Queen Elizabeth National Park | Home of Tree Climbing Lions

Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular savannah reserve and has the widest variety of wildlife of any Ugandan safari park. The variety of habitats includes grassland savannah, forests, wetlands and lakes. This provides the setting for an extensive range of large mammals and primates. Four of the Big five are present and regularly seen. Rhino are absent.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is in southwest Uganda. Leopards roam the Mweya Peninsula, which lies beside Lake Edward. Nearby Lake Katwe is a huge volcanic explosion crater. Boats on the Kazinga Channel float past hippos and Nile crocodiles. Chimpanzees inhabit the Kyambura Gorge. Trails lead to bat caves in the central Maramagambo Forest. The Ishasha area is home to tree-climbing lions and shoebill storks.


Boat trips along the Kazinga channel
A large number of elephant and other big game
Eccentric population of tree climbing lions
Superb chimpanzee sightings at Kyambura Gorge
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve's crater lakes, popular with greater flamingos

Queen Elizabeth Savannah Safari Park

One of Uganda's most popular game viewing areas, enjoy thrilling game drives to discover 95 species of mammal, with healthy populations of Uganda kob, buffalo and hippo, along with a strong elephant population, said to be around the 1000 mark. On a Queen Elizabeth National Park safari boat trips along the Kazinga channel can be particularly special; there's always the chance of leopard or giant forest hog coming down to drink at the water's edge. The Ishasha plains of the southern sector are a particularly interesting place to visit, owing to its rather eccentric population of tree climbing lions. The reason for their unusual behaviour is very much up for discussion, although it's thought to be a means of escaping the irksome Ishasha flies. To the north of the park is the spectacular Kyambura Gorge, which you can descend into in the early morning for superb chimpanzee encounters with the park's only habituated group.

To get closer to some of the park's other primates walks through Maramagambo Forest are perfect. You will have the chance to see black and white colobus along with rarer sightings of the L'Hoest's monkey.

Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, adjacent to Queen Elizabeth, is also well worth a visit. The reserve's main focus is a number of impressive crater lakes, one of which is particularly popular with lesser and greater flamingos that flock to it in their thousands.

Access - Getting to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Located in western Uganda, shared by districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Bushenyi, Queen Elizabeth park is 1978km2 in size. The park lies 5-6 hours from Kampala on a surfaced road via Mbarara, and can be reached on a dirt road from Bwindi.

It includes parts of Lakes Edward and George which are linked by Kazinga channel and other attractions. Accessing the park from Kampala is either on tarmac through Mbarara (420 kames) or Fort Portal via Kasese (410kms). The park is 5-6 hours from Kampala on surface road via Mbarara. This Uganda safari park can also be reached via Ishasha sector, which is south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Did you know: The boat trip within Queen Elizabeth National Park is done on the impressive Kazinga Channel a 40 kilometer water long natural channel that links Lake Edward plus Lake George.

The best time to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park

Although constant drizzle often characterizes the days of the Wet seasons (March to May and August to December), this is when the park’s environment is beautifully lush and you can greet migratory birds as they pass through. For chimpanzee tracking, though, visit when the park’s trails are more solid underfoot in the drier months.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is open all-year-long, but wildlife viewing is at its best from January to February and June to July (the Dry seasons).

Best time to go: January to February and June to July (Dry seasons)
High Season: June to September (This is premium gorilla tracking time in Uganda, and there are many visitors around)
Low Season: April, May, October and November (There are fewer people in the park)
Best Weather: June to July and January to February (Less rainfall)
Worst Weather: April, May and September to October (High rainfall, some roads become impassable)

January to February and June to July

  • Wildlife is easier to spot as vegetation thins, and animals gather around water sources
  • Drier trails make chimp tracking easier
  • Sunny days are plentiful
  • The best time for birding is late May to September
  • Views aren't as good due to the hazy air

March to May and August to December

  • You will see a decent amount of wildlife year-round
  • The landscape is beautiful and green
  • Migratory birds can be spotted
  • Roads may become inaccessible after heavy rains and forest trails get slippery
  • Afternoon thunderstorms should be expected, and it might drizzle for days at a time

Queen Elizabeth National Park Weather

Bwindi Weather - best time to visit bwindi impenetrable forest

Queen Elizabeth National Park’s nearness to the equator ensures uniformly warm temperatures throughout the year. Heavy rain that makes some roads impassable is a feature of the region’s two Wet seasons (March to May and August to December). Although there’s no official Dry season, the rainfall abates somewhat – though rarely entirely – from January to February and June to July.

The climate in Queen Elizabeth NP is warm. Temperatures remain stable year-round, being near the equator. Daytime temperatures rise to around 28°C/82°F and slowly fall to around 16°C/61°F at night. Queen Elizabeth NP doesn't have a real Dry season, so there is always potential for rain. Rain happens less during December through January, with June and July having the least rain. Wet seasons occur in March to May and from August to December.

Health and safety

A trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park, in our opinion, can easily be made safely. The people you will come into contact with are primarily fellow tourists and staff working for the park, camps or tour operators.

Malaria & vaccinations: It is recommended to take anti-malarial medication and apply mosquito repellent that contains 30% DEET or more to help counteract the risk of malaria (and remember to cover exposed skin in the evenings). There are also vaccinations recommended for Uganda, which you should ask your travel clinic or local doctor about.

Selected Queen Elizabeth National Park Lodges

Wildlife Viewing Safety Precautions

How to limit dangers and annoyances

Wildlife viewing should always be done with caution and respect for the animals . Use your common sense and remember that the behavior of wild animals can be unpredictable. Limiting dangers is easily done by following the expert directions of your guide. And please take note of the wildlife viewing safety precautions below.

Please note: by reading the advice below you may get the impression that wildlife viewing is a dangerous activity. That is not the case. In our opinion, wildlife viewing can be considered very safe as long as you treat the animals with respect and use common sense. It is extremely rare for incidents to occur and your professional guide is there to ensure your safety. The advice below is solely intended to further decrease the already small risks.
  • Always follow your guide’s instructions and guidelines.
  • Stay in the car during game drives except at designated areas where you are allowed to get out of the car.
  • Never walk off far to pee behind a bush – ask for advice from your guide about where to go
  • Don't stand up in the car, hang out of the window or sit on the roof.
  • Don’t drive too close to animals if you are on a self-drive safari. Back off if the animals seem disturbed.
  • Don’t drive between elephants, especially females and their young. Never get too close to elephants, particularly lone males.
  • Don't talk or laugh too loud.
  • Stay close to your guide and group on a walking safari and always walk in single file.
  • Watch where you put your feet while walking in the bush.
  • Never run or jog in a wildlife area as it entices predators to attack. For the same reason, never run away from a predator when confronted. Instead ask your guide for help and instructions or slowly walk backwards while facing the predator.
  • Never walk between a hippo and water. It may panic and charge because its safety route to the water is blocked.
  • While on a canoe safari, stay in the shallows, to avoid hippos. Keep enough distance from animals on river banks.
  • While camping, or in a tented camp, never leave food in your tent; it will attract wildlife.
  • Cover your arms and legs in the evening and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes. The repellant should contain at least 20-30% DEET.
  • Wear a hat, use sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
  • Don't wear bright and colorful clothes or too much perfume. This is especially true for walking safaris and, to a lesser extent, for other wildlife viewing activities. In tsetse-fly areas it is recommended not to wear dark-colored clothing – such as black or dark blue – since it attracts these stinging flies. Bring warm clothes for morning game drives in open vehicles during the cold months of June, July and August.