Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most well-loved tourist destinations in Uganda. It is situated in the western portion of the country, spread across the regions of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri.
The reserve, formed in 1954, starts at Lake George in the northeast and stretches to Lake Edward in the southwest. It is divided into three sectors: Mweya Peninsula, Kyambura Gorge to the east of Mweya and Ishasha in the far south-west.
The game drives and tourist activities are made in Mweya sector and in part in Ishasha sector, where the tree-climbing lions are the main attraction. Kyambura Gorge sector is a deep gorge with lush tropical vegetation crossed by a river, famous for its large concentration of chimpanzees.
I’ve visited the park twice, the first in 2009 and the last in January 2018, but to be honest, the games are not a lot, and sometimes they are difficult to spot. In the dry season, the landscape is barren, and there are no waterholes that attract animals.
If you have already seen other national parks around Africa, you will not be so delighted. In the Mweya area, there are lions, but obviously, you have to be lucky to view them.
It is not so easy because the park is vast, the grass is tall, and they usually rest ”perched” on the small and dense acacia trees to find repair from the heat. Without a doubt, the best time for a game drive is early in the morning or in the late afternoon.
I can’t complain since the first time in the park I spotted four lions, while the second time a baby lion walking in the tall grass and one adult resting on the acacia trees.
My driver-professional guide told me with a beaming smile that this park is huge but…only grass and…not a whiff of animals. Anyways, the most exciting activity done in Mweya it is the boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel, a canal that links the Lake George and Lake Edward.
The round trip ride starts from the pier near the Mweya Lodge (you can book there) until you get close to Lake Edward, then the boat turns back(departures at 2 pm and 4 pm-it last about 2 hours). During the cruise, you’ll spot many buffaloes, hippos, elephants, crocodiles and a myriad of birds (take your seat on the left side of the boat).
Another excursion that could be done in this area is a visit to the Salt Katwe lake. Accompanied by a local guide for about 40 – 50 minutes, you’ll walk through the shore of the lake, listening to interesting information about the extraction procedure of the salt from the lake.
The southern sector of Ishasha, well known for the tree climbing lions, is 80 km from Mweya and it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach it. Even here the animals are very few, and I didn’t see any lions…on the ground or on the trees either.
The driver explained that during the dry season the heat is extreme, then they usually move near the lake Edward shores, but unfortunately, at the moment no track runs along that area.
Even though I didn’t spot so many animals, it is worth visiting the park to cruise the Kazinga channel and do the trekking in the lush Kyambura Gorge looking for the chimps.
Need to Know
1) When to go
January, February, June, and July are the best months for visiting Uganda and its National Parks.
2) How to get there
The Park is 400 km from Kampala, therefore, the best way is to book a tour through a local agency or to rent a car at Entebbe international airport. You can find the site of some local tour operators clicking here.
Alternatively, you can also check on the web platform Viator that offers tours around Uganda and its parks.
3) Where to sleep
Mweya Safari Lodge is the fanciest and expensive accommodation of the Park; We slept at Buffalo Safari Lodge in the Mweya sector, anyway, there is a good range of accommodations from campsites to Lodges.
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