Exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Spectacular Wildlife and Stunning Scenery
For breathtaking scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife safaris in Uganda, you must visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. Widely regarded as one of the most diverse wildlife reserves in the country, this park is a true gem. It boasts a stunning range of landscapes, including vast grassland savannahs, lush forests, serene wetlands, and shimmering lakes, all of which provide a haven for a rich variety of large mammals and primates.
The park offers thrilling game drives and water safaris to spot four of Africa’s Big Five animals, including majestic elephants and lions (sorry, no rhinos). And, for truly unforgettable experiences, visitors can hike into the tropical forests for chimp trekking adventures to delightful primates in their natural habitat. Queen Elizabeth National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty and wonder of Uganda’s wildlife.
Best Time To Go
June – September
764 sq mi
(1,978 sq km)
- Ultimate wildlife viewing for safari drives
- Water safaris are excellent on Kazinga Channel.
- Tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector
- Chimp trekking experiences
- Excellent birding with over 600 species recorded
Wildlife in Queen Elizabeth
If your interest is observing lions on safari in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is your best bet. The grassy Kasenyi Plains is a popular spot for lion sightings, and the park’s Ishasha sector, located in the southern region, is known for its tree-climbing lions. On your safari drive, keep an eye out for these unique lions lounging in large fig trees.
In addition to lions, the park is home to large herds of buffalo and elephants in the savannah areas. Game drives get visitors close to various exciting antelope species, such as Uganda kob, topi, and bushbuck. The Kazinga Channel is a great spot to see hippos, elephants, buffalo, Nile crocodiles, and many water birds on a boat safari. Watching buffalos is particularly enjoyable on game drives in the park. Giraffes and zebras are absent in the park, but giant forest hogs are easy to spot on drives and boat trips.
For those interested in primates, you can track habituated chimpanzees and nine other primate species, including the black-and-white colobus monkey, in the steamy, tropical forest of Kyambura Gorge.
Qn: What is the best time for viewing wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park?
Queen Elizabeth National Park is open year-round, but the best time for wildlife viewing is during the Dry seasons (June to July and January to February) when animals gather near rivers and lakes. However, it’s important to note that some game-drive trails may become inaccessible after heavy rainfall.
The park boasts stunning views of the imposing Rwenzori Mountains. It also offers scenic points such as the Kazinga Channel between Lake Edward and Lake George and at least ten crater lakes. While the open savannah is easily accessible, visitors can also explore large forest areas such as the forested Kyambura Gorge and the extensive Maramagambo forest in the southeast.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is a bird-watching paradise, with over 600 recorded species, the longest checklist of any protected area in East Africa. The park’s diverse habitats, including savannah, forest, and wetland, attract many unique bird species, making it a popular destination for bird enthusiasts. The Ishasha sector’s swamps are ideal for spotting the rare prehistoric shoebill. Visitors can observe migratory birds from November to April.
Birding Specials for avid birders in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Here are some noteworthy birds in Queen Elizabeth you can tick off your list:
- African finfoot: This unique bird is known for its webbed feet and ability to dive and swim underwater to catch prey.
- African hobby: A small, agile bird of prey that feeds on insects and small birds
- African skimmer: An unusual bird with a distinctive beak that allows it to skim the water’s surface to catch fish.
- Ayres’s hawk-eagle: A majestic bird of prey found in savannas and woodlands.
- Black bee-eater: A striking bird with iridescent black plumage and a long, curved bill for catching bees.
- Black-rumped buttonquail: A small, ground-dwelling bird with intricate feather patterns
- Broad-billed roller: A colorful bird with a broad, flattened bill and stunning blue and green plumage.
- Caspian plover: A migratory bird breeds in Central Asia and winters in Africa, known for its distinctive black-and-white plumage.
- Collared pratincole: A bird with long, slender wings and a distinctive black collar around its neck.
- Common sand martin: A small bird that nests in colonies in sandbanks and feeds on insects.
- Crab-plover: A unique bird with a distinctive red bill and legs and a habit of feeding on crabs.
- Great blue turaco: A large, colorful bird with a distinctive crest and bright blue and green plumage.
- Great white pelican: A large waterbird with a distinctive pouch under its bill for catching fish.
- Grey-winged Robin-chat: A small, shy bird with grey-brown plumage and a distinctive white eye-ring
- Heuglin’s gull: A large, pale-colored gull found in coastal areas and wetlands
- Palm-nut vulture: A bird of prey that feeds on the fruit of oil palms and has a distinctive bald head
- Papyrus gonolek: A striking black and yellow bird found in wetland areas.
- Pel’s fishing owl: A large, nocturnal bird of prey that feeds on fish and is named after the explorer Wilhelm von Pels
- Pink-backed pelican: A medium-sized pelican with a distinctive pink patch on its back
- Red-chested sunbird: A small, brightly-colored bird with a distinctive red chest and long, curved bill for feeding on nectar
- Rufous-bellied heron: A small heron with reddish-brown plumage and a distinctive white stripe on its throat
- Shoebill: A large, prehistoric-looking bird with a massive bill and a habitat in swamps and marshes.
- Spotted redshank: A wading bird with distinctive spots on its back and a long, slender bill.
- Western banded snake eagle: A bird of prey with a distinctive striped pattern on its wings and tail
- White-backed night heron: A small heron with a distinctive white patch on its back and a habit of feeding at night
- White-winged tern: A small, graceful bird with white and grey plumage and a habit of hovering over the water to catch insects
- Yellow-bellied wattle-eye: A small, colorful bird with a bright yellow belly and a habit of flitting through the underbrush
- Yellow-throated cuckoo: A bird with a distinctive yellow throat and a habit of laying its eggs in other birds’ nests
Have you seen any of these fantastic birds in Queen? Let us know in the comments!
If you plan to go bird watching at Queen Elizabeth National Park, the best time is from late May to September. During this period, there’s less rain and ample food, making it the ideal time for birdlife. There’s very little rain from June to July, while April to May and September to November are the wettest months. However, heavy rainfall may cause delays during wet periods due to impassable roads and slippery hiking trails, limiting your bird-watching time. From November to April, you’ll find migratory birds in the park.
Weather & Climate
Queen Elizabeth National Park experiences warm temperatures all year round due to its proximity to the equator. The region has two Wet seasons (March to May and August to December), which can cause heavy rainfall and make some roads impassable. Although there is no official Dry season, rainfall does decrease somewhat from January to February and June to July. However, there is still potential for rain throughout the year.
Temperatures in Queen Elizabeth National Park are consistently warm, with daytime temperatures reaching around 29°C/84°F and dropping to around 17°C/63°F at night. While the park doesn’t experience a true Dry season, there is less rainfall from mid-December through February, with June and July being the driest months.
January & February – Even though this time of year is usually dry, it’s important to still anticipate rain. In fact, rain can occur for extended periods.
June & July – Although it’s the driest season, there may be a chance of rain. The average daytime temperature is 84°F (29°C), while the nighttime temperature is around 61°F (16°C).
March, April & May – During April, there is a peak in rainfall which can make roads impassable and trails slippery when tracking chimpanzees. The later afternoons are pleasant at around 29°C/84°F, while the mornings can be cooler at 17°C/63°F.
August, September, October, November & December – During this season, the weather is comparable to that of March through May, with the highest rainfall in November.
Best Time To Visit
The Wet seasons in Queen Elizabeth National Park (March to May and August to December) are characterized by brief but heavy rainstorms that make the environment lush to attract migratory birds. However, it’s better to visit during the drier months when the trails are more solid for chimpanzee trekking.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is open year-round, but the best time for wildlife viewing is during the Dry seasons (January to February and June to July). Nonetheless, the park’s most scenic moments are during the Wet seasons (March to May and August to December). Be aware that April, May, October, and November are very wet, and the rain may interfere with your safari experience.
Getting There Directions
To get to Queen Elizabeth National Park, you must travel about 255 miles (410 kilometers) west of Kampala. The direct drive can take at least 7 to 8 hours, but your Uganda safari itinerary might have some stops on the way. When you arrive in Uganda, you will land at Entebbe International Airport (EBB), about 29 mi (46 km) from Kampala, the capital city. Typically, our trips include your pickup from the airport and any other transportation needed as part of your safari package.
Air travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park is possible using Kasese, Mweya, or Kihihi (for Ishasha) Airstrips. Even connections to Kisoro Airport near Bwindi for the gorilla trekking adventure is feasible. You can book a scheduled or chartered flight from Entebbe International Airport (EBB) or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala. Your tour operator can help you book these flights. Some airlines that offer scheduled flights to airstrips near Queen Elizabeth National Park include Aerolink, which flies from Entebbe to Kasese, Mweya, Kihihi, and Kisoro Airports.
If you’re planning a trip to Uganda, the Queen Elizabeth National Park is a favored destination that you may want to consider. While generally safe to visit, it’s essential to take precautions and seek local advice before venturing out on your own. If you join an organized tour, your safari guide will ensure your safety while wildlife viewing; following your guide’s expert directions is essential to ensure safety.
For the latest information on safety in the park and broader area, we recommend checking government travel advisories.
Malaria & Vaccinations
To reduce the risk of catching malaria, please take antimalarial medication and apply mosquito repellent with DEET during game viewing in the park. Remember to cover your skin in the evening too. Additionally, some vaccinations are recommended for Uganda, so it’s best to check with your travel clinic or local doctor.