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Are You Planning A Uganda Safari To Queen Elizabeth? Scroll Down..


Queen Elizabeth Park Introduction - Location, Wildlife & History

Queen Elizabeth National Park may well be the quintessential wilderness reserve in Uganda since it has the distinction of boasting an incredible diversity of natural treasures across its 1978 square kilometers (764 square miles). On your safari vacation, you will be able to view a variety of lush habitats, including dense forests and bushlands, rich grassy savannah plains, rolling green hills, and loamy swamps bordered by low growth. On a clear day at distance, you will be able to see the famous world-renowned Mountains of the Moon — also known as the Rwenzori Mountains. These pristine landscapes of Queen Elizabeth support a fabulous variety of mammals —some 95 species — including large herds of elephant, buffalo, and antelope roaming the wilderness. Numerous pods of hippos inhabit the famed Kazinga Channel around the Mweya Peninsula, which connects Lakes George and Edward. Take a boat cruise on the channel and you may also spot crocodiles, which have reappeared after having been wiped out in the region by a volcanic eruption about 8,000 years ago.

Among the predators you may spot on your game drive safari trips in Queen Elizabeth Park are the lion, leopard, hyena, and smaller cats like serval, genet, or civet. The park is also proud to host more than 600 varieties of birds, some of which are endemic to the region and rare in other parts of the world. Originally gazetted as a national park in 1952, the park opened under the name, Kazinga National Park. It received its current name after a visit by the Queen of England in 1954. This region forms part of the Great Rift Valley of Africa, and saw violent volcanic activity in its past. Reminders of the eruptions remain, and visitors will see various craters that now fill with water during certain seasons. The Katwe explosion craters mark the highest point of Queen Elizabeth National Park, sitting at 1350 meters above sea level the lowest point is at 910 meters at Lake Edward.

The park’s southern Ishasha sector is a much-visited travel destination with its close proximity to Bwindi, thanks to a wondrous sight: magnificent lions that have learned to climb fig trees. They can often be seen sprawled on the branches, napping in the midday sun. On the northeast, the Kasenyi Plains offers the classic African savannah plains with its varied predator-prey interactions. Yet another favorite tourist attraction for primate lovers is the Kyambura Gorge, which is famous not only for its rich variety of flora, but also for the family of chimpanzees that live here. The forest gorge also supports other primates, bringing the total up to 10 species. Queen Elizabeth Park (best time to visit) straddles the equator, and bush holidaying visitors in Uganda enjoy standing for photos on this imaginary line encircling the earth.

Key Takeaways

  • Reserve covering an area of 1978 square kilometers with an unbelievably gorgeous diversity of landscapes
  • Abounds with 95 mammals and over 600 species of birds
  • Watered by the Kazinga Channel that connects Lake George and Lake Edward
  • Ishasha region is famous for fig tree-climbing lions. Kyambura Gorge known for its 10 species of primates including chimpanzees
  • Forms a part of the Albertine’s Great Rift Valley of Africa

Watch Video On Queen Elizabeth Safari Experiences

Page Content - Start Here

1. What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Queen Elizabeth National Park?
What Are The Areas Of Interest In Queen Elizabeth National Park
2. Lion-viewing In The Ishasha Sector
3. Kasenyi Savannah Plains
4. Scenic Views Of Lake Edward From Mweya Peninsula
5. Boat Cruising On The Kazinga Channel
6. Chimpanzee Trekking In The Kyambura Gorge
7. The Shoebill Swamp At Lake George
8. Volcanic Explosion Craters Around Queen Elizabeth Park
9. Katwe Salt Lake
10. Primates & Bird Watching In Maramagambo Forest
Queen Elizabeth Park - An Overview

1. What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Queen Elizabeth National Park?

Key Takeaways

  • Massive herds of herbivores such as 2,500 elephants, over 10,000 Cape buffaloes, 5,000 hippos, and various others including the elusive sitatunga antelope
  • 10 species of primates including habituated chimpanzees thriving in the Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu and Maramagambo Forests
  • 600 varieties of birds mainly found around the Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsula, Lake George, Lake Edward, and crater lakes
  • Safari game drives and birdwatching excursions to spot the fantastic array of wildlife
  • A wide diversity of predators and big and small cats with a special focus on the tree-climbing lions

Big Cats & Other Predators Of Queen Elizabeth Park

You’re likely to spot some of the big and small cats that inhabit Queen Elizabeth Park on game-drive safari tours. Your guide will help you find lions, shy leopards, civets, genets, and serval cats. Hyenas and side-striped jackals are also present here. You’ll certainly notice that the male lions in this park sport a distinctive black mane, while the lionesses display incredible tree-climbing skills that allow them to sprawl out on the limbs of fig trees, napping or waiting for Ugandan kob to wander by.

Grazers & Herbivores Of Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park boasts massive herds of grazers and ungulates, including 2,500 elephants and more than 10,000 buffalo. The lakes and Kazinga Channel host more than 5,000 hippos, while the grasslands and forests abound with Ugandan kob, warthogs, waterbuck, bushbuck, topi, and the rare sitatunga antelope, among others.

Primate Species Of Queen Elizabeth Park

Safari adventurers who love primates will be thrilled to find up to 10 species on their travels through various sectors of the Queen Elizabeth Park, including a family of habituated chimpanzees found in the Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest. If you hike along the woodland pathways of the Maramagambo Forest, you may encounter black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue monkeys, and various others. Chimpanzees are also present in Maramagambo. If you are lucky enough, you may also spot bush babies and pottos on your early evening forest walks.

Beautiful Birds Of Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park hosts more than 600 species of birds, including aquatic types that inhabit the Kazinga Channel, Mweya Peninsula, Lake George, Lake Edward, crater lakes, and other forested and wetland areas. Should you explore the channel and lakes by boat, you might be able to spot species like the pink and white-backed pelican, yellow-backed weaver, pied kingfisher, grey-headed kingfisher, African fish eagle, African jacana, white-faced whistling, squacco heron, spur-winged plover, the elusive shoebill stork, open-billed stork, knob-billed duck, greater and lesser flamingo, black crake, long-tailed cormorant, papyrus canary, wattled plover, papyrus gonolek, and water thick-knee.

Opt for a nature walking excursion in the forests of Queen Elizabeth Park and you will be treated to sightings of the martial eagle, African broadbill, Verreaux’s eagle owl, white-tailed lark, African skimmer, black bee-eater, bar-tailed godwit, Chapin’s flycatcher, white-winged warbler, corncrake, black-rumped buttonquail, and various others. The wetlands of the reserve have their own variety of attractions for ornithologists. Spend long birdwatching vacation hours photographing Ugandan specimens like the swamp flycatcher, thin-tailed nightjars, Collard Pranticles, white-winged terns, and malachite.

When hiking through the Kyambura Gorge on a chimpanzee tracking safari trip, keep a sharp lookout for birds like the grey woodpecker, hairy-breasted barbet, purple-headed starling, black & African emerald cuckoo, speckled tinkerbird, green Hylia, white-spotted flufftail, and broad-tailed warbler.
What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Queen Elizabeth National Park

What Are The Areas Of Interest In Queen Elizabeth National Park?

2. Lion-viewing In The Ishasha Sector

Key Takeaways

  • Located in the remote southern regions of the reserve
  • Excursion best combined with a gorilla trekking tour to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Famous for sightings of lionesses napping on the branches of fig trees and various grazing species
The Ishasha sector is in the remote southern regions of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Travelers may plan their tour of this marvelous area of the reserve by combining it with a gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The highlight of this sector, without a doubt, is the tree-climbing lions that are often spotted sprawled and napping on the branches of the fig trees. Other wildlife the area is famous for include the Ugandan kob, topi, buffalo, and elephant, along with the rare shoebill stork, which can be spotted in the golden savannah grasses, shaded by spreading acacia trees.
Lion-viewing In The Ishasha Sector

3. Kasenyi Savannah Plains

Key Takeaways

  • Ideal location for photographing massive herds of gazers in the green and golden savannah
  • Ideal birding destination which is home to various grassland species
  • Sightings and interactions of stealthy predators looking for prey meals
The spectacular grasslands of Kasenyi are the perfect location in Uganda for photographing massive herds of ungulates and grazers. Tuck away vacation memories of the golden and green plains filled with Ugandan kob, majestic elephants, and warthogs wandering the plains, while savannah birds like guinea fowl, red-throated spurfowl, grey-crowned cranes, and yellow-throated long crows adorn the landscape with their fabulous colors. You may even spot lions lurking in the tall grass, looking for an easy meal. Some lions also climb trees at Kasenyi.
Kasenyi Savannah Plains

4. Scenic Views Of Lake Edward From Mweya Peninsula

Key Takeaways

  • Picturesque views of the Kazinga Channel just before it enters Lake Edward at the Mweya Peninsula
  • The starting point for boating safaris is on the edge of Lake Edward and game drives in the park
  • Elevated location of Mweya Peninsula providing ample opportunities for photography
  • Fabulous scenic landscapes including Kasenyi grasslands, winding channel, and the distant Rwenzori Mountains
  • Sightings of animals in the undergrowth and in the waters of the channel
The Mweya Peninsula creates a panoramic vista where it exits Kazinga Channel onto Lake Edward. This location holds the park’s Visitors Center, and it’s the boarding point for boat trips on the Kazinga Channel or safari vehicles for Mweya Peninsula game drives in the early morning or late afternoon. Cruise along the waterway over a two-hour excursion and you will have the opportunity to view a stunning array of Queen Elizabeth National Park wildlife, aquatic, terrestrial and avian. Mweya has a somewhat elevated location and allows you to photograph the savannah grasslands of Kasenyi, sparkling waters of the channel, and the distant but picturesque Rwenzori Mountains on a clear day. You may also sight leopards in the undergrowth, crocodiles on the sandbanks, elephants and other herbivores drinking on its banks, and hippos snorting in the shallows.
Scenic Views Of Lake Edward From Mweya Peninsula

5. Boat Cruising On The Kazinga Channel

Key Takeaways

  • Natural waterway connecting Lake George on the east with Lake Edward on the west
  • Shallow Lake George spread over an area of 250 square kilometers
  • Lake George receiving waters from the Rwenzori Mountains and draining into the Kazinga Channel
  • Lake Edward known as one of the largest freshwater lakes in Africa covering an area of 2,000 square kilometers
  • Boat trips on the lake to view a stunning diversity of terrestrial and avian wildlife coming to the water’s edge to drink
The Kazinga Channel covers a distance of 32 kilometers (20 miles) and is one of the most striking attractions of the world-famous Queen Elizabeth National Park. A natural waterway, it connects Lake George on the east with Lake Edward on the west. As you will experience on your safari holiday, Lake George is a shallow lake with an average depth of 2.4 meters, and is spread over an area of 250 square kilometers. It receives water from the Rwenzori Mountains and drains into the Kazinga Channel, which carries the flows to Lake Edward. One of the major freshwater lakes in Africa, this lake covers an area of 2,000 square kilometers and is shared by Uganda and neighboring Congo.

If you take a boat trip on the channel, you will get a sense of the stunning diversity of the birdlife and land animals of Queen Elizabeth Park. Look out for lofty wildlife like the elephant, hippo, buffalo, and perhaps even a leopard lurking among the papyrus reeds. You may also see monitor lizards, crocodiles, and frogs basking on the sandy banks or near papyrus reeds, as well as aquatic birds of Africa like fish eagles, weaver birds, marabou storks, and various others.
Cruising On The Kazinga Channel

6. Chimpanzee Trekking In The Kyambura Gorge

Key Takeaways

  • Kyambura Gorge, also called Chambura carved out by the Kyambura River
  • Lying at a depth of 100 meters below the Kichwamba inclines extending to 1 kilometer at its widest point
  • Tracking down chimpanzees under the supervision of guides assigned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Option of combining it with Kalinzu Forest chimpanzee trekking excursion
  • Opportunity to spend time with a family of 15 to 20 habituated chimpanzees that live here giving it the name, “Valley of the Apes”. Kalinzu Forest has a community of 40 chimpanzees
  • Sightings of various other species of primates and varieties of bird
The Kyambura Gorge, in the eastern section of Queen Elizabeth National Park, has been carved out of the landscape by the Kyambura River. Also called Chambura, the gorge lies at a depth of 100 meters below the Kichwamba inclines and is one kilometer wide at its widest point. The waters of the river have helped create a unique biome in which thrives a rich diversity of rainforest flora, which in turn supports birds, animals, and primates.

Your trip can include trekking in the company of trained Uganda Wildlife Authority guides, who will help you spot the family of 15 to 20 habituated chimpanzees that live here. Their presence has earned the valley the nickname “Valley of Apes,” but it’s also known for the presence of other primates of Africa such as the black and white colobus monkey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, and red-tailed monkey. After a picnic at the entrance of the gorge, you will enter a lush, green world of tropical forests with a thick canopy that all but shuts out the sunlight. Having previously encountered the grassy plains of Queen Elizabeth Park, your travels in the Kyambura Gorge will be a fascinating introduction to a totally different aspect of the reserve. We also recommend tracking down the chimpanzee community at Kalinzu Forest (30 minutes away), where 40 habituated individuals exist.
Chimpanzee Trekking In The Kyambura Gorge

7. The Shoebill Swamp At Lake George

Key Takeaways

  • Located near the park covering an area of 250 square kilometers. Shoebills are typically found north of the lake
  • Shallow in nature with an average depth of 2.4 meters and standing on the western section of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley
  • Fed by the streams from the Rwenzori Mountains that passes through farmlands on the northeast and drains into the Kazinga Channel which carries the waters to Lake Edward
  • Abounds with various species of fish with a Ramsar birding site bordering the lake on the north
  • Tourist spots on the main islands in the lake, Iranqara, Kankurang, and Akika
Although relatively small, covering an area of about 250 square kilometers, Lake George is immensely beautiful and an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area - IBA. Located near Queen Elizabeth National Park, the lake is shallow, with an average depth of just 2.4 meters. Located in the western section of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley - the Albertine, it is fed by streams including the Mubuku, Rumi, and Nsonge, which emerge from the Rwenzori Mountains, and the Mpanga and Dura, which flow through the farmlands to the northeast. The 32-kilometer Kazinga Channel drains the lake and carries the water onwards to Lake Edward.

The lush papyrus wetlands that form part of the Ramsar swamps border the lake on the north and are home to the rare sitatunga antelope and shoebill stork, found at the dense Shoebill Swamp, which you might be able to spot on your Queen Elizabeth Park trip. An interesting addition to your safari vacation is visiting the major islands in the lake, including Iranqara, Kankurang, and Akika. Lake George attracts various species of mammals that come to its shores to drink. The lake is also home to numerous types of fish, including haplochromis nigripinnis, tilapia nilotica, thermocyclops hyalinus, and cyclopoid copepod.
The Shoebill Swamp At Lake George

8. Volcanic Explosion Craters Around Queen Elizabeth Park

Key Takeaways

  • 72 circular craters which are remnants of ancient volcanic activity in the Albertine Rift Valley of Africa
  • Volcanoes have been extinct for centuries, but some still emit sulfurous gases while others form seasonal lakes during the wet seasons
  • Game drives following a 27-kilometer trail running from Kabatoro Gate and the Queen’s Pavilion
  • Traveling to reach the Katwe Explosion Craters and Bunyaruguru Crater Field
  • Excursion ending at the Ndali-Kasenda Crater Field near Kibale National Park
As Queen Elizabeth National Park forms part of the Albertine Rift Valley of Africa, it bears remnants of ancient volcanic activity in the form of 72 circular craters. Research into the area’s geological history reveals that volcanic eruptions were once so powerful that they spewed ash, rock, and other debris over an area much wider than the currently visible crater rims. Although these vents have been considered extinct for a long while now, they still emit sulfurous odors. Take a trip back in time by visiting these scenic vistas. Some of the craters collect water as seasonal lakes during some months of the year!

On your game drives, you can follow a 27-kilometer trail that spans the area between the Kabatoro Gate and the Queen’s Pavilion, in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains. Revel in the striking panoramas you’ll see here, encompassing craters, lakes, the slopes of the Rift Valley, and the Kazinga Channel. Travel to the Katwe Explosion Craters inside Queen Elizabeth National Park before going on to explore the Bunyaruguru Crater Field, which sits on the Kichwamba slopes. If you are going to Kibale National Park, do stop over at the Ndali-Kasenda Crater Field.
Volcanic Explosion Craters Around Queen Elizabeth Park

9. Katwe Salt Lake

Key Takeaways

  • Thriving salt mining industry dating back to the 16th century
  • A significant vantage point for the Katwe-Kabatoro community
  • Sightings of migratory flamingos in the months from August to November at Lake Munyanyange
Katwe Lake in Queen Elizabeth Park forms the site of a thriving salt mining industry that harks back to the 16th century. The region also serves as an important vantage point for the Katwe-Kabatoro community. Nearby is the bird sanctuary of Lake Munyanyange, where flamingos can be sighted from August to November.

10. Primates & Bird Watching In Maramagambo Forest

Key Takeaways

  • Known as a famous birdwatcher’s haven showcasing an amazing diversity, also has primates including chimpanzees
  • Cormorant House, a massive tree that is coated by the guano of a huge flock of birds that roost on it
  • The unique Bat Cave with a viewing deck for tourists
If you enjoy watching primates and birds of Africa, you must go on a tour of Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Concealing crater lakes such as Nyamisingiri and Kyasanduka, this diverse woodland is home to various species of primates like chimpanzees, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons and also birds like the Rwenzori Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, forest fly catchers, dark-capped yellow warbler, red-tailed bristle bill, sulphur-breasted bush shrike, white-napped and green pigeons, fawn-breasted wax-bill, bat hawk, dark-capped yellow warbler etc. The “Bat Cave” viewing gallery and the “Cormorant House” are must-visit attraction spots here. Complete your safari trip with a chimpanzee safari and birdwatching excursion, and ending with a cultural history of the Nyanziibiri community and the nearby Banyaraguru hut.

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Queen Elizabeth has varied accommodations, from the luxuries of Kyambura Gorge Lodge to the deluxe option of Ishasha Wilderness Camp. The value lodge options are Katara, Elephant Plains Lodge and Mweya.

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Experience safari game drives in the vast savannah of the Kasenyi plains and Ishasha sector to trekking wild chimpanzee on foot in Kyambura Gorge. Birders can go on a boat excursions on Kazinga Channel.

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Like most locations in Africa, Queen Elizabeth National Park has two wet rainy seasons and two dry seasons. June, July and August is the best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda.


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When visiting Queen Elizabeth for your wildlife safari, we recommend combining it with Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, Murchison Falls, and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.

You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.

You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.

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Below are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.

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