Uganda’s premier safari destination, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is often visited in combination with nearby Bwindi and its famous mountain gorillas. Boasting a stunning location below the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, and lapped by the vast freshwater expanses of Lakes Edward and George, it packs an astonishing ecological variety into its 764 square miles. Indeed, QENP’s lush mosaic of grassy plains, tangled thornbush, tropical jungle, papyrus swamps, saline crater lakes and wide meandering rivers adds up to probably the most biodiverse protected area of comparable size in Africa – a claim backed up by a staggering bird checklist of 610 species.
Discover Queen Elizabeth National Park
Leaving several times daily from the Mweya Peninsula, boat trips on the Kazinga Channel usually yield plenty of hippo, buffalo, elephant, and aquatic birds. The channel is one of the few places where the giant forest hog – the world’s largest wild swine – is regularly encountered in daylight hours. Distant views of the Ruwenzori’s towering glacial peaks are a possibility in clear weather.
QENP’s main safari circuit, on the Kasenyi Plains running west from Lake George, is home to plenty of lion and buffalo, as well as large herds of the near-endemic Uganda kob.
The forested Kyambura Gorge harbors a habituated chimpanzee community that can be visited on twice-daily tracking excursions.
QENP’s wild and remote Ishasha sector is probably the most reliable place in Africa to see tree-climbing lions in arboreal action. It also hosts large numbers of buffalo, elephant, Uganda kob, topi and hippo.
Evidence of QENP’s volatile geological past includes the half-dozen intact volcanic calderas that can be seen on safaris along the bumpy but very scenic Explosion Crater Drive. Elsewhere, Lake Nyamasingiri comprises five interlocking calderas enclosed by the jungle-like Maramagambo Forest, while saline Katwe Crater Lake has supported a salt-mining industry since prehistoric times.