Serving up a rich diversity of game and scenery, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is a rewarding safari stopover between the primate hubs of Kibale and Bwindi.
For the purposes of safari planning, the park is divided into two sectors. The northern sector, Mweya, straddles the Equator; the euphorbia-studded valley framed by the Rwenzoris and the Kichwamba Escarpment to the north and south, with Lakes George and Edward to the east and west.
Despite the lack of the wildlife volumes of parks like the Serengeti in Tanzania, the variety of habitat in QENP provides a wealth of activities: popular launch cruises ply the bird-lined Kazinga Channel (the park has more than 600 species); the geologically intriguing Explosion Crater Drive offers panoramic views; guided hikes in Kyambura Gorge, though no substitute for Kibale, provide the chance of spotting chimpanzees; and the kob breeding grounds of Kasenyi Plains, which attract lions, hyenas, and leopards, offer more traditional wildlife-viewing. Cat-crazed visitors can ask about Lion Monitoring at Mweya Visitor Centre. This researcher-accompanied activity uses radio technology to get you up close, though availability is weather- (and researcher-) dependent.
To the south, the Ishasha sector is a wilder, more remote destination. Far from the crowds, there are no gimmicks, just plain, old-fashioned wilderness. Rolling plains are home to herds of elephants, kob, and topi, and local lion prides are known for climbing the giant fig trees. These show-stealing cats are usually given top billing for any foray into this sector, but Ishasha’s beauty is best savored slowly. Spend time appreciating the full abundance of life on the savanna, and the discovery of telltale tails dangling from a tree will not be the only reward.
Nearby, communities have developed several worthwhile tourism activities. Visit a working salt lake at Katwe or participate in a craft workshop with Kikorongo Community Group in the north, or tour Deo’s Homestead near Ishasha for insight into the challenges of farming near wildlife. Such community interactions offer a welcome change of pace, as well as a fascinating contrast to the wealth of wildlife in this beautiful park.