A Kazinga Channel boat cruise in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is a wildlife-lover's dream and a must-do when you visit Uganda. While Uganda safaris are known for specializing in gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking, a narrow stretch of water connecting Lake Edward and Lake George in Western Uganda, the Kazinga Channel, is home to a wide variety of land-, air-, and water-based animals including hippos, elephants, crocodiles, buffalo, countless bird species and more. We spent 9 days on a Uganda safari with Matoke Tours included an afternoon cruise on the Kazinga Channel.
A 2 Hour Boat Trip on Uganda's Kazinga Channel
We stepped aboard the SIMBA, an open 2-level vessel. The boat was sturdy and we felt confident in its sea-worthiness. The ship was fully kitted out with life vests and we appreciated that safety was taken into consideration as part of the experience.
For a quick summary of the wildlife that we encountered on our boat cruise, check out my video below.
The Kazinga Channel is Hippotastic
Normally game drives take place in a land based vehicle. However, aboard a boat is the best way to fully experience the Kazinga Channel. While enjoying our Kazinga Channel boat cruise, we saw hippos by the hundreds along the river bank! Hippos are absolutely fascinating animals. The Kazinga Channel features the largest concentration of hippos in Africa. In my opinion, the hippos really are the main tourist attaction at Kazinga Channel.
How can you not love that face!
We were even delighted to see a somewhat cantankerous hippo baring its teeth along the shore.
Herds of Buffalo Like to Cool Off in Uganda's Kazinga Channel
We saw almost as many buffalo cooling off as we did hippos. The Kazinga Channel brings sustenance and comfort to so many species of Ugandan wildlife.
Crocodiles with Razor Sharp Teeth
My husband, Scott, shouted "Look!" and pointed toward the shore. I didn't see what he was looking at at first. "Don't you see the jaw?!" I looked again and suddenly razor-sharp teeth came into focus. Crocodiles! What great camouflage against the dry brown soil at the edge of the Kazinga Channel.
The skimmers soon came to their senses and took flight away from the watchful eye of a Ugandan crocodile.
The Kazinga Channel's Stunning Variety of Birds
We saw some amazing birds along Uganda's Kazinga Channel. Pied kingfishers were everywhere.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guide on our boat was very knowledgeable about Uganda birds and pointed out a Goliath heron.
Birds galore mingled along the shoreline of Western Uganda's Kazinga Channel. Huge marabou storks stood head and shoulders above cormorants and egrets.
Flashy and colorful malachite kingfishers darted among the reeds in abundance. Our guide even spotted the only albino malachite kingfisher in all of Queen Elizabeth National Park. He instructed the captain of the boat to circle back so we could get a closer look.
Our guide pointed out holes all along the water's edge; home to many of the Ugandan birds that call the Kazinga Channel home.
Elephants at the Kazinga Channel Watering Hole
QENP is home to an abundance of elephants. A herd of elephants had come down to water's edge to drink at the point where the Kazinga Channel meets Lake Edward.
We watched the elephants go about their day from the safety and comfort of our boat.
The water definitely got a bit choppy as the Kazinga Channel widened at the point where it met the lake.
Local Fisherman Prepare to Go to Work
In the early evening, Ugandan fishermen from a local village along the Kazinga Channel prepare their boats to depart on a fishing expedition. The fisherman go out at night to avoid hippos and the associated dangers discussed above.
Birds in our Wake on the Kazinga Channel
All throughout our two hour boat cruise of the Kazinga Channel, birds traveled in our wake. Apparently, the motorboat disturbs insects that float near the surface of the water making for an outright feast for the Kazinga Channel's avian residents.