Tour Operator: African Adventure Travellers Ltd.
Safari Length: 3 days
Safari Highlights: 2 game drives, boat cruise (we opted out of the last game drive)
Overall Rating: 5/10
Price: $540 USD
Choosing the right safari company can be intimidating. There are hundreds to chose from and sometimes reviews are difficult to trust. At the end of the day, sometimes it all comes down to luck. And unfortunately, luck was not on our side for our safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Most of the downsides from our tour was actually due to our guide himself. He was really unfortunately unprofessional, immature and we were losing our patience by the end of the three days with him. I will do my best to write this guide without being biased about our guide! Luckily I had my guy with me who made it fun despite everything.
The drive to Queen Elizabeth is long but it’s sooo beautiful. You’ll drive by so much green and see lots of farm lands and tea plantations. We stopped at Igongo Cultural Centre for lunch which was absolutely delicious! They serve a local food buffet and cook it very well.
We also got to stop at the equator and take a mandatory tourist photo.
Despite our itinerary confirming that we were to do a game drive in Mburo National Park, that was not the case. Instead we were able to turn down a road for about 10 minutes and see some zebras (still cool).
Our overnight was at Pumba Safari Cottages. This lodge was quiet and peaceful. The view from our bungalow was absolutely incredible. On some days you can spot animals from up there including elephants! I wish we could have spent more time at this beautiful place. The staff there were very welcoming and professional. We were the only ones there when we went and were told this was because it was down season. This mean that we always had eyes on us to serve us or ask if we needed anything. We’re pretty low-key people so it was mostly just people watching us all the time haha.
The next day we did an all day game drive + boat cruise and were basically gone from 7 am to 6:30 pm. The game drive in the morning was pretty disappointing! After hearing about Queen Elizabeth and reading so many reviews that this was the most popular national park in Uganda I was sooo disappointed. Animals are not common here, and apparently that is common knowledge for most of the locals and tour guides who go here. There is a village within the national park so people live with the animals, and this has caused a lot of problems. The lions have eaten cows (and once even a little baby) and the humans retaliate by poisoning and killing the lions and other animals. We saw very few during our game drive, and then it started to rain and we saw absolutely none after that.
We made our way to the place where we would be doing the boat cruise and stopped at this very nice resort. I’m not sure if other tours eat here, but we just stopped so our guide could use the wifi.
Then our guide ended up dropping us off at a little restaurant just down the road. Although the views from this place were really beautiful, there wasn’t an option of what to eat – so we got rice and chicken.. hopefully you’re not a vegetarian.
The boat cruise was our favourite part of this tour. The sun had come back out and we got to go on a smaller boat with just us and another pair of travellers from Italy. We were able to sit up at the front of the boat in the sun as we watched so many elephants and water buffalo playing by the water.
Our guide ended up bringing us back to the area we did the game drive in the morning and we were able to go off-roading (for a fee that we had to pay to a security guard) and we able to very quickly see some lions.
We decided to just head back to Kampala in the morning as we were genuinely just so ready to be done with our tour guide. I wouldn’t actually recommend going to Queen Elizabeth National Park, unless it’s part of a greater tour. I’m sure others could have better experiences in Queen Elizabeth and would luck out with more animals (and a better guide) but if you have the choice between Murchison Falls or Queen Elizabeth, I would 100% recommend choosing Murchison Falls!! You can read about my experience in Murchison Falls HERE.
ps: about the tour company and experience, I don’t want to write extensively everything that happened but we did send a detailed email to the company. They responded right away saying they would look into it and get back to us.. that was a month ago and we haven’t heard from them since.