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Exploring the Treasures of Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park, with an area of 3893 km2, forms the core of Uganda’s largest protected area. Together with the adjacent Bungungu and Karumu Game Reserves, it forms a vast wilderness covering 5072 km2 and containing a wide variety of wildlife, including big game, primary forests and 450 species of birds. The mighty Nile, the world’s longest river, cuts through the heart of the park for a distance of 120 km, on its 6500 km journey from Lake Victoria to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The centerpiece of the park is the 40m high explosive Murchison Falls, where the Nile flows through a 6m gap in the rift valley cliff. However, the treasures of Murchison Falls National Park are not only limited to the mighty waterfalls, but the park offers many unique experiences for the discerning traveller.
Paraa Launch Trip – Murchison Falls(2-3 hours). The river cruise from Paraa, on the south bank, to see Murchison Falls at the top of Fajao Gorge has been the park’s most popular attraction since the 1950s. There are scheduled trips every afternoon and alternatively on demand on an exclusive basis. An excellent opportunity to see the large resident populations of hippos and crocodiles, as well as other wildlife and extensive avifauna, including a wide variety of waterfowl and a huge colony of rock-nesting red bee-eaters, along the route.
Cruises in the Nile Delta (4-5 hours). Victoria’s Nile Delta, a 20km journey downstream from Paraa, is home to rare wetland birds, including the endemic shoebill and papyrus species. On Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and Sunday at 07:00 am. scheduled cruises are offered in the delta area with the option of breakfast on board.
Nile Perch Fishing (Half, full and multi-day trips). The mighty River Nile at Murchison is famous for its exciting sport fishing. Large, strong Nile Perch that live in the choppy waters below the Falls, as well as many species of catfish are caught and a variety of smaller species that are generally used as live bait for the larger fish. Fishing can be done from the shore or from boats that are ideally sized and equipped to handle the conditions and access the remote riverside pools. Experienced guides travel with you on the river at all times to ensure you have the best chance for success, for a day or several days.
Sunset and Sundowner Cruises (1-2 hours). As the heat fades from the day, you can visit the hippos and crocodiles near Nyamsika Beach or downstream among the small reed islands. Enjoy the sunset while enjoying snacks and an evening drink of your choice.
Sunrise with hippos(1-2 hours) – an early start to see the riverside world come alive with the option of freshly brewed coffee and home cooked breakfast on board.
Cruise and safari. Your park experience can be enhanced by combining river trips with pre-arranged vehicle pickups. Travel by boat to the delta and return to Paraa with a game drive to the game-rich Buligi area. Or leave your boat at Fajao Gorge and climb to the top of the falls for views of the thundering chasm, before returning to Paraa by vehicle.
Chimpanzee Watching and Living Experience: Watching a group of common chimpanzees in a pristine area of Kaniyo Pabidi Forest is an experience you cannot miss when visiting this park. The trip lasts three to four hours and is limited to a small group of visitors, who spend a maximum of one hour watching the chimpanzees eat, play and interact. Full-day chimpanzee familiarization experiences are also available for those who want to learn more about the familiarization process and fascinating behavior of our closest relatives.
Big Game:This park is home to 76 species of mammals, including four of the “Big Five”, with huge herds of buffalo and elephant, well-camouflaged leopards and a healthy lion population. It is also known for its giraffes. In Uganda you can only see them here and in the Kidepo Valley. Other species regularly seen along the game tracks include Jackson’s sugarcane, bushbuck, Ugandan kombu, carb and wild boar. Resident crocodiles and hippos as well as other, visiting wildlife are found along the river.
Game Drive:A game drive around the Buligi game tracks on the north bank with a trained ranger guide is a fantastic way to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the Nile Valley. Visitors can admire herds of buffalo, dozens of elephants, wild boars and towering giraffes, along with bushbucks, reedbuck, duikers, kobs, oribi and the unusual looking Hartebeest. Your guide will have a good idea where the lions are hiding and you might even spot a leopard at dusk!
Unique Bird Species:Both game drives and launch trips offer one the opportunity to encounter distinctive birdlife, including savannah forest birds, waterfowl and Albertine Rift endemics. The main birding attraction of the park is the Shoebill, which is best seen in the dry season from January-March.
Hikes and nature walks: The vast landscapes and varied landscape of Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding Conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through the Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forests provide sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile Delta, 2-4 hour guided swamp walks offer possible Shoebill sightings.
Cultural meetings: EnergeticDancers from Mubako perform around the lodge fires, creating a magical African experience at dusk. The Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the reality of life in this rural community.
Murchison Falls National Park offers a range of accommodation of different specifications and prices, relatively low prices and good accommodation is available at Red chili Rest Camp, Budongo EcoLodge and Budget Bandas at Sambiya River Lodge. The park also includes premium accommodation at Chobe Lodge, Paraa Lodge, Nile River Lodge, Pakuba Lodge and Bwana Tembo Camp.
So if you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience on an African safari in Uganda, add Murchison Falls National Park to your travel destination.
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