Queen Elizabeth National park – Things to do and see – Accommodation
Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda was officially established in 1952 Kazinga National park and it offers a visitor the opportunity of a classic East African Safari on savannah plains. The park covers an area of 774 sq miles between Lake Edward and Lake George, connected by the Kazinga channel.
Queen Elizabeth National park is one of the most popular national parks in Uganda and is home to over 95 mammals and 600 bird species, with a dramatic background of the Majestic Rwenzori Mountains. Visitors can enjoy many safari activities from sunrise, afternoon and night safari game drives on the great savannah plains in the northern and Ishasha sectors, boat safaris on the Kazinga channel that attracts lots of big and small game like elephants, buffalos, crocodiles, hippos, monitor lizards, and lots of birds more than you can possibly imagine. The birds include the pied and malachite king fishers, African fish eagle, spoon billed stork, yellow billed stork, pink backed pelicans, marabou stocks and saddle billed storks. One can also go for chimpanzee tracking in the Kyabura gorge or just a guided walk to the bat cave in Maramagambo Forest.
Sunrise, Afternoon and night safari game drives:
A Uganda safari is not complete without a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National park. With countless types of mammals that include elephants, different types of reptiles that include snakes, crocodiles and monitor lizards and about 600 bird species, Queen Elizabeth National is perfect for visitors who want to explore African wildlife. All game drives are guided in 4 x 4 WD customized safari vehicles with a professional safari guide. The park is home to large numbers of buffalos, lions, leopards, hippos, elephants, giant forest hogs, warthogs, hyenas, bush bucks and different types of antelopes that include the Uganda Kob which is an endemic antelope and is on the coat of arms together with the crested crane.
Boat Safaris on Kazinga channel:
Boat safaris a long the Kazinga Channel are a great way to view animals that come to the water banks to drink water. The Kazinga Channel is 32 km and connects Lakes George and Edward and attracts countless animals that include the elephants, buffalos, schools of hippos and rich number of birds. You will all those animals and numerous Nile crocodiles basking in the sun. Bird watchers are normally overwhelmed by over 60 bird species spotted during this boat safari. The birds include the spoon billed stork, long tailed cormorants, African fish eagle, pelicans, marabou storks, pied and malachite king fishers, sacred ibis among others
Tree climbing Lions in Ishasha Sector:
Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National park is famous for tree climbing lions. There are only two places in the world where lions climb trees i.e. in Ishasha Uganda and in Lake Manyara National park in Tanzania. The reasons why these lions climb trees is unknown. It has been said that may be they climb to run away from Tsetse flies, of to escape the scorching sun. The lions lie lazily on the branches of fig trees in the sector. A game drive or a night in the Ishasha area will give a visitor an opportunity to spot these lions. Apart from tree climbing lions, other animals like topis, buffalos and elephants can be seen on game drives in Ishasha plains. These however tend to be more aggressive since most probably they have crossed from Virunga National park in Congo where poaching is a great threat. Remember to bring your binoculars.
If you want to get up close and personal and at the same time contribute to the research data base, then lion tracking is perfect. This experience will allow visitors to monitor lions using locator devices. You will learn habituation calls, behaviours and habits of lions. Lion tracking gives you a 95% chance to see the lions in their natural habitant. The number of people for this activity is very limited so that the lions are not stressed but also makes the experience more quality and exclusive.
Other experience activities in Queen Elizabeth National park include hippo census, bird counting and mongoose tracking. You will either go for lion tracking in the morning or in the evening and sometimes at night and these must be booked through Uganda Wildlife Authority
Hot air balloon safari
Another unique way to experience Queen Elizabeth National park wilderness is to fly over its savannah plains on a hot air balloon safari. From above, you will watch over elephants, buffalos, antelopes and the African savannah
This hot air balloon safari should be added on your things to do while in Queen Elizabeth National park. It is very exciting. You will wake up early for this opportunity, fly high for approximately one hour. You will rise as the sun rises and float in the direction the window takes you. After the safari when you come done, you will have a hearty bush breakfast. Hot air balloon safaris in Uganda are only in two national parks, Queen Elizabeth National park and Murchison falls National Park
Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge:
You can visit Kyambura Gorge which is popular for chimpanzee tracking. Kyambura gorge is a tropical rain forest and it is located in the far eastern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park and it is 16km to the Kazinga channel. The gorge is drained by the Kyambura River and has some of the most stunning landscapes in Uganda. Many animals come to the gorge for water and even though it is surrounded by the savannah, it has a big number of primates. It is home to chimpanzees, red tailed, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, other animals and birds. The other alternative for chimpanzee tracking is in Kalizu forest.
Besides the traditional safari game drives, one can go for a nature walk in Maramagambo forest. For a little bit of adventure, you can visit the bat cave that has snaking always waiting to swallow bats in the cave
General safari Requirements to Queen Elizabeth National park
- Light safari clothing’s i.e. shorts/sleeveless for the day
- Warm clothing/sweater for the evening
- Anti Malarial/Yellow fever vaccination
Getting around to Queen Elizabeth National park
By Road transport:
It takes about 7 hours from Kampala via Mbarara to Queen Elizabeth National park. Those hours exclude breaks and lunch stops
By Air transport:
The park can be access by air transport from Entebbe airport with Aerolink.
Accommodation in Queen Elizabeth National park
Luxury Accommodation inside the park
- Mweya Safari Lodge- Views of the Kazinga channel
Luxury accommodation outside the park
- Kyambura Gorge Lodge- Views of the Kyambura gorge
Semi- luxury outside the park
- Katara Lodge- Views of the rift valley
- Mazike Safari Lodge
- Kasenyi safari camp
Mid range accommodation
- Marafiki Safari Lodge- Views of Lake George
- Twin Lakes Safari Lodge- Views of the rift valley and national park
- Ihamba Safari Lodge- Views of Lake George
- Bush Lodge- Views of Kazinga channel
- Irungu Forest Safari Lodge
Accommodation in the Ishasha sector- South of Queen Elizabeth National park
Luxury accommodation in Ishasha
- Ishasha Wilderness camp- Views of Ishasha River
Mid range accommodation in Ishasha
- Enjojo lodge cottages
- Ishasha Jungle Lodge
Budget accommodation in Ishasha
- At the River
Suggested safari itineraries that include Queen Elizabeth National park