Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the southwestern region of Uganda along the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is Uganda’s most visited national park. Many visitors will combine a trip to the park with excursions to Murchison Falls National Park or gorilla trekking.
The national park includes the Maramagambo Forest area while sharing borders with the Kyambura Game Reserve, the Kigezi Game Reserve, and the Kibale National Park in Uganda. As noted above, it also shares a border with Virunga National Park of the DRC.
Queen Elizabeth National Park covers an area of 764 square miles (1,978 sq km). The park stretches between Lake Edward in the south up to Lake George in the north with the two lakes being connected by the Kazinga Channel. The elevation fluctuates from 2,985 to 4,560 feet (910 to 1,390 m) above sea level.
The ecosystems are diverse and feature Acacia savanna, tropical high forests, salt lakes, savanna grasslands, tundra, and wetlands. The lakes are actually partly salt and the two most famous ones are Lake George and Lake Edward. The landscapes feature the rugged Rwenzori Mountains as the background with remarkable craters nestled into the foothills below the mountains.
Vistas are also provided for panoramic lookouts over the Kazinga Channel and surrounding plains. The banks of the rivers are frequented by buffalo, elephants, and other ungulates. Hippos blanket the river waters and crocodiles are frequently basking on the sandy shorelines. Of course, the densely forested areas make it easy for hiding lion and leopards who wait for victims who come to quench their thirst.
Although the national park is a coveted destination for viewing wildlife, it also offers visitors with aesthetically beautiful landscapes of volcanic cones, craters, and crater lakes. Some of the more popular wildlife includes lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant, chimpanzee, hippo, and crocodile. The park is home to over 95 mammalian species and over 600 bird species.
Because of the array of bird species, Queen Elizabeth National Park is renowned for birdwatchers.
Queen Elizabeth Highlights:
Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular destination in Uganda because of the abundant wildlife encounters. There are almost 100 species of mammals of which the tree-climbing lions are the pinnacle encounter. This is one of the few places in the world where lions regularly climb trees.
Along with the tree-climbing lions, one of the other highlights is tracking with the chimpanzees. This is often a more adventurous outing into the jungle requiring greater fitness.
Hiking Trails of Queen Elizabeth National Park:
There are hiking opportunities in and around Queen Elizabeth National Park. The majority of trails are located in the Maramagambo Forest where various trails take hikers through the forest, along crater lakes, and into the jungle. It is even possible to see some caves which are home to thousands of bats.
Maramagambo Forest Loop Trail: This is an all-day hike that loops through the forest. Lunch will be secured from your lodge before heading out, but anticipate a great day in the jungle exploring nature at its best.
Mongoose Tracking Hike: This is a 3-hour excursion into the Mongoose Research Area where you will have the opportunity to observe banded mongoose. It is also possible that you will see other wildlife as the trail does follow along the Kazinga Channel.
Queen Elizabeth Highlights
- Seeing tree climbing lions in the trees
- Watching chimpanzee graze, play, rest, and chase one another
- Abundant wildlife
- Britannica, Queen Elizabeth National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Queen-Elizabeth-National-Park, retrieved July 2019.
- Queen Elizabeth National Park, https://www.queenelizabethnationalpark.com/, retrieved July 2019.
- Uganda Wildlife Authority, Queen Elizabeth National Park, https://www.ugandawildlife.org/explore-our-parks/parks-by-name-a-z/queen-elizabeth-national-park, retrieved July 2019.
- UNESCO, Queen Elizabeth Biosphere Reserve, https://en.unesco.org/biosphere/africa/queen-elizabeth, retrieved June 2020.