Queen Elizabeth national park

Queen Elizabeth national park is Uganda’s second-largest and oldest protected conservation area in Uganda. Situated in the low-lying Rift Valley, where it intersects the equator to the south of the Rwenzori mountains and north of the Kigezi highlands. The park, which covers 1,978 sq km is located in the western arm of the Rift Valley, known as the Albertine region, within the western region of Uganda. It covers districts such as Kasese, Rubirizi, Rukungiri, and Kamwenge.

The history of the park dates back to the 1920s when it was designated as a wildlife reserve. It officially became a national park in 1952 under the name Kazinga National Park and was later renamed in 1954 to Queen Elizabeth National Park to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Uganda.

The park protects a remarkably diverse landscape, featuring tropical habitats such as rolling grasslands, moist acacia woodlands, tropical rainforests, sheer-sided volcanic calderas, and various wetland habitats. These wetlands include the open waters and swampy shores of Lakes Edward and George, the 40 km-long Kazinga Channel connecting them, and several freshwater and saline crater lakes. There are about 10 distinct communities within the park, each engaging in different activities.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to  95 mammal species, over 600 bird species, and 10 primates found in locations like Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest. The park’s significance extends beyond its wildlife, encompassing the cultural heritage of the region and the conservation efforts aimed at preserving this natural sanctuary.

Visitors to Queen Elizabeth National Park can explore the diverse ecosystems through activities like game drives, boat safaris along the Kazinga Channel, and guided tours in areas like Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest. The park stands as a testament to Uganda’s commitment to conservation, offering a glimpse into the country’s natural wonders and diverse ecosystems.


queen elizabeth national park

The park is covered by open grasslands, savanna woodlands, freshwater river and lakes and saline lakes. The northern part of park is covered by savanna grassland which is dotted with cactus trees and tall grass that looks golden in morning when sunrises and in evening when sun sets.these grasses act as the hunting groupings for lions since they camouflage with the color however during rainy season, grassland covers the hills of queen Elizabeth providing a beautiful scenery

The  southern part has savanna woodland which has acacia trees like acacia hooky, acacia Gerald, white don acacia. This area is famously known for tree climbing lions due to the presence of sycamore fig trees(Cycus sycamorus). Queen Elizabeth national park has reversed shrubs that don’t allow other plants to grow under them. These include lantana tryfolia, sickle bush. The park also incorporates substantial areas of papyrus swamp around Lake George which is listed as ramsar wetland as well as the extensive rainforest of Maramagambo forest and riparian woodland in Kyambura gorge.  During the geological up evil that led to formation of crater lakes whereby some were left as cradlers filled with grass and trees. Some are filled with fresh water bodies like lake George, Edward, Kazinga channel, others are salty like lake Katwe, Bunyampaka. These salty lakes attract flamingo birds  


queen elizabeth national park

Queen Elizabeth National park is a place of abundant wildlife including the migratory birds and lesser-known species. These species come from countries like the USSR, South Africa and others during winter seasons. The park is a home to 95 mammals where by 20 are predators including the big cats like leopards, civet, genet, serval, lions. 10 primates including chimpanzee in Kyambura gorge, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkey, red colobus, L’hoest monkeys. Thus showcasing the delicate balance between predator and prey, herbivores and carnivores, and the intricate web of life that defines this remarkable ecosystem.

The park’s largest population is African elephants which roam freely across the savannah,  rivers and lakes support a multitude of species like Nile crocodiles which bask in the sun along the banks. Hippos submerge their bodies in water during the day becoming more active as the sun sets and venture out to graze on the riverbanks under the moonlit sky. The intertwining waterways also host a rich variety of birdlife, from African fish eagles and kingfishers to storks and pelicans, creating a place for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

The Ishasha sector of the park introduces a unique and rare sight of tree-climbing lions. Here, the lions have developed the remarkable behavior of ascending into the branches of large fig trees, providing a surreal image of these powerful predators lounging in the treetops. 

In addition to the megafauna, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a haven for a myriad of smaller creatures, each playing a crucial role in the delicate balance of the ecosystem. From the industrious dung beetles to the agile antelopes, every species contributes to the intricate web of life that sustains the landscape.

Conservation efforts within the park are essential to ensure the continued flourishing of its diverse inhabitants. Community involvement, sustainable tourism practices, and anti-poaching initiatives play pivotal roles in safeguarding the future of Queen Elizabeth National Park and the magnificent wildlife it harbors.

Maramagambo forest

Maramagambo forest is located in the northern part of queen elizabeth national park near Kichwamba escarpment. The immense forest runs west of the Katungulu- Ishaka road bordering the two crater lakes that to say; lake Nyamasingiri and Kyasaduka. The forest derived its name from the local people when their two kids got lost from the forest for almost two days and when they came back couldn’t speak the name Maramagambo meaning end of words. It is famously known for the bat cave

The Maramagambo forest is characterized by a variety of tree species with tall trees that create a dense canopy that contribute to the overall lushness of the forest. These trees include; fig, mahogany and ebony trees. It has numerous vines and epiphytes which is added to its biodiversity; these plants cling on trees and create a dynamic and complex ecosystem.  The forest floor is covered with fern, mosses and other smaller plants that help to maintain the ecological balance of the forest. Maramagambo Forest is home to several primate species, including colobus monkeys and baboons.  Another notable attraction in the Maramagambo forest is the bat cave which accommodates a large colony of the Egyptian fruit bats and they are always hanging from the ceiling. The forest offers an array of bird species some of these notable bird species include; Dark-capped warbler, Blue throated roller, Sulphur-breasted bush-shrike, Black Bishop, Black bee-eater, Burbur, Mash Tchagra and Barbets. Due to the presence of  wetlands within the forest, It also harbors a variety of amphibians and reptiles which include snakes, frogs and other aqua life.

Katwe and the Northern crater lakes

Lined with  rundown, partially borderd up buildings that give it an aura of the recently resettled ghost town, the small but sprawling settlement of katwe occupies an odd urban enclsve within queen elizabeth national park boundaries on the thress sides and lapped by the waters of lake edward to the south. A potentially interesting goal for backpackers who cannot 

Lake katwe

Lake Katwe, named after the crater lake it borders, has been a vital source of coarse salt in Uganda for over 500 years. Nestled within the volcanic caldera, this hyper-saline lake, covering 2.5 square kilometers, stands as one of Uganda’s oldest and most productive salt sources.

It was separated from the northern shores of Lake Edward by a 400-meter-wide edge, Lake Katwe’s history is deeply rooted in its salt-rich waters. The view from the edge reveals a hole of individually worked extraction plots around the shores, showcasing the traditional process of salt harvesting.

For those curious about the salt extraction process, a short road leads to the lakeshore, allowing visitors to witness the age-old practice up close. Historical records suggest that Lake Katwe was first mentioned by Speke, who learned about its legendary salt wealth close to the “Mountains of the Moon.” By 1862, the lake had been mined for over 400 years, with salt considered more valuable than precious metals in pre-colonial Uganda.

In the late 1870s, Lake Katwe became part of Toro but was later recaptured by Omukama Kabalega in a coup against a combined British-Toro expedition led by Captain Frederick Lugard. Lugard, arriving at Katwe in 1890, described the scene: “Everywhere were piles of salt, in heaps covered with grass…a salt lake, about three-quarters of a mile in diameter, at the bottom of a deep crater-like depression.”

The resident Banyoro, recognizing the strategic importance of the site, built a small fort, marking the first military confrontation in the region. Today, remains of the fort still exist.

Lake Katwe’s appearance changes to a rich claret color when salt concentration reaches a certain level, a phenomenon observed during the harvesting season. However, even today, the lake maintains an atmosphere described by early explorers as stifling and malodorous, a haunting quality that lingers in the midday light.

The peak of commercial salt extraction from Lake Katwe was in the early 1970s, with a prominent plant in Katwe village leading the operations. However, production ceased due to corroded pipework, leaving the village in a state of decline. Despite this setback, a recent university study brings promising news as it estimates that the lake still harbors a vast resource of over 20 million tonnes of crystalline salt.

In response to these findings, plans are now in motion to breathe new life into the salt extraction industry. A proposed initiative aims to construct a modern factory, ensuring the sustainable development and effective resource management of Lake Katwe. This comprehensive university study and plan emphasizes the potential for continued local income generation through salt extraction, ushering in a new chapter for the village and its economic prospects.

Lake Katwe’s legacy as a salt source is deeply intertwined with Uganda’s history. The lake, with its unique color-changing phenomenon and traditional salt extraction methods, offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural and economic past.

Lake munyanyange

The lake is known for the large number of lesser and sometimes greater flamingos that gather there when conditions are right. Most usually from September to ,march. It also usually supports a selection of resident and seasonally migrant waders.

Mweya peninsula

Located in 10 sq km of queen elizabeth national park and elevated arrowhead of bushy land connected to the northern mainland by a natural isthmus little wider than the road that traverses it. Protruding between lake edward and the Kazinga channel, immediately north of where the two waters merge, the peninsula has an inspiration setting, overlooking an archetypal equatorial african river bank scene, with elephant and buffalo milling around the opposite shore., subverted by occasional glimpses of the snowy Rwenzori peaks. Logistically Mweya remains the popular base for exploring queen elizabeth national park since it is the main launch point for the park’s most iconic activity boat excursions on the Kazinga channel.

What to do and see in Queen Elizabeth national park

The park offers a wide range of activities for example; chimpanzees trekking, birding, game drive, birding, experiential specifically for lion and leopard 

Game drive

queen elizabeth national park

Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a choice between self-guided or expert-led game drives, each unveiling a unique aspect of the park’s vibrant wildlife. The morning game drives start at 8:00 am, a best time when the animals are most active. Kasenyi plains take center stage during these drives, hosting a variety of wildlife, including four of the famed Big Five which include; lions, leopards, elephants, and buffaloes. The vastness of Kasenyi provides one a clear view for observing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

There are other game circuits one can use, each offering a distinct perspective. For instance  Ishasha, Channel, and Crater game drives are perfect for those who prefer the enchantment of an evening safari. The beauty of the setting sun becomes the backdrop for a different kind of wildlife spectacle.

At  7:00 pm, the night game drive begins, unveiling a world that comes alive under the moonlit sky. This is a time to witness the nocturnal wonders of the park, encountering elusive creatures like leopards and hyenas. The guided night safaris offer an intimate glimpse into the secret lives of these predators, as they emerge from their daytime hideouts. The Mweya peninsula, in particular, becomes a hotspot for observing both big and small cats, including civets, genets, servals, and the leopards. Lions, too, make their presence known, adding an element of suspense and excitement to the overall wildlife experience.

As the sun sets over Queen Elizabeth National Park, it not only marks the end of the day but signals the beginning of a captivating nocturnal adventure. Each drive, whether in the morning or night, unfolds like a story, weaving together moments of awe and discovery amidst the untamed beauty of the Ugandan wilderness.

Chimpanzee tracking

Chimpanzees in queen are mostly known as the Uganda chimpanzees from the lost gorge since they don’t cross to Maramagmbo forest and Kalinzu. They are isolated since they were destroyed in the past 15 years by the hunters

Chimpanzee tracking always happens in two shifts every day, that is to say morning and afternoon. Morning tracking begins at 8:00am from the briefing point to the gorge. This session gives one to see most of the primates since they are active during this time.

Afternoon tracking begins at 1:00pm, tourists move around searching for gorillas. the briefing under the fig tree camp whereby tourists are divided into a group of four people being led by the guide. Kyambura gorge harbors a family of 23 chimpanzees where by they are led by the alpha male called Kihango. Allocating these chimps can be by the help of their pant hood calls which make the guide move slowly and meet them. There are other primates like black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red colobus, and L’hoest monkey. These are met along the way, on trees sleeping, feeding on them.

Community walk

Queen Elizabeth is a biosphere and has a biosphere environment consisting of 10 communities. These communities include Kasoga, Rubirizi, Kikolongo, Katunguru, Kasenyi, Katwe, Kamukungu, Muhocha, Rwenshama, and Bunyampaka each community has an economic activity it does to stay within the park. Different nature walks are done experiencing the livelihood. For example 


The word Kikorongo means too much sunshine in the local language due to hot climatic conditions. The place experiences sunshine throughout the year due to the presence of the equator  in Kikolongo village.  The place is found in the northern part of the park. The community consists of a women group called Kikorongo women community who showcase their culture through dancing for guests at different lodges around the park. They own art shops which make crafts like necklaces from cultural materials and fabrics, bowls, purses, baskets and belts.tourist experience how to do basket weaving.

Agro-tour walk

This is done in the Kichwamba zone, the eastern block of western rift valley. The hike starts from Katara village with a lead guide. Tourists are exposed to the local farming methods like cattle keeping, exotic and local plants. One learns about the human wildlife which is one of ,major problems in the area. Along the way there are beehives that are used by the locals to scare away elephants that are destructive to their plants. Even tourists get a chance to try out honey harvesting.

Kimeme walk is done in the Ishasha sector and there is a group of 15 children that  exhibit cultural performances both in Rukiga and Rwandese. 


This is found in the northern part of the park. It has a salty lake called Katwe which immerses women, men and children in salt extraction. Tourists are exposed to the insight of the salt mining process, homestead and cooking demonstrations. The guide will lead you to lake Munyanyange which has migratory birds of lesser flamingo. Salt mining  has supported the lives of locals.

Nyanzibiri cave community

The hiking gives a greater view of the crater lakes and also emits voices of the gray crowned cranes and eagles. One is exposed to the culture by visiting the cave and Bunyaruguru hut which act as a museum for the artifacts that were made in the ancient regime. The community facilitates tourists indifferent ways, for example it has restaurants and accommodations, in the evenings they perform cultural dances. The purchasing of these antiquities, food and accommodation, one is supporting community development, conservation and education projects in the place.

Kasoga community

The  place is located in Kamukungu fishing village  on lake George Ramsar, south western part of Kasenyi plains. The community offers a wide range of various activities for example; community birding, fishing tips, traditional cultural practices, community walks.

Bird watching

Due to the presence of biomes like swamps, humid rainforests, grasslands, plains ,woodlands, streams, salty craters, lakes and rivers. These support birds to find their favorite spots that enable them to reproduce, feed and live comfortably. 

The park is a habitat to over 600 birds among these include the migratory and endemic birds.queen Elizabeth national park has a favorable climate that goes into 29 degrees celicius and drop to about 17 degrees celicius this favors the migrate bird to escape from different continents and countries like Europe, South Africa, USSR during winter. They are always seen in their special habituated areas like;

Maramagambo forest in the western Rift Valley along Kichwambwa escarpments. The forest harbors forest birds including; African emerald cuckoo, yellow bill, black coucal, African mustached warbler, brown illadopsis, red throated wryneck, barbets, blue shouldered robin chat.

Mweya peninsula near Kazinga channel and  around this place most of birds are water birds which include; gray headed kingfisher, swamp flycatcher, Nubian woodpecker, martins, swamp nightjar, little bee eater, african mourning dove, little bee eater. Lake Kikolongo, an extension of Lake George harbors water fowls like shoebill, African jacana, black crake, yellow wagtail, saddle billed stork, sacred ibis.

 The Ishasha sector due to different tree species in the area there are bird species like African green pigeon, palm but culture, cristicola, martial eagle, gray kestrel,african crowned eagle, African wattled plover, shoebill

The Kate sector is filled with salty lakes which attract lesser flamingos that are found at lake Munyanyange and other birds like black bishop, marsh tchagra, white breasted nigro finch, sulphur breasted bush shrike, chestnut wattle eye.

Kasenyi area is located in savanna grasslands, the area consist of savanna birds like; hooded vulture, croaking cristicola, gray backed fiscal, long crested eagle, white tailed lark, flapper lark, brown backed sub robin, white backed vulture, repels griffon vulture.

Katunguru bridge is covered with papyrus which offers habitat to birds like; white winged tern, pied kingfisher, white winged warbler, papyrus Gonolek.

Kazinga Channel boat cruise

queen elizabeth national park

Kazinga channel joins lake Edward and George. It is 40 km long below Mweya peninsula. There are always two destinations where one can do boat cruises, that is to say at Mweya peninsula or at katunguru. These cruises are either organized by Uganda wild authority and lodges using Mweya. The Mweya boat cruise is headed by a professional guide. The boat floats on water where the tourists are able to view wildlife. Katunguru  boat cruise  runs the east side of Kazinga channel from cases to Rubirizi passing under Kazinga channel boats in this area are smaller compared to those on main Kazinga channel.

During  boat cruise, tourists are able to see papyrus swamps that contain birds like papyrus Gonolek, white winged tee, pied kingfisher, white winged warbler.The area is believed to have a large population of hippos and schools will be seen along the way. Hippos are friendly animals that are always close in school which gives a great view to tourists. Other animals like elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks are seen on shores of the channel some in groups others in solitary. Kazinga channel harbors reptiles like Nile crocodiles, monitor lizards, water monitor lizards are seen on shores sunbathing. The channel consist of

How to access Queen Elizabeth national park

The park can be accessed by using road transport from Kampala or Entebbe is 401.8 km (8hrs drive). Queen Elizabeth national park can also be reached from Kibale national park from north east which is 121 km (3hr drive) passing via Fort Portal- Mpondwe road to Hima- Katunguru connecting to Kasese road. For those seeking a quicker option, there are domestic flights available to the nearby airstrips, such as Kasese or Mweya.

Several airlines operate flights from Entebbe International Airport to these airstrips, significantly reducing travel time. Once you arrive, the park has well-marked entrances, and friendly park rangers are there to welcome you. If you’re driving, there are parking facilities available at the various entry points. Guided tours and safari operators are also present to enhance your experience, providing valuable insights into the park’s wildlife and ecosystems.

It’s advisable to check with the park authorities or your tour operator for any updates on road conditions and travel tips before embarking on your journey. Additionally, booking accommodations in advance ensures a comfortable stay within or around the park, allowing you to make the most of your wildlife adventure.


Accommodations within and around the park cater to various preferences, ranging from luxury lodges to budget-friendly campsites.The budget lodge which include; Queen safari lodge, under mid range there is Buffalo safari lodge and Enganzi safari lodge, those under luxury include; Katala lodge and Park view lodge.These establishments not only provide a comfortable retreat but also contribute to the local economy, fostering a harmonious relationship between tourism and community development.