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Murchison Falls – remote wilderness, spectacular waterfalls and wonderful wildlife

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Murchison Falls is the largest national park in Uganda and is simply one of the best in terms of game viewing, scenery and bird watching. The expansive of the Bunyoro escarpment merges into the Acholi lands and the topography and vegetation of the park is incredibly diverse with dense secondary forests such as Bonyonyi which has beautiful foliage.

As one descends down the eastern wall, the sand changes colour, the vegetation gets drier to make way semi-deciduous forest, swampland with savannah grassland, dotted with Borassus palms and riverine belt along the Victoria Nile that’s splits the park into two. Chimpanzees and over 360 bird species can be seen in Kaniyo Pabidi forest in the southern sector.

Famous visitors to Murchison include Winston Churchill and the movie African Queen was filmed with the backdrop of Murchison scenery, with Humphrey Bogart. The Queen Mother of Britain visited in 1959 as well as the Prince of Wales, Edward V11 in 1930. Leaving a big ‘impression’ was Ernest Hemingway who crashed his light aircraft very close to the waterfalls, but survived.

Murchison covers over 4000sqkms and was formed in 1952. In addition the park also extends to cover Bugungu and Karuma Wildlife Reserves. There are various safari styled camps and a few lodges on the south and north banks of the river, the north side being where the bulk of the wildlife resides.

The Falls were first ‘discovered’ in western terms by explorer Sir Herbert Baker, and named after the then governor general, Mr Murchison. Actually the local indigenous name of Murchison is Kabalega Falls. Murchison waterfalls are an iconic sight, 50 metres wide at its widest point, reducing to just seven metres inside the chasm. Visitors can view the falls from a boat near to the base of the falls, where the water is so incredibly churned and agitated that vast clumps of foam float away on deep green water, past huge trees with vines filled with colobus monkeys, giving this a very jungle like feel. One can also walk to the top of the falls where the sound of the water being squeezed through the chasm is deafening.

Hippo, buffalo, elephant and crocodiles can be seen along the water’s edge, as well as abundant birdlife in the miscanthus and Phragmites, papyrus and white morning glory vines. Kigelia Africana (sausage tree), Acacia Siberiana, combretums and terminalia species, whistling acacia, yellow blossom shrub makes up just some of the vegetation in this park.

This park is a birders paradise! There are over 400 birds and 76 mammals, including lion, elephant, kob, and endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. Certainly with regards to one of the most sort after birds, the prehistoric shoebill stork lives in the reed beds. A morning spent on the Buligi vicinity will prove to be fabulous for birdwatchers.

Apart from game drives and early morning boat excursions, our clients are encouraged to experience an afternoon sunset boat trip to the base of Murchison Falls, which is a leisurely three-hour adventure to see hippos, crocodiles, elephants, a variety of antelopes, as well as the rich bird-life inhabiting the river’s papyrus-lined banks. There is nothing as relaxing as being on the river, with the birds coming home to roost, watching as the sun goes down with a glass of your favourite tipple in hand

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