14 days Uganda safari holidays

Kazinga Channel

The Kazinga Channel is a 915-meter-wide, 36-kilometer-long waterway bisecting Queen Elizabeth National Park. The channel is home to the world’s biggest concentration of hippos. Kazinga channel is located on the rift valley floor connecting lakes Edward and George. Many species, huge and small, feathery and aggressive, appreciate Kazinga. It’s a popular tourist destination in Uganda for boat cruise safaris. Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is a world-renowned wildlife haven. The 25-mile-long Kazinga Channel connects two huge lakes, bisects the park and supports the park’s grasslands and woods. As a result, it provides an oasis in the Great Rift Valley spanning almost 1978 square kilometers (763 sq mi).

Boat Safaris in Uganda

A boat cruise safari in Kazinga Channel is the pinnacle of any tour in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Channel is teeming with African birds as well as visiting elephants, buffalo, sunbathing Nile crocodiles, lions, and the Channel’s most famous resident beast, the hippopotamus. The Kazinga Channel has one of Africa’s densest hippo populations, with over 2,000 hippos living in over 600 bloats. Hippos in Kazinga are both adorable and frightening, with a maw that reaches 150 degrees and seven-inch teeth. They’re hefty, spherical, and appear to float, although they like to stand in the shallows. The greatest way to marvel at these aquatic giants is to take one of the Channel’s regular launch safaris, which get you into close to the channel’s game. 

Over 100 water bird species congregate on the Channel’s banks, providing avian lovers with a fantastic birding activity. 

Kazinga Channel Divides Queen Elizabeth National Park into two unequal sections for wildlife watching. The Ishasha sector, a wildlife-rich park sector noted for its tree-climbing lions, and Kyambura Gorge—a valley of apes suitable for observing chimps in the wild—are located to the south of the Channel. North of the Channel is substantially smaller, with some of the best wildlife-watching game routes in the country. Kasenyi, Katunguru, Katwe, Mweya, Kikorongo, and the Kichwamba Escarpment are found in the north.

A 50-kilometer stretch of surfaced Kasese-Ishaka Road crosses the Kazinga Channel at Katunguru Bridge, bridging both sides of the Channel. Almost all safari camps and lodges in the park’s northern section are located along the Mbarara-Kasese route, with other camps leading off the highway for up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) inside the park. Tourists staying within can drive one hour from any camp to Kazinga Channel and join the daily planned launch trips.

The most popular safari activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park are the daily 2-hour launch tours and private boat cruise safaris on Kazinga Channel. The boat cruises begin at the dock beneath Mweya Safari Lodge, northeast of Lake Edward, and travel the 35-kilometer Channel to Lake Gorge.

Kazinga Channel

Birding on The Kazinga channel

The Kazinga Channel boat tour safari is particularly ideal for birdwatchers. The Channel’s sandbanks are frequented by water birds such as the yellow-billed stork, plovers, pink-backed pelicans, white bullied cormorants, and pink-backed pelicans. Over 100 water bird species congregate on the Channel’s banks, providing avian lovers with a fantastic birding activity. African skimmer, African shoebill, Yellow-billed stork, Malachite kingfisher, Pink-backed pelican, Long-tailed cormorant, Fish eagle, African spoonbills, Papyrus gonolek, Pied kingfisher, Black crake, Martial eagle, and Black bee-eater are among the prominent birds you may see during a boat tour.

Boat cruise on Kazinga Channel

The boat trip is a wonderful safari experience that allows you to get up and personal with wildlife while relaxing on the boat. Tourists can get up close and personal with hippo bloats and marvel at gentle big elephants, buffalo, Uganda kob, and waterbuck. Surprisingly, you may come across a large forest hog and predators such as leopards and lions resting in the afternoon heat. In the afternoon heat, a kin observer can notice gigantic monitor lizards in the riverine vegetation and fierce crocodiles.

Kazinga Channel

The Kazinga Channel boat tour safari is particularly ideal for birdwatchers. The Channel’s sandbanks are frequented by water birds such as the yellow-billed stork, plovers, pink-backed pelicans, white bullied cormorants, and pink-backed pelicans. The 2-hour daily launch tours on Kazinga Channel are operated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Mweya Safari Lodge. The UWA launch excursion is $30 per person and departs at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. Mweya Safari Lodge’s launch trip is less expensive than UWA’s yet more pleasant and well-equipped. Mweya’s boat departs at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. The lodge provides special request trips between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. There is an option of using the Kazinga community boat cruises that launches from Katunguru trading center. The launches are more flexible and highly discounted.

When to Visit Kazinga Channel

The dry seasons of June-August and December-February are ideal for a boat safari on the Kazinga channel. During dry, hot days, the animals are drawn to the waters of the Kazinga Channel by the dry puddles and heat. Observing elephants and predators is more likely during the dry seasons. If you’re planning a family safari in Uganda, make sure to include a boat tour on Kazinga Channel to allow the kids to get up and personal with the spectacular game.

How to Reach Kazinga Channel

Kazinga Channel is accessible by road and air. The most common route is the 309 km (192 mi) smooth-surfaced road from Kampala. The 6- to 8-hour drive takes you through Masaka, Mbarara, and Bushenyi. Alternatively, you can use Route A109 on a 400-kilometer (248-mile) Fort Portal-Kasese road, which takes 6-8 hours. This route complements chimp trekking activities in Kibale National Park. Take a regional scheduled flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese or Mweya Airstrip, which takes around 1.5 hours. If you fly into Kasese, you’ll have to drive 40 kilometers (30 minutes) to Kazinga Channel, where Mweya Airstrip is just a few minutes away.

The optimum path to the Kazinga channel will be determined by your Uganda safari itinerary and safari camp selection. If you’re coming from visiting mountain gorillas in the southwestern highlands, for example, you’ll drive via the park’s Ishasha Sector before connecting with the Mbarara-Kasese Road at Katunguru. Alternatively, you can take the smooth Kabale-Ntugamo-Ishaka road and connect with the Mbarara-Kasese road in Ishaka town.

Where to Stay

Staying near one of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s good camps or lodges will provide you quick access to Kazinga Channel. Here is our top pick for safari lodges near the Kazinga Channel.

Kasenyi Safari Lodge:

This lodge is idyllically situated on Lake Bunyampaka in the park’s northern portion, facing the creator salt. Its location provides the camp with picturesque views of the flamingo-colored lake shoreline and beyond into Queen Elizabeth National Park’s northern plains.

Kyambura Gorge Lodge:

The lodge is located on the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth National Park, offering panoramic views of the vast savannah plains. Kyambura Gorge Lodge is great for following wayward chimp armies in the gorge’s forest reserve and taking a Kazinga Channel boat trip safari, with the Rwenzori Mountains as a backdrop.

The Elephant Plains

It is located northwest of Queen Elizabeth National Park and provides easy access to the Kazinga Channel, Kasenyi trails, and the Mweya Peninsula. The lodge provides expansive panoramic views of the savannah plains going all the way to Lake George.

The Kataara Lodge:

Katara Lodge is located on escarpment grassland overlooking the northeastern portion of Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda. A charming, modest, and simple safari lodge with eight cottages overlooking the huge savannah plains of the park.

Bush Lodge:

Bush Lodge is a safari camp perfectly located in the center of the park for animal viewing, Kazinga Channel launch tours, and Kyambura Gorge Chimpanzee Tracking.

Marafiki Safari Lodge:

Marafiki Safari Lodge, located on the northern border of Queen Elizabeth National Park, overlooks Lake George and offers private luxury safari tents. The safari tents are built on raised timber floors with tapeline canvas walls that visitors may roll back to see the broad savannah plains across the park, framed by the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains.

The Enjojo Lodge:

The lodge is located in the Ishasha area of the park, on the park’s southern boundary. It is surrounded by acacia forest, lush foliage, palm trees, grassland, and a small lake.

Ishasha Wilderness Camp:

If you’re searching for some traditional safari isolation in Queen Elizabeth National Park, drive south to the Ishasha sector and spend a few nights at the aptly titled Ishasha Wilderness. Ishasha Wilderness Camp is a true eco-camping experience in a pristine setting, where hippos snort lazily in the river and elephants bathe in the shallow water of the channel. 

Considering a Kazinga Channel Safari?

Any Uganda safari that includes game-watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park must include a stop at Kazinga Channel. The park is frequently included on Uganda gorilla safari itineraries departing from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, allowing travelers to see wildlife and experience gorilla trekking on the same trip. The majority of safari trips continue or originate from the chimpanzee trekking experience in Kibale Forest National park. A couple safaris may fly further north to Murchison Falls National Park for more game viewing.

Adventurers typically spend a night or two in the park, visit the Channel, and then travel a few miles west to Mountain Rwenzori National Park for a mountain hiking adventure. We provide custom safaris to Queen Elizabeth National Park, with most safaris including a boat cruise safari on Kazinga Channel and a wildlife drive on the Kasenyi plains.

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