Queen Elizabeth National Park

About Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth national park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. It’s a diverse ecosystem, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forest, 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.

The park includes dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the kazinga channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalos and elephants, and the endless ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Ugandan kobs.

The Park was founded in 1952 as kazinga national park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.

Accessibility to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, spanning across the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri. The park is approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) by road from the capital city, Kampala. Accessibility to Queen Elizabeth National Park can be achieved through various means of transportation including road, air, and water.

Road Access:
The most common way to reach Queen Elizabeth National Park is by road. The park is easily accessible from major towns and cities in Uganda. From Kampala, the capital city, visitors can take the Kampala-Mbarara highway and then branch off at either Katunguru or Kikorongo junctions to access the park. The journey from Kampala to the park takes approximately 5-6 hours depending on traffic conditions and the chosen route.

Air Access:
For those seeking a quicker and more convenient option, air travel is available to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The nearest airstrip to the park is Kasese Airstrip, which is located approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the park headquarters in Mweya. Domestic flights are available from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip through various local airlines. The flight duration is around 1 hour, providing visitors with a scenic aerial view of Uganda's landscapes.

Water Access:
Another unique way to access Queen Elizabeth National Park is through water transport. The park is bordered by Lake Edward and Lake George, which offer opportunities for boat cruises and wildlife viewing. Visitors can take a boat ride from Kazinga Channel, connecting Lake Edward and Lake George, to explore the diverse wildlife along the shores. This mode of transport provides a different perspective of the park's ecosystem and allows for close encounters with hippos, crocodiles, and various bird species.

Activities at Queen Elizabeth National Park

Game Drives: One of the most popular activities at Queen Elizabeth National Park is game drives. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the park's vast savannah plains and encounter a variety of wildlife species. The park is home to over 95 mammal species, including elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards, hyenas, and various antelope species. Game drives are usually conducted in open-roofed safari vehicles accompanied by experienced guides who provide valuable insights into the park's ecosystem and wildlife behavior.

Boat Safaris: Another highlight of Queen Elizabeth National Park is the boat safaris along the Kazinga Channel. This 32-kilometer long natural channel connects Lake Edward and Lake George and is a haven for numerous aquatic species. During the boat safari, visitors can observe hippos wallowing in the water, crocodiles basking on the shores, and a wide array of bird species such as African fish eagles, kingfishers, herons, and pelicans. The boat safaris offer a unique perspective of the park's wildlife and provide excellent opportunities for photography.

Chimpanzee Trekking: For those interested in primate encounters, Queen Elizabeth National Park offers chimpanzee trekking experiences in the Kyambura Gorge. This scenic gorge is home to a habituated community of chimpanzees that can be tracked with the assistance of experienced guides. Trekking through the dense forest in search of these charismatic primates is an exhilarating experience. Along the way, visitors may also spot other primates such as black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and baboons.

Bird Watching: Queen Elizabeth National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers, boasting a remarkable bird species diversity of over 600 recorded species. The park's varied habitats, including wetlands, forests, savannahs, and lakeshores, attract a wide range of resident and migratory birds. Some notable bird species found in the park include the African fish eagle, shoebill stork, martial eagle, African skimmer, pink-backed pelican, and many more. Birdwatching enthusiasts can explore the park's different ecosystems and embark on guided birding walks or drives to maximize their chances of spotting rare and endemic species.

Nature Walks: Guided nature walks are an excellent way to explore the park's diverse flora and fauna up close. Visitors can choose from a variety of trails that lead through different habitats, including the Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha River, and the Kyambura Gorge. These walks provide opportunities to observe smaller wildlife such as butterflies, reptiles, and various plant species. Additionally, visitors can learn about the park's conservation efforts and the importance of preserving its delicate ecosystems.

Cultural Encounters: Queen Elizabeth National Park is not only rich in natural wonders but also offers cultural experiences that allow visitors to interact with local communities. The neighboring communities have a rich cultural heritage and offer activities such as traditional dance performances, storytelling sessions, and visits to local craft markets. These interactions provide insights into the traditions, customs, and ways of life of the indigenous people living around the park.

In conclusion, Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a wide range of activities that cater to the interests of diverse visitors. From thrilling game drives to tranquil boat safaris, chimpanzee trekking adventures to birdwatching expeditions, nature walks to cultural encounters – there is something for everyone to enjoy in this remarkable national park.