Queen Elizabeth National Park Self Drive

Queen Elizabeth National Park Self Drive

Queen Elizabeth National Park Self Drive

Queen Elizabeth National Park Self Drive : Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most popular and visited wildlife parks in Uganda for wildlife safaris, the park is located in western Uganda in Kasese district and stretches to the western arm of the Great Rift Valley. The park is located about 400 kilometers west of Kampala the capital city of Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a savannah park hosting a wide variety of wildlife including 5 of the Big Five, these animals include elephants, lions, leopards, cape buffaloes, bush pigs, warthogs, waterbucks, giant forest hogs, Uganda kobs, baboons, hippos and many wildlife species.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the popular parks for game viewing (game drives), the park has 2 main areas where game drives are done that is Kasenyi plains and Mweya plains.

What You Need To Know Before Embarking on a Self Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Hire a good vehicle (4WD is essential)

A good 4WD vehicle is must have for a self-drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the park gas a main road running through it from Kasese to Kihihi. The majority of the main road is murram, not tarmac and all the tracks within the park are essentially dirt tracks and a 4WD is an absolute essential most especially during the wet season.

If you are planning a self – drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you should opt for at least a Toyota Rav4 but a slightly bigger vehicle like a Land Cruiser is a great option.

Consider hiring a ranger

After hiring a car/vehicle, the next step is heading to the park and when you arrive in Queen Elizabeth National park, you will have to pay a park entrance fee of 40 USD per 24 hours as well as charge for the vehicle itself.

At the park entrance, you will an opportunity to hire a ranger – an armed UWA official who will escort you through the park helping you navigate the tracks and potentially improving your chances of spotting the elusive animals inhabiting in the park such as lions and leopards among others.

Though it is not mandatory, hiring a ranger will enhance the experience most especially of you are visiting the park for the first time.

Pack supplies and fill up with fuel

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a vast wilderness with very few centers offering supplies in the park, the towns of kasese and Kihihi are the best options for stocking up on supplies depending on the route that you take into the park.

Our advice is to fill your vehicle up with fuel before reaching the park, food and drink. Unless you are planning lunch at one of the lodges in the park, there are only a few local trading centers where you can stock up on supplies. There is one center by the Kazinga Channel.

Make sure you are all set before reaching the park, load your vehicle with water, snacks and other essential supplies you may need.

Note: it can be hot out in the savannah, so you need an adequate supply of water in the vehicle just in case,

Don’t drive off the tracks

When you enter Queen Elizabeth National Park for the safari experience, you will be giddy with excitement as you will be amidst the incredible wilderness that is all yours to explore and have a chance to see some stunning wildlife in the process.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is connected with a number of tracks that have been given different names to ease the navigation, you can actually buy a map from the park entrance at about 10$. The map will help you get your safari underway particularly if you do not have a ranger with you.

For several reasons, you are advised not to drive off the tracks, you are not allowed to so and will be fined if you do so.

It is a bad idea to drive off track because the terrain immediately next to the track is unpredictable and could cause your vehicle to get stuck. By heading off track, you might disturb the wildlife in their natural habitat.

Drive slowly

Inside the park, the tracks are poorly maintained and aren’t in great shape regardless of the time of the year you will find potholes. This is why you need to take it easy and stick to the speed limit when you are in the park, there is no need to race around as you could easily damage your vehicle.

Note: if you are driving too fast, you risk missing out on some awesome wildlife sightings, as the safari goes on it is all about looking carefully through the tall grass to see if you can spot something.

wildlife in  queen elizabeth national park

Animals always have the right of way

Animal always have the right of way in any protected area including Queen Elizabeth National park, the best way to look at it is that if you are a guest in the animal king, the animals have the right to do whatever is natural to them. If an elephant decides to stand in the middle of the road for 30 minutes, that’s his prerogative. You have to sit and wait patiently for the elephant to move.

Animals are completely unpredictable and you need to be driving slowly enough suddenly if something jumps into your path unexpectedly.

Don’t get out of the car

While in the wilderness of Queen Elizabeth National Park on your own, there is great chance of spotting a huge range of wildlife. Normally there are so many animals within its boundaries, you should not be attempted to get out of your vehicle as you will be putting yourself in danger.

Ask guides for animal sighting tips

One of the downsides of a self-drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park  that is if you don’t have a knowledgeable guide in the vehicle with you is that you might not know the way to take. This is why you need to have a ranger who knows the best locations for specific sightings  of animals.

Best time to do game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The best time to do game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park is during dry season from June to September and December to February. Though the park can be visited all year round and you will be able to see wildlife, what makes dry season a great time for wildlife viewing is that the wildlife is easy to spot as the vegetation cover is thin and animals usually congregate around the remaining watering holes, also the trails used during the game drives are less slippery.

Where to stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park

There are a variety of accommodation choices in Queen Elizabeth National Park ranging from luxury, midrange to Budget lodges. These accommodations include

  • Twin Lakes Lodge
  • Elephant Hab
  • Park View Lodge
  • Mweya Safari Lodge
  • Elephant plains
  • Katara Lodge
  • Kyambura Gorge Lodge among others.
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