Brenda and Brent, Dan and Merrilee - Murchison Falls

The Ugands trip report is now spread over 6 pages. If you want to look for a particular part of the trip, follow one of the links in this list:
route to Murchison Falls NP

Murchison Falls National Park

From Kampala we headed north to Murchison Falls, on the Nile.

The Nile flows north from Lake Victoria for about 150 miles and east for about 150 miles, zigging and zagging, until it flows into the north end of Lake Albert. Murchison Falls is near the end of that part of the Nile, 30 miles from Lake Albert. Murchison Falls National Park is on the north side of the Nile, east of Lake Albert.

We soon left the paved roads and the power and telephone poles behind.

A nice lunch in Masindi, then east and north again.

We birded along the way, driving Johnnie and Alfred crazy with all the new birds we spotted. Of course, they were very common birds, birds we would see over and over again during the trip, but on the first couple of days our curiosity got the better of our common sense. All these stops meant we arrived at the Nile Safari Camp just as the sun was setting.

The yellow line shows the approximate route of game drive, north of the Nile. Murchison Falls is at 5.

escarpment at Murchison Falls NP The Nile falls over an escarpment on the south side of the park. Here we are on the top of the escarpment, downstream (west) from the falls, looking north over the delta where the Nile flows into Lake Albert.

We are just about to see our first antelope - the Uganda Kob. Most of the wild animals are on the north side of the Nile. This south side is not part of the park. In fact, this land is grazing land used by nomadic herdsmen.

The fall rainy season is just over (well, not quite over - we had two days of rain later in the trip) so the savanna is green. In fact, most of Uganda was green during our trip. Quite a contrast to our other trips in Africa - Kenya and Kruger were much drier and browner than this.

We saw 69 species of birds today, during which we had good weather but spent most of the day driving along unpaved rural roads. With the high cost of oil (asphalt), it is unlikely many of these roads will ever get paved.

Murchison Falls NP, lions

Murchison Game Drive

Early the next morning we took the ferry across the Nile for a game drive - the roof pops up and we stand up looking for birds and animals as Johnnie drives us through the park tracks.

Uganda does not have the big herds of Wildebeest and antelope that Kenya and Tanzania have. In fact, many of the larger game animals were slaughtered by Idi Amin and his pals, who would race around in jeeps shooting everything in site with machines guns.

Most of the lions were killed, with few remaining in Murchison NP. There may be too few animals left to successfully recover sustainable populations without help from outside the park.

The park has good numbers of Giraffe, antelope, Buffalo, ...

Murchison Falls NP, Hippo with baby ... and Hippopotamus in good numbers.

After the game drive, we spent the afternoon on a boat heading up the Nile to Murchison Falls.

Animals are way of people on foot, less wary of people in cars but will move away, and even less wary of people in boats. Does this mean they don't expect predators to arrive from the water?

We had good closeup looks at many animals during the boat ride, as well as many bird species ...

Murchison Falls NP, Giant Kingfisher including this Giant Kingfisher - the only time we saw this species on the trip. Apologies for picture quality, but this was taken from the boat as we moved along the river.

Johnnie and Alfred did not come with us on this part of the trip - the boat was full. We had to spot and identify the birds and animals on our own. Fortunately the driver (not the guide, who stood at the front) knew some of the common birds and spotted a few for us.

Murchison Falls NP, the falls The Falls are not comparable to any of the great waterfalls of the world, but are interesting none the less.

Here you have your two intrepid adventurers, hiking around the falls. The escarpment is only about 50 metres tall here. The boat dropped us off about half a kilometre below the falls and with a park guide, we walked around the falls to the parking lot at the top. Johnnie picked us up there.

Murchison Falls NP, the falls Here is another shot from the upper side of the escarpment, looking west down the Nile.

This part of the Nile collects water from Lake Victoria and other small lakes in eastern Uganda and dumps it into Lake Albert. Lake Albert collects water from western Uganda and bits of the Congo. Not a very big river at this point. You would not guess it importance to the civilizations downstream, particularly in Egypt, from the size of the river here.

We covered a lot of ground today - the game drive, the boat ride up the Nile, the area around the Nile Safari Camp. We managed to see 123 species of birds over the day.

Murchison Falls NP, Nile Safari Camp The Nile Safari Camp is perched on the south bank of the Nile. This shot is from the lounge. The swimming pool is below.

We spent two nights here and barely saw the camp during daylight. We arrived just after sunset, headed out for the game drive before dawn the second day, returned back to the camp after dark, and left just after dawn the third day!

Such is the exhausting life of the birder.

Johnnie and Alfred let us set our own schedule, fitting in as much as we could each day. We may have asked them to include too much. Next trip we might plan a little more time around the pool and lounge areas. Shoebill are occasionally seen in the area - had we spent enough time in the lounge, we might have spotted one.

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