Home » 12 Best Tourist Attractions In Queen Elizabeth National Park
12 Best Tourist Attractions In Queen Elizabeth National Park
There as several amazing attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park that make it the most popular tourist destination in Uganda.
The park’s varied habitats, including sprawling savannahs, shady, tropical forests, sparkling lakes, and rich wetlands, make it the perfect variety of animals, birds, and reptiles.
Set against the backdrop of the rugged Rwenzori Range, the park’s breathtaking views feature hundreds of huge craters sculpted beautifully into rolling green.
Below are the details of all Queen Elizabeth National Park attractions to see during your Uganda safari tours.
1. Animals In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park prides itself on a great diversity of habitats that include: lakes, rivers, savannah grasslands, forests, and wetlands that serve as home to the biggest variety of Uganda animals that form one of the best attractions In Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth supports at least 95 species of mammals, the highest of any Uganda safari park. The park harbors several carnivores, primates, antelopes, and other herbivores.
Four of the Big Five (Elephants, buffaloes, lions, and leopards) are present. Below are the categories of some of the animals you will see during your Uganda safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Carnivores In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has a checklist of 20 carnivores including;
- Spotted hyenas
- Side-striped jackals
- Banded mongoose
- Civet, and
- Serval cats
- Spotted hyenas
Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous as the best place for travelers on an African safari to see the uncommon Tree-climbing lions that inhabit the remote southern Ishasha Sector of the park.
It is a very breathtaking sight to see the King of the animal kingdom perched up high on one of the branches of the huge fig trees in this area, lazily resting away as the day goes by.
Queen Elizabeth National Park’s lions can also be seen in the Kasenyi plains one of the superb game-viewing sectors of the park.
Primates In Queen Elizabeth National Park
For visitors on primate tours of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to ten species of primates including;
- Black-and-white colobus monkey
- Vervet monkey
- Olive baboon
- Red-tailed monkey
- L’Hoest’s monkey
- Blue monkey
- Red colobus monkey
- Bushbaby, and
These primates can be encountered in the park’s forested sector, including Kyambura gorge on the north-eastern side, and Maramagambo forest in the southern region.
Travelers who are interested in tracking chimpanzees in Uganda can undertake a tracking excursion in the park’s Kyambura gorge where a community of chimpanzees has been habituated for visitors.
Maramagambo hosts around 300 chimpanzees though they are not yet habituated for tracking.
Antelopes In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth harbors a wide variety of antelopes. Uganda kobs are the most common antelopes in Queen Elizabeth with about 20,000 residing in the park.
Bushbucks, Topis, and Defassa waterbucks are also common, while the elusive semi-aquatic sitatunga occurs in the papyrus around Lake George.
Four species of duikers including the Yellow-backed duikers are primarily confined in the Maramagambo forest. Pygmy antelopes are also known to exist in the forest.
Other Herbivores In Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Giant forest hogs
- Bush pigs
Elephants and buffalos are very common. Buffalos are particularly attractive as they are often reddish-brown due to interbreeding with forest buffalo from neighboring Congo.
The park’s elephants are also sometimes said to display affinities with a smaller and slightly hairier forest-dwelling race of elephants found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
More than 5,000 hippos inhabit the park’s waterways, warthogs are very common, and the Kazinga channel is one of the few non-forest areas in Africa where Giant forest hogs are regularly seen.
Also among other ungulates, notable absentees include Rhino, Giraffe, and Zebra.
Reptiles In Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Crocodiles: These are very common in the Kazinga channel.
- African rock pythons: Maramagambo forest is a ‘Bat Cave’ that hosts millions of bats is also home to rock pythons that feed on them.
Note: While Queen Elizabeth now ranks among the most popular places to visit in Uganda, the park suffered an alarming loss of wildlife during the years of instability that followed Amin’s 1971 coup.
2. Birds In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Birds form some of the top attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Of about 1075 species of birds recorded in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to 612 bird species – reputedly the most of any protected area in Africa hence.
This is a remarkable figure for what is relatively a small national park (1,978 km²) by African standards.
To put this in some perspective, that are more birds than have been seen in the 15,000km² Serengeti National Park in Tanzania or the 19,485 km² Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Besides the 54 raptors, Queen Elizabeth National Park host virtually all aquatic bird species of Uganda. The park also hosts a variety of woodland and forest birds, the latter confined in the Maramagambo forest.
Birdlife anywhere in the park is good, but Mweya peninsular is outstanding for a myriad of waterbirds on the Kazinga Channel, the riparian forest of the Ishasha plain harbors more unusual species.
Maramagambo Forest is a superb site for rare forest species, the Kasenyi plains host a variety of acacia woodland birds, and the Katwe area and several crater lakes and swamps are perfect sites to look for Queen Elizabeth National Park birds.
Below Is A List Of Key Uganda Birds To Look At While On Your Uganda Birding Safari In Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Grey-crowned cranes (Uganda National bird)
- White-faced Whistling duck
- Knob-billed Ducks
- Open-billed Stork
- African Jacanas
- African Fish Eagles
- Martial Eagle
- Flamingoes (seasonal)
- African finfoot
- African hobby
- African skimmer
- Ayres’s hawk-eagle
- Black bee-eater
- Black-rumped buttonquail
- Broad-billed roller
- Caspian Plover
- Collared pratincole
- Common sand martin
- Great blue turaco
- Great white pelican
- Grey-winged robin-chat
- Heuglin’s Gull
- Palm-nut vulture
- Papyrus gonolek
- Pel’s fishing-owl
- Pink-backed pelican
- Red-chested sunbird
- Rufous-bellied heron
- Shoebill stork
- Spotted redshank
- Western banded snake eagle
- White-backed night heron
- White-winged Tern
- Yellow-bellied wattle-eye
- Yellow-throated Cuckoo
3. Mweya Peninsula In Queen Elizabeth Park
The 10 square kilometer-Mweya peninsular is Queen Elizabeth National Park’s focal point. This raised arrowhead of bushland protrudes between Lake Edward, George, and Kazinga channels, immediately where the two water bodies merge.
The peninsular has a spectacular setting, overlooking an archetypal equatorial African riverbank scene, with elephants and buffaloes milling around the opposite shore, subverted by occasional glimpses of the snowy Rwenzori peaks.
Logistically, Mweya peninsular remains one of the best attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park and a popular base for visitors’ safari in Uganda to explore Queen Elizabeth National Park.
It houses the park’s oldest and arguably the most exclusive Uganda safari lodge called Mweya Safari lodge, and several budget-friendly UWA-managed guest houses and lies less than 45 minutes drive from the game-viewing circuit on Kasenyi plains.
It is the lunch point of the park’s most iconic activity; a boat cruise on Kazinga Channel. It also contains the Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Visitors Centre.
There is plenty of wildlife that can be seen on or from the Mweya peninsular and there are no restrictions on walking around the developed area between Mweya safari lodge, the airstrip, and the campsite though you should be cautious of any wildlife and hippos in particular.
Herds of elephants and buffaloes often gather to drink on the channel shore facing Mweya safari lodge while Defassa waterbucks, hippos, and warthogs are often seen milling along the peninsula’s road.
Giant forest hogs can sometimes emerge on the airstrip towards dusk, a family of habituated banded mongoose lives in the lodge grounds, and lions and spotted hyenas are heard and seen with a frequency that might unnerve solitary campers.
Birdlife is prolific, Marabou storks regularly roost on a bare tree between the lodge and restaurant, while the striking Red-chested sunbird, black-headed gonolek, and a variety of weavers are among the common residents of the lodge grounds.
4. Kazinga Channel In Queen Elizabeth Park
As you tour Uganda, you will realize that the Kazinga channel is one of the top tourist attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda. This channel is a 40km wide stretch of water linking Lake George in the east and Lake Edward in the west.
Kazinga channel is a beauty spot of Queen Elizabeth National Park and is described as magical by the visitors based on the guest reviews on Trip advisor. The channel is home to one of the highest concentrations of hippos in the world.
It also hosts most of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s wildlife in the dry season. Along the shore of the channel, you will spot herds of buffaloes wallowing in mad, snapping crocodiles trying their trick hunt, and many elephants showering.
Waterbucks and Uganda kobs are also seen here daily while giant forest hogs, lions, and leopards are observed with unexpected frequency. There are also enormous water monitor lizards in the riverine shrubs.
Kazinga channel also attracts several unique species of aquatic birds. It is categorized among the important birding areas in Africa by the International Birding Organisation.
In fact, the launch trip on the Kazinga channel is considered one of the great bird-watching trips in the world. Birds to see at the Kazinga channel during your Uganda tours include;
- Water thick-knee
- Yellow-billed stork
- Various plovers
- Pink-backed pelicans
- White-billed stork
- African Spoonbill
- Black-headed gonolek
- African fish eagle
5. Ishasha Sector In Queen Elizabeth Game Park
The remote southern Ishasha sector is bounded by Lake Edward to the north, the Ishasha River. It is also bordered by the DR Congo border to the west and River Ntungwe to the East.
Ishasha is one of the most captivating game-viewing areas in Uganda; famed for its uncommon tree-climbing lions. These Lions are regularly found lounging in branches of shady fig trees while keeping a close eye on herds of Uganda kobs.
They are one of the best attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Besides the mysterious tree-climbing lions, the acacia woodland and savannah also harbor huge herds of Buffaloes, Topis, and Uganda kobs. Elephants are seasonally common. There are also small family groups of Waterbucks, Warthogs, and various monkeys.
The Ishasha River supports a healthy hippo population which can be observed from the nearby campsite. The forests that fringe the banks of Ishasha River host a good number of bushbucks, and Black and white colobus monkeys or Mantled guereza.
Visit the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth, and you will absolutely love the birding tours in Uganda. Ishasha plains are one of the best bird-watching sights in Queen Elizabeth national park.
The forests along Ishasha River harbor an interesting variety of birds including the localized Cassin’s grey flycatchers, Black bee-eaters, and Broad-bellied rollers.
The papyrus fringed site around Lake Edward is good waterbirds including several herons, Shoebill storks, and Plovers. The Ntungwe River flood plains host black coucal, compact weaver, fan-tailed widow bird, and several other waterbirds.
Ishasha is also a convenient region to pass through on the way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; the home of mountain gorillas.
Tree Climbing Lions In Queen Elizabeth Game Park
As you plan your wildlife safari in Uganda, the tree-climbing lions of the Ishasha sector in the far south of Queen Elizabeth National Game Park should be on your must-see list.
Tree-Climbing Lions are not something that you will encounter on every African safari. Ishasha plains are one of the best places to witness the spectacle.
Whatever the reason may be, all in all, spotting these lions is like a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed while on your safaris in Uganda.
6. Kyambura Gorge In Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Kyambura Gorge is also one of the amazing tourist attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Known as the ‘Valley of Apes’, the gorge is located on the northeastern side of the park, roughly 30 km from park headquarters.
Pronounced by local people as ‘Chambura’, it forms part of the Western Rift Valley. Kyambura gorge was named after Kyambura River which moves through its thick “underground forest”, 100 meters underneath the Kichwamba escarpment.
This gorge is famous for its resident chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes); incredible primates that are close relatives of human beings, sharing almost 99% of our DNA. Chimpanzees are one of four types of “great apes.” The great apes are chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.
Some chimpanzees in Kyambura have been habituated and can be followed through the timberland with prepared Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guides.
Besides chimps, Kyambura Gorge is host several other primates including;
- Red-tailed monkeys,
- Black-and-white colobus monkeys,
- Vervet monkeys, and
- Olive baboons.
Less visible residents in Kyambura Gorge include Bushbucks and Giant forest hogs.
Elephants, Buffaloes, and even lions pass through from time to time and are occasionally seen by chimpanzee trackers.
Kyambura is also one of the top birding spots in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The forested rim of the gorge is one of the best places in Uganda to search for Black bee-eaters and Blue-bellied kingfishers. Other bird specials in Kyambura Gorge include ;
7. Maramagambo Forest In Queen Elizabeth Park
The Maramagambo Forest in the southern sector of Queen National Park is one of the best sites to explore during wildlife safaris in Uganda.
This medium-altitude rainforest runs west from Katunguru−Ishaka road, nearly as far as Lake Edward.
The largest part of the forest is inaccessible to visitors, the only exception being the northern tip around the crater lakes−Lake Kyasanduka and Lake Nyamasingiri.
Maramagambo Forest harbors several primates including;
- The unhabituated population of around 300 chimpanzees,
- Black-and-white colobus monkey,
- L’Hoest’s monkey
- Red-tailed monkey
- Vervet monkey
- Olive baboon
- Blue monkey
- Vervet monkey
- Bushbaby/Galago and
Besides primates, the Maramagambo Forest is home to several other mammal species. These include Giant forest hogs, Yellow-backed duikers, Pygmy antelopes, and Giant elephant shrews.
The Forest is also famous for its ‘Bat Cave’. This has a specially constructed viewing room from which visitors can observe the millions of bats and Rock Pythons.
About 300 meters from the cave, the Blue Lake sits at the bottom of a small deep volcanic crater and owes its coloration to high levels of copper in its water.
Maramagambo forest also supports a rich selection of forest birds. These include Forest greenbuls, Sunbirds, Woodpeckers, the striking Rwenzori turaco, White napped pigeon, and the rare forest flycatchers
8. Kasenyi Plains In Queen Elizabeth Park
The vast savannah of Kasenyi is a great attraction in Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for its game drive circuit. It traverses the bushy plains running east from the Kasese-Ishaka Road to Kasenyi fishing village on Lake George.
This section of the park is dominated by moist short-grass savannah dotted with solitary euphorbia trees and low clumps of the bushy thicket. Kasenyi is an important breeding ground for Uganda kob.
Thousands of Kobs congregate here at times and are also frequented by big herds of buffalo, some bushbucks, and several warthogs.
Huge dark elephants can also be seen here striding across the game drive tracks, providing dream photo opportunities for visitors on Uganda wildlife safaris.
The main tourist attraction at Kasenyi plains, however, is the 3 lion prides that reside in the area.
Lions are commonly seen lurking around the ‘new’ kob breeding grounds. Their presence is often revealed by the male Kobs’, high whistling alarm call.
Kasenyi is also frequented by white-backed and whited vultures that can be seen circling or perched purposely in a tree.
Kasenyi plains also host an interesting selection of grassland birds including;
- Grey-crowned cranes
- Red-throated spurfowl, and
- Yellow-throated longclaw
9. Lake George Ramsar Site In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Lake Gorge covers an area of approximately 251 square kilometers. The first white man to visit Lake Gorge was a British explorer Henry. M. Stanely in 1875.
Stanely named this lake gorge after a British royal family member who was known as Prince Gorge who later became King Gorge V.
Lake George and its papyrus swamps were designated as a Ramsar site in 1988. The papyrus in the northwest of the lake occupies an area of 150 square kilometers, north of the Park.
The Lake George Ramsar site has the highest diversity of bird species of any wetland in Uganda. It harbors more than 491 bird species, including 167 wetland specialists and 9 listed as globally threatened.
The swamp harbors a substantial population of Whale-headed storks or Shoebills. Other residents include papyrus endemics such as;
- White-winged warbler
- Papyrus gonolek
- Papyrus canary, and
- Papyrus yellow warbler
During the northern hemisphere winter, the Lake George Ramsar site attracts a large concentration of migrant waders and waterfowl.
The semi-aquatic sitatunga, a highly elusive antelope also reside here. You can visit the southern tip of the wetland along a 10km dirt road that runs from Kasese-Ishasha road.
10. Explosion Craters In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Several extinct volcanoes of a specifically violent type called the ‘explosion craters’ dot the landscape of the Park. They are one of the most amazing tourist attractions In Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Geographically these craters were formed about 8,000 years ago due to extremely violent volcanic eruptions that blew out of volcanoes.
These craters are home to a good number of birds and offer stunning views and backgrounds for photography. Below are some of the famous craters to see during your Uganda safari trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park;
- Katwe Salt Lake
Katwe Salt Lake, a 2.5 square kilometers hyper-saline is located north of the Mweya peninsular. The lake lies Southeast of the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains and on the western side of the Kazinga Channel.
Lake Katwe occupies the base of a volcanic caldera that last erupted about 10,000 years ago. It is separated from the northern shores of Lake Edward by its 400m wide rim.
This area can be brutally hot and surprisingly dry as it misses the rains that fall on the Rwenzori Mountains and in the Ankole region. There are hundreds of Euphorbia trees in the vicinity of the lake.
- Lake Munyanyange
Lake Munyaga is located closer to the town than Lake Katwe but is hidden from view by an enclosing caldera.
When conditions are right, this small and shallow lake is a bird sanctuary. It is a migratory location for lesser flamingos from August to November. There is also an interesting selection of resident waterbirds that inhabit the Lake.
- Bunyampaka Crater Lake
The circular Lake Bunyampaka occupies the base of a steep but small crater whose rim is covered in thick natural bush. It is an exciting place to relax after the morning game drive in search of lions.
Bunyampaka is one of only two crater lakes in this part of Uganda that supports a salt extraction industry.
11. The Equator In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda is one of the 13 countries in the world where the Equator line passes. This is the latitude that divides the earth into the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
The equator is one of the most recognizable landmarks on the map of Uganda. Having a foot on each side of the Earth is perhaps one of the best selfie opportunities you will ever get while on your safari tour in Uganda.
The Equator crosses the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park near Kasenyi. It is marked with a circular monument on either side of the road, where one can take a Uganda safari holiday photo.
12. People And Culture In Queen Elizabeth National Park
For visitors on cultural tours in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the places where you can get a superb Uganda cultural adventure. The local people here include Banyabindi, Bakonzo, and Basongora.
The park has several communities and cultural sites that for some of the best attractions In Queen Elizabeth National Park where cultural tours can be planned including;
- Leopard Village (Muhokya Village)
The Leopard Village is a community-based socio-economic development project that encourages wildlife and cultural conservation through ecotourism.
The Leopard Village aims to assist in the protection of the wildlife in the area and to help the villagers regain their traditional custodianship of local wildlife and other natural resources.
Local people receive certain economic benefits that tend to reduce the cost of living with carnivores, which prey on livestock, and herbivores, such as elephants, which destroy crops. The project also educates visitors about Uganda’s conservation challenges and vibrant cultural heritage.
Location Of Leopard Village/Muhokya Village: Muhokya is the first town as you drive from Kasese towards Queen Elizabeth on the Kasese-Mbarara highway.
This performance site is on 3 acres, situated on the lower side of Muhokya Trading Centre, on the park side of the road adjacent to Muhokya Primary School and Muhokya Catholic Church.
The entry to the site is next to the speed bumps at Muhokya’s southern exit.
Why Visit Leopard Village/Muhokya?: By supporting their tourist and cultural activities, you will be assisting in the conservation of the area’s wildlife. This also supports the villagers as they regain the traditional custodianship of their local wildlife and other natural resources.
- Kikorongo Women Community
‘Kikorongo’ is a local Lukonzo word that means ‘too much sunshine’– but the heat of the African plains has not diminished the energy of the Kikorongo Equator Cultural Performers!
This lively dance and musical show, which takes place in lodges across the park, is a beautiful snapshot of life in Kikorongo, with dance, drama, music, and fire-making.
As a local interpreter describes the meaning of the show, you can sit back and observe the life of the village unfold in front of you.
The Kikorongo Women’s Community also has a Craft Workshop that teaches visitors how to weave baskets and bowls using natural fibers.
They even teach you how to recycle magazines into colorful paper beads that can be turned into unique necklaces.
- Nyanzibiri Cave Community
Nyanzibiri Cave Community is a perfect place for travelers on Uganda tours in Queen Elizabeth Game Park to stretch their legs after long game drives with scenic walks that offers panoramic views of volcanic crater lakes.
During the walk, you will also spot several grey-crowned cranes and eagles. Local attractions include a historic cave and Cultural Museum; a perfectly preserved Bunyaruguru hut, filled with valued local artifacts that were once the tools of everyday life.
- Katwe Tourism Information Centre
The extremely salty Lake Katwe has ensured the survival of the Katwe villagers since the 16th century.
Local people here have spent their days under the equatorial sun, walking the network of paths that criss-cross the lake and harvesting salt from its milky waters.
A cultural tour here is a great opportunity to get an insight into the fascinating yet tough process of traditional salt mining.
You will see villagers at work on the lake, cross the mud walkways and enter a traditional grass hut.
The Katwe village also contains a traditional homestead. There are cooking demonstrations that introduce visitors to the region’s cuisine, and there is also a trip to the local school.