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Exploring the Treasures of Murchison Falls National Park
At 3893km2 Murchison Falls National Park is the core of Uganda’s largest protected area. Together with the neighboring Bungungu and Karumu Wildlife Reserves, it forms a vast wilderness covering 5072 km2 and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including large game, forest primates and 450 bird species. The mighty Nile, the world’s longest river, flows 120 km through the center of the park on its 6500 km journey from Lake Victoria to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The centerpiece of the park is the explosive, 40-meter-high Murchison Falls, where the Nile plunges 6 meters into the Rift Valley cliffs. However, the treasures of Murchison Falls National Park are not limited to the mighty falls, the park offers many unique experiences for the discerning traveller.
Para Launch Trip – Murchison Falls(2-3 hours). Cruises from Para on the south coast to see Murchison Falls at the top of Fajao Gorge have been the park’s most popular attraction since the 1950s. There are specially scheduled tours every afternoon and optionally on demand. There is a great opportunity to see large resident populations of hippos and crocodiles, as well as other wildlife and a wide range of birdlife, including a wide range of waterfowl, and a large colony of red-throated bee-eaters along the way.
Nile Delta Cruise (4-5 hours). The Victoria Nile Delta, a 20 km cruise downstream from Parra, is home to rare waterfowl, including shoebill and papyrus endemic species. Scheduled Delta Area cruises are available on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays and Sundays at 07.00 am with breakfast on board option.
Nile Perch Fishing (Half, Full and Multi-Day Trips). The mighty Nile River at Murchison is famous for its exciting sports. Large, robust Nile perch inhabiting the turbulent waters below the falls are fished as well as several species of catfish and a variety of smaller species that are commonly used as live bait for larger fish. Fishing can be done from the shore or from boats that are ideally sized and equipped to cope with the conditions and can access remote river banks. Experienced guides always accompany you on the river to ensure you have the best chance of success for a day or several days.
Sunset and sunset cruises (1-2 hours). As the heat fades from the day, you can visit hippos and crocodiles near the Nyamsika sandbar or downstream among the small reed islands. Enjoy the sunset while enjoying your favorite snacks and evening drink.
Sunrise with hippos(1-2 hours) – Start to see the riverside world come alive with freshly brewed coffee and the option of a homemade breakfast on board.
Cruises and Safaris. Your park experience can be enhanced by combining a river cruise with a pre-arranged vehicle pickup. Travel by boat to the delta and return to Para with a game drive through the game-rich Buligi area. Or leave your boat at Fajao Gorge and climb to the top of the falls for a view of the thunder below, before returning to Para by vehicle.
Chimpanzee Tracking and Habituation Experience: Tracking a herd of chimpanzees in the untouched areas of Kanio Pabidi Forest is an experience you cannot miss while visiting this park. Treks take three to four hours and are limited to a small group of visitors, spending a maximum of one hour watching the chimps eat, play and interact. Full-day chimp habituation experiences are also available for those who want to learn more about the habituation process and the fascinating behavior of our closest relatives.
The Big Game:The park is home to 76 mammal species, including four of the “Big Five”, huge herds of buffalo and elephants, well-camouflaged leopards and a healthy population of lions. It is also known for its giraffes; In Uganda it can only be seen here and in the Kidepo Valley. Other species regularly seen on game tracks include Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, Uganda kob, waterbucks and warthogs. Resident crocodiles and hippos as well as other visiting wildlife can be found along the river.
Game Drive:A game drive around the Buligi Game Track on the north coast with a trained ranger guide is a fantastic way to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the Nile Valley. Tourists can marvel at buffalo herds, dozens of elephants, warthogs and towering giraffes, bushbucks, reedbucks, duikers, kobs, oribis and the unusual-looking hartebeest. Your guide will have a good idea of where the lions are hiding and you may spot a leopard at dusk!
Unique Bird Species:Both game drives and launch trips offer the opportunity to see a variety of bird life including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemics. The main bird attraction of the park is the shoebill, which is best seen during the dry season of January-March.
Hikes and Nature Walks: The vast landscape and diverse scenery of Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding conservation area can be explored on foot. Trails through the Kanio Pabidi and Rabongo forests offer sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile Delta, a 2-4 hour guided swamp walk allows for sightings of shoebills.
Cultural Visits: EnthusiasticDancers from Mubako perform around the lodge campfire in the evening for a magical African experience. Boomu offers women’s group accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the reality of life in this rural community.
Murchison Falls National Park Budget Banda at Red Chili Rest Camp, Budongo Ecolodge and Sambia River Lodge offer relatively cheap and good accommodation. The park includes high quality accommodation at Chobe Lodge, Para Lodge, Nile River Lodge, Pakuba Lodge and Bwana Tembo Camp.
So if you are looking for a unique and unforgettable African safari experience in Uganda, add Murchison Falls National Park to your travel destination.
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