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What's It Like to Go on a Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise in Uganda?

Join us on a Kazinga Channel boat cruise in Uganda where you'll find hippos, elephants, birds, and more. Find out why you should visit Kazinga Channel
Note: We visited Uganda in December 2016 and these posts are a reflection on the trip at that time. It is now 2024 and the political situation in the region has evolved. Please check the U.S. State Department website or information provided by other governmental organizations around the world for up to date information to determine whether it is considered safe to travel to Uganda.

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 including an afternoon cruise on the Kazinga Channel. Come along on our Kazinga Channel boat trip!

Hippos on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabath National Park Uganda

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. 
Boat equipped with life jackets for the cruise of the Kazinga Channel in QENP in Uganda
We soon pushed off onto the smooth, calm waters of the Kazinga Channel and embarked on an alternative wildlife safari of sorts. What a fine December afternoon in Uganda!

For a quick summary of the wildlife that we encountered on our boat cruise, check out my video below.

The Kazinga Channel is Hippotastic

Mamma hippo and baby on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
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.
Hippos on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
We watched the hippos wade and splash near the shore from the safety of our boat. Hippos are among the most dangerous animals in the world, especially if you encounter them on land while feeding at night and manage to get between them and the water.
Baby hippo on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
The groups of hippos along Uganda's Kazinga Channel were mainly just chilling in the late afternoon heat. We even spotted a baby hippo with its mother!
Close-up of hippos on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
How can you not love that face!
Roaring hippo on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
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

Herd of African Buffalo on the Kazinga Channel in Southwest Uganda
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. 
Close-up of Crocodile with sharp teeth on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
A large flock of African skimmers were hanging out on the beach very close to one of the crocodiles. Hope it's not hungry!
Crocodile next to a flock of African skimmers on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
The skimmers soon came to their senses and took flight away from the watchful eye of a Ugandan crocodile.
African skimmers in flight on the Kazinga Channel in Western Uganda

The Kazinga Channel's Stunning Variety of Birds

Pied kingfisher on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
We saw some amazing birds along Uganda's Kazinga Channel. Pied kingfishers were everywhere. 
Goliath Heron on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guide on our boat was very knowledgeable about Uganda birds and pointed out a Goliath heron.
Marabou storks in a flock of other water birds on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
Birds galore mingled along the shoreline of Western Uganda's Kazinga Channel. Huge marabou storks stood head and shoulders above cormorants and egrets.
Malachite kingfisher in the reeds on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
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.
Albino malachite kingfisher in the reeds on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
Our guide pointed out holes all along the water's edge; home to many of the Ugandan birds that call the Kazinga Channel home.
Holes along the water's edge on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda. These are home to birds.

Elephants at the Kazinga Channel Watering Hole

Elephant on the Kazinga Channel in Uganda
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. 
Grazing elephants along the Kazinga Channel in QENP in Uganda
We watched the elephants go about their day from the safety and comfort of our boat.
Turbulent waters of the Kazinga Channel in Uganda where is meets the lake
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

Local Ugandan fisherman preparing to go to work on the Kazinga Channel
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

Birds 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.

Useful Links for Planning Your Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise in Uganda

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Hippos on a Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise in Uganda


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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: What's It Like to Go on a Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise in Uganda?
What's It Like to Go on a Kazinga Channel Boat Cruise in Uganda?
Join us on a Kazinga Channel boat cruise in Uganda where you'll find hippos, elephants, birds, and more. Find out why you should visit Kazinga Channel
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog