Located in western Uganda. Size: 1,978km². Queen Elizabeth spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road mark the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00. The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park, and renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. The park is home to over 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species.
You can find hippos, elephants, leopards, lions and chimpanzees. The area around Ishasha in Rukungiri District is famous for its tree-climbing lions, whose males sport black manes, a feature unique to the lions in this area. 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
Activities In Queen Elizabeth
Birding in Queen Elizabeth
Classified as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by Birding International, Queen’s great variety of habitats mean it is home to over 600 species. This is the greatest of any East African national park, and a phenomenal number for such a small area. The park’s confluence of savanna and forest, linking to the expansive forests of the DR Congo allow visitors to spot East as well as Central African species.
Present in the park are numerous water birds, woodland and forest dwellers in the Maramagambo Forest, 54 raptors and various migratory species. Key species include the Martial Eagle, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Pinkbacked Pelican, African Broadbill, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Black Bee-eater, White-tailed Lark, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Corncrake, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, Shoebill, Bar-tailed Godwit.
For the best birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park, don’t miss these birding hot spots:
Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi Area, Mweya Peninsula, Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha Sector, Lake Kikorongo, Katunguru Bridge area and Katwe Area Tours can be booked through Katwe Tourism Information Center.
Caves in Queen Elizabeth
Tucked beneath the shady canopy of the Maramagambo Forest is the “Bat Cave”. The cave has a viewing room built through funding from the Center for Disease Control in which visitors can observe the bats as well as the pythons that live alongside them… did you know that these serpents live amongst their prey?!
For a more cultural cave experience, how about a trip to the historic cave at Nyanz’ibiri community, where a local guide will explain to you how it was once used for offering sacrifices and cleansing misfortunes… and as a hiding place during Uganda’s rule by Idi Amin.
Chimp Tracking in Queen Elizabeth
The Kyambura Gorge experience is more than discovering chimpanzees in their natural environment: it teaches visitors about the ecosystems of Kyambura Gorge’s atmospheric “underground” rainforest, including vegetation types; bird identification and behavior; and chimp and monkey ecology.
Although chimp sightings are not guaranteed, visitors stand a pretty good chance of hearing and seeing our distant cousins as they are habituated. Tours last between one and three hours and start at 8am and 2pm daily.
Cultural Encounters in Queen Elizabeth
Leopard Village is a community-run, socio-economic development initiative that promotes cultural and wildlife conservation through ecotourism. Located near the village of Muhokya, Leopard Village sits 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 purchase handicrafts made by local communities.
Longer visits can include conversations with community members about the challenges and opportunities they face living next to the park, visits to local schools, and discussions about traditional village life and solutions for human-wildlife conflict. We can work with tour groups to create a customized program.
Leopard Village is a partnership between the local communities of Muhokya, Kahendero and Hamukungu, and the Uganda Carnivore Program, with support from zoos in the United States and Germany. All fees and donations go directly to community development, conservation and education projects, and to the individual artists. By supporting Leopard Village tourist and cultural activities, you will be assisting in the conservation of the area’s wildlife and supporting sustainable development in the local communities.
Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth
For a classic African safari experience, 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. Taking an experienced guide in the early morning or at dusk is the most successful way to track down a pride of lions, and maybe even the odd leopard.
Hiking/Nature Walks in Queen Elizabeth
Mweya Peninsula offers savannah and woodland with beautiful views and bold warthogs. At the southern end of the park, visitors can enjoy an easy stroll along the Ishasha River, where they can spot a variety of forest and savannah bird and mammal species as well as having a unique opportunity on this walk to get extremely close to hippos on foot, while remaining perfectly safe on the raised bank above the river.
Launch Trips in Queen Elizabeth
The Kazinga Channel is an oasis for many of the fascinating species that inhabit the park, and taking a boat tour along it gives visitors the chance to cruise just meters from hundreds of enormous hippos and buffalos while elephants linger on the shoreline.
An average of 60 bird species can be spotted during the trip. Carrying up to 40 passengers, the boats guarantee a seat with a view, while expert ranger guides narrate the creatures’ stories.
Launch trips last two hours and run three or four times a day.