent lake.

Lodge Amenities.

  • Restaurant and bar
  • Virunga Lounge with fireplace, sofas and hammocks
  • Sundowner Bar with lake views
  • Swimming pool overlooking the Lake
  • Sauna and massage area
  • Self-contained chalets and a family cottage, all with en-suite bathrooms with hot water
  • On-site wildlife viewing
  • Floating “Captain`s Table” pontoon – for dinner on the lake

Bush lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Surrounded by the National Park and bordering the Kazinga channel, the lodge has a truly unique setting. Bush lodge currently consists of 6 self-contained units which are spaciously placed. The rooms are made from a fine combination of canvas and local materials. The rooms are self-contained with private en- suite bathroom with an eco-toilet and an outside shower where 2 showerheads allow couples to take their shower together. The lodge also offers lazy camping services at a budget friendly option in the form of non-self-contained tents. This lazy camping consists of a basic camping tent furnished with 2 single beds and a solar lantern. Restaurant and bar from the main lodge are open to our guests on lazy camping. The lodge also has a camp site open to camping travelers.

Hippo Hill Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Established in September 2006, Hippo Hill Camp is the only luxury tented Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Camp is a must see place! It is spectacularly well-built on a hill overlooking Kitako and Kabazimu Islands. It is also surrounded by Lake Edward, the Katwe Salt Lake and Munyanyange crater Lakes that contain lots of flamingoes, Hippos, buffalo and other other animals. The Camp presently offers 10 luxury tents with private toilets and hot showers. These tents are walk-in safari tents with their own en-suite facilities including cold and hot water. All tents are very well furnished to ensure comfort for all.

Lodge Amenities

  • On-site restaurant
  • Tour/Travel desk            
  • On-site Bar
  • Library/Reading Area
  • Souvenir/Gift Shop
  • On-site wildlife viewing

Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Located on a peninsula within the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mweya safari lodge is surrounded by Ruwenzori Mountains. It has the following types of luxury accommodation worthy of stay on Uganda safari; 

  • 32 Standard Rooms
  • 12 Deluxe Rooms with Air-conditioning
  • 2 Suites

Cottages are available for those wanting something more special, or for families.

  • The Presidential Cottage
  • The Queens Cottage
  • 2 Family Cottages
  • 2 Luxury Tents, 2 Standard Tents

Facilities

  • Swimming Pool
  • Restaurant & Cuisine
  • The Business Centre
  • The Gift Shop
  • Conference Facilities
  • Mweya Information Centre
  • The Tembo Bar

Ishasha Wilderness Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

It is located within the southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It has;

  • Ten luxury en-suite safari canvas tented rooms
  • Bush showers and flushing eco-friendly toilets
  • Central lounge and dining area under thatch
  • Central charging facilities for 240V, 3 Pin UK style plugs
  • Internet access available
  • Game drives, bush breakfasts, sundowners, walks, bird-watching and community projects.

Mweya Hostels in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Mweya hostel is adjacent to the luxurious Mweya Safari Lodge. The Mweya institute of Ecology known as Mweya Hostel is a budget facility in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It offers overnight stay to Uganda safari travelers with single and double rooms, shared bathrooms and toilet facilities. Some rooms are self-contained while others can accommodate about 4-6 people. Kitchen, Living room are available.  The hostel has a restaurant where meals are served and a canteen where few purchases can be made.

Simba Safari Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda 

Simba Safari Camp is a budget safari accommodation situated on the border of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you will find a variety of comfortable and affordable guest rooms, dormitory rooms and a well-established camp site. Located on a hill, the camp offers spectacular views of Lake George, Lake Kikorongo and the savannah plains stretching till the far horizon. It is the closest accommodation for game drives in the Kasenyi plains, while elephants and buffaloes can often be viewed from the camp.

En- suite rooms. It has nine double/twin rooms and two triple rooms. The rooms are spacious and well furnished with two single beds or a double bed and mosquito nets. En- suite is a bathroom with running water and flushing toilet.

Family Cottage; This is suitable for family stay. It consists of two bedrooms, a fully equipped bathroom and a living room with an extra bed. Also a spacious veranda is available to sit comfortably with your family. The individual cottages take a maximum of 5 people.

Facilities;

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Lounge area
  • Free WIFI is available in the public areas.

Kingfisher Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

It is located outside the park on strategic Kichwamba escarpment. It has about 250 meters over the plains that give a magnificent view of the park, Mountain Rwenzori along with the Kazinga channel. The accommodation rages from 2 family units, 3 double rooms, 2triple rooms and 1 en-suit. The lodge has the capacity to accommodate 36 visitors.

Facilities

  • Restaurant with both international and local cuisines
  • Facilities such as conference hall that accommodates about 30 people
  • Beautiful gardens
  • En suite facilities with campsites
  • Fully stocked bar
  • Swimming pool

Kyambura Game Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Kyambura Lodge is situated at the eastern edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park, in the western part of the great East African Rift valley, with fantastic views over the national park and the Rwenzori Mountains and at a short distance from the Kyambura Gorge. The lodge has been built using environmentally friendly local materials fitted by a local community workmanship. Accommodation is provided in seven spacious and tastefully designed self-contained grass-thatched cottages, with bath tabs/showers with views to the park, running hot and cold water, equipped with 220v electricity and a private wooden balcony overlooking the park. We have a swimming pool, adjacent to the campfire where a local traditional dance is often performed (Banyaruguru troupe).

Kyambura gorge lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

This safari lodge in Uganda has been converted from an old coffee processing plant, is an ideal location for chimpanzee trekking, and boasts incredible views overlooking the Queen Elizabeth National Park, with the mythical Mountains of the Moon in the far distance. It has;

  • 8 unique timber or brick guest bandas with iron sheet or thatch roofs (3 doubles and 5 twins) reflect the local building style.
  • En-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity, shower with hot and cold running water.
  • Rooms have mosquito nets, 240v lighting and a private balcony.
  • Bandas are individually named after the Kyambura Gorge chimpanzees.
  • 1 tour leader room available.
  • Wi-Fi available in the main lodge building.

Katara lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

It is situated on the Great Rift Valley escarpment with uninterrupted views of the savannah, Lake Edward and the Virunga and Rwenzori mountain ranges beyond, Katara Lodge is a 20-minute drive away from the main entrance of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge offers accommodation in seven luxurious thatched cottages with each spacious cottage made of locally available materials and carved into the hillside by the Katara village community. The cottages combine wooden floors, grass thatched roofs and canvas that can be folded away for uninterrupted views of the park stretching out below. Our water is heated using solar thermal energy and swimming pool is available.

Enganzi Game lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

The Enganzi Game Lodge is located on a hill bordering the Queen Elizabeth National Park. With 5 splendidly set cottages which offer a picture perfect view of the Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Enjoy sundowners or a 3 course dinner in the dining room or upper deck enjoying the beauty that Africa has to offer. Enganzi lodge has both single and double rooms with a good restaurant and bar.