Queen Elizabeth National Park in the western Rift Valley is Uganda’s premier wildlife reserve. The protected area also encompasses Kyambura wildlife reserve and Kigezi wildlife reserve. It runs from the foothills of the northern Rwenzori mountains to Ishasha border gate in the south. So the park is just over 2,500 km².
Here, the grasslands of Uganda meet the eastern rainforest. Thus magical scenery combines with abundant wildlife, both predators and primates. This includes a vast concentration of hippo and the famous tree-climbing lion. In summary Queen Elizabeth National Park offers wildlife, spectacular scenery and landscapes. Plus it is easy to combine with Bwindi National Park to the south and Kibale National Park to the north. And Kampala is not that far away.
Areas within Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Kazinga Channel, which joins Lake George and Lake Edward, is the prime area for both birding and wildlife safaris in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Take a boat cruise and watch for elephant, buffalo and Ugandan Kob on the shoreline as you glide along. Hippo, crocodile and water birds also frequent the banks. Plus bird-watching specials include malachites, pied kingfishers, great white and pink-backed pelicans and the open-billed stork.
In the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve (pronounced Chambura) in the east of the park, large numbers of flamingos are attracted to a series of three saline crater lakes. Here guided walking safaris through the Kyambura gorge may result in sightings of wild chimpanzees. These are habituated to small numbers of visitors. And there are also caves where you can see thousands of bats, python and monitor lizard.
In the more isolated Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, to the south, you can scan the woodlands for the famous tree-climbing lion. You can find these regularly, if improbably, perched on the boughs of ancient fig trees. The meandering Ishasha River runs through this area, with riparian forest on its river banks. This is also the only place in the park to see topi.
Then to the southeast of Queen Elizabeth National Park, you can explore the Maramagambo forest on cool forest trails. This forest is a valuable sample of East African medium altitude semi-deciduous forest. Unfortunately this is increasingly scarce. It’s also a good habitat for chimpanzees, enormous pythons and colonies of cave-dwelling fruit bats.
Birding Safaris in Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s finest birding destination. There are over 560 species of bird found here including the martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, Verreauxs eagle owl and African skimmer.
Best Time to Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park
The best time for a Uganda safari is in the dry seasons from January to February and then again from June to August.
See the climate of Queen Elizabeth National Park below, which experiences the same tropical climate as Kampala.