Sprawling across Equator, Uganda is one magical country with a network of 10 beautiful national parks, each offering nature enthusiasts on Uganda safari with a thrilling opportunity to experience diversity of its wildlife both in the lush savannas and rain-forested protected areas. The most explored of the country’s stunning safari parks is Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda, approximately 6 hours’ drive from Kampala.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s second largest national park, occupying an area of 1978sq.kms. This park is well-known for its immerse wildlife species and most importantly, the only protected area in Uganda where the tree climbing lions live. A Uganda safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park offers visitors with the best African wilderness safari experience.
Founded in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park is undoubtedly one of Uganda’s oldest parks. Originally, it was well-known as Kazinga National Park before it was renamed after the Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. Today, it features as the country’s second largest safari park, sitting in an area of 1978sq.kms of land. It includes the Kyambura Gorge, Maramagambo Forest Reserve and Kazinga Channel.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park
A Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park lets you immerse yourself into its lush savannas and water bodies filled with diversity of wildlife species including African bush lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, antelopes, crocodiles, hippos, over 620 bird species, chimpanzees and many other primates.
Queen Elizabeth National Park also features as the best stop point for visitors on Uganda gorilla safaris to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern side of the country. Its strategic location also allows you visit Kibale Forest National Park for chimpanzee tracking or Semuliki National Park for bird watching or exploring the Sempaya hot springs.
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Wildlife/game drives are some of the amazing safari activities and one reason most tourists on Uganda safari visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interestingly, while on a game drive higher chances are you can spot over 90% of the mammal species which you could have hoped to see in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park can be done during day or at night. Every game drive can last for 3 to 4 hours and Uganda safari visitors can explore anyone of the park’s 3 scenic game viewing areas; Katwe Crater Fields, Kasenyi Plains next to Kazinga Channel and Ishasha Area which is well-known for the tree climbing lions.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best parks any birder should consider for bird watching. On Uganda safari, expect to look out for diversity of birds that make up a total of 620 bird species in this magical park.
Avid birders stand a chance to identify birds such as the shoebill stork, whalberg’s eagles, pelicans, white winged warblers, yellow throated cuckoo, great flamingos, black bee-eaters, African skimmers, Verreaux’s eagle owl, papyrus canary, bar tailed godwit, malachite kingfisher, papyrus gonoleks to mention but a few.
Boat/Launch trip in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Boat cruise on Kazinga channel is one of the amazing Uganda safari experiences tourists should expect in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is an exciting water sport worth taking especially if you are interested in exploring aquatic life. It provides you a great opportunity to enjoy the best sight of hippos, crocodiles, water birds and many other wildlife species.
Chimpanzee tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Chimpanzees are some of the interesting species tourists on Uganda wildlife safari should expect to interact with on a tour in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Tourists on safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park can participate on chimpanzee tracking safari in Kyambura Gorge where you stand a chance to also view several other primates, birds and mammal species.
Hot air balloon tours in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Hot air balloon experience is a new and unique safari experience currently offered to Uganda safari tourists in Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can you engage in the morning tour after briefing at Kasenyi gate and you set off ready to enjoy amazing view of wildlife species while in the air instead of being in a 4×4 Safari Van/4×4 Land Cruiser.
Guided nature walks
Nature walks in Queen Elizabeth National Park are best done in Maramagambo Forest Reserve. This is one of the best places to visit for bird watching. Every trail in this forest reserve has something unique to reward you ranging from birds, primates plus several other forest dwellers.
Maramagambo Forest hosts over 9 primate species including chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, bush babies, L’Hoest monkeys and many others.
Lion tracking experience is one exceptional safari activity visitors on Uganda tour should also expect to engage in while on trip in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It offers a close interaction with lions in the wild and usually carried out by trackers and armed park rangers. Other research activities to expect to participate in Queen Elizabeth National Park include mongoose tracking along Mweya Peninsular or hippo census.
Other activities to expect to participate in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Other memorable tour activities to expect to do on Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park include exploring Lake Katwe, a lake without wildlife due to its high salinity. Your trip here will mainly involve exploring the salt mines.
You can also engage in cultural tours to one of the nearby local communities especially Kikorongo Equator Cultural Group, Kasonga Community experience, Nyanz’ibiri cave community, Leopard village and others.
Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National Park
While on Uganda wildlife safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park, expect to book the right accommodation for your stay. There are many wildlife safari lodges for you to choose for overnight stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park and they range from budget to luxury. They include among others Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Katara Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge, Park View Lodge, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge and Bush Lodge.
Getting to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Visitors on Uganda safari can reach Queen Elizabeth National Park either by road or by air. By road, there are 2 routes to take; the Kampala via Mityana-Mubende to Fort Portal city then connect to Kasese. This is considerably the shortest because it takes about 5 hours.
The other route takes you starting from Kampala-Masaka through Mbarara to Ishaka-Bushenyi in Western Uganda. This takes about 6 hours. Although it is long, there is a lot more to excite you including a stopover at Uganda equator crossing. By air, it is possible to fly from Kajjansi airfield or Entebbe airport to Kasese or Mweya airstrip.