Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Formerly called Kazinga National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park was founded in 1952 and is a home to various species of birds and mammals. The 764 square mile national park has beautiful volcanic features like crater lakes and volcanic cones.

When you visit this national park, you are assured of seeing animals like buffalos, climbing lions, chimpanzees, crocodiles, elephants, hippopotamuses, hyenas and Uganda kobs.

The park, which is governed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, has maintained it cultural background by promoting opportunities for tourists/visitors to visit the local communities and witness their activities like storytelling, traditional music and dances, to mention but a few.

The cultural experience together with the wildlife park make Queen Elizabeth National Park the most popular and most visited tourist destination in Uganda.

Elephant drink up

History of the Park

The land was occupied by Basongora pastoralists but due to cattle raids from Buganda and Bunyoro kingdoms, and an outbreak of epidemics (rinderpest and smallpox); the area became depopulated. They had to turn to fishing from Lake Edward and Lake George. As a result, the population the wild animals increased and the vegetation in the area changed as well. This played a big part in the formation of the national park by British protectorate administration.

It was in 1906 when it was decided that a game reserve be declared over the area near Lake George to regulate the hunting activities by the Africans and Europeans; as well as to promote the production of cotton and wheat. However, in 1912, the game reserve was declared a restricted area together with the entire Lake George.

On 31st March 1952, the chief game warden and the governor succeeded to have national park ordinance passed. It became Kazinga National Park and was legally gazetted later the same year. It covered the Lake George Game Reserve area, Kazinga channel and big chunk of land east of Lake Edward.
Two years later, in commemoration of the visit by the Queen of the United Kingdom, the park was renamed Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Location of the Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is in Western Uganda in the districts of Kamwenge, Kasese, Rubirizi and Rukungiri.
The distance from Entebbe airport via Mbarara town to the park is approximately 434 kilometers by road. The journey can take 6 to 9 hours depending on driving speed and the duration of the stop overs. The main stop overs on this route are at Mpambire drum makers, the Equator at Kayabwe, Lake Mburo National Park and Igongo Cultural Centre.
The distance from Entebbe airport via Mityana, Mubende, Fort Portal and Kasese towns to the park is approximately 462 kilometers by road. The journey can take 6 to 9 hours depending on the driving speed and the duration of the stop overs as well.

Air travel travel from Entebbe to the national park is also possible by scheduled or chartered aircrafts. There are airstrips in Ishasha, Kasese and Mweya.

The park is next to the Rwenzori mountains; and is made up of crater lakes, wetlands, forests and savanna grasslands; making it a good home for birds, primates and wildlife.
The thirty-two-kilometer channel that connects Lake Edward and Lake George called the Kazinga channel, is a spectacular sight, a dormant feature in the national park. It is home to one of the world’s largest concentration of hippos and Nile crocodiles. It also attracts a wide range of other animal species.

The Best Time to Visit

The climate allows tourists to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park at any time of the year. However, it is during the dry season when you can have the best moments because the roads are passable, and the vegetation is thin allowing easy view of the animals especially when they gather around water sources. It is also when bird watching is at its best and chimpanzee tracking in Kambura is at its best.
The months of the dry season are January, February, June, July, August and September.

The off peak season – when prices are lowered – is in the months of April, May, October and November. The weather is usually at its worst due to the rains, making accessibility to some parts of the park hard. The roads become slippery making 4-wheel drive vehicles the ideal cars of use.

To have a memorable safari in Queen Elizabeth national park, five days should be set aside to cover the whole park and exhaust its wonders.

Adventure Tourism Activities

There is so much that goes on in the national park but here are the most popular activities that have captured the interest of most visitors.

Chimpanzee tracking in the Kyambura gorge presents the experience of finding chimpanzees in their natural habitat. It is also a good moment to see some birds of various kinds. The best time for this is between 8:00am and 2:00pm on any day.

Wildlife viewing is the major activity that takes place in the three sectors of Ishasha, Kasenyi, and Mweya. A Game Drive is the best way to move around the park that is home to big game like 3,000 elephants, 5,000 hippos, 10,000 buffaloes, a good number of Uganda kobs, antelopes, topis, waterbucks and warthogs.
You cannot miss other primates like the colobus monkeys and baboons.
The 600 bird species are available for bird watchers to see.
The big cats like the lions, leopards and several other cats are spread all over the national park and catching a glimpse of them is good reward for your journey.
The best time for wildlife viewing is at 6:30am in the morning.

Hot Air Balloon Ride is an activity that unique experience since it gives you an aerial view of the nocturnal animals and the inhabitants near the park. The best time for this adventure is early in the morning at 5:30am.
Other interesting activities include bird watching, boat cruises along the Kazinga channel, hiking, lion tracking, nature walks; visiting the local community, the explosion crater and the Katwe salt works.

Key Facts to have in Mind

Climbing lions

When preparing to have a safari to the wilderness of Queen Elizabeth National Park, there some key fact you should have in your note book.

The Safari company of choice should be a member of Association of Uganda Tour Operators, since it maintains a list only credible tour and travel operators. Check reviews of clients that have used their service before you hand them your trust.

Hiding in a tree as a way of escaping from a lion is a big mistake since there are climbing lions roaming the national park.

If you like hiking, do not leave behind your hiking gear. Mountain Rwenzori hiking is an activity some visitors have enjoyed over time. The hike can take up to 10 days.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is close to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park; where tourists can have a mountain gorilla experience.

The prices for the key activities vary; entrance fees are USD40 per person to be able to access the national park; Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura gorge is USD50 per person; a boat cruise at Kazinga Channel is USD30 per person; a night game drive is USD 40 per person and it’s a must to have a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger guide along.

You need not worry about accommodation at the national park; there are over 15 safari lodges that offer a good scenery, bed and breakfast.

Queen Elizabeth national park is highly recommended to any person visiting Africa and Uganda in particular seeking to drown themselves in the world’s raw culture, nature and wildlife.

52 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda”

  1. Hi there, a lot of people think that Africa is very dangerous place. I visit couple countries there and I didn’t feel bad there. This continent is much different, but so beautiful. It is good that someone is describing how nice places you can find there. Maybe because of it, more people will visit this outstanding place. 

    1. Thank you Igor for demystifying the belief that Africa is a dangerous place. For people that like adventure and the beauty of nature, I will dedicate time to share more about wonderful places in Africa.
      Thank you Igor for your nice comment.

  2. You have just described what could be my ideal holiday. I always wanted to doa Safari since I can remember but it alwasy seems an idea too far fetched or too expensive to realize. This year I am turining 50 and reading your post made me realize how much I really want to go there. Thank you for the detail description and thank you for the tips about the best time to visit adn what one shoul or should not do while on a Safari. You seem to know a lot about Africa I sure hope to read soon some more of your articles.

    Thank you 

    1. Barbara, I am glad you liked the article. I hope one day you will fulfill your dream to be on a safari. Thank you for the comments and stay blessed.

  3. I have read much on most places to visit in Africa, and the most interesting ones being that Masai Mara of Kenya and the Queen Elizabeth one you deeply talked about in the above article! I love African national parks especially those of East Africa that are enriched with beautiful creatures like the rhinoceros and the lions, I also like watching more on the seasonal migration of some animals that cross between the countries Kenya and Uganda! Very informative piece of writing!

    1. Thank you Abdirashid for following East Africa’s tourism. It will be a matter of time that you will physical visit these places.
      Thank you for your comment.

  4. You know I didn’t know there was such a thing as climbing lions… I don’t really have much interest in dry areas so if I ever go there I think I’ll stay by the lodges most of the time hahaha anyways thanks it was so informative… are there any watery tourist places in Uganda by the way?

    1. Donny, there a number places you can visit that are watery. We have a number of water falls that would blow your mind like Murchison falls, Bujagali falls, Sipi falls, Sezibwa falls and more. There are a number of lakes too.
      Thank you for your comment Donny.

  5. Hi Ahimbe,

    Great article and I am glad I stumbled upon it. I find it quite curious “Climbing Lions”. Lions don’t normally climb and i have heard at this national park it is quite unique.


    Why do they climb?


    1. Derek, these special kind of lions defies what you were told; they climb.
      They climb to rest in the trees at the same time the trees provide good cover to way lay passing game (antelopes and kobs) as prey.
      Your curiosity will end when you visit.
      Thank you for your comment.

  6. Hi Ahimbe,

    Never been to Africa because really I am terrified of flying. I can’t go anywhere in the world cos of this fear. Would love to go though but I would love to visit Nigeria and Ghana. As for where all the lions be at then I’d be maybe too cautious as a person to venture there.

    Loved reading this entire article and I wish the world would bring a slice of Africa to where I am. Sure, we got Zoo’s but its tough to see proud lions and other animals locked up. It really is. I can see their spirit crushed from captivity at times.

    Thank you so much for this amazing article Ahimbe, and I just noticed, Hot Air Balloon Ride – I nearly fainted! No way hehe 🙂 .

    1. Phil, you are welcome to visit Ghana and Nigeria. That will be a good start. Who knows, you could tour more countries.
      National parks have trained guides and guards to ensure your safety.
      Thank you for your comment.

  7. It is my dream to travel to Africa, I am such an animal lover and would absolutely love to visit here. Thank you so much for this very valuable information 🙂

  8. Hello Edgar,

    This is a great write up about Queen Elizabeth National Park. Readers like me who are looking for a place to go would have an idea on what to expect and on what are the exciting activities that could be done in the National Park. I also like it when the history is included in the article. I never had thought how nice it is to visit Africa, however, with your article, it changed everything and I long to visit the place.

    Truly Africa is a nice place to explore.

  9. These are great information for tour lovers, animal lovers and wildlife photographer; and I am all three. Today I was surfing for a destination for shooting chimpanzees and reached here in this site. I listen about “Queen Elizabeth National Park” where chimpanzees and climbing lions are available. The overall knowledge become more rich by your article. Thank you for share.

  10. Hey!

    I have only once been in Africa, in Tunisia. It was about 20 years ago, so it has been a while since I was there.

    Oh wow this place looks amazing! I will definitely put this on my “must see” places!

    Thanks for this great information! I will book mark your website, so I’ll find it later! Have a nice Sunday 🙂

    1. Mira thank you for bookmarking this site. It is a sure sign that your second visit to Africa is around the corner. Everything will be set and I am sure it will be memorable.

  11. You have given such a beautiful description of this national park. I would love to visit one day. Thanks so much also for explaining the best time to go based on weather conditions and high season. I would love to see such an amazing wildlife.

  12. Hi Aimbe,
    I enjoyed reading your post. Visiting Africa is a dream of mine and while I would enjoy seeing all the animals, the chimpanzees tracking would be my favorite. Thanks for the great post and this is also motivating for reaching my dream. Have a great day.

    1. Thank you Phyllis for making your interests known. I can assure you the chimpanzees are going no where till you see them! I pray your dream comes to reality one day.

  13. Wow! I really enjoyed reading this article about Queen Elizabeth National Park. I’ve always wanted to visit Africa and the safari. Thanks for giving such detailed information and beautiful pictures.
    This sounds like a beautiful place to visit. I appreciate you letting us know the months of the dry season. I certainly don’t want to mess up and go when it’s raining the entire time. When I go, I want to be able to travel easily and see as many of the animals as possible.
    I just might have to set aside a week of time so I can take this trip.
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Hey Ahimbe,

    First off, what a wonderful website! it is so interesting and full of informational content about such a beautiful continent.
    I ‘ve always wanted to go to Africa no matter how far it is from my country.
    I know that you guys have a unique culture and gorgeous nature.
    Thus queen Elisabeth national park looks marvelous. It offers plenty of adventurous activities which I like.
    How much is the entrance?

    1. Thank you Asen for your kind comments.
      I hope you one day come visit us.
      You wanted to know the fees so here go!
      Park entry fees is $40
      Chimpanzee tracking is $150
      Meals range from $10 to $20
      Accomodation ranges from $60 to $150

  15. Thanks for these valuable information, Ahimbe! This is surely a one-stop shop page on somebody looking for a great tourist destination in Africa. It will be more so if you can add links on where to buy tickets, map from airport to the park, choices of hotels, etc.

    I think changing its name was a great idea as Queen Elizabeth National Park is easier to remember.

    1. Jhie, I appreciate your kind comment.
      I am definately working on the links that are helpful like you stated.
      I am glad you liked the name of the park too. Stay blessed.

  16. Its breath taking to see a number of animals in only one picture! Elephants, Buffaloes, Hippo and are those two kinds of bird species?
    Wow, Queen Elizabeth national park should be a place to visit. A friend who has visited the park like twice now, told me that you get to see almost all the animals in the park before yo reach the gates where you have to pay for the tickets…I find that very interesting!

  17. Its breath taking to see a number of animals in only one picture! Elephants, Buffaloes, Hippo and are those two kinds of bird species?
    Wow, Queen Elizabeth national park should be a place to visit. A friend who has visited the park like twice now, told me that you get to see almost all the animals in the park before yo reach the gates where you have to pay for the tickets…I find that very interesting!

    1. QENP is indeed a park of wonders. The action (wildlife viewing) starts at the edge of the park. Elisha you should also visit one day.
      Thank you for your comment.

    1. Abe Rosa, I am sure you will have that activity handled well for you by the park rangers.
      I am soon posting about bird watching and I am sure it will be a delight to readers.
      Thank you for your comment Abe Rosa.

  18. The article is very informative, Ahimbe! It takes away one’s doubt and increases one’s curiosity and interest. I will look out for more of your articles so that I may plan my holidays better!

    1. Roz, I appreciate your comment since it indicates I have helped you with more information for your holiday plans. Keep checking with the website as I will be adding more information.

  19. Great, I have always been planing to pay a visit to national parks especially those located in East Africa like Masaai Mara but I never knew that there is this spectacular park, Kazinga National park! Thanks for updating me with the staff that is found in this park!! I will add it to my plan book.

  20. Very in-depth article about Queen Elizabeth National Park. If I was to go to Africa, I think I would visit the park sometime in June or July. But, I wonder, how hot would it be during these months?

  21. This was fun to read as I enjoy hiking and wildlife. I have never hiked outside of the U.S. so this looks very different to me. Although I have seen many deer, snakes, birds, squirrels, and other small animals on my hikes, there is nothing very large or dangerous. Even the bears stay away as long as they do not feel threatened. Very interesting article; thanks for sharing. I may never see Africa, but your tips will be very helpful if I do.

  22. Hey, great post and thanks for sharing.

    Africa is definitely on my bucket list to visit, and with reading your post I think Uganda is definitely a place I would take in.

    I love animals and it would be amazing to see in the flesh the animals you have described here, the elephants and leopards will be fascinating.

    Thanks again for sharing and keep up the good work.


  23. I know a lot of people that have gone to Africa to volunteer and college student friends that have studied there and taken trips. Maybe I’ll even get to go there someday. Thank you for the informative post and for talking about this beautiful National Park 🙂

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