User Reviews – Queen Elizabeth NP

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Elephants and hippos galore!
Overall rating
3/5

Recently we went to Queen Elizabeth (QE) for the second time in eight years. It's one of Uganda's classic parks and a staple of wildlife tourism. Although my experience of the park is highly suggestive, I can give a perspective. I've been to Murchison, Mburo, and Kidepo several times, and each park has its strengths and weaknesses.

We approached QE from the south where you get a breathtaking view of the park from atop the escarpment. From there on, though, the road deteriorates severely. The tarmac main road through the park toward Kasese is liked a bombed-out runway, really disappointing for Uganda in general. My thought was that those responsible should be ashamed at how they've let the place go downhill. Another example of that is the tourist center inside the park. It's old. It's outdated. It's kind of pitiful. It looks like the park authorities haven't invested a dime in the place since it was built decades ago. Meanwhile they have made millions of dollars off it. That doesn't bode well for the management of the park. This makes me really sad. President Museveni boasts about making Uganda the 'Switzerland of Africa' but his government can't manage to maintain one of its greatest natural resources.

We did one game drive, in the morning. When we got to the gate, there was no one there. I honked, yelled, and looked around to no avail. So we opened the gate ourselves and started our game drive (we later paid at the tourist center but could have easily done our drive and left without paying!). In terms of animals, we didn't see much variety: hippos, elephants, warthogs, and waterbuck. That was about it in the wooded area that we were in. But we did see some cool things like three hippos running across the road in broad daylight, and later a hippo soaking in a mudhole, also in broad daylight. Almost every loop we turned down, we came across elephants. It seemed like they were everywhere. This made me a little jittery as I've been charged a few too many times.

Mid-morning we went to Mweya peninsula where we paid our dues and took tea at Mweya Lodge, which by all appearances is a very lovely place (too bad we can't afford it!). Even as someone who just goes in and out of amateur birdmanship, I could tell that the place was teeming with bird diversity.

Our lodging was the The Bush Lodge, a very pleasant luxury tented camp on the south side of Kazinga Channel. We were pleased with almost every aspect of the place. Lots of birds around. We saw a giant forest hog among the tents on the first evening and heard hippos around the clock. The food and accommodations were very much worth what we paid. One downside was that the local town was just up the channel, and its sound carried down to the camp for much of the day and night. So our experience of hippos and hyenas was mixed with discos, Muslim calls-to-prayer, and the incessant noise of heavy trucks crossing the bridge.

Later in the day we took a boat ride from The Bush Lodge, using local boatsmen instead of the companies. I really like injecting money in their pockets instead of the wealthy tour companies. The flipside is that the boat itself was a bit of a clunker, emitting noxious fumes for two hours that gave me a terrific headache! But our guide was knowledgeable without being annoying, and even the driver was a pleasant chap who also knew his birds. We saw hippos and hippos and more hippos, around every bend in the river. We also saw buffalo, elephant, bushbuck, warthogs, and several dozens species of birds.

So all in all it was a mixed-bag type of safari. Some animals we saw lots of, others none. The park has no zebra or giraffe, which is kind of a bummer. Lions were around but we didn't see them, nor leopards (much to my chagrin as the leopard is my 'holy grail' of wildlife). It was disappointing to see how neglected the park seems to be, from the condition of the main road to that of the park facilities to the fact that no ranger could be found at a main gate. It's like they are taking the park and what is provides for granted. That cannot be sustainable. Still,it's a lovely place, and any time one gets the chance to see those great animals and the teeming birdlife in the wild, it's a privilege and one I'd never want to complain about (apart from minor human-related quibbles).

Overall rating
3/5

I visited Queen Elizabeth only briefly and likely didn't get the full experience. Unfortunately, we didn't have much luck seeing wildlife. We did, however have a nice camping and dining experience.

Africa's Postcard
Overall rating
5/5

If you want to see Lions, elephants, hippos, crocs against a beautiful african backdrop, this is your place. It isn't particularly easy to travel through independently (i.e. get there by bus etc), but certainly possible. Once there hiring a local guide is the best thing to do. We caught a taxi to Katunguru, then hired a guide called Mustafa (who is well known in the area, and is listed in the Bradt travel guide). He was fantastic, would very much recommend going with him.

The most visited National Park in Uganda, definitely deserves a visit
Overall rating
4/5

Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most visited National Park in Uganda. Located on the Western Region, the Park occupies more then 1,900 square kilometers. I started early morning with a Game Drive in the plains. Beautiful scenery and I had the chance to see some lions and lots of monkeys. I strongly recommend a visit to Kawe village were Salt mining is done for centuries. The highlight of the day was the cruise where you can see all kinds of wildlife. Elephants, crocodiles, rhinos, the list goes on...If you visit the Western area of Uganda, don't miss this beautiful National Park.

Overall rating
5/5

Very nice park with a lot of real wildlife
You will see many animals and an incredible number of birds..

Overall rating
4/5

Huge park, lots of game, the boattrip (3AM/UWA) is amazing. The lion tracking is worth doing: you get to see lions up close (inquire with UWA) - Uganda Large Predator Project (ULPP)

AMAZING!!!!
Overall rating
5/5

We absolutely loved QENP! beautiful scenery and great wildlife! saw a whole pride of lions in a fig tree!!

A beautiful destination for the nature lover who prefers rugged safari without the luxuries
Overall rating
5/5

This my second visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park. On my first visit I went on the game drive on the Mweya side and stayed at Mweya lodge which was great. Everything was rated for. Three wholesome meals and great accommodation. I took a boat tour down the Kazinga Channel where I was able to see a lot of game on the lake shore. Which includes Hippos, Elephants, Baffaloes, Crocodiles, and Birds (African Fish Eagles, Pied Kingfishers, Goliath herons, Pelicans, Spoon Bills, Jacanas etc)

My visit this time was at the Kisenyi gate. I stayed in more budget accommodation at the Njovu lodge near Lake Katwe. It was good for the price. I was able to hire a guide through the lodge as I was driving myself. I finally saw three female lioness' which I hadn't seen the first time, and more of the regular game of which included Elephants, Water buck, Uganda Kob, Buffaloes. I was also able to see Flamingoes which I hadn't before at Lake Katwe literally hundreds of them. It was well worth the visit. One needs to remember that every visit is different, and you always see something new every time you go.

Overall rating
5/5

Good gamedrives, nice weather. Went on a very good boatdrive on the Kazinga channel with lots of animals.

Picturesque views, great camping and a perfect layover between seeing chimps and gorillas
Overall rating
3/5

As far as traditional, savannah type game parks, QENP is one of Uganda's few options. The park's beauty and open landscape is a nice change from the more typical forests in the south west of the country, however, in many respects - e.g. wildlife and vastness - QENP lags far behind parks in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania. But if you were looking for the standard safari experience you probably wouldn't be looking at Uganda in the first place!

QENP is definitely worth a visit and it's location between Kibale and Bwindi/Mgahinga make it an ideal place to spend a night between seeing the more impressive chimps and gorillas of the other parks. Because the wildlife is rather sparse in the park, grab a guide from the front gate if you must see the leopards and lions, otherwise do what we did and take a relaxing drive through the many tracks along the craters to enjoy the scenery while searching for the herds of elephants, buffalo and other animals.

As for accommodation, I highly recommend camping inside the park if you have the gear - great views, inexpensive and a nice way to experience the park. Don't worry about breakfast as there is a restaurant about 5 minutes from the campsite with an amazing view over the lake.

Considering this isn't Uganda's forte, the park offers some surprising moments and picturesque views. As long as you're not expecting the Maasai Mara, it will add to your experience of the country.

Average User Rating

  • 4.2/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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