Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park, with 3,840 square kilometers is Uganda's largest National Park. The park is cut in half by the Nile and its landscape varies from dense rainforest on the hilly ranges in the South-West, to undulating savannah in the North-West.
Murchison Falls National Park shelters many primate species, including Chimpanzees, while the river attracts various Antelopes, Buffalos, Rothschild-Giraffes and Elephants. These gentle giants are slowly recovering from the brutal slaughter they suffered during the civil wars, when they were used as moving targets for the army's artillery.
The prime area for game-viewing is the peninsula between the Victoria and the Albert Niles, known as the Buligi Circuit. The concentration of animals is highest in this area, and the lush patches of forest along the waterways and the conspicuous Borassus Palms, dotting the ridges and valleys in-between, add to the attraction of the park's landscape. The world-famous Murchison Falls National Park are a must for any visitor.
The most impressive view is at the top, where the Nile forces its way through a 7 meter gap in the rocks and tumbles 40 meters down. A path leads from the parking above the falls all the way to the bottom and offers spectacular views of the foaming waters rushing into the gorge, with a deafening roar. In the background the pacified river winds its way towards Lake Albert. If you are up for it, you can take a refreshing Nile-bath in a small basin above the Murchison Falls.
In the Fifties and Sixties, when Uganda's tourism was at its peak, the highlight of a safari was the boat-trip on the Nile. In those days the Paraa Lodge, dominating the northern shore of the Nile at Paraa, was a busy hotel with 150 beds. Some of the boats used during that time are now slowly falling to pieces along the banks of the river. Today's passengers are much fewer and so are the boats. After departing your captain will steer the launch from shore to shore, where Hippos can be counted in hundreds. Every little bay seems to be occupied with their bubbling and snorting sounds. On sandbanks huge crocodiles bask in the sun, and along the shores one can often spot elephants, giraffes, buffalos, etc.
The Nile River calms itself after the falls into a rather more gentile flow and the best way to experience the abundance of animal and bird life along its banks is on a riverboat. The river is full of unbelievably large Nile crocodiles who sunbathe on rocks and display their entire 15-foot (4½ metre) reptilian bodies. Occupying the same waterway are thousands of pink-eared hippos who take defending their territories seriously and can startle you with a sudden mock charge. Buffaloes wade nonchalantly through the prolific floating water hyacinth fringing the banks, and huge herds of over 100 elephants cool themselves in shallow creeks and graze silently on the lush grasses.
The Murchison Falls National Park is also home to giraffe, oribi, hartebeest, waterbuck and Uganda kob. During the boat excursion your senses are bombarded with such diversity, it is hard to know where to look. It is a bird spotters paradise and is especially good for seeing the bizarre looking and very rare shoebill (or whale-headed) stork. It stands alone four-feet high (over 1 meter), with a head like a wobbly wooden mallet and a timid pouting expression. It is almost matched in height by the goliath heron, who appears elegant in comparison.