Queen Elizabeth National Park is justifiably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
The park which was named after Queen Elizabeth II of England after her visit in 1952, is one of the top Uganda safaris destinations. It is located in southwestern Uganda and lies astride the Equator with monuments on both sides of the road making latitude 00. It is in the Albertine region along with Kyambura and Kigezi wildlife reserve, which brings together the most diverse ecosystem in Africa. The rich bio-diversity of crater lakes, forest, savannah, woodland, and acacia and numerous animal, plant, and bird species lie on an area of 1978km2. This is the most visited park in Uganda which maybe because of its name but also is easily accessible for those traveling with public transport. It lies in the districts of Bushenyi, Kasese and Rukungiri. The park extends from Lake George in North East to Lake Edward in South West and includes Kazinga channel which connects the two lakes.
Multiple crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth gives an impressive scenery. There are a couple of stopovers at Nyamununka Crater Lake also known as the hospital for animals, many visit it to have their wounds treated or the aging animals for its waters that contain Sulphur. Take a trip to the salt mining craters, Lake Katwe or Lake Bunyampaka. Enjoy the sun set over Lake Edward and Rwenzoris in the backdrop. Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park is home to the famous tree-climbing lions that choose the branches of acacia trees after the night/early morning meals. The trees also provide the needed shed from the scotching sun which raises them to experience the winds
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s outstanding vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
Park at a Glance
The park was named after Queen Elizabeth II and was established in 1954.
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 covers an area of almost 2,000 sq Kms and lies between the Rwenzori Mountains to the east and Lake Edward to the west. approx. 470kms from Kampala.
The park can be accessed most easily from Kampala passing through Mityana, Mubende, Kyenjojo, Fort portal to kasese.Its location is approximately 376km by road South west of Kampala.
The second route is slightly longer via masaka and Mbarara. This is also the main route to Lake Mburo national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Mgahinga National Park and the Ugandan Equator.
The park is also accessible from Kabale or Bwindi via Kihihi.
- Student’s camp and hostel offered by UWA.
- Campsites for independent campers in Mweya sector
- Banda are available in Ishasha sector
- Simba safari camp
- King fisher
- Kazinga channel view resort
- Mweya safari lodge
- Jacana safari Lodge located at Lake Nyamusingiri in Maramagambo Forest.
- Kyambura game lodge
- Enganzi lodge
- Bush lodge
- Katara lodge
June to September is the driest time when most animals remain near water, but be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms at any time.
The hot dry time is January to February and is a good time to visit. Dry season temperatures average 80°F (25°C).
Rainy Season: It rains anytime from October to December and March to May when many roads become impassible.
Where to Stay
The best feature of Queen Elizabeth national park is the abundance of wide range of accommodations, which make it relatively an affordable safari destination. The tree climbing lions in Uganda can be viewed only in the Ishasha’s southern sector and this is one of the most amazing adventures in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Whilst each of these areas have a variety of different accommodation choices available, here at Brilliant we have selected the very best options to use in our tours to ensure visitors have a fantastic experience, time and time again.
The Escarpment to the north-east of the park provides panoramic views of the grassland across to Lake George and easy access to the Kasenyi Plains. It is home to Elephant Plains Lodge, one of the newest properties in the Park.
The Mweya Peninsula juts into the Kazinga Channel. The views from here are epic as the distant grasslands seem to merge into the lakes stretching beyond.
Mweya Safari Lodge occupies prime position here. A large hotel, it is a heritage property that began life as a government property over 30 years ago.
A stay here is not as intimate as at other smaller properties, but you can’t beat the central location. Perfect for access to Kazinga Channel boat trips.
The Rift Valley Escarpment extends to the south-east of the park. There, on a ridge rising dramatically above the plains, 16km from the Katunguru Gate of the Park, you will find a number of other small lodges all situated to take advantage of the views and the wonderful sunsets. Katara Lodge is one of our favourites here. The ridge leads round to Kyambura Gorge, a natural rent in the otherwise flat plains, cut by water and thickly forested. The elegant Kyambura Gorge Lodge is the closest property to the Gorge and so is perfectly located to provide a luxurious base for chimp trekking, plus game drives and boat safaris in the heart of the Park
Finally, in the south-west of the Park, the Ishasha sector is the place for those who value the wilderness experience.
Although new lodges are being constructed, it is still the quietest area where the human footprint is slight. The established favourite here is Ishasha Wilderness Camp, a superbly comfortable, subtly developed camp on the banks of the Ishasha River, the natural border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other lodges are located in and outside the park. You can use Simba safari camp outside the park and for community activities, the elephant centre is your gate way booking accommodation around Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori mountains National Park. Please ask about the available community activities at the elephant centre, or to book your packed lunch, accommodation or game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park if you connect by public transport.