Queen Elizabeth National Park covers an area of 1,978km². It is located in western part of Uganda, 5-7hours drive from Kampala or Entebbe International Airport.
Queen Elizabeth spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00. Queen Elizabeth National Park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.
The park is home to over 95 mammal species and over 610 bird species. The Katwe explosion craters mark the park’s highest point at 1,350m above sea level, while the lowest point is at 910m, at Lake Edward.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems, which in turn benefits the surrounding communities.
Popular tourism activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Being one of the most popular tourism destinations in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth has a number of tourism activities as below;
Game Drives: Game viewing is done through game drives by 4WD vehicles. Reputable tour and companies such as Gorilla Expeditions Ltd, Jungle Safaris Uganda Ltd, Lets Go Tours Rwanda, Active African vacations and African Jungle Adventures Ltd use 4Wd land Cruisers with pop-up roof for excellent game viewing and photographing. To fully enjoy a game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park, you can hire a ranger guide to give you information about different animal species you come across as well as animals. Different tracks available for game drives and the popular ones are Kasenyi track and Mweya Peninsular. Among the animals to see along the game drive include Lions, Leopards, herds of Buffaloes, Elephants, Warthogs and many Antelope species among others.
The southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park (The Ishasha sector) is famous for tree climbing lions. This is the route connecting to Bwindi Impenetrable National park, a home for mountain gorillas in Uganda.
Boat Cruise or Launch Cruise: The presence of Kazinga Channel is a great opportunity for fantastic boat cruise. The Kazinga channel connects Lakes Edward and George. The channel is famous for the highest concentration of Hippos in Africa, with over 610 bird species. Huge Nile crocodiles, herds of Elephants and Buffaloes are seen basking along the shores, others quenching their thirst. The boat provides a clear platform for photographing. This is an adventure for life time.
Chimpanzee Tracking: This takes place in Kyambura gorge, a home for elusive wild chimps, with other primates such as Olive Baboons, Mangabeys, Red Tailed Monkeys and many more. The walk through the gorge is so amazing!
Forest walk / Caves Exploration: On addition to forest walk thorough Kyambura gorge, there is another forest walk in Maramagambo forest and Bat Cave exploration. A walk through Maramagambo forest exposes you to several forest bird species and primates.
Other areas to visit while in Queen Elizabeth National Park include the crater lakes with flamingos and other bird species, also community / cultural tours such as Kikorongo women community and Nyanz’ibiri cave community. You should not miss local salt extraction around Lake Katwe.
Agro-Tour walk in Queen Elizabeth National park
The Sweeping of Kichwamba Escarpment makes up the eastern wall of the Western rift valley. The Agro-Tour walk takes 2-3hrs, starting from Kataara village, hiking through farms of the escarpment the cool morning or early evening.
Your tour guide will give you information about different bird species you come across, medicinal plants, local farming methods as well as cultural sites, thus making your walk informative and enjoyable. You can also participate in different activities in local communities such as harvesting crops or honey among others.
Queen Elizabeth National park can be accessed by Air from Entebbe International airport to Kihihi Air Strip. This is just an hour flight. Aerolink Uganda has daily scheduled flights. Charter flights are also available from Entebbe or Kajjansi Air strip to Kihihi airstrip.
The park can also be accessed by road from Kampala (6hrs drive), from Fort portal (2hrs drive), from Murchison falls National park (7-8hrs drive), from Bwindi gorilla park (3-5hrs drive).