Murchison Falls National Park
The Worlds Most Powerful Falls
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s oldest, largest and best-known national park. It takes its name from the resplendent Murchison Falls that were themselves named in 1864, after the President of the British Royal Geographical Society, Sir Roderick Murchison.
Murchison Falls National Park is located in the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley where the massive Bunyoro escarpment meets the vast palm-dotted savannah of the extensive Acholi plain. It spreads inland from the shores of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile, east to the Karuma Falls. The park was once called the Gulu and Bunyoro Game Reserve and was gazetted in 1952 to include the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu Wildlife Reserves.
Murchison Falls National Park is dissected from east to west by the Victoria (White) Nile, which at the Murchison falls forces its way through a narrow 7m gap in the rocks to plunge 50ft into a gorge and flow onwards as the Albert Nile. The northern half of the park contains savannah and is inhabited by 80% of the entire park’s animals including robust populations of Ugandan Kob, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, leopard and lion that roam the wooded savannah in hordes. Around 800 chimpanzees live in the Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forests.
Murchison Falls National Park makes for a spectacular safari that offers up three great ways to observe and enjoy the wildlife; game drives in vehicles, the famed boat cruise that leads up to the base of the falls.
The Buligi grasslands game tracks located between the Victoria Nile and Albert Nile in the north of the park are the most popular game-viewing area. They pass through open savannah grassland and woodland and acacia and riverine vegetation with excellent views towards the western rift valley, beyond Lake Albert into the DRC. Most of the park's game including lions, leopards, herds of buffalos, dozens of elephants, warthogs and towering giraffes, along with bushbucks, reedbuck, duikers, kobs, oribi and the unusual-looking hartebeest can be viewed and photographed here in the early morning and early evening hours. A typical game drive lasts around 3 hours and starts at Paraa. Visitors can also opt for the 2hour nocturnal game drive to spot night predators like lions, leopards, hyenas and serval cats on the prowl. In the southern part of the park, game drives are done along the new Honeymoon Track.
The River Nile is the natural oasis for the park’s wildlife and the marquee feature of Murchison Falls National Park. The 3 hr boat cruise that starts at Paraa and ends at the bottom of the Murchison Falls can easily be the main highlight of any trip to the park because of the sheer number of animals that can be observed from quite close. The riverbanks are littered with enormous Nile Crocodiles basking in the sun as they lie in wait for the unsuspecting Kob or Antelope that wanders to the river for a drink, along with herds of hippos, elephants, buffaloes and waterbucks and of course you get up close to the Magnificent Murchison Falls.
Many of the National Parks in Uganda have water bodies where you can do boat cruises and see the wildlife from a different perspective
The Budongo Conservation Field Station started in 1990. The station mixes research and conservation to ensure the sustainable management and utilisation of the Budongo Forest Reserve. The forest has an average altitude of 1,100m and has four main rivers, the Waisoke, the Sonso, the Kamirambwa and the Siba. The majority of the visitors come to Budongo Forest to go Chimpanzee Trekking. There are more than 600 chimpanzees and a family of 80 individuals have been habituated for this activity. Other primates that can be seen in the forest are the Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys and Grey-cheeked Mangabeys.
There are other places where you can also do Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
The Bunyoro Kingdom is a Bantu Kingdom found in Western Uganda said to have been formed by directly from the Chwezi Empire. It was the most powerful kingdoms in the region from the 13th – 19th Century, when they controlled many trade routes as well as the production of salt. The Omukama (King) would lack for nothing as many clans had specific duties to perform for the Omukama. For example, Abaliisa clan were the shepherds of the Kings cattle (Enkorogi), the Abahamba clan were the hunters and body guards (Abakumirizi) for the King, the Abasiita clan being the artisans and craftsmen and the Bayaga clan were the chief entertainers of the King. Clans would also bring food stuffs (Ebihotole) for the Omukama. One of the most famous Omukama is Chwa II Kabalega ruler of Bunyoro from 1870 to 1899, and a celebrated hero who fought against British colonialism
Budongo Forest is one of the finest birding destinations in Uganda. The forest is home to 360 bird species including many West and Central African species. Two species, the Yellow-footed flycatcher and the Illadopsis puveli have not been seen anywhere else in East Africa.
The Royal Mile – The best place for bird viewing in Budongo was named for its popularity with Omukama Kabalega who frequently visited it for recreation and traditional rites. It is a wide forest avenue with an astounding density of bird species, located next to the Nyabyeya Forestry College. Foot travel is possible because of the flat terrain, making it an ideal place for bird watching, led by experienced guides that are familiar with the sights and sounds of the forests.