Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s second-largest, and the most diverse national park set in the low-lying Rift Valley where it crosses the equator south of the lofty Rwenzori Mountains and north of the Kigezi Highlands. Queen Elizabeth comprises open grassland and savannah, which tends to be moister in the west than in the east. A variety of thorny acacias predominate in savannah habitats, Queen Elizabeth is home to about 95 mammal species, 10 primate species namely chimpanzees, vervet monkey, black and white Colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkey, baboon, and blue monkey are usually seen roaming in the park.
Things to do and see in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda’s busiest safari destination, Queen Elizabeth National Park makes for a convenient stopover en route between Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale Forest National Park. The park’s most popular attraction is a scenic boat trip that runs out of the Meya Peninsula along the Kazinga channel past large herds of buffalo, elephants, and hippo. Game drives on the Kasenyi plains; chimpanzee tracking at Kyambura Gorge and birding along the lakeshore, swamp, grassland to lowland forest.
Game Viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park
There are so many places in Queen Elizabeth National Park where you can do game drives, Queen Elizabeth National Park is split into tourist circuits, the North-Central Circuit – which comprises of Mweya Peninsula, Kasenyi, Katunguru, Katwe, and Kalinzu and the smaller circuit which consists of the Ishasha Sector famous for tree-climbing lions and leopards.
Game Viewing Sectors in Queen Elizabeth National Park
The main tourist attraction is the 10 km Mweya Peninsula, an elevated arrowhead of bushy land connected to the northern mainland by natural isthmus a little wider than the road that traverses it. Protruding between Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel, immediately north of where the two merge, the peninsula has an inspirational setting, overlooking the scenic riverbank, with buffalos, hippos, and elephants cooling themselves around the opposite shore, and sometimes on a good day tourist can also have a glimpse of the snowy Rwenzori peaks.
The moist short-grass savannah is interspersed with solitary euphorbia trees and low clumps of bushy thickets, abundant wildlife viewing, and bird watching. The area is an important breeding ground for Uganda Kob, Kasenyi is also frequented by herds of buffalos, waterbucks, bushbucks, hippos, lions, elephants, bird species in this area include grey crowned cranes, yellow-throated longclaw, and red-throated spurfowl African fish Eagle, Hammerkop, pied kingfisher among others.
Katungur is also part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park bisected with many lodging facilities’ ranging from mid-range to budget accommodation, the place is also for its big herds of herbivorous animals like elephants, hippos, and buffalos and a good area for bird watching.
Katwe is seasonally good for viewing flamingos, while the nearby Lake Edward shoreline is a reliable location for hippos, elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, and bird watching paradise.
Ishasha Sector – Tree Climbing Lions
Famous for the unusual tree-climbing lions, the Isahasa Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park supports abundant wildlife like leopards, tree-climbing lions, bushbucks, warthogs, buffalo among others, there are two main gates/game circuits in the Ishasha Sector the northern gate and the southern gate, both roughly 20 km in length. The southern sector is more productive for tree-climbing lion sighting since it passes through the main kob breeding area, the area also supports big populations of hippos on the banks of the Ishasha River which can be explored on foot from the campsite along its banks.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge
Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge commonly known as the valley of Apes is another place you should visit on your safari, the 16km dramatic gorge on the eastern side of the park is home to habituated chimps. The experience is more than trekking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, when you take a nature walk in the valley you will be amazed by the landscape of the gorge due to its depth of about 120 meters deep, rich in more than 8 primate species namely habituated chimpanzee, baboon, red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus and abundant bird watching, giant forest hogs, elephants and some lions. Chimpanzee tracking permits for Kyambura Gorge cost US$ 50 per person, a few years ago, Kyambura was one of the most reliable tracking sites in Uganda with a success rate of 85%, and this is still the case when the chimps have easy access to fruiting trees.
There are around 400 mongooses split between a dozen groups, tracking these social, intelligent playful carnivores with knowledge of a ranger guide from the mongoose, the project is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The great variety of habitats in Queen Elizabeth National Park supports a remarkable 610 species of birds namely egret, flamingo, kingfisher, falcons, eagles, Black bee-eater, white-winged warbler, African broadbill, African skimmer, shoebill stork among others. Birding at the park is an incredible excursion as it has a variety of habitats that range from the lakeshore, swamp, grassland to lowland forest.
The 2 hours boat cruise on Kazinga Channel will give a great opportunity to see a variety of wildlife; you will be able to see Elephants, hippos, waterbuck, Uganda kob, buffalo. Waterbirds are plentiful, in particular, white pink-backed pelicans, white-bellied cormorants, water thick-knee, yellow-billed stork, and bush-shrike often flock on the sandbank near the channel mouth.
Best time of the year to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park
The best time of the year to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park during the dry season, Uganda is one of the 13 countries worldwide run through by the equator. Uganda’s equatorial climate is significantly tempered by its elevated altitudes in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park is in January to March and June to August during the dry season. High Season, June to September, is a prime time for wildlife viewing, gorilla tracking, birding, and culture experiences.
Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Luxury Lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Elephant Plains Lodge
This new top-end lodge is centered on a hilltop, infinity pool offering elusive views of Lake George and Kikorongo Crater Lake, the thatched bungalow exudes safari chic and comes with King Size bed with fitted net and large bathroom with shower and tub.
Kasenyi Safari Camp
This tented camp is set on a 20-hectare tract of uncleared indigenous bush on the rim of Bunyampaka Crater Lake and the best place to stay for travelers who want to explore the Kasenyi Savannah Plains. The standard tents have King Size beds with walk-in nets, a spacious bathroom with quality fittings, and a large private balcony overlooking the Lake, the Lodge offers night game drives around the crater rim, and there are many chances of seeing spotted hyenas, elephants, hippo, genets, aardvark, buffalos, genets, and nightjars.
Mweya Safari Lodge
Mweya safari lodge is located on the peninsula in the heart of Queen Elizabeth national park is almost completely surrounded by water with a joint dropping view of the Kazinga channel, the channel that connects Lake George to Lake Edward.
The rooms at Mweya Safari Lodge have a bit of a reputation it is rumored that they were built strategically so the guests can get a view of all sorts of wildlife in the comfort of their rooms. Mweya Safari Lodge has 8 categories of rooms namely; Standard room, deluxe room, deluxe tent, twin tent room, suite, Rwenzori cottage, Queen Cottage, presidential cottage.
Mazike Valley Lodge
Mazike Valley Lodge formerly known as Kyambura Game Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park is located on the escarpment of the Albertine Rift Valley facing the open savanna of Queen Elizabeth Park with its wildlife and the Kyambura Gorge with its Chimpanzee Tracking and birding. Kyambura Gorge, which is like a gash in the savanna is a place that BBC once called the Lost Valley, and others have called it the valley of the apes and that certainly it is. You feel there like you are in another world.
There are 7 spacious thatched cottages that are self-contained with a bathtub and shower. Furnished African style with locally made furniture – a wide-open view from your deck or out of the large screened windows allows you to see wildlife such as elephants right from your Tented Cottage with its beautiful thatched roofs that give it that authentic African Bush Feeling.
There is a lovely and pristine swimming pool in which you can take a refreshing dip after a day on game drives and certainly is a plus for this lodge. From the pool -you can also see the savannah below you. Wherever you are in this lodge, your cottage, having dinner, swimming pool, a cold drink, the wild of the African savannah is before you.
You can watch the sunset with a refreshing drink from the well-stocked bar on the sundowner deck and watch the endless African sky with its countless stars and the moon illuminating the African night over the savannah before you.
One of the other major benefits of Mazike Valley Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park is that it is small and intimate – with only 7 rooms the staff can fully attend to your needs and wishes. At mealtimes, there are no crowds – and a relatively quiet atmosphere broke only by the sounds of the African Wild. In the evenings there is an open fire next to the swimming pool and often a local cultural group – the Banyaruguru troupe entertains the guests with dance and music.
In the Bar lounge and restaurant area, there is a lovely fireplace that brings a certain ambiance to the overall feeling of the lodge. The food is well prepared using local organic ingredients and many from the lodge’s own garden – lunch and dinner are several courses served in a gracious manner.
Kyambura Game Lodge
Overlooking the south end of Kyambura Gorge, this innovative lodge consists of the main building converted from an abandoned coffee shed and 6 spacious cottages fitted with king-size beds, walk-in nets, a spacious bathroom with shower and tub, cozy sofa area, swimming pool, and a communal lodge area with a Campfire.
Scenically perched on the escarpment edge overlooking the rolling savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park, this highly rated lodge offers accommodation in thatched wood canvas cottages all with a shower and tub, private veranda where you can sleep under stars if you so choose. There is also a swimming pool where you cool yourself after a long game drive.
Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Arguably the only true wildness lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, the only lodge set with the Ishasha Sector, this excellent camp is carved into the riparian forest along the Ntungwe River and located in the thick of the wildlife action, tourists can view elephants crossing from their rooms or private balcony, the camp is fitted with a canvas sided cottages with walk-in nets, river-facing private balconies. Tasty, ample, and beautifully wilderness camp presented 4 courses dinners to all visitors who visit the Camp on Safari.
Mid-range Lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Enganzi Game Lodge is the perfect gateway to the mighty Queen Elizabeth National park, a perfect setting to begin a journey into the wild. The captivating Enganzi Game Lodge is nestled on a hill bordering the Queen Elizabeth National Park, and overlooking unspoiled bush in the cradle of western Ugandans magnificent wild.
With seven splendidly set Cottages that offer a view of the park and guests will be spoilt for choice in glimpses of nature’s best at flora and fauna. The main house has been designed with space and views in mind, you can enjoy sundowners or a three-course dinner in the dining room or upper deck enjoying the beauty that Africa has to offer.
Guests can enjoy nature walks, game viewing, bird watching, and the location offers a breathtaking advantage for sightseeing. Your experience at Enganzi Game Lodge will be crowned with an unforgettable imprint of sheer luxury in nature’s wild.
Enjojo Lodge – Ishasha Plains – Queen Elizabeth Park is on the border with the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is located on a large property in an acacia tree forest; there is the lush vegetation of palm trees and patches of Savannah.
Wildlife and Birds are found in abundance at the lodge and you will see your share of elephants, buffaloes, antelopes visit the lodge property. Residents include Vervet Monkeys, Baboons, and Black and White Colobus.
The lodge offers comfortable accommodations suited for most budgets. There are 3 en-suite thatched cottages and the Safari House (which sleeps up to 7-even has its own outside kitchen) is great for families or those with children on a family safari. There is also the unique, private outdoor shower with hot and cold water, giving you that added being in the Bush Feeling.