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Murchison Falls National Park

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Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda. It covers three thousand eight hundred forty square kilometers stretching over the two districts of Masindi and Amuru.

It is Uganda’s safari jewel renowned for its diverse game viewing and the glamorous Murchison Falls from which it gets its name. The park is home to a range of African wild animals including four of the “big five” namely buffaloes, lions, elephants, and leopards. The rhinos existed in the park but by 1983 they had been fazed out by rampant poaching and guerrilla wars that rocked the country in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Other animals in the park include among others hippos, giraffes, crocodile, antelope, Uganda kob, Hartebeest, Oribis. Primates such as chimpanzees and monkeys are common in Rabongo Forest and Caniyo Pabidi forest. The park is a host to a variety of birds including the rare shoebill, white thighed hornbill, ducks, kingfisher, fish eagles, herons, and the yellow footed fly-catcher.

The two sections of Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is bisected by the mighty River Nile from east to west for a distance of seventy one miles. The river divides the park into the north and southern sections. This division played a huge role in preserving the northern section from poachers. The river made it difficult for poachers that were predominantly from the south to access the other part of the park. Because of this the northern section is endowed with more game compared to the southern which had faced a lot of poaching. However the Uganda Wildlife Authority has since stepped up efforts to protect the park from poachers and hunters.

Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls is available for a number of adventure activities. They include among others.

Game Drives
Game drives in the part are mostly done in the northern section of the park for it is endowed with more game than the south. A ferry crossing is available for safari vehicles to the other section of the park. A satisfactory game drive lasts for about four to five hours to traverse the main game trails. An early morning game drive starting at about 6 to7am is preferred as most animals are still sleepy and less shy. The hunters like the lions and the leopards have not yet gone hunting and are occasionally encountered sleeping along the game trails.

Boat cruise
This is probably the highlight of a Murchison Falls National Park tour. It is a relaxing cruise of about three hours. During this cruise you see lots hippos, Nile crocodiles, buffaloes, waterbucks, lots of birds and lots of other typical African wildlife immersed in a spectacular savanna landscape. This boat ride goes up to the base of the Murchison Falls. The preferred time for this ride is at about 2.30pm when lots of animals come to the river to cool off the heat, eat fresh grass and drink in the river.

Top of the Falls Hike
One can hike to the top of the cliff close to the narrow gorge through which mighty Nile squeezes to cause a violent tempest below. It is really amazing to watch.

Chimpanzee tracking and bird watching in Kaniyo Pabidi
Kaniyo Pabidi is an untouched area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve. The area is host to a range of wildlife including lots of chimps and birds. It is a great alternative to the traditional game drives and boat rides. You can track chimpanzees and watch lots of birds as you walk beneath mature mahogany and ironwood trees.

Sport Fishing
The Nile perch and tiger fish provide and exciting challenge to the anglers. Sport fishing is done in the river below and above the Murchison Falls.

Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park
Both budget and luxury accommodation facilities are available to cater for the different travellers. Some of the popular budget lodges include Budongo Eco Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Red Chilli Rest Camp, and Murchison Falls Lodge. Some of the luxury lodges include Chobe Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge, and Sambiya River Lodge.

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