Queen Elizabeth National Park

The 1978km2 Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s oldest protected areas. Originally gazetted as the  Lake  George  and  Lake  Edward  game  reserves  in  1925,  it  was  upgraded  to  create  one  of  Uganda’s  first  national parks in 1952. Queen Elizabeth lies directly on the equator. A pair of concrete hoops marks the spot where the 0O line crosses the Kasese road.

Tree Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth

The  park  is  home  to  over  95  mammal  species  and  over  600 bird species. The park’s highest point, 1,350m above sea level, is found in the Katwe Explosion Craters while the lowest point is 910m on the shore of Lake Edward. Scenic and bio diverse, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is Uganda’s most popular protected area. Diverse ecosystems,     including     sprawling     savanna,     shady     forests, sparkling lakes and lush wetlands, provide ideal habitats for classic big game, forest primates, and birds. An  abundance  of  magnificent  vistas  include  the  jagged  backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains; rolling hills pocked with extinct volcanic craters; open, rift valley grasslands at Kasenyi and Ishasha; the hippo-lined Kazinga Channel; and  the  Mitumbe  mountains  in  Congo  rising  above  the  distant, western shore of Lake Edward Queen  Elizabeth  National  Park  and  its  surroundings  are  also  of  cultural  and  historical  interest.
 There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy story telling, dance, music and more. The park was  initially  named  Kazinga  National  Park  in  1952,  but  was renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.

WILDLIFE

QENP’s various habitats support a wealth of wildlife with more  mammal  species  (95)  than  any  other  Ugandan  park and over 600 bird species – a phenomenal number for  such  a  small  area.  Expect  to  see  safari  favourites  such as elephants, buffaloes and hippos. The chances of finding  lions  on  the  plains  of  Kasenyi  and  Ishasha  are  good,   especially   with   a   ranger   guide,   while   leopard   sightings  are  frequent,  though  unpredictable,  around  Mweya and the nearby Channel Track.Classified   as   an   Important   Birding   Area   by   Birding   International,  QENP  is  a  superbly  varied  destination  for  birdwatchers with species representing the park’s varied habitats.    Its  location  at  the  overlap  of  East  African  savanna and Congo forest also means that species from both biomes are present.

LOCAL PEOPLE

Bunyaruguru people live on the Kichwamba Escarpment to  the  southeast  of  QENP.  The  area  to  the  north  of  the  park   is   the   home   of   Basongora   pastoralists   while   Bakonzo  farmers  cultivate  the  slopes  of  the  Rwenzori  mountain beyond.

ACCESS

By Road

Two  routes  run  from  Kampala  to  Mweya,  the  primary  tourism  hub  in  QENP.  The  most  scenic  route  passes  through Fort Portal (410km) and offers detours to Kibale, Semuliki  and  Rwenzori  Mountains  national  parks.  The  alternative (420km) runs through Mbarara and Bushenyi and passes Lake Mburo National Park.QENP’s  southerly  Ishasha  sector  is  directly  on  the  main  route to/from from Buhoma, the main mountain gorilla tracking trailhead in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which lies 62km south.

By Air

We can arrange for you a Charter flight to airstrips  at  Kasese,  Mweya and Ishasha.

ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS

Mweya peninsula and the kazinga channel QENP’s main tourism hub is found on Mweya Peninsula, 22km west of the Kasese-Mbarara Road. Mweya, which occupies an elevated plateau overlooking the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward, is the site of an upmarket lodge; budget UWA run accommodation; a marina for launch trips on the channel; and a Visitor Information Centre.

Launch Cruises

Launch trips on the Kazinga Channel provide the most relaxing way to view game in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The 2-hour return voyage between Mweya and the channel’s entrance into Lake Edward cruises beside banks lined with resident hippos, crocodiles and waterbirds and visiting elephant, buffalo and antelopes.

GAME DRIVES

Kasenyi plains Half an hour’s drive from Mweya, the open grasslands of Kasenyi provide the primary game viewing area in central QENP, thanks to the resident herds of Uganda kob and the lions that prey on them. Kasenyi’s experienced ranger guides can usually locate lions but predator sightings can be guaranteed by signing up for a tour with the Mweya-based Uganda Predator Project which monitors the movement of lions, leopards and hyaenas fitted with radio collars.

Ishasha

Conveniently located on the road to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, QENP’s southernmost sector offers a classic game viewing experience under vast rift valley skies. Expect to see buffaloes, hippos, elephants topis and more besides. The chance of sighting lions is particularly good in Ishasha; the local prides obligingly spend their days resting up in the branches of shady fig trees.

FOREST WALKS

Kyambura Gorge

The forest-filled Kyambura Gorge extends from the Kichwamba Escarpment to the Kazinga Channel. Enjoy the giddy viewpoint on the edge of the 100m-deep chasm before descending into the depths to track chimpanzees.

Maramagambo Forest

At the foot of the Kichwamba Escarpment, the shady Maramagambo Forest contrasts with the park’s open grasslands. Guided walks afford sightings of primates and rare birds (including the forest flycatcher, whitenaped pigeon and the striking Rwenzori turaco) and visit Lake Nyamusingire (home to the African finfoot, this is formed by three connected crater lakes), the copperrich Blue Lake and the Bat Cave with its resident batgorged python.

BIRDING

Birding activities overlap with the wildlife viewing locations described above. Highlights include easy sightings of resident and migratory waterbirds on the Kazinga Channel; spectacular seasonal congregations of flamingoes on the Kyambura and Katwe soda lakes; careful searches for rare and restricted range forest species in Maramagambo Forest; and memorable shoebill sightings on the remote Lake Edward Flats in Ishasha.

VOLCANIC EXPLOSION CRATERS

Crater Drive

Dozens of volcanic craters pock the landscape north of Mweya to remind us of the Albertine Rift’s violent tectonic history. The 27km Crater Drive between the Kabatoro and Crater gates follows a breathtaking route around the rims of extinct craters filled, variously, with lakes, forest and grassland.

The Queen’s Pavilion, at the Crater Gate on the eastern edge of the crater area, has been visited three times by British royalty. A small information centre and coffee shop stands on the site. The equator markers straddling the adjacent Kasese highway provide a popular photo opportunity.

Katwe Salt Lake

The people of Katwe town, 12km from Mweya, have been extracting salt from the saline Lake Katwe using evaporation pans since the 14th century. Local guides will escort visitors down into the crater to see the process. The adjacent Lake Munyanyange is rich in waterbirds, including migrating lesser flamingo between August and November.

Kyambura Wildlife Reserve

This small reserve to the east of Kyambura Gorge is dotted with crater lakes that are visited, seasonally, by greater and lesser flamingoes.