In many ways, Queen Elizabeth National Park – one of Uganda’s best safari areas – is East Africa in microcosm. To enter the ‘Queen’ is to embark on a magical mystery tour. There is so much to experience in just this one protected area, including witnessing animal behaviour seen in few other places.
The key to the diversity on display is the location: in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains lies an intricate tapestry of open savannah, shadowy forests and hippo-thronged lakes. Visits to local coffee plantations can add an extra dimension to Uganda safaris.
Queen Elizabeth safaris can be enjoyed on foot, with guided walks in the Kalinzu Forest and Mweya Peninsula (where you can track mongoose and imagine life on much shorter legs); with a chimp safari in the Kyambura Gorge or Kalinzu Forest; by boat along the lake-linking Kazinga Channel; or more conventionally on a game drive.
The densely wooded gorge is known as the ‘Valley of the Apes’ and is a highlight of any Queen Elizabeth safari. The presence of chimpanzee in the heart of the reserve makes this one of the few national parks where both savannah and primate encounters are possible. Chimp trekking can be a much more boisterous experience than mountain gorilla trekking, so be prepared to witness all manner of activity.
As in much of Uganda, the birding is exceptional. Also, you won’t want to miss an excursion into the southern Ishasha sector in search of the renowned tree-climbing lion, and the herds of kob they prey on.