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Queen Elizabeth National Park

Straddling both Lakes George and Edward, Queen Elizabeth NP is an exceptional park for game viewing and is undoubtedly the most popular and easily accessible park in Uganda.

Shadowed by the Rwenzori Mountains and connected by a wildlife corridor with the tropical rainforest of Kibale Forest NP, it is one of the outstanding treasures of Uganda and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO.

About Queen Elizabeth National Park

Located in the south-west of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth NP together with the Kyambura and Kigezi Wildlife Reserves cover an area of 2475 sq km and include a remarkable variety of eco-systems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to acacia woodland, savannah and swamps. The park is contiguous with Virunga NP in the Democratic Republic of Congo and together the two parks completely encircle Lake Edward. Lake Edward is then connected to Lake George by the Kazinga Channel which ultimately provides an exceptionally rich habitat for both mammals and birds.

Although it was not gazetted until 1952, the area has been protected since the late 1920's as the Lakes George and Edward Game Reserves. Originally called Kazinga NP, it was renamed in 1954 to commemorate a visit by the British monarch, though was briefly called Rwenzori NP during the Amin regime.

Sunset over the Kazinga Channel Elephant Chimpanzee

Biodiversity

Queen Elizabeth NP is still a long way from the prolific wildlife it was once famous for prior to the Amin era but the past 15 years has seen a great improvement and today it is estimated that the park supports over 2900 elephant and 200 lions. Queen Elizabeth NP is home to 95 species of mammal including 20 species of predator. Residents of the park include cape buffalo, Uganda Kob, waterbuck, warthog, giant forest hog, leopard, spotted hyena and side striped jackal.

There are over 5000 hippos residing in the Kazinga Channel as well as good populations of crocodile and water monitor lizard. The Ishasha area is home to Topi, the rare shoe-bill stork and of course its most famous resident, the tree climbing lions who can be found sleeping in giant fig trees. The park supports 10 species of primates, including chimpanzee, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed and vervet monkeys, many of which are found in Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest.

An impressive bird list of over 600 species is exceeded in African protected areas only by its much larger neighbour Virunga NP and ranks the area 6th in the world for protected bird diversity. The list includes 54 raptors, 11 types of kingfisher and virtually every waterbird species resident in Uganda.

Around the Park

  • Mweya Peninsula, located at the northern end of the park and at the west end of the Kazinga Channel is the main tourist hub of the park and offers a variety of accommodation. Ranger accompanied nature walks to remote parts of the peninsula, as well as launch trips along the channel can be arranged at the Mweya Information Centre. A favourite resident of the peninsula is the banded mongoose troops that roam around the campsite and lodges.

  • The Kazinga Channel launch trip provides this area of the park its prime wildlife viewing, with an abundance of hippo, crocodiles and buffalo readily seen, it is also a bird watchers paradise offering an astounding number of species on display. The two hour trip departs several times during the day subject to demand. The 15:00 departure is generally the more popular as this is the time when many of the parks resident elephants tend to gravitate to the water to quench their thirst.

  • North Kazinga and Kasenyi are the primary game viewing areas. A network of tracks cover both areas enabling you to find elephant, buffalo and many other animals. Lion is more commonly spotted on the open Kasenyi savannah where a large population of Uganda Kob reside! Game drives are best in the early morning or late afternoon and if you do not have your own guide it is highly recommended to hire a ranger guide from the parks office.

  • Ishasha is located 100 km south of Mweya in a more isolated sector of the park that is rarely visited by most people. A true wilderness experience, it offers diverse habitats that support a wide variety of wildlife including its most famous residents, the tree climbing lions. For anyone planning a safari including Queen Elizabeth NP and tracking the gorillas, take the time and make sure you explore Ishasha on the way. You won't be disappointed.

  • Kyambura Gorge is found in the eastern part of the protected area, 35km from Mweya. This steep gorge, formed over time by the Kyambura River spans a distance of 16km and ranges up to 100m deep and over 500m wide. The gorge protects an isolated forest surrounded for the most part by more open savannah and is home to numerous primates including chimpanzees, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys and olive baboons. Take a guided nature walk into the gorge with the chance of catching a glimpse of its resident primates including habituated chimpanzees.

  • Maramagambo Forest is one of the largest forests in Uganda and is situated in the centre of the park. Newly opened trails are conducted on foot and a variety of short and long guided walks are offered. The forest is a medium altitude, semi deciduous forest that is increasingly becoming rare in Africa and also home to L'Hoest monkeys, chimpanzees, bush baby, baboons, vervet monkeys and red-tailed monkeys.

  •  Hot Air Balloon Safari.  Take a one of a kind Hot Air Balloon Safari Tour over Queen Elizabeth National Park at sunrise seeing  the wildlife and scenery below such as the explosion craters, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon in the distance, Kazinga Channel with its wildlife, Lake Edward and Lake George.  It is 1 1/2 hours in the air over Queen Elizabeth Park seeing the park like you would never on a game drive. The Hot Air Balloon Ride is followed by a Champagne Bush Breakfast. 

When to go

Anytime ! Rain or shine, the huge diversity of wildlife that Queen Elizabeth NP has for you to see will still be there, just make sure you have a good 4WD in the wet season otherwise you may be limited to the game viewing tracks you can access.