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Queen Elizabeth NP Budget Safari Tours

Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda's most popular safari destination. This is partly due to its proximity to the country’s gorilla trekking hubs, but also reflects its status as one of East Africa’s most biodiverse protected areas. Here you will find expansive freshwater lakes, swathes of equatorial rainforest, tracts of rolling savannah and brackish crater lakes nestled below the snowcapped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. Four of the Big Five are present (no rhino), with elephant and buffalo easily seen and lion reasonably common too. The bird checklist of more than 600 species is the most of any national park in East Africa. Overall, Queen Elizabeth NP is a great addition to a budget holiday in Uganda.

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1-20 of 277 cheap tours, packages and holidays to Queen Elizabeth National Park

6 Questions About Queen Elizabeth NP Budget Safaris


6 Questions About Queen Elizabeth NP Budget Safaris

Answered by Philip Briggs

Is Queen Elizabeth National Park recommended as a budget safari destination?

“Queen Elizabeth National Park is justifiably one of the most popular destinations for an affordable budget safari out of the Ugandan capital Kampala or nearby Entebbe International Airport. It is particularly recommended to travelers who also want to see gorillas, as it lies very close to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda's main gorilla trekking destination. Queen Elizabeth NP’s Ishasha sector is also one of the most reliable places in Africa for tree-climbing lions. For those who want to do a stand-alone budget safari that doesn't include gorilla trekking, we would regard Murchison Falls National Park as preferable to Queen Elizabeth NP. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that Murchison Falls is more than 100km/60mi closer to Kampala, which cuts about 2 hours off the driving time in either direction. The second is that Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch stands alongside the main road to Murchison Falls and is easily visited en route there.”


Is 2 days enough for a Queen Elizabeth NP trip?

“Two days is theoretically enough for a stand-alone Queen Elizabeth National Park budget safari, and several operators offer this option. However, given that the driving time from Kampala or Entebbe is at least 7 hours in either direction, 2 days makes for a very rushed trip and will limit how much you can fit into your itinerary. For this reason, we would recommend a minimum of 3 days, preferably 4, for a stand-alone Queen Elizabeth NP safari. If you are also planning to track gorillas, we would recommend 4 days as the realistic minimum for your safari, and 5 days or longer as ideal.”


What animals might I see on a Queen Elizabeth NP budget safari?

“Queen Elizabeth NP offers good general wildlife viewing. It is the easiest place in Uganda to see lions, which quite often climb trees in the Ishasha sector but are more common on the Kasenyi Plains, where they feed on large herds of Uganda kob. Elephant, buffalo, hippo, waterbuck and crocodile are generally numerous along the Kazinga Channel, which can be explored on boat trips that also offer great bird watching and occasional sightings of leopard and giant forest hog. The forested Maramagambo sector is a good place to look for monkeys and other forest wildlife.”


Can I combine a Queen Elizabeth NP budget trip with gorilla or chimp trekking?

“A budget safari in Queen Elizabeth NP is often combined with gorilla and/or chimp trekking. The most convenient gorilla trekking destination coming from Queen Elizabeth NP is Buhoma, on the northern boundary of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Depending on which lodge or camp you stay at in Queen Elizabeth NP, it is only a 2- to 4-hour drive between there and Buhoma. It is also possible to drive between Queen Elizabeth NP and other trekking sites in Bwindi Impenetrable or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, but you'll be looking at more like 5 to 7 hours on the road. Queen Elizabeth NP is even more convenient for seeing chimps, since two popular trekking sites border the park and can be visited as a day trip from any lodge or camp in the vicinity. Of these, Kalinzu Forest Reserve is recommended to budget-conscious travelers over Kyambura Gorge since it offers an attractive combination of low fees and a high success rate. It is also straightforward to tag Kibale National Park – which is Uganda’s premier chimp trekking destination, but costlier than Kalinzu – onto a budget Queen Elizabeth NP safari.”


What type of accommodation can I expect on cheap Queen Elizabeth NP packages?

“Most cheap tours incorporating Queen Elizabeth NP will use budget camps and lodges. These typically offer rustic but clean accommodation in en suite rooms (though some may have ablution blocks) on full-board packages that include meals but not drinks. Some budget tours will use campsites but this is the exception rather than the rule. Before you book a tour, it is advisable to ask where you will be staying and look at the establishment’s website, assuming that it has one.”


How much does a Queen Elizabeth NP budget safari cost?

“More affordable safari packages that focus solely on Queen Elizabeth NP typically cost around US$200 to US$250 per person per day. You can expect to pay slightly more for a package that includes chimp trekking, and significantly more for one that incorporates a US$600 gorilla trekking permit. In all cases, the price should be inclusive of accommodation, meals, transport, park fees and activity costs, but it will exclude tips, unscheduled activities, drinks and other personal purchases.”


Queen Elizabeth NP Reviews

4.2/5 128 Reviews
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Greatest collection of mammal species in Uganda

The best way to get an early feel for Queen Elizabeth National Park is to join a two-hour boat cruise up the Kazinga Channel, which runs between Lake George and Lake Edward. Birdlife is fantastic but the whole journey, especially if you go...

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Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Uganda’s offering of a typical East African reserve supporting herds of game

My favourite activity at Queen Elizabeth is the boat ride on the Kazinga Channel. It’s said to contain the world's largest concentration of hippo, and you can watch thousands of them practically piled on top of each other in the shallows;...

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Sahara varny  –  
Ethiopia ET
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
Bale Mountains Brilliant Tours

Abdisa was our trek leader when me and three friends went for a 4 day trek through Bale. It was my first time in Ethiopia and he made us feel welcome and was really helpful in getting us what we needed, preparing for our trek, pacing us in...

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Daniel Salgueiro  –  
Portugal PT
Reviewed: Apr 4, 2021
Amazing Experience

My expections were pretty high, since I have always heard amazing things about QENP. And I must say I was not disappointed. The day started in the best possible way: Reaching the main road of the park, we spotted a Hyena. As we were...

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Zsolt Banyai  –  
Hungary HU
Reviewed: Feb 22, 2021
Kyambura Gorge is amazing!

If you assess the park purely on the game drives, then it was very disappointing. There are only a few species that we saw: elephants, hippos, warthogs, buffalos, waterbucks and Ugandan kobs. However there are some activities which are...

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Penny Randell  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Nov 23, 2018
Our safari guide, Moses Mugabirwa, single-handedly made all our dreams come true.

Fortunately, we ventured past our safari lodge and ended up in the village. There we met Moses Mugabirwa who ran his own tour company. This pleasant, and honorable man speaks perfect English and knew the park as though he lived there. In...

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