Found in Northern Uganda, Murchison is a multi-award winning national park with a diversity of sensational experiences and heart-racing adventures. There’s wildlife aplenty including 76 mammal species and 451 bird species. It is Uganda’s biggest conservation area, covering an expanse of 3,840km2 which comprises of dense tropical forests, open Savannah with towering borassus palm trees, freshwater lakes, rolling his a s free flowing river network. The cherry on the cake is all the Big Five except for the rhino, but you can see them during your stopover at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
The falls after which it is named is everything you would expect from an iconic destination – awe inspiring, thundering, roaring, massive flows and billowing mist. Here,you will watch river Nile squeeze itself through a seven meter cleft in a rock. The result is a powerful waterfall that drops 45 meters down into a majestic escarpment that marks the starting point of the Western Rift Valley.
One of the things that makes Murchison falls a must see is that its water volume doesn’t drop, even in peak dry seasons. This is partly because it is fed by over 10 permanent rivers. The one hour hike from its foot to summit is an exhilarating experience that will leave you breathless. The tour is preceded by a two hours boat cruise along the river banks. The historical presentation that the ranger guides make during this cruise is witty and entertaining.
The easiest place to see lions is the mating ground found in the Northern zone of the park. They are attracted by the plenty of kobs, giraffes and buffalos that come here to battle it out, locking antlers and gnashing teeth, to stubbornly defend their territory. The availability of extensive driving tracks allows here you to explore awe-inspiring areas of the park.
Budongo forest: Birdwatching and Chimp tracking
Made of two ecotourism jungles which cover 825 square km (Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro), Budongo is ranked among Africa’s most compelling birdwatching destinations considering it is home to 360 recorded bird species inclusive of endemics. However, its number one attraction is without doubt the opportunity to track families of habituated chimpanzees. Nestled in the Southern part of Murchison, it is also one of the most extensive and ecologically diverse forests in tropical Africa, with 465 plant species recorded, inclusive of giant mahoganies that are as tall as 60m.
It prides in having the second biggest population of chimps in Uganda,with over 600 individuals. It is such a fascinating experience watching these roaming primates drum buttressed bases of trees. During your early morning trek here, the guides will take you off the main tracks and cross into virgin stretches to get the best views of the chimpanzees in the canopy. It is simply fascinating to see how intelligent they are at scaling giant trees, feeding and communicating, and caring for each other by grooming. This 1-5 hours forest walk also presents an opportunity for you to watch an impressive array of nine primate species, inclusive of Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, Red-tailed Monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Olive Baboons and Blue Monkeys among others.
On the part of Birdwatching, there are several good sites in Budongo including the Royal Mile, a former hunting ground for Bunyoro’s king, Omukama Kabalega. It is highly rated as a single best birding destination in Uganda due to its number of rare birds and the relative ease with which you can see it them. This includes the rare Puval’s Illadopses, an endemic of the region. Others specials include Crowned Eremomera, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Dusky long-tailed Cuckoo, Yellow-manted Weaver, Crested Malimbe, Western Black-headed Oriole, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Chestnut, Yellow-browned Camaroptera, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Forest Robin, White-spotted Flufftail, Slender-billed Greenbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Yellow and Grey Longbill, Little Green Sunbird and African Emerald Cuckoo among others.
Having an experienced guide makes a big difference to your success in seeing all sorts of birds. To this effect, Shaka Tours shall offer you a guide who goes the extra mile to attract diverse species by skillfully imitating their calls.
A two hours boat cruise on River Nile offers a great way to enjoy the bird life flitting along the banks of the world’s longest river, River Nile. This includes fish eagles and kingfishers dive-bombing into the water from overhanging tree branches. This is where to get that photo of a hippo yawning. You will also see lots of elephants, buffalos and giraffes cooling off with a refreshing splash in the water. This refreshing cruise offers you a better perspective and experience of the park. You will witness a change in scenery, from tropical forest to freshwater to savannahs with rolling hills.
Best time to visit
The dry season from September to March is a better bet as seeing wildlife is easier due to the less bumpy state of roads. On the other hand, the wet season from April to August is big on birdwatching