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QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK UGANDA

  Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda Safaris & Tours

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The park founded in 1952 is located in Western Uganda adjacent to the mystical mountains of the moon (Rwenzori Mountains) on the western rift valley floor covering an area of about 1,978Sq.km. It is a habitat to 95 Species of mammals and 600 Species of birds, partly which makes it the most visited park in Uganda. Its tree climbing lions of Ishasha sector, the famous Kazinga channel that connects Lakes Edward and George, the exciting Kyambura gorge which is a home of chimpanzees and a number of crater lakes in the area makes it suitable for touring while on a Ugandan tour. It shares the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri and is located at approximately 376 kilometers by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.

The town of Kasese lies just outside the northeastern edge of the park, while the town of Bushenyi, is situated just outside the park’s southeastern boundaries. The park is named after Queen Elizabeth II of England and was established in 1954. The park is also famous for its volcanic features, comprising volcanic cones and deep craters, many with crater lakes such as Lake Katwe, from which salt is extracted. The national park includes the Maramagambo Forest and borders Kigezi Game Reserve, Kyambura Game Reserve and Kibale National Park in Uganda, and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park .

The park is 5 – 6 hours’ drive from Kampala and can be accessed from different points; on a surface road via Mbarara 420kms, Fort portal via Kasese 410kms or through Ishasha sector from Bwindi on a dirt road.

Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda has one of the highest bio diversity ratings of any national park in the world, over 600 different bird species, about 95 mammal species, 10 primate species and classic big game. No wonder it was declared a world biosphere reserve. The grassland plains supports a variety of animals which can be viewed from a vehicle on the network of tracks designated in the park. About 20 predators are found in the park such as lions, leopards, side stripped jackal and spotted hyena among others. Common Antelopes species include the kob, bush buck, topi and water buck. Other animals which can even be found at Mweya peninsular are; Buffaloes, elephants, warthogs and hippos. There are also various primate species are available in the park including chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkey, black and white colobus monkey, olive baboons among others. The Ishasha sector is famously known for its tree climbing lions and it is also known to host the world’s highest concentration of hippos.

Birds in Queen Elizabeth National Park .

Queen Elizabeth National Park hosts over 600 bird species, making it the second highest of any park in Africa and the 6th highest of any park world-wide. This remarkable number is enabled by the park’s diverse habitats. Variety of birds can be spotted in various areas of the park including;

Kasenyi Area. This wildlife hotspot well known for game drives has many Africa bird species, making it a must-see birding destination while on Uganda safari.  This open grassy area offers bird species like: Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bateleur, Long-created Eagle, Martial Eagle, Grey Kestrel, African Crake, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, African Wattled Plover, Crowned Plover, Senegal Plover, Kittlitz’s Plover,  Rufous napped Lark, Flappet Lark, White-tailed Lark, Brown-backed Srub-Robin, Zitting Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola, Grey-capped Warbler, Black-lored Babbler, Grey backed Fiscal, Black-headed Gonolek, Black-crowned Tchagra, Fork-tailed Drongo and Pin-tailed Whydah.

The Mweya Peninsula. This is the site between the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward where most tourists are based in Queen Elizabeth National Park.  This site offers sights for bird species like: Raptors, African Mourning Dove, Diederik Cuckoo, Squire-tailed Nightjar, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Swamp Nightjar, Blue-naped Mousebird, Grey-Headed Kingfisher, Pygmy Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-capped Lark, Martins, Swallows, Swifts, Grey-capped Warbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Red-chested Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Lesser Masked Weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver and Pin-tailed Whydah.

Maramagambo Forest. This is a forest that covers a big part of Queen Elizabeth along the Kicwamba escarpment on the right side of the western rift valley arm. From the Mbarara-Kasese road to the forest itself, one can spot species like: Little Grebe, African Finfoot, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow bill, Black Coucal, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black Bee-eater, Blue-throated Roller, Barbets, Red-throated Wryneck, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Honey guide Greenbul, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Dark-capped Warbler, Green Crombec, Broad-tailed Warbler, African Moustached Warbler, Croaking Cisticola, Black-headed Batis, Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, African Paradise Flycatcher, Brown Illadopsis, Brubru, Marsh Tchagra, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Western Black-headed Oriole, Black Bishop and White-breasted Negrofinch.

Katwe Area. In this area, there are several crater lakes and swamps. Here, Lake Munyanyange is favored by various water birds, especially a concentration of Lesser Flamingos and a few Greater Flamingos.  The species that can be seen here include: Lesser Flamingos, Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Mash Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Avocet, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Red-capped Lark, Broad-tailed Warbler, African Moustached Warbler, Croaking Cisticola and Southern Red Bishop.

Ishasha Sector. This is another big area that offers a lot to birders on Ugandan safari, though predominantly re-known for its tree-climbing lions.  Species that can be seen here include: Shoebill, Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bateleur, Long-created Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Crake, Black-bellied Bustard, African Wattled Plover, Senegal Plover, African Green Pigeon, Ross’s Turaco, Striped Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Double-toothed Barbet, White-headed Barbet, Greater Honeyguide, Grey Woodpecker, White-browed Robin-Chat, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Green Crombec, Cisticolas, Grey-backed Fiscal and Yellow-billed Oxpecker.

Lake Kikorongo. This extension of Lake George is a habitat to several waders. A birder on this tour can encounter species like; Common Squacco Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Shoebill, Sacred Ibis, Knob-billed Duck, Black Crake, African Jacana, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola and Papyrus Gonolek.

Katunguru Bridge Area. At the Katunguru Bridge, while crossing the Kazinga Channel from the Kasese district to the Rubirizi district, take a look under the bridge as there is a papyrus swamp hosting species that include: Pink-backed Pelican, Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Tern, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola and Papyrus Gonolek.

Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park .

The Kazinga channel is approximately 40 meters long connecting the two Lakes; Lake Gorge (which is to the east) and Lake Edward (which is to the west). This channel is one of the striking attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. On the Eastern side of the Kazinga Channel is Lake George a tiny lake with an overall depth of 2.4 meters and 250 sq. km. This lake is fed by Ruwenzori glaciers originating from the mystical mountains of the moon just north of the lake. The outflow from Lake Gorge flows through this Kazinga Channel and drains west into the adjacent Lake Edward (which is among the main fresh-water lakes in Uganda) that covers a total area of  2 000 sq. km. The shores of this channel pull a great number of wild animals, birds in addition to reptiles all through the year, with one of the largest population of hippos in the whole world as well as plentiful Nile crocodiles. These animals can be seen well on a boat cruise down the course of the channel or most likely at the entrance of the spectacular Lake Edward.

Equator.

Queen Elizabeth National park is crossed by this imaginary latitude and it presents a unique site for photography. You can make history by standing at this site where the world is divided into north and south hemispheres. Perform Equator Water Experiment and wonder at seeing the water turn in different directions in the southern and northern Hemispheres.

Kyambura gorge.

Also referred to as valley of apes, Kyambura gorge in on the eastern corner of Queen Elizabeth national park with over 1 Km wide and over 100 meters deep. The gorge is drained by River Kyambura supporting a variety of bio diversity including primates like Chimpanzees, wild animals as well as birds. This astonishing gorge presents a rich Tropical Rain-forest adjacent the Equator crossing.  This place is an establishment of itself, regardless of the savannah setting that lies above it, the tree canopy with in its underground forest forms up a dark like sight leaving the traveler on this Uganda safari in total astonishment.

Tourist activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park .

  • Birding. Being one of the important birding areas in the world, the park has got the hot birding spots which inhabit a variety of bird species suitable for birding and these include; Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsula, Ishasha Sector, Maramagambo Forest,  Kasenyi Area, Katunguru Bridge area,  Lake Kikorongo, and Katwe Area. Various bird species that can be encountered while on this tour include; Martial Eagle, Papyrus canary, African broad bill, Pink-backed pelican, Black- rumped Buttonquail among others. The favourable time to enjoy bird watching safaris within Queen Elizabeth is from December up to February and two to three days stay can reward you with a lasting memorable experience on this Uganda safari. Do not forget to carry your birding equipment including binoculars.
  • Chimp tracking. This presents an opportunity for visitors to encounter chimpanzees among other primate species like monkeys in Kyambura gorge. It’s a challenging but yet, a rewarding experience while on this Ugandan tour. Some Chimpanzees have been take through a two year habituation experience thus ready to be tracked. It is a memorable experience as it involves sloping down the gorge and the hiking up such steep slopes amidst tropical forests before encountering the close to human apes that have inhabited the area for years. Although chimp encounters are not guaranteed, travelers have a chance of hearing and seeing them as they are habituated. Tours last between one and three hours and start at 8am and 2pm daily.
  •            Game drives. This is one of the rewarding activities in Queen Elizabeth National park as it gives the visitors a chance to encounter the variety of wild life including; Buffalos, Elephants, Antelope, Lion and if lucky a leopard along with Warthogs and Baboons.

The tracks through Kasenyi, the North Kazinga Plains and the Ishasha Sector offer virtually guaranteed buffalo, antelope and elephant sightings, along with warthogs and baboons. Together with an experienced guide in the early morning or at sunset is the most successful way to track down a pride of lions, and maybe even the odd leopard.

  • Launch trips. Take a launch trip on the famous Kazinga Channel to encounter its cool waters while viewing variety of wild life on the shoreline drinking water, over 60 species of birds and enormous numbers of Hippos. This 40 kilometer water long natural channel links Lake Edward and Lake George. The activity is done every day with the launch setting off at either 09.00 am local time or at 2:00pm in the afternoon – local time. The activity can stretch from 2 – 5 hours to well explore the water and the wildlife along the shores of the Kazinga Channel. Professional and experienced guides give a themed interpretation of any creature or feature that you come across.
  • Wildlife Research Tours. This is a rewarding adventure to visitors who are interested to know much about African Fauna. The experiential activities include Mongoose tracking, Bird counts, Lion tracking and Hippo census which last between 1 – 3 hours usually early in the morning or Evening and occasionally at night. In this new and unique experience, visitors are allowed to actively participate in monitoring some of the exotic mammals and birds that enter the park by using locator devices, learning habituation calls as well as monitoring surroundings, weather and behavior.
  • Cultural Encounters.  This activity opens the gate for the visitors on their safari tour to encounter the culture of the local community around Queen Elizabeth National park. Cultural encounters include;

Leopard Village. It nears the village of Muhokya sitting on 3 acres bordering the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Visitors can tour replicas of the traditional huts of the Banyabindi, Bakonzo, and Basongora ethnic groups, watch traditional song and dance performances, and buy handicrafts made by local communities.

Kikorongo Women Community. This visit provides wonderful glimpse of life in Kikorongo, with dance, drama, music and fire-making. While a local interpreter gives an explanation about every event. Participate in craft making and recycling demonstrations by these local women. You can also get yourself a craft souvenir to take home.

Katwe Tourism Information Centre (KATIC). Take a look at this salty lake which has supported the lives of local people for centuries and gain a unique insight into the fascinating yet tough process of salt mining. There is also a village walk through a traditional homestead where cooking demonstrations are made in relation to the local cuisine.

Nyanz’ibiri Cave Community. Enjoy the views of volcanic crater lakes amidst the soundtrack of crested cranes and eagles. Paddle a canoe, hike to the Transparent Lake, spot eight species of forest primates, or just stop and smell the local flowers. Local attractions include a historic cave and Cultural Museum – a perfectly preserved Banyaruguru hut, filled with valued local artifacts that were once the tools of everyday life.

Agro-Tour Walk. Kichwamba Escarpment forms up the eastern wall of the Western Rift Valley. This 2-3 hour trail begins in rural Kataara Village with a hike through the farms of the escarpment in the cool morning or early evening. Travelers can also try out honey harvesting.

  • Nature walks. Take a walk in the Mweya peninsular to experience typical savannah with its offerings. At the southern end of the park, travelers can enjoy visitors can enjoy a walk along the Ishasha River amidst variety of forest and savanna bird and mammal species.
  • Caves tour. This activity presents the Bat cave under the canopy of Maramagambo forest where one views the bats and pythons living in the same cave which could be yet another interesting thing on this safari tour.

 Accommodation facilities in Queen Elizabeth National Park:

Ihamba lodge.

Ihamba Safari Lodge is situated by Kahendero Fishing Village on the shores of Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Ihamba Safari Lodge consists of 10 family cottages. Each spacious cottage includes a couch that converts to a double bed to accommodate children, as well as a large private deck for relaxing and wildilfe viewing. Maximum capacity is three adults, or two adults with two children under the age of 12.

Room Facilities:

• Private bathroom and shower

• Desk

• Drinking water

All guests enjoy the use of:

• Swimming pool

• Housekeeping and laundry services

• Access to high speed internet in all public areas

• Library

• On-site bar

• Ample and secure parking

There is also a stand-by generator in case of power shortages.

Jacana lodge.

Jacana Safari Lodge overlooks Lake Nyamusingire on the eastern border of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). Jacana offers ten spacious, luxury chalets and a family cottage with two rooms joined together. Each is secluded by the surrounding forest. All rooms have en-suite washrooms with hot showers and an enclosed veranda with large panoramic windows offering views of the lake.

Lodge Amenities.

  • Restaurant and bar
  • Virunga Lounge with fireplace, sofas and hammocks
  • Sundowner Bar with lake views
  • Swimming pool overlooking the Lake
  • Sauna and massage area
  • Self-contained chalets and a family cottage, all with en-suite bathrooms with hot water
  • On-site wildlife viewing
  • Floating “Captain’s Table” pontoon – for dinner on the lake.

Bush lodge.

Surrounded by the National Park and bordering the Kazinga channel, the lodge has a truly unique setting. Bush lodge currently consists of 6 self-contained units which are spaciously placed. The rooms are made from a fine combination of canvas and local materials. The rooms are self-contained with private en- suite bathroom with an eco-toilet and an outside shower where 2 showerheads allow couples to take their shower together. The lodge also offers lazy camping services at a budget friendly option in the form of non-self-contained tents. This lazy camping consists of a basic camping tent furnished with 2 single beds and a solar lantern. Restaurant and bar from the main lodge are open to our guests on lazy camping. The lodge also has a camp site open to camping travelers.

Hippo Hill Lodge

Established in September 2006, Hippo Hill Camp is the only luxury tented Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Camp is a must see place! It is spectacularly well-built on a hill overlooking Kitako and Kabazimu Islands. It is also surrounded by Lake Edward, the Katwe Salt Lake and Munyanyange crater Lakes that contain lots of flamingoes, Hippos, buffalo and other other animals. The Camp presently offers 10 luxury tents with private toilets and hot showers. These tents are walk-in safari tents with their own en-suite facilities including cold and hot water. All tents are very well furnished to ensure comfort for all.

Lodge Amenities

  • On-site restaurant
  • Tour/Travel desk
  • On-site Bar
  • Library/Reading Area
  • Souvenir/Gift Shop
  • On-site wildlife viewing

Mweya Safari Lodge.

Located on a peninsula within the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mweya safari lodge is surrounded by Ruwenzori Mountains. It has the following types of luxury accommodation;

  • 32 Standard Rooms
  • 12 Deluxe Rooms with Air-conditioning
  • 2 Suites

Cottages are available for those wanting something more special, or for families.

  • The Presidential Cottage
  • The Queens Cottage
  • 2 Family Cottages
  • 2 Luxury Tents, 2 Standard Tents

Facilities

  • Swimming Pool
  • Restaurant & Cuisine
  • The Business Centre
  • The Gift Shop
  • Conference Facilities
  • Mweya Information Centre
  • The Tembo Bar

Ishasha Wilderness Camp

It is located within the southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It has;

  • Ten luxury en-suite safari canvas tented rooms
  • Bush showers and flushing eco-friendly toilets
  • Central lounge and dining area under thatch
  • Central charging facilities for 240V, 3 Pin UK style plugs
  • Internet access available
  • Game drives, bush breakfasts, sundowners, walks, bird-watching and community projects.

Mweya Hostel

Mweya hostel is adjacent to the luxurious Mweya Safari Lodge. The Mweya institute of Ecology known as Mweya Hostel is a budget facility in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It offers overnight stay with single and double rooms, shared bathrooms and toilet facilities. Some rooms are self-contained while others can accommodate about 4-6 people. Kitchen, Living room are available.  The hostel has a restaurant where meals are served and a canteen where few purchases can be made.

Simba Safari Camp.

Simba Safari Camp is a budget safari accommodation situated on the border of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you will find a variety of comfortable and affordable guest rooms, dormitory rooms and a well-established camp site. Located on a hill, the camp offers spectacular views of Lake George, Lake Kikorongo and the savannah plains stretching till the far horizon. It is the closest accommodation for game drives in the Kasenyi plains, while elephants and buffaloes can often be viewed from the camp.

En- suite rooms. It has nine double/twin rooms and two triple rooms. The rooms are spacious and well furnished with two single beds or a double bed and mosquito nets. En- suite is a bathroom with running water and flushing toilet.

Family Cottage. This is suitable for family stay. It consists of two bedrooms, a fully equipped bathroom and a living room with an extra bed. Also a spacious veranda is available to sit comfortably with your family. The individual cottages take a maximum of 5 people.

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Lounge area
  • Free WIFI is available in the public areas.

Kingfisher Lodge.

It is located outside the park on strategic Kichwamba escarpment. It has about 250 meters over the plains that give a magnificent view of the park, Mountain Rwenzori along with the Kazinga channel. The accommodation rages from 2 family units, 3 double rooms, 2 triple rooms and 1 en suit. The lodge has the capacity to accommodate 36 visitors.

Facilities

  • Restaurant with both international and local cuisines
  • Facilities such as conference hall that accommodates about 30 people
  • Beautiful gardens
  • En suite facilities with campsites
  • Fully stocked bar
  • Swimming pool

Kyambura Game Lodge.

Kyambura Lodge is situated at the eastern edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park, in the western part of the great East African Rift valley, with fantastic views over the national park and the Rwenzori Mountains and at a short distance from the Kyambura Gorge. The lodge has been built using environmentally friendly local materials fitted by a local community workmanship. Accommodation is provided in seven spacious and tastefully designed self-contained grass-thatched cottages, with bath tabs/showers with views to the park, running hot and cold water, equipped with 220v electricity and a private wooden balcony overlooking the park. We have a swimming pool, adjacent to the campfire where a local traditional dance is often performed (Banyaruguru troupe).

Volcanoes Kyambura gorge lodge.

This safari lodge in Uganda has been converted from an old coffee processing plant, is an ideal location for chimpanzee trekking, and boasts incredible views overlooking the Queen Elizabeth National Park, with the mythical Mountains of the Moon in the far distance. It has;

  • 8 unique timber or brick guest bandas with iron sheet or thatch roofs (3 doubles and 5 twins) reflect the local building style.
  • En-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity, shower with hot and cold running water.
  • Rooms have mosquito nets, 240v lighting and a private balcony.
  • Bandas are individually named after the Kyambura Gorge chimpanzees.
  • 1 tour leader room available.
  • Wi-Fi available in the main lodge building.

Katara lodge.

It is situated on the Great Rift Valley escarpment with uninterrupted views of the savannah, Lake Edward and the Virunga and Rwenzori mountain ranges beyond, Katara Lodge is a 20 minute drive away from the main entrance of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The lodge offers accommodation in seven luxurious thatched cottages with each spacious cottage made of locally available materials and carved into the hillside by the Katara village community. The cottages combine wooden floors, grass thatched roofs and canvas that can be folded away for uninterrupted views of the park stretching out below. Our water is heated using solar thermal energy and swimming pool is available.

Enganzi lodge.

The Enganzi Game Lodge is located on a hill bordering the Queen Elizabeth National Park. With 5 splendidly set cottages which offer a picture perfect view of the Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Enjoy sundowners or a 3 course dinner in the dining room or upper deck enjoying the beauty that Africa has to offer. Enganzi lodge has both single and double rooms with a good restaurant and bar.

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