The Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most well-loved tourist destination 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 in 3 sectors: Mweya Peninsula, Kyambura Gorge to the east of Mweya and Ishasha in the remote southwest. The game drives and tourist activities are made in Mweya sector and in part in Ishasha sector, where the famous tree- climbing lion 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 obviously barren, there are no waterholes that attract animals. If you have already seen other national parks around Africa, you will not be completely satisfied. In Mweya area there are lions but obviously you have to be lucky to view them. It is not so easy because the park is huge, 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 4 lions, while the second time a baby lion walking in the tall grass and 1 adult resting on the acacia-trees.
My driver and professional guide, told me with a beaming smile that this park is very big 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 turn back. It lasts about 2 hours (departures at 2pm and 4pm) and along your way you’ll spot so many buffaloes, hippos, elephants, crocodiles and a myriad of birds (take your sit on the left side of the boat). Another excursion that could be done in this area is a visit to the Salt Katwe lake where, accompanied by a local guide for about 40 – 50 minutes, you’ll walk through the shore of the lake, listening 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 an hour and a half to reach it. Even here the animals are very few , and i didnt see any lions…on the ground or on the trees either. The driver explained that during the dry season the heat is very strong, then they usually move near the lake Edward shores, but unfortunately at the moment there is no track that runs along that area. Dispate the fact i didn’t see so many animals, with no doubt it is worth visiting the park above all for the boat cruise along Kazinga channel and the trekking in the lush Kyambura Gorge looking for the chimps.
Where to sleep : Mweya lodge is the most fancy and expensive accommodation of the park (https://mweyalodge.com/); I slept at Buffalo safari Lodge, anyway there is a good range of accommodations from campsites to Lodge.