Murchison Falls national park Protected Area (covering 3840 square kilometers) situated in the northwest, about 90 kilometers from Masindi is the biggest national park in Uganda, and is comprised of Karuma plus Bugungu Wildlife Reserves. It was named Murchison Falls after the impressive Murchison Falls on which the longest river in the world – River Nile thunderously explodes through a 7 meters gorge on the Rift Valley Escarpment and drops to 43 meters below through a series of cascades from here it becomes a calm river and its banks are crowded with giant crocodiles, buffaloes, hippos as well as waterbucks. The Murchison vegetation is comprised of woodland, Savannah grasslands plus riverine forest. Its Wildlife includes chimpanzees, tree climbing lions plus Uganda kobs, plus a variety of bird species among which are the uncommon shoebill. Murchison Falls National park which is the country’s largest park is habitat to a number of wild African savannah and divided by the great river Nile. The populations of wildlife in the park have greatly recovered from the severe poaching that happened in the 1980s; within the verdant borassus grassland just north of the River Nile you will commonly come across giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, plus a diversity of antelope species during the game drive. Rabongo Forest –found in the southeastern part of the park, is habitat to chimpanzees plus other rainforest species. The River Nile itself is habitat to one of the largest populations of hippos and crocodiles in the world, in addition to a diversity of water bird species like the most easily accessible population of the uncommon shoebill Stork in the world.
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
The Murchison Falls national Park also has numerous lions plus a diversity of numerous other animals which can best be seen through on the Queen’s truck or on Albert truck in the early morning hours. In addition, visitors can have picnics as they enjoy the stunning sights with views of large elephants plus other animals on the hill slopes at Nyamusika Cliffs. The game drive goes for 4 hours we therefore recommend that you are accompanied by a guide. The very best time to start a game drive is 0700 hours or 1600 hour.
The launch trip that starts at the Paraa landing area and takes you to the bottom of the Murchison Falls is among the most breathtaking activities to enjoy on a Uganda safari to Murchison Falls National Park. On this Nile Launch Cruise within Murchison Falls National Park, you will witness
numerous Hippos, giant crocodiles and waterbucks, elephants plus buffaloes, in addition to a diversity of water birds such as the fish eagles, cormorants, kingfishers, ducks, the uncommon shoebill and the bee-eaters.
This boat trip begins at 0900hr as well as at 1400hr daily however exceptional time schedules may be arranged through the Park management. The cruise takes you for 17 km from Paraa to bottom of the falls and them back going for 3 hours, whereas the 28 km boat cruise from Paraa to the river Delta and then back goes for approximately 4 to 5 hours. You will actually be able to see similar wildlife as with the launch cruise to the bottom of the falls.
You may adventure the top of the Murchison falls and head up to the edge of the water. From the place where the boat lands, you will walk up to the top of the Murchison falls and to move close to slender gorge from which the Nile explodes to form these breathtaking falls. This place also offers walking safaris, Campsites as well as picnic sites.
Kaniyo Pabidi is a section of Budongo forest located in the boundaries of Murchison falls national park. You can track chimpanzees from Kaniyo Pabidi a section of Budongo forest, which is home to numerous other primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys, lots of rare bird species and big game like Buffaloes, Elephants, and bush pigs with magnificent scenery.
The chimpanzee trek normally takes 3-4 hours depending on where the chimps nested the previous night, once located the people are can stay in the presence of chimps for an hour watching them eat, play, rest and groom each other. This needs to be booked in advance with Uganda wildlife authority or Budongo Eco Lodge.
There is also an opportunity for a full day Chimpanzee habituation experience which gives more time learning and watching the chimpanzees – this also has to be booked prior to your safari.
The Boomu women’s Group right outside the park is a worthy visit for someone who wants to engage with the local community. Take the scenic village tour as you learn about the residents’ everyday lives, farming, visit the black smith, demonstration of basket weaving, cooking and visit to a local school. You can choose to stay overnight in this place or just visit for a few hours and continue to the park or when leaving for Kampala. The activities will depend on how much time you have to in the area.
BIRDWATCHING IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murchison falls National Park with 450 bird species was named No. 9 best birding spot in Africa by the Africa Bird Guide. Bird watching can be done while on game drive, launch trips and nature walks with a ranger guide. Because of the varied habitats, you have opportunities of watching forest birds, Savannah, water and a few of Albertine rift endemics.
Birds in Murchison Falls national park are easy to find because of the its Savannah grassland. However, some woodlands and forested areas make it difficult but still possible to locate the birds. The highlights will be the numerous birds by the waters and swamp areas like the; open-billed stork, Red-throated bee–eaters (nests in the cliff by the river), Pied, malachite and Giant Kingfishers, Grey, night, commom Squacco, Striated and Goliath herons, Egyptian ducks, Spur winged lapwings, Intermediate, Great and Little Egrets. While on game drive do not miss the Abyssian ground hornbills, Black and Northern Red Bishop etc.
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