Queen Elizabeth national park is one of Uganda’s oldest national parks originally called Kazinga national park. The park is located about 376 KM from Kampala city center by road to western Uganda, covering districts of Kasese, Bushyenyi, Kamwenge and Rukungiri
Queen Elizabeth is a must visit national park mainly because of her rolling savannah hoe to over 90 mammal species and unique birdlife. The park extends from Lake Edward, lake George through the Kazinga channel and borders the Rwenzori Mountains.
• Distances from Mweya
• Kampala 418 kms 7 hours
• Fort Portal 144 kms 3 hours
• Kasese 64 kms 1 hour
• Ishasha 123 kms 3hrs
• Katunguru Gate 20 kms 45 mins
• Kabatoro Gate 8 kms 20 mins
• Buhoma (Bwindi NP) 213 kms 5 hrs
Getting into the park or more specifically to Mweya for those without their own transport can be frustrating to say the least. Hoping to catch a ride from the Katunguru gate is the best place to wait for transport going through to Mweya. Parks vehicles make this journey often throughout the day and may pick you up. Parks staff at Mweya resort to requesting lifts from anyone making the journey between the main road and Mweya as they have the same transport problems as you will find yourself in. Wait at the barrier for a lift to the main road when leaving Mweya. You could of course guarantee access to the park by considering a private hire vehicle from Kasese. If your part of a group this would be an ideal cost sharing option.
Matatu’s make the journey from Kasese to Katwe throughout the day. Ask to be dropped on the main road at the turning to park entrance (100m) and wait at the gate for transport going through to Mweya. From the Kabatoro gate it is 8 km to Mweya.
For those with their own transport Mweya can be approached through the Katunguru gate and along the Channel Track (the option for most people approaching from Kampala direction) or through the Main gate at Kabatoro (better for those approaching from Kasese direction).
Queen Elizabeth National Park is 1,978 Km2 in area and is situated astride the Equator in the Western Rift Valley of South West Uganda, close to the Southern most tip of the Ruwenzori Mountains and is contiguous with Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire).
It is a region of varied habitats including, open grassland with thickets, thick bush, forest, swamps and lakeshore. Queen Elizabeth National Park together with Virunga National Park in (DRC) completely encircles Lake Edward, which is connected to Lake George by the Kazinga Channel.
The peninsular area including the Channel Track down to the Katunguru gate and across to the Kabatoro gate has a thick ground cover of dense vegetation predominated by Candelabra Thorn. Game viewing can be difficult. There are several game drive tracks to follow that are well maintained. The signposting can be difficult to follow at times and it is most likely you will get lost at some point. The main road in the park and the Channel Track are obvious features that the game drive tracks juncture at some stage.
Most people that come to Mweya do so to enjoy a 2 hour cruise on the Kazinga Channel. The park operates a 20 person motorized vessel. There are sometimes 3 cruises a day depending on numbers of persons interested. Visit the parks office at Mweya to register your interest in a trip. The parks office will marry groups and individuals together to condust a cruise. Trips depart from the jetty below the lodge. Walk or drive to the jetty by exiting through the barrier at the entrance to Mweya HQ.
This is a open savannah area where Uganda Kob are the dominant mammals. Lions are frequently seen here on game drives. The Kasenyi Track can be reached by leaving Mweya on the main road to Kabatoro gate and proceeding to the main Mbarara-Kasese road. Immediately opposite is the Kasenyi Track and parallel Kasenyi Channel tracks. There are many tracks leading off the main track to follow and explore. A visit to Kasenyi is best conducted in the morning.
Crater Lakes Region:
This area comprises a scenic area of explosion craters, some containing salt lakes, formed by volcanic activity some 8-10,000 years ago. Some of the craters are dry. The craters form a unique scenic vantage point and are important dry season watering points for animals. Buffalo and Elephant are commonly seen on the crater floors. Flamingo are common residents.
The crater area is such a captivating and breathtaking phenomenon. It’s impossible to give a fair description of the crater area, there is nothing with which to compare. It is one of the wonders of Uganda/East Africa
The Kyambura river gorge is situated on Northeastern side of the Park (QENP) 35 kms from Mweya. The Ranger camp is signposted ‘Figtree camp’ on the main Kasese-Mbarara road. Departing Mweya via the Katunguru gate, turn right and cross the bridge over the Kazinga Channel and proceed approximately 12 kms before turning left for 3 kms along a track leading to Figtree Camp.
The Gorge spans a distance of 16 kms and it’s deepest is some 100m deep and at it’s widest point over 500 metres. The Gorge emerges between savannah grasslands and has a riverine virgin forest that transits to papyrus swamps towards the Kazinga Channel.
It is the only place in the Park where chimpanzees tracking activities are conducted. These chimps have been “Habituated” to allow for viewing at close quarters. Other primates include B/W Colobus Monkey, Red-tailed monkey, baboons and vervet monkeys. The Gorge is in addition an important water source for savannah animals.
Maramagambo Forest is one of the largest forests in Uganda. It is a medium altitude, moist, semi-decidious forest. Characteristics of such forest are increasingly becoming rare in Africa. Attractions in the forest include: primates, e.g. Lhost monkeys, chimpanzees, bush baby, baboons, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys.
The best access to the forest is through the park gate close to Jacana Safari Lodge. There is a research station where vehicles can be left and a guide sourced. Visits are conducted on foot.
Wildlife in the park
Queen Elizabeth is popular because of the wildlife diversity with over 95 species of mammals hippopotami, elephants, leopards, lions,chimpanzees, hyena and side-striped jackal are seen, antelope present include Uganda kob, bushbuck, topi and waterbuck. Tree climbing lions in ishasha section of the park and over 500 bird species
Activities in the park
Game drives along the Kasenyi plains and the Kazinga channel drive circuit. The Kasenyi plains drive stretches via Lake George through the rolling savannah of Queen Elizabeth national park.
- Launch Cruise along the Kazinga channel
- Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura George
- Katwe crater lake tour Salt is extracted from this rift valley lake
- Maramagambo forest walk