It is no wonder that the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda was renamed after a visit by the British monarch. The park is undoubtedly the crowning glory among the country’s wildlife havens as it straddles the equator.
Occupying nearly two thousand square kilometres, the Kazinga Channel connects Lake George in the north-east with Lake Edward in the south-west. The highest point in the park is the Katwe explosion craters at 1 350 metres above sea level with Lake Edward the lowest at 910 metres.
Contrasting ecosystems, ranging from savanna to forests, lakes and wetlands are interspersed with rolling hills and views of the Rwenzori Mountains on the horizon. Volcanic cones and deep craters make for a dramatic landscape and an unforgettable safari experience.
This magnificent land is a prime location for a myriad of fauna and flora species. The famed tree-climbing lions of the Queen Elizabeth National Park lure many travellers to these shores while as much as ten primate species have made a home within the park’s borders.
The park is just over 400 kilometres from Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. Visitors making their own way can expect a drive of at least seven hours. There are also airstrips at Kasese, Mweya or Kihihi that service chartered flights from Entebbe and Kampala.
Close to 100 mammals and more than 600 bird species can be spotted by safari-goers to the Queen Elizabeth National Park. In the Ishasha part of the park, the eyes should be turned towards the branches of fig trees where tree-climbing lions are a dime a dozen. Visitors can also get up close and personal with a habituated chimpanzee group, while elephant, buffalo, Ugandan kobs, topis, and bushbucks are also fairly common.
The wide variety of habitats are home to one of the largest numbers of bird species in East Africa. These include the collared pratincole, palm-nut vulture, swamp flycatcher, as well as the more rare Pel's fishing owl and the shoebill.
There are two peak seasons for abundant wildlife viewing in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. January and February and June and July are the dry seasons when animals congregate around available water sources. The wet seasons from March to May and then again from August to December. It is hot during the day with an average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius while it dips to around 17 degrees Celsius at night.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a wide range of safaris and other activities for visitors. These include scenic game drives with enthralling wildlife encounters, while bird watchers will continuously scan the skies for the feathered kind. For those seeking a closer connection with primates, there is chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura gorge. Take to the water for a cruise on Lake Edward and Lake George.
Accommodation in the Queen Elizabeth National Park caters for all tastes and budgets. There are various budget lodgings, tented camps as well as luxury safari lodges. Most have stunning views of the park from where wildlife watching is possible.