Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savanna, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.
Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob.
As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems, which in turn benefits the surrounding communities.
Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is truly a Medley of Wonders!
By 1912, the whole of the Lake George and Ishasha areas (Lake George Game Reserve) were declared restricted areas, agricultural and fishing communities moved out to other non-affected areas and the area was largely abandoned. Further outbreaks of sleeping sickness continued up until the mid 1930s. The National Park Ordinance was passed on 31st March 1952 and Queen Elizabeth National Park then, Kazinga National Park was legally gazetted later that year, following intense lobbying by the Chief Game Warden of that time, Bruce Kinloch, and the Governor. As a result, the land area protected within the Lake George Game Reserve area was expanded considerably to include a large area to the east of Lake Edward and Kazinga Channel.
Geography and climate
The area around Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) has two pronounced rainy seasons, due to its location on the equator and the annual migration of the Inter tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The onset of the first rains is typically around late February for all four stations. The onset of the second rains is typically around mid-August. There is no significant difference in the duration of the two rainy seasons at any station. There is equally no significant difference in the amount of rainfall received during the two rainy seasons at any station, except for at Kitwe, where more rainfall occurs during the second rains than during the first rains.
The major tourist activities in the park include game viewing typically around the kasenyi area and game drives in the Ishasha sector in search of the tree climbing lions, chimpanzee tracking in the Kyambura Gorge and the nearby Kalinzu forest reserve, Launch cruise along the Kazinga channel rewards you with sights of a diversity of bird species as well as wildlife, there are also forest walks in the Maramagambo forest which has a bat cave. Queen Elizabeth national Park is surrounded by communities where cultural interactions are possible.
Seek advice from your local Uganda safari operator on how best you can access the park as well as how to pay for any of the activities you wish to get involved in. For those interested in Chimpanzee tracking, note that the permits are booked at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala and it is on first come first served basis.