Queen Elizabeth National Park game drives are one of the top remarkable Uganda safari activities you should experience!
The activity is popular in the Kasenyi plains. This is because the region hosts the richest number of Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda wildlife in its beautiful landscape.
Apart from the Kasenyi drive circuit, other game drive circuits in Queen Elizabeth National Park include
- Ishasha game drive circuit.
- Channel drive circuit.
- Crater drive circuit.
While you safari Uganda, you will feel the ecstasy of viewing some of these animals up closer than you imagined. The fact that Queen Elizabeth Park is one of the top Uganda parks with the highest animals of Uganda guarantees the fulfillment of your dream wildlife safari!
Queen Elizabeth National Park organizes both day and night game drives.
Both are rewarding because, in the morning, animals are active as they are waking up for their day. While in the evening, these animals found in Queen Elizabeth National Park are going to their resting places.
However, there are no night game drives in the Kasenyi sector because it floods with tourists during the day. Therefore, animals are left to rest at night, hence minimizing stress on them. You can nevertheless have a night game drive at Mweya Peninsular where you can view the nocturnal wildlife of Uganda.
As you game drive Queen Elizabeth National Park circuits, expert guides from the Uganda Wildlife Authority will take you to places with large groups of animals. From here, you can better understand the cores of the Uganda animal facts during your adventurous wildlife safaris in Uganda.
Common Uganda animals to see in a game drive safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park include four of the big five African animals. These are the Lions, Leopards, Elephants, and Buffaloes. However, you can also encounter other animals in Uganda, especially antelopes and birds on your Queen Elizabeth safari game drive.
Queen Elizabeth National Park game drive circuits do not only offer the scenic view of animals and birds. They also portray the park’s natural shimmering beauty that will leave you awe-struck! The open savannahs, tropical rain forests, and the myriad of crater lakes boast a variety of wildlife in Uganda Africa.
Your experienced guide on your safari to Uganda will add value to your game drive by sharing the park’s rich history, local folklore, native traditions, conservation information, and much more insight.
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park are best done in 4×4 vehicles or minibusses that seat about 5 to 12 tourists, including the driver.
The tracks through the Kasenyi plains, the North Kazinga plains, the crater lakes, and the Ishasha sector offer guaranteed sightings of a beautiful wild Africa. Have a Uganda tour experience of a lifetime today for an everlasting wave of memories.
Below, let us look at the game drive experiences through the different circuits in Queen Elizabeth National Park;
Kasenyi Game Drive Circuit
Kasenyi is the most famous game drive circuit in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Thanks to the many resident herds of Uganda Kobs (Uganda national animal) and the Lions that prey on them; visitors swam Kasenyi during the day for their best safari in Uganda!
It is about half an hour’s drive from Mweya to Kasenyi plains. From Kasenyi, you cross the bushy plains running east from the Kasese-Ishaka Road to the local fishing village of Kasenyi on the Western shore of Lake George.
Kasenyi is one of the best sites to see the magnificent African Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is because it harbors 3 Lion prides that you can best encounter shortly after sunrise.
Experienced, knowledgeable ranger guides to Kasenyi can usually locate these Lions in their favorable habitat. However, sighting them is a guarantee if you sign up for a Uganda safari package of game drives with the Mweya-based Uganda Predator Project. They monitor and track the movement of Lions, Leopards, and Hyenas with radio collars fitted on their necks.
Kasenyi plains are also home to the noticeable herds of Buffaloes. Even though the plain is rich with animals from Uganda, the Kasenyi Village is also a good place to spot many Hippos and water birds. There is also an opened lakeside picnic site and a viewpoint of about 6km to the North West. Therefore, prepare for a Uganda wildlife safari to these plains!
The beautiful Bunyampaka Crater Lake, just 2km West of the Kasenyi village is also an amazing feature of the Kasenyi plains. Many shops selling handicrafts and cold drinks overlook this scenic lake. The lake is also an active salt extraction site in the area, favoring a Uganda Crater Lake tour.
Different lodges around Kasenyi Plains can help you easily access this area. However, you can use the best tour operators to guide you on your Queen Elizabeth National Park safari to this legendary Kasenyi plains.
Ishasha Game Drive Circuits
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park’s remote Southern region are the perfect opportunity to see the rare Tree-Climbing Lions! These kings of the jungle, perched up in the huge fig trees and lazily resting their day away are a breathtaking site to see.
Two main game drive circuits run through Ishasha, both of them roughly 20km. These are the;
- The Southern Circuit
- The Northern Circuit
The Southern Circuit
Game viewing is more rewarding in this circuit of the Ishasha sector. This is especially if you wish to have a clear vision of the distinctive Queen Elizabeth National Park Tree-Climbing Lions.
The Southern Circuit is an open countryside with boundless horizons. It passes through the main Kob breeding area showing how these lions always stay close to their prey. A Kob gives out very sharp warning calls to its mates to reveal the presence of a Lion.
The Southern Circuit has numerous trees that favor these peculiar Queen Elizabeth National Park Lions. However, it is a little tricky to traverse this circuit hence the company of a guide on your journey will yield more fruit during a Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda safari.
The Northern Circuit
Although the Southern circuit of the Ishasha sector offers some of the best wilderness experiences, the Northern circuit is best for general watching of Uganda wildlife animals. This circuit is 4 kilometers from the main road to Katunguru and it overlooks the floodplain of the Ntungwe River.
On the pools and wallows of the Northern circuit, you will see red Buffaloes which are related to the forest Buffaloes of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Northern part of this circuit, the loop develops into a full-blown wetland. From here, birders can spot Black Coucals, Compact Weavers, and other wading birds.
From a boundary of stones in this area, an 8 km distance runs to the North toward Lake Edward flats. This papyrus-bordered area has waders like Herons, Shoebill Storks, and Plovers. There are also many Elephants, Buffaloes, Kobs, Topis, and Waterbucks too.
The Ishasha River from where you can do a nature walk has many hippos that you can view from a nearby campsite. The riparian forests near this river boast many Bushbucks, and Black and White Colobus Monkeys.
Afar off from the forest is a light acacia woodland and savannah that supports large herds of Uganda Kobs, Topis, and Buffaloes. Elephants, on the other hand, are seasonal in this area.
Other circuits in the Ishasha Sector to do game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park include
- The Edward Flats
- Ishasha River Campsite
The Edward Flats is the most remote circuit in this region so it is wise to move with a guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. However, it has one of the best scenery with Uganda safari animals like herds of breeding Elephants.
This place is also a bird migration corridor that welcomes birds like Storks, Waders, and Raptors into Queen Elizabeth National Park. Hence qualifying the park to be a desirable destination for birding in Uganda.
The Ishasha River Campsite circuit runs toward the information Centre and has many Hippo pods. The Congo Tropical Forests and the Maramagambo Forest, running toward the shores of Lake Edward surround it.
Ishasha River Campsite circuit has woody zones of grasslands. From it, you can explore the scenic views of the Guinean and Congo forest patches.
Channel Drive Circuit
The channel drive circuit runs roughly in a parallel direction from Kazinga Channel’s Northern shores. This drive serves majorly as a route between Katunguru Bridge and the Mweya Peninsula.
These dense tracks that stem from the main road provide excellent viewing of Uganda’s wild animals. However, this thick vegetation of Euphorbia trees protruding above the tangled scrubby thickets makes spotting the animals to be quite unpredictable.
Some Uganda animals listed in this circuit are Warthogs, Bushbucks, and Waterbucks. Elephants pass by from midday onwards, heading to or from the water (Kazinga Channel).
The side road to Channel Campsite is good for viewing the Leopards and Lions which are infrequent. You can also see the localized Giant Forest Hogs in this area.
Visitors can also explore the channel drive circuit from Channel Campsite in about 2 hours. This is because it is near Mweya and it has many interconnecting tracks.
There are also night game drives arranged from Mweya Visitor Information Centre. Having a ranger or guide on this game drive will cost USD 30.
Crater Drive Circuit
The landscape North of Mweya has dozens of volcanic craters which remind us of the violent tectonic history of the Albertine Rift.
This region’s game drive is about 27 km between the Kabatoro gate and the Crater gate. It follows an awe-inspiring route around the edges of extinct craters filled with lakes, forests, and grasslands.
British royalty visited the Queen’s Pavilion three times on the Crater Gate, on the Eastern rim of the crater area. There is a small information center and a coffee shop on the site. On the other hand, the equator landmark straddling the adjacent Kasese highway provides beautiful photos for visitors on a safari vacation in Uganda.
A game drive in the crater drive circuit is beautiful in the early morning when the rising sun brightens the forested crater walls. Covered with clouds of mist, the sun sometimes lifts the mist to show glacial peaks of the Rwenzori ranges.
The craters attract large herds of Elephants and Buffaloes, especially in the dry season. The thick woodland in this site makes it one of the best places to see woodland Uganda birds.
The explosion crater game drive track is rough and rocky. Therefore, it is best to experience it in a 4×4 or another high-clearance vehicle.
Categories Of Game Drives In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has two classes of game drives, that is the
- Guided game drives
- Self-game drives
Guided Game Drives
This is a common safari kind of game drive for visitors on Uganda tours and safaris to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is the type of game drive in which certified guides (either drivers or rangers) lead tourists in their excursions. They are knowledgeable about the history and wildlife of the park.
The guided game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park can either be with the
- Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) vehicles
- A private vehicle
A guided game drive is more rewarding because you will have boundless information about the animals and the local culture. More so, you have an expert to inquire from in case you have any questions during your wildlife tours in Uganda.
Also, the guides know the behaviors of Queen Elizabeth National Park animals and spots where you can find them with their tracking radio calls. Guided game drives will allow you to learn about the animals as you watch them closely.
The advantages of Guided game drives include
- Rangers do animal tracking as you simply wait to see, learn, and take photos.
- An expert driver drives you, and this gives you the freedom to explore the wildlife without any hindrances.
- Visitors also get to meet new people, make new friends and relate with them because tourists come from different parts of the world.
Self-game drives are good for those who would like to test their adventurous free wielded spirits! It is where you go into wild Uganda by yourself and decide which course to take. You can rent a car or buy one to experience Africa with just yourself behind the wheel, having a Uganda wildlife tour!
The self-game drive is more liberating because you decide what you would like for yourself without worrying about what others want.
The advantages of Self game drives include;
- Self-game drives are favorable for photographers. They get all the convenient time they need to take quality photos without rushing.
- You also follow your favorable safe driving track.
- On a self-game drive, you can follow your schedule.
- The self-game drives are also cheaper than guided game drives.
However, with all that said, guided game drives are more rewarding. Even if you choose a self-game drive, it is advisable to move with a personal guide or ranger with you.
In general, when going for a Self- game drive,
- You need an armed ranger to help with tracking animals and protection against them. They can fire a gun to scare an animal away in case it tries to threaten your safety.
- Have a mobile phone with a good network so that you can call your travel agent or lodge in case you get any problems.
- Drive in a car with a GPS tracking system so that locating you is easy.
- Have a map with you to know where you are going.
How Much Is A Game Drive In Queen Elizabeth National Park?
|Category||Foreign Resident(USD)||Foreign Non Resident(USD)||East African Citizen(UGX)|
|Day Game Drives per person (UWA Vehicles)||25||30||30,000|
|Night Game Drives per person(UWA Vehicles)||35||40||40,000|
|Day-guided game drives per vehicle(private)||15||20||20,000|
|Day self-game drive per vehicle||10||10||10,000|
|Night Game Drive per person(private)||20||30||50,000|
Best Season Of The Year And Time Of The Day To Do Game Drives In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Best Season Of The Year To Do Game Drives In Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth Park
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park are best done in the dry seasons. This is during the long dry season in June, July, August, and September. Also, the short dry season from mid-December, January, and February is fun!
These months offer beautiful photos or videos as you go through the passable tracks. More so, animals in Uganda Africa are more active in the dry season than in the wet season.
Best Time Of The Day For An Adventurous Game Drive In Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park has the
- Day game drives
- Night game drives
Day Game Drives are subdivided into the
- Morning game drives
- Afternoon game drives
Morning Game Drives occur from 6:30 am to 10:30 am when the animals are very active. This drive has the sun rising on you as you await the animals that are easy to sight at this time.
As you wait for the game drive to see Queen Elizabeth National Park wildlife, you can have a snack or your preferred breakfast.
Morning game drives on the plains may first be cold, but as the golden sun rises, so does the temperature!
After your game drive, you can go back to your lodge for breakfast or preferably enjoy the bush breakfast as your vision explores the distant horizons.
Afternoon Game Drives take place from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm after your scrumptious lunch.
Like the morning game drive, the afternoon game drives are very rewarding as you get the chance to meet the wild animals in their active time.
Advantages of day game drives include
- Most animals are diurnal. Therefore, it is easy for you to see them in the day game drives as you safari Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- The day is the best time to do wildlife photography and videography.
- It is also easy to view the beautiful Uganda landscape during the day.
- You are also fresh and ready for an uninterrupted safari experience of the day!
Below is a list of some of the animals that you can see on your day game drive on your safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park;
- Uganda Kobs
- African Bush Elephants
- Cape Buffaloes
- Water Bucks
- Tree-Climbing Lions
While some of the over 600 bird species in Queen Elizabeth National Park to see in your game drive during the day include
- Grey Crowned Cranes
Night game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
This occurs from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and it allows you to view nocturnal animals. Guides use Red (UV) light to study the animals since it does not affect their eyes.
It is mandatory to have an armed Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger during a night game drive because of the risks.
In your option to take a night game drive, you will see nocturnal animals like the
- Civet Cats
- Bush Babies
- Serval cat
Hippos usually come out of the freshwater lakes and Kazinga Channel to graze in the night. Bush Babies are nocturnal primates while Leopards and Lions are also active at night since they are sometimes hunting.
Both the day and night game drives are very rewarding. However, the day game drives offer more in terms of seeing numerous animals, photography or videography, and the ability to clearly see beautiful views.
What Should You Bring On A Safari Game Drive?
Before your game drive, kindly be mindful to carry the following items. They will help you to have a beautiful extraordinary experience on your safari holiday to Uganda.
- A pair of binoculars
- Snacks and a bottle of water for drinking
- A guide book
- Sunscreen lotion
- An insect repellant
- A warm sweater, scarf, and headsock
- A Rain Jacket or Poncho
Let us see how each of these necessities will come in handy,
A good camera will help you to record safari videos or take photos to keep for future memories.
Your pair of binoculars will give you the perfect sightings of especially distant animals. In case you have gone for a night game drive, carry night vision binoculars.
You will eat your snack at a specified time when you get hungry during your journey. Your bottle of water will quench your thirst, especially during the afternoon game drive. It is important to have eco-friendly bottles and dishes to not litter the park.
A guidebook will help you to identify different animals and birds as you confirm them with your guide.
In case you have any allergies or health conditions, your medications are important to travel with even during a game drive activity.
When you go for especially the afternoon game drive, make sure that you have your sunscreen lotion to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
An insect repellent will do wonders at keeping you safe from insects.
Remember to carry a warm sweater, scarf, and headsock, especially if you are going for the morning and night game drive. You can remove it in case it gets warm, but just in case, keep these in mind.
Carry the necessary toiletries just in case you will need to empty your bowels in the bush!
A rain jacket or poncho will come in hand in case it rains.
As you have the things listed above, a backpack will help you to keep them safe.
How Should You Dress When Going For A Game Drive?
While going for game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, there are no specific rules that limit your dressing. However, a fun-filled safari activity like a game drive will yield you more adventure and comfort when you mind the appropriate dressing for the occasion!
Make sure that you wear or carry
- Long-sleeved shirts
- A hat
- Firm shoes
Long-sleeved shirts and trousers will help to protect your skin from insects or cuts from vegetation in case you encounter them.
A hat and sunglasses will protect your face and eyes from direct sunlight.
Wear firm comfortable shoes to be stable in your vehicle or when you step out after the game drive to walk.
Expert Guide On Safety Precautions To Follow When Doing Game Drives In Queen Elizabeth National Park?
These precautions are very important in keeping yourself and the animals safe, comfortable, and uninterrupted by each other’s presence. They include the following
- Be keen on the instructions of your guide and ranger, and kindly follow them promptly.
- Most importantly! Do not touch animals once you see them. This is dangerous as they may hurt or even kill you. Keep a distance of about 8 to 10 meters away from them.
- More so, do not throw at the animals just because you want them to face you for the perfect photo! This is considered animal harassment and they can even attack you as a result!
- Allow only and only the expert rangers to call the animals. You don’t know what you are saying!
- Drive at the recommended speed while on a game drive; that is 40km/hr. When in the vehicle, keep your arms and legs inside.
- Also, drive on the tracks to protect the habitat of the animals.
- While driving, do not hoot or horn as it disrupts the peace of the animals.
- Move with an armed ranger while on a self-game drive. And, make sure to not use abandoned tracks for you may get lost and be in danger.
- Use red (UV) light while on a night game drive to not have the wild animals affected by it. Only rangers are allowed to use other types of light.
- Keep your camera as well inside the car while taking wildlife pictures.
- Silence and minimal sound are important whiles on a game drive to not stress the animals. This includes keeping your phone in silent mode.
- Wear dull colors to not attract the attention of the animals.
- Be calm while near the animals, but avoid making unnecessary movements. You never know what your movements mean to them!
- Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks while on a safari game drive.
- In case it rains, drive on unflooded tracks because flooded tracks may have a ditch that may get you stuck in the wild.
- In case you carried a snack, keep it closed and while eating, keep windows closed. This is because some animals smell food from afar. Also, don’t try to feed the animals once you are near them!
Queen Elizabeth National Park is generally an ideal place to experience a Uganda luxury safari, more so, the adventurous game drives. Its rich biodiversity that hosts many wildlife species makes the activity very memorable! An experience like this can best be witnessed in the tropical African setting. Contact us for a free inquiry and book your game drive exploration today with the best Uganda safari company!
Frequently Asked Question
What is a game drive?
A game drive is a short leisurely journey in the wild to find and view wildlife in their natural habitat.
Why is it called a game drive?
The word “game” in zoology refers to a wild animal that exits in a protected area either for hunting or for recreation. In the case of Queen Elizabeth National Park, animals are protected for recreation and can only be hunted by their fellow animals (predators).
Therefore, it is called a game drive because you drive into the wild to see these animals (game).
What is the difference between a safari and a game drive?
The word “safari” derives from a Swahili word meaning “a long journey away from home”. Over time, the word now refers to a journey to East Africa to see wild animals in their habitation. On the other hand, a game drive is an excursion in the wild to see animals from their habitat.
What is the purpose of a game drive?
A game drive will bring you very close to the wild animals that you most likely only studied in school when you saw their pictures or videos. With a game drive, you view these animals from their natural habitats and see how they live their daily lives.
Can you self drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park?
Yes, you can self drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park. However, it is important that you move with an armed ranger for safety and guidance.
Can you go for a game drive in the rain?
You can go from a game drive under the rain. However, this will not yield as much as you would under a clear sky because,
- Animals look for shelter while it rains. This means they will hide in caves, holes, or under trees for safety.
- The weather may be uncomfortable for you as well as it may be cold.
You are therefore advised to go for a game drive when it is not raining. To have a greater chance of this experience, you can preferably visit the park during the dry season.
Other National Parks in Uganda with the best safari game drive experiences include
- Murchison Falls National Park
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- Lake Mburo National Park
Other activities in Queen Elizabeth apart from the game drive include
- Boat cruise/ Launch trips
- Chimpanzee Trekking
- Lion Tracking
- Nature Walks
- Mongoose Tracking
- Hippo Census
- Crater Lakes Tour
- Community visits and cultural encounters