QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is the second largest Uganda safari after Murchison Falls National Park in Northwestern Uganda. It was formerly called Kazinga National Park till 1954 when its renamed after Queen Elizabeth II in remembrance of her visit to the park. QENP has existed as a national park since 1952 and it is set in Western Uganda, just along the rift valley area.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a vast savanna safari park, occupying up to 1978sq.kms of land area. It is undoubtedly a true nature hub, boasting of diverse natural attractions which make it an ideal Uganda safari destination. Not only do you find wildlife here, but also volcanic features like deep craters, volcanic cones. Its natural beauty is generally characterized by extensive savanna plains which feature small acacia, euphorbia trees and it has over 57 distinct kinds of vegetation including acacia woodland, swamp vegetation, bush grassland, forest and others.
There are many sectors which make up Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda. They include Kazinga Channel known for boat/launch cruise, Kasenyi Plains, Mweya Peninsular and Ishasha sector which are popular for game viewing experiences, Lake Edward and Lake George, Katwe Crater Lake and others.
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)
Queen Elizabeth National Park is popular for its diverse wildlife species. They account for the park’s over 95 mammal species. QENP boasts of wildlife species such as warthogs, antelopes (waterbucks, Uganda Kobs, topis which thrive especially in Ishasha), hyenas, lions inclusive of the tree climbing lions, crocodiles, huge population of hippos, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, forest hogs. This park also shelters diversity of primates in Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo forest. They include chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys.
Birdlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the frequently visited Uganda safari parks for bird watching. The park has a list of over 620 bird species making it not only an outstanding game viewing destination but also a birder’s haven. The park protects amazing birds including the grey kestrel, pink backed pelicans, shoebill storks, black bellied bustard, martial eagle, scarlet chested sunbird, blue napped mousebird, pygmy kingfisher, white tailed lark, African wattled plover, hooded vulture, slender tailed nightjars, black crowned tchagara, lesser and greater flamingos. Others include brown snake eagles, Abdim’s storks, African harrier hawk, African open billed stork, grey headed gull, African jacana, knob billed duck, great cormorant, African skimmer and others.
Activities to do in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)
Game drives/wildlife viewing
Queen Elizabeth National Park is an all-year-round wildlife viewing destination. It is an amazing destination to go for a game drive in Uganda and East Africa. You get to immerse yourself into its savannas to see African bush elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, warthogs, antelopes, avifaunal species of all kinds including chapin’s flycatchers, pelicans, papyrus canary, shoebill stork, flamingos and others. On a game drive in QENP, don’t miss to navigate through the Ishasha area to see the tree climbing lions.
Bird watching is another reason tourists on Uganda safari travel to explore Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda. This exposes birders to terrestrial and aquatic bird species while on birding tour.
Aside from game viewing along the savannas, a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park also allows tourists to get up close with chimpanzees while in their natural habitat. Treks to see chimpanzees are best done in Kyambura Gorge and the nearby Kalinzu Forest Reserve.
Lion tracking is an amazing wildlife experience offered at Queen Elizabeth National Park. It lets visitors get a close encounter with lions and also have in-depth insight into their behaviors.
Hot air balloon tours
Nothing is more memorable on a Uganda safari than enjoying aerial view of savanna wildlife species while on hot air balloon experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda. This is one of the 2 Uganda safari parks currently where hot air balloon experiences are offered and the other is the vast Murchison Falls National Park.
Boat or launch cruise
While on Uganda safari in QENP there is a lot to engage in and interestingly, a boat cruise should be a must-do. This is one of the memorable water sports and it is conducted along Kazinga channel. This extensive channel connects Lake Edward to Lake George. You will enjoy astonishing sight of the park’s aquatic birdlife, hippos, crocodiles as they bask and a lot more.
Other activities you shouldn’t miss on Uganda tour in QENP include hiking or nature walks, cultural encounters.
Best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National Park is open for Uganda safari travelers at any time of the year. However, game viewing being the major safari highlight, the dry season is the best for you to engage in this exciting experience. This starts from June, July, August, September and December, January to February. QENP is also very scenic during the wet or rainy season and it is the best time for birders to spot the migratory birds especially from November to April. The 2 wet/rainy seasons range from March to April and October to November.
Where to stay
While on safari holiday in Queen Elizabeth National Park, accommodation isn’t something to worry about. You have many options to choose from. The lodges available for overnight stay in and around QENP include Kasenyi Safari Camp, Mweya Safari Lodge, Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Bush Lodge, Katara Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Jacana Safari Lodge, Elephant Plains Lodge, Mweya Hostels, Park View Lodge, King Fisher Lodge.
Access to Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)
Queen Elizabeth National Park is accessible Uganda safari park by road/by air. By road, you can spend 5-6 hours to drive from Entebbe/Kampala through Masaka-Mbarara and Bushenyi to QENP or take about 5 hours to drive from Kampala/Entebbe via Mubende-Fort Portal to Kasese and access QENP. By air, take charter/scheduled flight from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield and land into Kasese/Mweya/Ishasha airstrips which serve Queen Elizabeth National Park.
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