Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular park; originally named Kazinga National Park in 1952, when it was founded. Two years later it was renamed to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. This sprawling park with its diverse ecosystems include huge savannah areas, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands. It is the habitat of the classic big game, ten primate species and over 600 species of birds. With the Rwenzori Mountains as a backdrop, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills. There are panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel, its banks lined with Hippos, buffaloes and elephants. The fig trees of the endless Ishasha plains are habitat for the elusive lions, ready to pounce on herds of Uganda Kob.
In addition, the cultural history of Queen Elizabeth Park is fascinating. Opportunities abound for visitors to meet with local communities, which entertain with dancing, music and storytelling.
Birding International has classified Queen Elizabeth National Park as an important Birding Area. With over 600 species of birds, it has the greatest variety of any park in East Africa. The western border of the park lies on the Congo Border and as such allows visitors to spot both East African and Central African bird species.
Under the canopy of the Maramagambo Forest, there is a Bat Cave. Here visitors can view the resident bats and pythons from the comfort of a viewing room.
Discovering Chimpanzees in the Kyambura Gorge is an incredible experience. At the same time, visitors learn about the ecosystems of this area…the underground rainforest, which includes a huge variety of unique vegetation, bird identification and behavior, as well as the chimp and monkey ecology.
The tracks through Kasenyi, the North Kaxzinga Plains and the Ishasha Seotor offer guaranteed sightings of buffalo, antelope and elephant, as well as warthogs and baboons. Tracking down a pride of lions at dawn or dusk is most successfully achieved with the help of an experienced guide. Leopards have been sighted many times on game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
There are a variety of trails available in Queen Elizabeth National Park; they include the Maramagambo Forest, the Mweya Penninsula and the Ishasha River. Here on the River, one has the opportunity to get very close to Hippos as well as spotting a variety of forest and savanna species.
Taking a boat tour along the Kazinga Channel gives the visitor an opportunity to see many of the species inhabited in the park. Cruising down the channel in close proximity to hundreds of enormous hippos and buffalos in the water, can be very exciting. The added viewing of the elephants on the shoreline at the same time can dazzle even the seasoned traveler.
Cultural Heritage and Nature Trail:
Here in Queen Elizabeth National Park one can watch the dancers of the Kikorongo Equator Cultural group, watch salt being harvested on the Katwe Salt Lake, viewing a traditional Banyaraguru hut or have a guided tour by the local community members. Many cultural opportunities are available to enhance the visit to the park.
Wildlife Research Tour:
A relatively new and unique opportunity exists in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and that is the Wildlife Research Tours. Here visitors can get very close to wild African fauna while monitoring some of the exotic birds and mammals that roam the park. With the use of locator devices and by learning habitation calls, visitors can assist the Wildlife Research Team with their work.
There are two routes to the park from Kampala;
1) via Mbarara and Bushenyi (420 kms) and
2) via Fort Portal (410 kms)
Foreign Non Residents: $40 US for Adults, $20 US for Children
Foreign Residents: $30 US for Adults, $10 US for Children
Vehicle Entrance Fees: Saloon Cars $10 US, Minivans $15 US and 4 WD vehicles $15 US
Launch Cruises: $30 US per person