Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the unique safari destinations not only in Uganda but across the African continent. Named after the late Queen Elizabeth II of England, Queen Elizabeth NP was visited by the Queen in 1952. Originally, it was named Kazinga National Park and it is amazingly one of the leading Uganda holiday destinations.


Queen Elizabeth National Park is strategically lying in Western Uganda; it is one of the exceptional protected areas in the world that lies astride the Equator crossing. This park is Uganda’s 2nd largest park after the popular Murchison Falls National Park and its boundaries stretch covering 4 (four) districts; Rukungiri, Rubirizi, Kamwenge and Kasese.

Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) lies in the Albertine area and it is adjoined by the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve (in the East), Kigezi Game Reserve and close to it is Kibale National Park, the primate capital of the world. To the Northwest, there is also the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. And for visitors wanting to also go on a gorilla tour, further south there is the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

In 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park was created as one of the 10 National Parks in Uganda and it was named the Kazinga National Park. It combined Lake Edward and George Game Reserve. It was renamed after the late Queen Elizabeth II of England in remembrance of her visit. This park covers a land area estimated to be 1978sq.km and it is renowned for its diverse wildlife.

Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts of its breathtaking landscape and this is characterized by forests, woodland, Crater Lakes (creating remarkably beautiful scenery and include Lake Katwe, Lake Bunyampaka), rain forests, acacia where its diverse animals and birds live. This is one of the most explored Uganda safari parks and shelters unique wildlife.

The sectors/regions that make up the vast Queen Elizabeth National Park include Ishasha and Kasenyi plains. The park is also comprised of Kazinga channel, Mweya Peninsula/Plains, Maramagambo Forest and Kyambura Gorge- primate-dominated areas in the park.

Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Wildlife/animal species make up the long list of attractions that most natures on Uganda safaris come to enjoy in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park supports at least more than 95 species of mammals and include 4 of the big 5 game; lions, buffaloes, leopards, elephants, huge population of hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, Uganda kobs, banded mongoose, waterbucks, warthogs and waterbucks. Primates to watch on primate tour include the red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, and others.

Birds of Queen Elizabeth National Park – Kasese/Bushenyi/Rukungiri

Birding is a special highlight of Queen Elizabeth Park safari. This is truly birder’s paradise, home to more than 620 bird species which make it an important birding area (IBA) to find savanna, woodland, water and forest birds. Bird list of Queen Elizabeth NP: African skimmers, verreaux’s eagle-owl, grey-headed kingfishers, papyrus canary, long-tailed cormorants, black bee-eaters, sedge warbles, flamingos, papyrus gonoleks, grey-headed kingfishers, slender-tailed nightjars, African mourning dove, swamp flycatchers, collared pratincole, pin-tailed whydah, shoebill stork, malachites, and others.

Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari Activities to do on a Uganda tour

Queen Elizabeth National Park is an extensive travel park and visitors have a lot to engage in while on Uganda safaris. This rich ecosystem offers not only game viewing opportunities, but also primate encounters in its natural forest-rich areas like Kyambura Gorge. Here is a list of remarkable things to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park- Uganda.

Game wildlife drive

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Africa’s special destinations you can consider for game drives or wildlife viewing. A Uganda safari to this park is a remarkable opportunity to encounter 4 of the big 5 game members- elephants, buffaloes, lions and leopards. Other wildlife to consider viewing on a tour in this park includes Uganda Kobs, giant forest hogs, waterbucks, bushbucks, and more. Areas to consider for game drive –Ishasha where tree climbing lions can be watched lazing on acacia/fig trees and Kasenyi sector. Day game drive takes between 2 and 3 hours starting with early morning drive at around 6:00 am.

Boat tours

Kazinga channel is undoubtedly an incredible spot for launch cruise excursions. For travelers on Uganda safaris and desire to watch aquatic life, Kazinga is the right spot to be, a natural channel that connects Lake George and Edward. Remarkable sightings of water animals, especially hippos, crocodiles and birds are a must during the 2-3 hours excursion.

Chimpanzee trekking

Away from game viewing in the savannas, immerse yourself in Kyambura Gorge, a 100m deep gorge filled with a lush tropical forest. This long stretch of forest-dominated gorge is home to 10 primate species and includes chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, etc. Tracking Kyambura Gorge chimps is done on already habituated chimpanzee communities.

Birding tours

Birds in Queen Elizabeth N/Park can be spotted anywhere. The park supports over 620 species of birds and includes martial eagles, flamingos, malachite, black-rumped buttonquail, long-tailed cormorants, verreaux’s eagle owls, fish eagles, kingfishers, pelicans, and others. Birding spots include Katunguru bridge, Mweya peninsular, Kyambura Gorge, Maramagambo Forest and around Lakes in the park.

Nature walk

Queen Elizabeth NP presents plenty of nature walking opportunities. You will be led by an experienced guide and key areas of interest include Maramagambo Forest (lovely for primate watching), along the Ishasha river, Mweya Peninsular and others.

Community visits

Besides wildlife tours, there is also a chance to get to the adjacent communities to interact with residents. The important communities to visit include Kikorongo Women’s community project that provides remarkable cultural dance, drama, fire-making, paper beads, and basket weaving; Kasoga Community Experience, Nyanzi’ibiri cave community, Leopard Village, etc.

When to travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari tour

Visitors can tour Queen Elizabeth National Park at any time of the year. However, the dry season/months are the most favorite for wildlife tours; June, July, August, September and December, January, February. The wet months are also open for guests to explore this spectacular park, the best months to see migratory birds.

Where to stay inside or outside the park

Inside the Queen Elizabeth National Park there is Mweya Safari Lodge & hostel; park boundaries comprise lodges such as Elephant Hub Lodge, Katara Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Ihamba Lakeside Safaris Lodge, Twin Lakes Safari Lodge, Buffalo Safari Lodge, Kasenyi Safari Camp, and others. At Ishasha sector, the lodges to stay include Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Enjojo Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Cam and others.

Getting to Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda

By road: Consider driving from Entebbe or Kampala along the Masaka-Mbarara route 7-8 hours’ drive. There is also the Kampala-Mubende-Fort Portal route, about 6-7 hours’ drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

By air: Fly in safaris can be arranged by the tour operator on the ground. You set off from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Mweya or Kasese airstrips.