MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic
Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km 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.
Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and several British royals.
Highlights of the park:
Murchison Falls became one of Uganda’s first national parks in 1952
At Murchison Falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow
The northern section of the park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches
The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park
BOAT CRUISE ON THE NILE
The Boat cruise is one of the activities you have to undertake while on a Uganda safari. Very relaxing, with the cool breeze in your face, the boat cruise gives an experience like no other on a Uganda Safari. The Boat cruises in Murchison falls national are both scheduled and privately arranged. Scheduled boats times are 11am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. Privately arranged boat cruises are done by the boat cruise operator and the tour operators.
Boat cruises on the Nile are 2, the sun downer and the top of the falls. The top of the falls is exciting, thrilling and relaxing at the same time. The boat picks you up from either the northern or southern bank of the river. On the cruise, you are accompanied by a trained guide who will give you all the necessary information and answer all the questions you might have. On the top of the falls cruise, you will encounter wildlife like; elephants, hippos,crocodiles, buffaloes, water bucks and kobs. The river gives life to the animals and they are seen on the banks of the river quenching their thirst from the afternoon sun. There’s plenty of bird species; African fish eagle, Egyptian geese, Egyptian plover, Grey Heron, Open billed Stalks, Crested cranes, King fisher and so much more.
At the bottom of the falls, there’s always an option of hiking besides the falls to the very top where the Nile river is forced down a 7 meter gap just to fall 41 meters back into the Nile. This is a breathtaking sight. The hike is about 45 mins and your guide will pick up from the top of the falls. This has to be arranged before the boat cruise because miscommunication can leave you stranded. For those who opt not to hike, the ride back to the banks is a cool relaxing adventure.
The sun downer is offered by 2 companies; Marasa and Wild frontiers. This boat cruise will take you to the delta point of the river. On this cruise, there are chances of seeing the Shoe bill and the elusive Leopard. This is a relaxing cruise. You get to enjoy the sun set as well as the wildlife.
The companies that 0ffer boat cruise at Murchison falls are Marasa, Wild frontiers and Uganda Wildlife Authority. The rates for tourists are $32 and 30,000/ for East Africans. The Hike tot he top of the falls is $15 for tourists and 10,000/ for East Africans.
Uganda is truly blessed with wildlife. From the big to the small, Uganda has it all. With the designated national parks, Uganda has managed to conserve the wildlife in their natural habitats. This has created a conducive environment for them to thrive and increase in number. Below are a few of the best wildlife attractions that Uganda has to offer
Uganda (Uganda wildlife) is truly blessed with wildlife. From the big to the small, Uganda has it all. With the designated national parks, Uganda has managed to conserve the wildlife in their natural habitats. This has created a conducive environment for them to thrive and increase in number. Below are a few of the best wildlife attractions that Uganda has to offer
Lions are one of the highlights of any Safari. They are impressive to watch. While the lioness is responsible for most of the hunting, the male is still dominant in the pride. Hunting is done in groups and this gives them the opportunity to pursue larger and much dangerous animals like the buffalo and giraffes. Larger prey is then brought back to the pride.
The Lions live in prides of around 15 related females and their cubs. The cubs are communally raised. New mothers, however, will live in dens with their cubs for the first few weeks, moving them one by one to a new den every few days to avoid building up a scent which would attract predators.New males often take over prides and will kill all cubs to ensure the continuity of their bloodline and will mate with each of the females. The male’s distinctive mane plays a role in making it look much bigger and more intimidating to other lions and other rivals.
Uganda is home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla. The rest can be found in Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congo; Uganda’s neighbors.
Gorillas live in close family groups led by a male silverback. The male is responsible for the welfare of the family, choosing feeding and sleeping grounds. The silverback has the responsibility of defending the rest of the family even if it costs them their lives. Gorilla are gentle and highly intelligent creatures and have been observed using tools and can communicate in a variety of vocal sounds.
An African Elephant is a sight to behold. The Elephant is the largest land mammal and can easily be seen marching in the savannah grasslands. They live in big families and are communal, protecting one another if threatened. Elephants are gentle and peaceful unless they feel threatened. This usually happens when the male Elephants are mating or when they have young ones.
They consume vast quantities of food and can take in up to 50 gallons of water. Their grazing is essential to the eco system; it prevents the savannah from turning into impenetrable forest. The elephants trucks are used to gather food, spray water and for support whenever needed. Elephants are gentle and sociable. They are known to adopt orphaned calves and are sometimes seen mourning over dead companions.
Uganda national parks are home to 29 species of the antelope family. Some live in herds while others are seen in small numbers of 2-5. Others are solitary. The Bushbuck and Oribi are some of the antelopes that can be seen in pairs or alone. The waterbuck and Jackson’s hartebeests are seen in small families of up to 5. The cob seek security in numbers; they are the most hunted species by predators like lions, leopards and hyenas.
Other species of antelopes in Uganda include; the Eland which is the largest of the antelopes, the greater Kudu, Grant’s gazelle, Topi and much more. Because they are hunted by many predators, they have a heightened sense of smell and are sometimes seen following their predators to avoid any surprise attacks.
Cape Buffaloes is one of Africa’s Big 5. They tower up to 165cm at the shoulder and can weigh up to 1500lbs. Cape Buffaloes are herbivorous but are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Uganda. With their carved horns and defensive nature, they can easily tear through a lion’s thick hide or even trample them to death. Buffaloes have very poor eye sight but compensate with a very good sense of smell and hearing. They wallow in mud or water to regulate their body temperature and the mud helps keep away ticks and other parasites.
Birds like the Egret are usually seen riding on the backs of the buffalo as they eat away the unwanted parasites. Buffaloes live in herds that can be up to several hundred individuals. There is always a dominant male in the herd and this male has the mating rites. Younger males usually challenge for this position and when the older dominant male is defeated, they leave the herd and wait for their last days as outcasts.
Hippos are the third largest land mammal after the elephant and the rhinoceros. An adult Hippo weighs up to 1800kgs or 4000 lbs. Because Hippos don’t have sweat glands, they spend the greater part of the day submerged in water. Hippos can’t swim! Because of their massive size and webbed feet, they can’t swim. They walk at the bottom of the river. However, Hippos can outran a human. They are known to reach impressive speeds of 40km/hr on land.
They spend utmost 6 minutes underwater before they resurface. Their facial features (raised eyes, ears and nostrils) allow them to have their bodies submerges in water for long periods of time. Hippos venture out to feed at dusk and spend the entire night grazing. They can travel up to 8km from the water source and consume vast amounts of grass to maintain their body weight.
Sociable, intelligent and communicative, the chimpanzee is man’s closest relative. They have been seen using tools like humans do; scooping water, drawing termites from their nests using tools, smashing nuts using rocks. Younger chimpanzees learn these techniques from their older mates which were passed down. They are communal and live in groups sometimes as big as 50.
They are affectionate and can be seen caring for young ones that aren’t their own. However, they can be aggressive to members that aren’t of the same family. Chimpanzees eat and sleep in trees but spend most of their time on the ground.
The Leopard is one of the most elusive cats in Uganda. They are shy and will wait until the safari vans are gone before they surface. They are nocturnal and their camouflaged coat makes it hard to spot them. They are mainly solitary though a family can sometimes be seen.
Leopards ran up to impressive speeds of 58km/hr. Their main source of food is antelopes and monkeys. They drag their prey up into the trees to avoid other predators mainly the lions and the hyenas. Historically, leopards were hunted for their beautiful fur; loss of habitat is now their greatest threat.
The spotted Hyena is famous for its laugh. It can be heard up to 3 miles away and is used for communication. The laugh alerts other hyenas to a potential meal.
Mainly known as scavengers, Hyenas are skilled hunters too. They possess very powerful jaws that allow them to chew through skin bone and flesh. They usually hunt in packs. They are found in both savannah and woodland. They are ruthless hunters and are known to have attacked human settlements thus being a target by the hunters.
Standing at 19feet, the Rothschild Giraffe is the tallest of all the mammals. The newly born giraffe stands at 6ft. Their tall neck contains 7 vertebrae, the same as humans. The giraffe feeds on spiky acacia and it strips of the leaves using its long tongue. The giraffe live in small families and aren’t territorial. The male species have a third horn in the middle of their skulls and are these horns are used in combat. Giraffes aren’t usually on the menu for the predators because of their speed and strength. However, lions, leopards and hyenas target the young.
The Giraffes generally tolerate other animals because they don’t feel threatened. Fights amongst them are usually between the male species for mating rites. They are frequent since the giraffes mate all year long. The Rothschild giraffe is endangered as a specie and 60% of them are found in Uganda in Murchison falls National Park