Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Located in south-western Uganda, QENP covers an estimated 1,978km2 (close to 200,000 hectares). The park is bookended by Lake George in the north-east and Lake Edward to the south-west, linked by a stretch of water known as the Kazinga Channel, and is contiguous with Virunga National Park in the DRC. The smaller Kibale National Park, Kigezi and Kyambura Game Reserves all border the park and serve as buffer zones for the ecosystem. Near the northern boundary of the park are four other major protected areas: Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Semliki National Park, Toro Game Reserve and Katonga Game Reserve. The gorilla-trekking Eden of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies about 150km to the south.

Formerly known as Kazinga National Park, QENP was renamed to commemorate a visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1954, while Uganda was still under colonial rule. After independence and through the troubled decades that followed, the people of Uganda were to suffer terrible hardships and unimaginable cruelty, and, as is so often the case with human conflict, the wildlife paid a dreadful price as well. In so many ways, this is what makes Q.E.N Park such an extraordinary wilderness – it is a testament to the dedication of the local population’s determination to restore the country’s wildlife in the face of destruction wrought by war. This same dedication allowed Uganda’s elephant population to recover from 700 remaining individuals in the 1980s to more than 5,000 today – a revival of more than 600%.

To those who know and love Africa’s wild spaces, each one offers its own particular brand of unique beauty, and QENP is no exception. The land is pockmarked by explosion craters, magnificent calderas filled with either saltwater lakes or rich savannah, each capturing a feeling of a world within a world, a place where time seems to stand still. Seen from the air, it is easy to imagine the violent explosions of superheated gas that created the Katwe and Bunyaruguru crater fields.

A mosaic landscape of unique features and habitats, QENP’s fortunate visitors can go from exploring expansive savannahs dotted by euphorbia trees to the lush paths beneath the canopy of the Maramagambo Forest or drift down the Kazinga Channel on a boat, past one of the largest populations of hippos in Africa.


Launch cruises.

The two hours return launch trip from jetty on Mweya Peninsular along the 40km long Kazinga channel provide the most relaxing way to view game in Queen Elizabeth national park with the banks lined with resident hippos, crocodiles, water birds, visiting and drinking elephants, buffaloes and antelopes. Tick water birds while on the voyage.

Game drives

The open grasslands of Kasenyi and ishasha (southernmost sector) provide the park visitors primary game viewing areas and experience under vast rift valley skies. Expect to see buffaloes, lions, leopards, elephants (4 of the big 5) and hippos. The long grass is no obstacle to locating Ishasha lions. These obliging felines love to dose in the boughs of the shady fig trees. Do a sundowner on an evening game drive under the African sun as it sets.


More than 600 birds have been recorded in this park making it a bird haven and key site for birders. You can’t guess what rare bird your binoculars will focus on. The bird checklist includes species like the Forest Flycatcher, White-Napped Pigeon, Butler Eagle, White backed pelican, white winged black tarn and the Striking Rwenzori Blue Turaco among others.

Forest walks 

Kyambura gorge and Maramagambo forest contrast with the parks open savanna grasslands. Guided walks offer sightings of primates (chimpanzees in Kyambura) and rare forest birds in the 100m depth of a forest chasm. 

Volcanic crater drives

Volcanic Craters pock the landscape in the north of Mweya, and the 27km drive around the rim of these craters some filled with water to form lakes, forest and grassland tells about the tectonic history. Katwe town, has the Katwe saline lakes where locals have been extracting by evaporation since the 14th Century. 


The easiest route to the park is from Kampala, through Mbarara, and is about a five to six-hour drive. Also, through Fort portal from Kibale Forest one can get to Queen Elizabeth National park about a 2-hour drive. 

Charter flights can also be arranged to the surrounding areas of Kasese, Mweya and Ishasha from Kajansi airfield or Entebbe International Airport. 


The park has a wide of range of accommodation with one of the oldest luxury safari lodge Mweya safari lodge and newly emerging lodges like Bush lodge, Simba Safari camp, Elephant plains, Buffalo safari lodge, Elephant hub among others. 

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