Queen Elizabeth is Uganda’s second largest national park and protected area covering over 1,978 km2, with the great Rwenzori Mountains towering in its background. The park is adjoined by lakes Edward and George, blend with spectacular craters, rolling savannas and humid forests supporting enormous population of wildlife. It is a popular tourist destination situated close to Semliki, Kibale Forest and Rwenzori National Parks found just about 6-7 hour drive from Kampala city.
The park was renamed Queen Elizabeth National Park in 1954 to commemorate the visit by Queen Elizabeth II, from the initial Kazinga National Park; a name it acquired in 1952 when it was founded.
It is located in the western part of the country, forming part of the remarkable western tourism circuit. The park enjoys a wonderful Rift Valley location, positioned at the base of the “Mountains of the Moon” the Rwenzori between lakes Edward and George. Queen Elizabeth national park is undeniably a miscellany of beauty, its magnificent panoramas include oodles of enormous craters carved dramatically into undulating green hills, panoramic sights of the Mweya Peninsular and Kazinga Channel a 32km waterway crammed with wildlife.
Queen Elizabeth conservation area covers Kigezi wildlife reserve in the south, Kyambura in the Northeast, as well as Maramagambo and Kalinzu Forests which offer birding and primate tracking opportunities to visitors in the park. The Ishasha region in the south is known for its tree climbing Lions rarely seen, but spotted lying in tree branches. The national park is also another spot for the line Latitude 00; the Equator.
Fauna in the park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is known for its checklist of more than 600 bird species, making it classified as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by Birding International and this figure is the highest of any East African National Park. Queen Elizabeth is at the confluence of the Central African forests and the East African savannas making it ideal to spot both the East and Central African species.
Its impressive bird list includes species like the; Greater and Lesser Flamingos in Kyambura, Martial Eagles, Kingfishers, Papyrus Canary, African Skimmer, Papyrus Gonolek, Corncrake, Pink-backed Pelicans, White-winged Warbler, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Paradise Flycatcher, Shoebill Stork, and Crowned Hornbill among others. Queen Elizabeth brags of its long list of over 95 mammal species including the; African Elephants, Cape Buffalos, giant Forest Hog, Waterbuck, Hyenas, Leopard, Uganda Kobs, Warthog and Lions among others.
Flora in the park
Queen Elizabeth national park’s diverse eco-system, characterized by rolling savanna plains, sparkling craters and fresh water lakes, fertile wetlands and humid forests not only make it a prime birding site, but also an ideal and classic big game viewing site.
Ten primate species such as Chimpanzees and Olive Baboons among others tucked in the forest canopies of Kalinzu and Kyambura Gorge can be discovered on Nature walks. The park’s forest ecosystem with other sites like Maramagambo make it an ideal residence for variety of forest species. Its vegetation is composed of forest, grassland, busy thickets/grassland, swamp vegetation and Acacia woodland.
From Kampala City, Queen Elizabeth national park can be accessed through two main routes. The southern route via Mbarara town and Bushenyi leads to the centre of the park, covering over 420km a journey that is approximately 7 hours. This route passes via the Equator-00 latitude, Lake Mburo National Park and Igongo Cultural centre/museum and therefore; visitors can enjoy short tours en-route.
The second route via Fort Portal leads to Queen Elizabeth through the northern section and also takes approximately 7 hours with a distance of over 410km. This route rewards you with backdrop sights of the Rwenzori Mountains and visitors can also have short tours to the Ndali-Kasende crater field and Kibale Forest known for its diversity of Primates including Chimpanzees.
Alternatively, Queen Elizabeth can be accessed using a domestic charter or scheduled flight from Kajjansi Airfield or Entebbe, to Kasese, Mweya or Ishasha airstrips, rewarding one with scenic views of Uganda from above.
Things to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Safari game drives
- Balloon safaris
- Bird watching
- Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu and Kyambura
- Launch cruises on Kazinga channel
- Cultural encounters
- Nature walks
Safaris to Explore Queen Elizabeth
3 Days Wildlife viewing & Culture at Igongo Museum
5 Days Game viewing and Gorilla tracking
8 Days Uganda Wildlife vacation
8 Days Game viewing & Primate tracking
11 Days Bird watching Glamour
12 Days Pearl of Africa Wildlife & Adventure