Queen Elizabeth National Park

With Ruwenzari Mountains as the perfect background and the largest assortment of wildlife, is it no wonder that Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular savannah reserve in Uganda. With a range of diverse habitats – lakes, forests, wetlands and savannah – the park boasts an impressive range of primates, birds and large mammals. Although chimpanzee trekking through the tropical Kyambura Gorge forest is one of the main activities, people also come here to see the tree-climbing lion, elusive leopard and giant forest hog. Four of the Big Five (no rhino) are also easily spotted in large numbers.

  • Best Time To Go

    January-February; June-July (Dry seasons)

  • Average Safari Cost

    $300-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $300

  • Highlights

    Leopards, tree-climbing lions and giant forest hogs; chimpanzee tracking; great birdwatching; four of the Big Five; Maramagambo forest walks; Kazinga Channel launch cruise

Why Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park?

Walking through Maramagambo Forest is sure to captivate you with the variety of monkeys, birds and the usually elusive leopard that can be seen on your tour.

Take a cruise along the Kazinga Channel (2-5 hours) to see breathtaking scenery and abundance of wildlife and birds – the hippos and crocodiles inhabiting the channel, giant forest hogs in the forest, and easy birdwatching – be sure to bring along your binoculars and high zoom camera.

Game drives north of the Kazinga are especially exciting with the large variety and abundance of animals that can be spotted – lions, crocodiles, hyenas, buffalo, antelope and even the usually elusive giant forest hog can be seen quite often.

Tracking chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge – which is the border between Queen Elizabeth and Kyamnura – is sure to be a great adventure, but remember to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid getting scratched up by branches.

With around 600 bird species recorded, birdwatching is wonderful in the park. There are a number of notable birds to look out for, including Collared pranticole, Palm-nut vulture, Pel’s fishing-owl (rare), Shoebill (rare) and Swamp flycatcher.

Pros And Cons

  • Unique experience of chimpanzee trekking
  • Potential encounters with otherwise rare leopards and tree-climbing lions
  • With four of Big Five, excellent wildlife viewing overall
  • Inspiring walking tour through Maramagambo Forest
  • Boat trips to remember
  • Great birdwatching spots
  • Some road and hiking trails are inaccessible after heavy rains
  • People live along the edges of the main road that bisects the park

Best Time To Go

  • Wet season: March to May and August to December

  • Dry season: January to February and June to July

Queen Elizabeth National Park can be visited all year round. It is exquisitely lush after the rainy season, although heavy rains will cause some roads to become inaccessible and hiking trails slippery.

The best time for wildlife viewing and chimpanzee tracking is from January to February and from June to July, which are the drier months of the year. Birdwatching is good throughout the year, although it is best from late May till September, as this is when there is more food and less precipitation. Migratory birds visit from November until April.

For more details about when to visit broken down by months and seasons see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Start your African Adventure

Wildlife And Birds

In Queen Elizabeth National Park, four of the Big Five are present in large number. Leopards are unusually easy to spot, as are giant forest hogs. And tree-climbing lions have made the Ishasha section of the park a popular attraction. In the savannah areas, large herds of elephant and buffalo are found, while an abundance of hippo can be seen alongside crocodiles in Kazinga Channel.

Chimpanzees inhabit the tropical Kyambura Gorge forest, which forms a border between Queen Elizabeth and Kyambura, and the park allows for guided tracking tours of these primates.

There are several species of antelope present including Uganda kob, kobi and bushbuck. There are also nine other species of primate living in the park, including the black-and-white colobus monkey, and hyena. There are no giraffes, zebras or rhinos in the park.

List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Hippo

Infrequently Seen Animals

  • Leopard, chimpanzee

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, Hippo, Buffalo, Lion, Crocodiles, Giant Forest hog, Antelope, Defassa, Waterbuck, Uganda kob, Bushbuck, Kobi

There are over 600 species of birds recorded in Queen Elizabeth National park, largely due to the array of different habitats – forests, savannahs and wetlands. The park is considered a prime birdwatching destination, because many are special birds. The rarely seen shoebill can be spotted more easily in the swamplands of Ishasha areas of the park. You will be able to spot migratory birds from November till April.

Endangered Birds

Endemic and Near-Endemic Birds

  • 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, Crab-plover, Great Blue Turaco, Great White Pelican, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Heuglin's Gull, Palm-nut Vulture, Papyrus Gonolek (endangered), Pel’s Fishing-owl (rarely seen), Pink-backed Pelican, Red-chested Sunbird, Rufous-bellied Heron, Shoebill (rarely seen and endangered), Spotted Redshank, Western Banded Snake Eagle, White-backed Night Heron, White-winged Tern, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye and Yellow-throated Cuckoo.

Getting There And Safety

After arriving at Entebbe international Airport (EBB) – about 46 km (29 miles) from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city – your tour operator will typically arrange for you to be picked up at the airport (as well as any further transportation) as part of your itinerary.

Located 410 km (255 miles) north of Kampala, it will take 6 hours to drive directly to Queen Elizabeth National Park, although most tour packages will likely include visits to some other parks along the way. Although the drive is a bit long, it is not possible to fly by scheduled or chartered flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to the airstrips of Kasese, Mweya or Ishasha.

What To Pack

Uganda is typically warm and moist for most of the year. Sunscreen and a good, wide-brimmed sunhat are always a great idea for almost any safari, and Uganda is no different. It is also generally a good idea to wear long pants, sturdy comfortable boots, and long-sleeved shirts.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List. suggestions.

Malaria Risk

The malaria risk is high throughout the country, with the exception of the high altitude mountains, including the Ruwenzoris and Mount Elgon. The rainy seasons of Match to May and October to December have the highest risk of malaria.

As all parks are high-risk maleria sectors, it is recommended to generously apply mosquito repellent that contains over 30% DEET or more, and to take anti-malarial mediation.

This advice is not meant to replace a medical professional, and you ask speak to you doctor or travel clinic about the vaccinations needed for Uganda.

For more details about malaria and vaccinations see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Drinking Water
The tap water is not considered safe to drink. Do not use it to brush your teeth. Avoid getting water in your mouth when showering. Avoid using ice blocks, and ask if juice has been made with bottled or boiled water. Tea and coffee could be fine as these are made with boiling water. Avoid swimming in the rivers and lakes due to the risk of contracting Bilharzia.

As the people you will come into contact with are mostly tourists, the camps or tour operators and the staff that works for the park, a trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park can generally be safe. It is important to note, however, that Uganda is a developing country, and crime such as muggings and thefts are commonplace, particularly in cities such as Kampala. Avoid walking alone in the city and carrying expensive and important items on your person or on display. Generally, organized tours to attractions in the city, and staying at a respectable hotel overnight are relatively risk-free.

It is recommended that you do not swim in the lakes or rivers in Uganda, as you could contract Bilharzia. Minute snails transmit this disease by making their way into the liver after entering through the skin. While the disease can be easily treated, it is always best to prevent illness instead. Symptoms are cough, abdominal pain, fever and fatigued later on.

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Uganda. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.


If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Uganda

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For more details about flights see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
For more details about visas see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
For more details about vaccinations see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.