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Murchison Falls National Park

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About Murchison Falls National Park

In the North end of the Albertine Rift Valley exists the largest and oldest conservation area in Uganda. Before it became Murchison Falls National Park, it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926.

Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savannah. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds.

The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45 meters over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80-meter stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes, and buffaloes while hippos, Nile crocodiles, and aquatic birds are permanent residents.

Attractions

GAME DRIVE

Murchison falls national park is home to the worldly known Big 5 which includes Lions, buffalo, hippos, elephants, and leopards. Alongside the big five, Murchison Falls is home to so many other mammals like the Uganda Kob, Rothschild’s giraffe, and Orbi, antelopes among others.

The Game drive in Murchison Falls can be done as either a half-day (in the morning/afternoon) or a full-day activity. Murchison Falls is divided into the northern and the southern side, the Northern side is known as Paraa, and the southern side is known as Bugungu which is also known as the heart of Murchison.

The major areas of the drive are the Buligi peninsula and the Delta. The Delta area offers visitors an opportunity to see Lions, while the triangle of grassland in the Buligi Peninsula provides an opportunity to see elephants, buffalo, antelopes, and giraffes. This grassland is bound by the Victoria Nile entering Lake Albert with the Albert Nile flowing out of it Lions, leopards, plus water birds along with hippos can also be spotted here. Much of the southern part is populated with dense bush and forest, where lions and giraffes can also be seen.

TOP OF THE FALLS

Your guide will drive you to the top of the falls, upon arrival at the gazetted area you are welcomed by the thunderous sound even before you sight the waters as you feel your body being cooled down by the cold breeze from the gushy water. The activity is done on foot, following the mighty sound with your guide, and you hike down to the top of the falls. The magnificent view leaves many overwhelmed with joy and excitement as the water purges out of a seven-meter gorge, gushing down a forty-meter cliff to join the longest river in the world – the River Nile. You can spend here 1 hour as you take on a short hike to the bottom of the falls, allow yourself to be sprayed by the sparkles of water from the big volume, and bask in the cool mist around you.

The views are spectacular and the spray of the falls, really refreshing. The walk takes approximately 45 minutes and requires average fitness.

SPORT FISHING

At the bottom of the powerful falls, the fresh waters are a habitant of so many fish species with the commonest species being the Nile perch. The fishing guides who are experienced and familiar with the river will show the best fishing spots.

Fishing is done on twin-engine speedboats with each accommodating a maximum of 3 people for keen anglers and this is done all year round except the full moon period when fish is less active and also the rainy months are not so much favorable.

Fishing equipment like rain suits, life jackets, first aid boxes, fire extinguishers, cool boxes for cold drinks, and picnic lunch is provided on the boat and all other basic equipment like lures for trolling are supplied however anglers are advised to come along with theirs.

Fishing trips can be done as a half or full-day activity.

You can bring along sun protection, sandals, light clothing, and camera, and insect repellent.

Due to sustainability and conservation purposes, a catch-and-release policy is advocated for.

CHIMPANZEE TRACKING IN BUDONGO FOREST

One of the experiences not to miss out on your Murchison Falls visit is the chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest.

Budongo forest located in the southern tropical side of the national park is a semi-deciduous forest covered in mahogany trees. It is home to over 900 habituated chimpanzees, 290 butterflies, 130 moths, and 465 tree species conserved for tourism and research purposes. The guides will walk you through the forest canopy to search for the chimpanzees while providing you with information about the chimps like the different families, mating periods, way of living, feeding ways among others, be ready to learn as you enjoy. After about an hour of remarkable experience with the chimps, you will exit the forest.

BIRDING AND NATURE WALKS

Embark on a short guided walk through the shrubs and tree species in Murchison falls national park, a perfect way to experience and explore the ecosystem on foot. Murchison Falls is one of the best birding sites in Uganda with so many nests visible along the shores of the Nile and the savanna plains. Murchison Falls offers a chance of sighting the rare shoebill alongside other bird species like the martial eagle, African fish eagle, papyrus gonolek, and marabou storks among others.

BOTTOM OF THE FALLS CRUISE

The Murchison Falls trip to the bottom of the falls cruises from the jetty right to the bottom of the falls, the head of the Fajoa Gorge. The boat cruise can be arranged as scheduled or exclusive activity the trip lasts for 3 hours.

The spectacular views have left many short of breath as the water pushes through the narrow seven-meter gap down the forty-meter cliff as it gushes down to join the waters of the river Nile.

The boat trip also offers beautiful sightings of so many residents of the park along the shores of the river Nile like the hippos, crocodiles, and elephants as they feed, never can you miss out on glimpsing at the buffaloes and antelopes.

The trip is highly recommended for birdwatchers as it is a great opportunity to view a variety of so many birds nesting in the cliffs along the river and savanna plains.

Large resident populations of hippo float in the water along the way, groups of crocodiles basking on the shore, and herds of elephant, buffalo, and antelope can be seen moving along the riverbanks. The river offers spectacular opportunities for bird watchers, with a wide range of water birds and vibrant Bee-eaters nesting in the cliffs along the river’s bank.

DELTA CRUISE

The Victoria Nile Delta, a 20km voyage downstream from Paraa is home to rare wetland birds including the elusive shoebill and papyrus endemic species. This leisurely cruise aboard a Kingfisher/Alligator boat down to Lake Albert offers the opportunity to spot elephants, hippos, and large Nile crocodiles. The trip lasts approximately 4-5 hours and departs at 7 am from a jetty at Paraa on the South Bank of the Nile River.

ZIWA RHINO SANCTUARY

Located north of Kampala in the Nakasongola district of Uganda, The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in the country with wild rhinos. Presently home to twenty-two southern white rhinos, the sanctuary offers rhino trekking, shoebill trekking, canoeing, bird watching, and night walks. Tourists may also spot a range of other species including Uganda kobs, oribis, bushbucks, and waterbucks. The Neolithic-looking shoebill stork is one of the most sought-after birds in Uganda, and the sanctuary is one of the only places where they can almost always be seen. See over 300 bird species along bird trails through the woods, swamp, and savannah, and take a guided night walk, where you will be introduced to extraordinary night sounds and sensations, including a beautifully clear night sky and several nightly creatures.

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