Discover the Hidden Gems of Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park on the Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise Safari
Nestled in the heart of Africa lies the breathtaking Kazinga Channel, a gentle river that runs 36 kilometers and connects lakes Edward and George. This stunning waterway bisects Queen Elizabeth National Park and is home to the highest concentration of hippos in the world. But the Kazinga Channel is much more than just a hippo haven; it’s a prime tourist attraction and the highlight of any wildlife safari in Uganda.
During a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, you will be immersed in a breathtaking wildlife experience, with an array of big and small creatures ranging from feathered to ferocious. The channel teems with African birds, visiting elephants, buffalo, lions, and the notorious Nile crocodiles. But the real stars of the show are the hippos, with about 2,000 of these adorable yet dangerous creatures living in more than 600 bloats on the channel. The best way to marvel at these water giants is by taking one of the scheduled launch safaris or boat cruises that bring you up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.
Apart from observing hippos, the Kazinga Channel boat cruise safari offers a great opportunity to witness over 100 diverse waterbird species that gather at the channel’s banks, making it a perfect bird-watching haven for bird lovers. You may encounter African skimmers, African shoebills, Malachite kingfishers, Pink-backed pelicans, Long-tailed cormorants, Yellow-billed storks, Fish eagles, African spoonbills, Pied kingfishers, Black crakes, Papyrus gonoleks, Martial eagles, and Black bee-eaters on your boat trip.
Kazinga Channel Features
The Kazinga Channel splits Queen Elizabeth National Park into two unequal chunks of game-viewing attractions. The larger south of the channel features the Ishasha sector, a wildlife-rich park sector known for its tree-climbing lions, and Kyambura Gorge, a valley of apes perfect for chimpanzee trekking and nature walks. On the other hand, the north of the channel is much smaller, featuring some of the country’s best wildlife-viewing game tracks, Kasenyi, Katunguru, Katwe, Mweya, Kikorongo, and the Kichwamba Escarpment.
Bridging both sides of the channel is a 50 km stretch of surfaced Kasese-Ishaka Road crossing the Kazinga Channel at Katunguru Bridge. Almost all safari camps and lodges serving the park’s northern sector lie alongside the Mbarara-Kasese, with other camps leading off the highway for up to 20 km (12.4 mi) inside. Tourists staying inside can drive to Kazinga Channel from any camp within one hour and join the daily scheduled launch trips.
The Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise
The boat trips on Kazinga Channel launch from the jetty below Mweya Safari Lodge, northeast of Lake Edward, and cruise 35 kilometers to Lake Gorge. As you cruise along the channel, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife in the comfort of the boat.
You may spot hippo bloats, gentle giant elephants, buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, and even predators like leopards and lions lounging in the afternoon heat. Keep an eye out for giant monitor lizards and ferocious crocodiles lurking in the riverine shrub. Waterbirds like the yellow-billed stork, pink-backed pelicans, plovers, white-bellied cormorants, and pink-backed pelicans frequent the channel’s sandbanks.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Mweya Safari Lodge operate the 2-hour scheduled daily launch trips on Kazinga Channel.
UWA launch trip costs $30 per person and leaves at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm.
Mweya Safari Lodge’s launch trip is cheaper than UWA, more comfortable, and well-serviced. Mweya’s boat leaves at 11:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 4:15 pm, with special request trips available at 7:00 am and 9:00 am.
Best Time For Kazinga Boat Cruise
The best time for a boat cruise safari on the Kazinga channel is during the Dry Seasons of June to August and December to February. During these dry, hot days, the animals are pushed toward the channel waters, making it easier to spot elephants and predators. The afternoon between 1:00 and 5:00 pm is the best time to watch wildlife along the Kazinga Channel.
If you’re planning a family safari holiday in Uganda, make sure to add a boat cruise on Kazinga Channel to your itinerary. Your kids will love getting up close and personal with the wild animals, and you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable adventure!
Directions: The Best Ways to Reach the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Planning a trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park for the Kazinga Channel boat cruise safari? There are multiple ways to get to this stunning destination.
One of the most familiar routes is by road. You can drive from Kampala to Queen Elizabeth National Park via the 309 km (192 mi) smoothly surfaced road, which takes 6 to 8 hours and passes through Masaka, Marara, and Bushenyi cities. Alternatively, you can take route A109 on the 400 km (248 mi) Fort Portal-Kasese road, which takes about 6-8 hours. This route fits well with chimpanzee trekking adventures in Kibale National Park.
If you prefer to fly, you can take a regional scheduled flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip or Mweya Airstrip, which takes about 1.5 hours. If you fly to Kasese, you’ll have to drive 40 km (30 mins) to Kazinga Channel, while Mweya Airstrip is just a few minutes away.
The best route to Kazinga Channel depends on your Uganda safari itinerary and choice of safari camp. For example, if you’re coming from seeing mountain gorillas in the southwestern highlands, you can drive through the Ishasha Sector of the park and join Mbarara-Kasese Road at Katunguru. Alternatively, you can pass via the smooth Kabale-Ntugamo-Ishaka road and join the Mbarara-Kasese road at Ishaka town.
No matter how you choose to get there, visiting the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park is an unforgettable experience you won’t want to miss.
The Best Accommodations Near Kazinga Channel
If you’re looking to visit Kazinga Channel, staying at one of the camps or lodges near Queen Elizabeth National Park is a great option. There are many impressive lodges located along the Mabara-Kasese highway on both the north and south sides of the park. Here are our top picks for accommodations near Kazinga Channel.
Kasenyi Safari Camp
Kasenyi Safari Camp is situated in a picturesque location on Lake Bunyampaka in the northern part of the park, which offers stunning views of the salt lake and its pink flamingo-colored shores. The camp’s location also provides breathtaking vistas of the vast northern plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kyambura Gorge Lodge
Kyambura Gorge Lodge is situated on the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth National Park, boasting breathtaking views of the expansive savannah plains. The lodge is nestled against the backdrop of the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains and the Kyambura Gorge ravine. This idyllic location makes it the perfect spot for tracking the elusive chimpanzee troops in the forest reserve and embarking on an unforgettable Kazinga Channel boat cruise safari.
Nestled in the northwestern region of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Elephant Plains Lodge provides luxury accommodations for family safaris. The lodge offers easy access to the Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi tracks, and Mweya Peninsula, making it an ideal location for those seeking to experience the best of what the park has to offer. From the lodge’s vantage point, guests can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the sprawling savannah plains that stretch all the way to Lake George, adding to the overall beauty and charm of this exceptional lodge.
Katara Lodge is an intimate and charming safari lodge overlooking the vast savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s northeastern sector in western Uganda. With eight cozy cottages, the lodge offers breathtaking panoramic views and a peaceful retreat to experience the beauty of the natural surroundings.
Marafiki Safari Lodge
Overlooking Lake George on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s northern border, Marafiki Safari Lodge offers private luxury safari tents. The rooms sit on raised wooden floors covered with tapeline canvas walls which guests can roll to view the expansive savannah plains across the park with the imposing Rwenzori Mountains framing the breathtaking views.
Enjojo Lodge sits on the park’s southern border in the Ishasha sector. It is nestled amidst acacia forest, lush vegetation, palm trees, scattered grassland, and a small lake.
Ishasha Wilderness Camp
If you’re looking for some absolute classic safari solitude in Queen Elizabeth National Park, head south to the Ishasha sector for a few nights in the aptly named Ishasha Wilderness. Ishasha Wilderness Camp is bonafide eco-camping in a pristine spot, where hippos snort languidly in the river and elephants wallow in the shallows.
How To Plan a Kazinga Channel Boat Safari
When planning a Uganda safari, a visit to Kazinga Channel should definitely be on your itinerary. This breathtaking location is nestled within the Queen Elizabeth National Park. It offers tourists the opportunity to view wildlife and even go gorilla trekking on the same trip. Many safari trips also include a stop at Kibale National Park for chimpanzee tracking before heading to Murchison Falls National Park for another game drive adventure.
At our company, we specialize in tailor-made wildlife safaris to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Our safaris in Uganda typically include a boat cruise safari on Kazinga Channel and a game drive on the Kasenyi plains.