Queen Elizabeth National Park is acknowledged as the most popular National Park in Uganda, which comes as no surprise given the park’s immense wildlife and ecosystem diversity. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the proud home to a myriad of wildlife species, including chimpanzees, lions, elephants and more than 600 species of birds. Being located in the proximity of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the beautiful park encompasses multiple volcanic craters that are dug into evergreen hills, accompanied by remarkable panoramic views. As a bonus, tourists can further relish the unique cultural favor of the park by engaging into a range of local activities such as local music and dancing, storytelling and so on. So, the entertainment opportunities will surely not miss from your trip.
- +Spectacular birdlife – over 600 species of birds
- +Observing chimpanzee habitat
- +Home to the famous tree-climbing lions and leopards
- +Unique ecosystem including multiple volcanic cones and craters
- +Home to more than 95 mammal species
- +Unique cultural activities
- +Scenic driving safari
About Queen Elizabeth National Park
Encompassing 1978 square kilometers, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a spectacular top destination in Uganda. There aren’t numerous natural reserves in the world that can boast of such an abundant wildlife and ecosystem diversity. It is located in the proximity of Ruwenzori Mountains, creating a spectacular scenery. Embodying landscapes varying from dry savannah to bushlands and ever-green wetlands, accompanied by the presence of pristine, lush rainforests, the park offers incredible sightseeing opportunities.
Concerning wildlife populations, Queen Elizabeth National Park is the proud home to magnificent animals such as hippos, lions, elephants, and the famous chimpanzee, not to mention the tree-climbing lion, which is always a spectacular appearance.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a birdwatcher’s heaven on earth, having more than 600 beautiful bird species, which can be spotted during the wet season most successfully. The presence of rare, slightly odd birds has been recorded as well, including the shoebill or whale-headed stork, accompanied by an abundance of colorful birds that can be spotted on the Kasinga Channel during a boat trip. The shores of the Channel entice significant populations of mammals, and reptiles as well.
The presence of the unique volcanic cones and deep craters, which date from centuries, is also one of the main attractions that add up to the charm of Queen Elizabeth National Park. There are several crater lakes as well, including Katwe craters, which are mainly used for salt extraction. In the same respect, Katwe Salt Lake is the oldest industry in Uganda, being a major part of the local economic development. These crater lakes provide travelers with remarkable, most spectacular views across Queen Elizabeth National Park, while, on a clear, sunny day, offering an outstanding view over the nearby mountains of Congo.
Kyambura Gorge, located on the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park is the home to a range of habituated chimpanzees, a wide variety of other primates and bird species. The valley rises from savannah grassland and lush rainforest, and trekking chimpanzees here is certainly a unique and equally adventurous experience for every nature enthusiast.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated at a distance of 410km/225mi north from Kampala, which is the capital city of Uganda. The direct drive to the National Park lasts about six hours. You can also opt for charter flights, if this alternative is more suitable to you, as there are various local carriers that fly on a fixed schedule round the clock.
When to Go & Weather
- January-February/June-July: these months are settled as part of the dry season in Queen Elizabeth National Park, being the best time of the year for great wildlife watching. As there is little rainfall, the trails are overall dry, making it more convenient for chimpanzee tracking.
- April-May/September-November: during the wet season, a myriad of migratory birds can be spotted. But, due to the increased amount of rainfall, the slippery trails make chimpanzee tracking and wildlife observation more challenging.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is available for tourists to visit throughout the entire year. Still, based on your interest, some months are better for traveling to this destination than others. For instance, during the dry season, the vegetation is not as abundant, making wildlife species easier to observe. Also, the sunny weather makes the safari more enjoyable.
On the other hand, the wet season displays beautiful, serene landscapes accompanied by an abundance of migratory birds. The best time for bird watching is during late May and September. The main downside to the wet season is that the roads might become inaccessible, and thunderstorms often occur in the afternoon.
Given its proximity to the Equator, there are no extreme temperatures in Queen Elizabeth National Park, as the annual temperatures are recorded overall stable during the entire duration of the year. Daily temperatures may reach up to 28 Celsius degrees while, at night, they may go down to 15 Celsius degrees. The peak of the rainy season takes place in April, with stable temperatures and overall pleasant weather. Find out more about the weather in Queen Elizabeth National Park by visiting these websites:
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In the past, the area that is at the present acknowledged as Queen Elizabeth National Park was a grazing location for local Basongora pastoralists. British expeditions developed by Stanley and Lugard, later on, indicated the degeneration of the immense ecosystem diversity caused by ever-growing cattle raiding. The economic situation of the region was poor and didn’t present the proper resources for the area to recover from these side effects. However, the area was almost completely depopulated, and the locals who continued to dwell there turned to fishing as a supportive income instead.
Consequently, the wildlife and ecosystem diversity have been recovered. These events contributed to the later official gazetting of the National Park. In 1906, the northern part of Lake George was designated as a game reserve, for the sole purpose of controlling the hunting, done by both Africans and Europeans.
In 1912, the size of the protected area was significantly enlarged, the entire Lake George and Ishara areas being officially designated as protected settings. Locals who relied on fishing or agricultural practices on these premises were required to change their location. Consequently, the area was almost entirely abandoned.
In 1952, the park was officially established as Kazinga National Park, and two years later, its name was altered to Queen Elizabeth National Park, in order to commemorate the Queen’s visit. Afterward, the area of the National Park was significantly enlarged, with the addition of the east region of Lake Edward and Kazinga Channel.
The impressive biodiversity of habitats in Queen Elizabeth National Park determines the presence of an unusually large number of wildlife species – 100 species of mammals and over 600 species of birds. Even though Queen Elizabeth National Park is generally correlated with grassy savannah plains, the National Park encompasses a great variety of flora and vegetation, ranging from lush rainforests to dense papyrus swamps and rare volcanic crater lakes.
The unique Kazinga Channel comprises a significant population of hippos, 5000 to be more precise, which can be seen on a daily basis. The channel attracts numerous incredible selections of animals. On some occasions, visitors have caught a glimpse of the forest hog, leopard, and lion. The Park is the proud home to ten different species of primates, including the popular chimpanzee, black and white colobus monkey and the bold baboon.
A birdwatcher’s paradise, the plentitude of bird species is magnificent as well, the channel attracting numerous species including the white Pink-backed Pelicans, yellow-billed storks, and the white-bellied cormorants.
A visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park guarantees a unique wildlife observation, as is it also the proud home of a sizeable number of elephants, buffalos, warthogs, waterbucks, Uganda kobs. The park’s proud inhabitants include the lion, leopard, civet, and further feline species. The majority of felines can be spotted during night game drives, as they are generally nocturnal. Still, catching a glimpse of the legendary lion surely is a rewarding experience.
In the past, the surrounding local populations that inhabited the area that is now part of Queen Elizabeth National Park, engaged in several activities such as hunting or agriculture. This raised a myriad of concerns regarding the conservation and preservation of the biodiversity of the area. Consequently, the authorities determined the clearance of the area, and afterward, the ecosystem and wildlife diversity was able to recover.
At the moment, Uganda Wildlife Authority aims at regulating tourist interactions and local intervention, so that the conservation of the area is possible. This way, the Authority can preserve the unique regional diversity of the National Park.
- Queen Elizabeth National Park was officially gazetted in 1952, and entitled Kazinga National Park. Two years later, given the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, the park was renamed in order to memorialize her visit.
- Queen Elizabeth National Park encircles the exact singular spot where the equator line crosses latitude 0. Various monuments are marking this particular place.
- The Katwa craters inscribe the peak point in Queen Elizabeth National Park, that of 1,350m. On the other hand, the lowest point is settled at 910 m, at Lake Edward.
- Crocodiles have recently been spotted in the Kazinga Channel, after having been endangered for about 8000 years, as a result of the ash toxicity of the erupting volcanoes.