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This article comes to introduce you to the best/ famous safari attractions of the pearl of Africa. It is not a sales advert; but rather a word from a friend who likes you and loves nature, and wishes you to have all the fun on your next safari trip to East Africa. Our attention today is directed to two of the country’s top national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable forest on the extreme border with Rwanda and DR. Congo and Murchison falls National park along the great river Nile. These parks are the crown of Uganda’s pride; and truly the magnificence of their attractions simply cannot be matched on the African continent. Murchison falls is the world’s most powerful waterfall located on the majestic river Nile, the world longest river and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Bwindi is the famous park that inhabits half of the world’s remaining population of Mountain gorillas.
Top Safari activities at Murchison Falls National park;
1. Waterfalls viewing
Nothing represents the majesty and power of the great river Nile better than the gush and tumble and roar of Murchison falls [https://ellingtonsafaris.com/national-parks/murchison-falls-national-park-3]. Of course, a waterfall viewing will always be a mesmerizing and bewildering spectacle. But Murchison falls is not just any ordinary waterfall. This is the most powerful waterfall in the world we are talking about. The waterfall occurs at a point where the youthful waters of the Nile force their way through a seven-meter gap between two powerful rocks. Waterfalls viewing is usually accomplished together with other activities in the park which include; Boat rides, game viewing, birding, sunset cruises, spot fishing, nature walks, and hiking. Powerful boats will lead you close to the calm pool at the bottom of the falls a few meters from the plunge. There is also an option of hiking to the top of the falls through well paved trails. Both options offer wonderful bird watching opportunities though the hike gives you the advantage of seeing Uhuru falls, a smaller waterfall close to the main Murchison falls.
2. Game viewing
Game viewing at Murchison is done both at river and on land. Game drives are conducted early in the morning at 7:00am and in the evening at 4pm. Evening drives are the most rewarding. Sit on a boat and follow the White Nile northwards to the loveliest animal herds you will ever see in your life. If your boat sets off at 4pm, you will reach Buligi Delta on the southern shores of Lake Albert at round 4:30pm. It is at Buligi that the White Nile joins Lake Albert to form the Albert Nile. Buligi is the park’s most excellent spot for game viewing. Its verdant pastures attract large animal populations, especially the grazers. Examples of gorgeous animals found here include; Giraffes, waterbucks, antelopes, Cape buffalo, Elephant, Uganda Kob, Hippo, bushbuck, reedbuck, Jackson’s heart beet, and Sitatunga. You will also have a chance to spot a few predators such as lions, Leopards, Jackals, Hyenas, and African hunting dogs.
3.Rhino tracking and birding at Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary
The Rhino is the first of ‘the big five’ African mammals that you will see on your trip to Murchison. Uganda has 22 White Rhino are conserved and bred at the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary on your way to Murchison falls. The sanctuary also has more than 300 bird species. Ellington Safaris makes it a point to stop over at the Sanctuary each time there is a trip to Murchison. For 2018, the price of Rhino tracking is $45 for non-resident visitors. This price entitles you to three hours of Rhino tracking. East African residents are charged $35 for the same viewing time while Ugandan citizens will pay Shs.30, 000. After the activity, vistors will quickly embark on the lingering journey to Murchison falls to view the remaining four of the Big five which are; the Lion, Leopard, Cape buffalo and Elephant. The drive will take about an hour.
4. Spot Fishing
Angling is one of the activities that have earned Murchison Falls National Park its prestigious position in continental top safari rankings. Allow us introduce to you the Nile Perch, Africa’s largest fresh water angling fish species. This massive fish that can weigh up to 100Kg’s is endemic to the Nile basin, and is the biggest catch at Chobe angling grounds in Murchison Falls Nation Park. Other fish species found at this world-class angling zone include Yellow fish, cat fish and Tilapia. This immensely rewarding activity will cost you just $14 for two hours! A free fishing boat will be provided together with baits and other fishing equipment. None of the fish caught, however, will be yours to roast. Regulations require that all fish caught be returned to the water alive to avoid fish depletion. If this is one of your passions, sleep at a lodge in Chobe or Paraa. They are the closest to the angling spots.
5. Chimpanzee tracking and Birding in the virgin woods of Pabidi
Are you older than 10? Good, because you have no other excuse for missing out on this enthralling activity. Murchison Falls National park also provides enjoyable Chimpanzee tracking trips at just USD85 for nonresidents and USD45 for Ugandans. The Chimpanzees are habituated at Kaniyo-Pabidi forest, an extension of the famous Budongo forest in the neighborhood of the Park. Kaniyo Pabidi is also popular for its large population of Mahogany and iron wood trees which are listed as Africa’s most endangered hard wood species. The chimpanzees thrive in the woods alongside 9 other primate species, 25 mammal species and 359 species of Birds. The number of Chimpanzees in the reserve is estimated at 800. The activity is done throughout the year, though May-August is the best season. The park conducts two tracking sessions per day; one at 7:00am and another at 4:00pm.
6. Bird Watching
You have probably noticed how frequently the word birding has been mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. The conservation area around Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s most rewarding destination for bird watching. The most wanted spots for bird watching around Murchison Falls are: Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary (300 species), Murchison-Nile Delta (450+ species), and Kaniyo-Pabidi reserve Budongo forest (360 species). These comprise mainly of savannah grassland species, Albertine rift endemics, Tropical forest species, Afro-tropical highland species, and Open water species. The Rare shoe bill stock is quite common at Buligi and at Zziwa Sanctuary. Boat rides and hiking are the most preferred means for bird watching at Murchison. There are more than 10 prominent trails for bird watching in the area.
7. Hot air balloon Safaris
We usually thought it takes an hour at least to enjoy a safari but that is not true, it turns out. Hot Air balloon safaris have completely revolutionized our idea of safari and fun. We are not satisfied with terrestrial game viewing anymore. Hot air balloons fly over the park for an average of 45 minutes per trip, offering picturesque aerial views of the Nile, Lake Albert, and Murchison falls. Dream Balloons, the parks’ distinguished hot air balloon operators, are licenced and monitored by Uganda Civil Aviation Authority. Safety is 100% guaranteed. This is one of the most fascinating activities for large groups of 7-8 people. Do not leave Murchison falls with a half picture. Sit in a hot air balloon with your best friend and get the full dose wilderness fun. Are you at Murchison for honey moon? Don’t miss this one. The flights happen twice a day. Sunrise flights from 5:30-9:30am and sunset flights from 4-6:30pm.
8. River cruise/Boat ride
Wake up to a warm morning in the wild and join the Paraa jetty for the Delta Boat cruise, or the Fajao gorge glide (waterfalls cruise) for only USD35 per person. Explore the rich wildlife center of Murchison falls for 3 complete hours, or go the extra mile to hire your own boat for the day. What better way to search the true exquisiteness of Murchison Falls National Park than get on a boat with a life jacket, a simple first aid kit, a pair of binoculars and follow the Nile as it leads you to the hidden treasures ahead. Several animals – Nile Crocs, Hippos, Elephants, and more – will be seen feeding and playing on the river’s forested banks. This will be the dreamiest sail of your life.
Top Safari activities at Bwindi impenetrable National park;
1. Gorilla tracking
The Gorilla is an endangered large, tailless ape closely related to the human race (98% DNA). This fascinating and remarkably gentle animal thrives in the dense montane forest of Bwindi in south western Uganda where it feeds on succulent bamboo shoots, wild celery and stinging nettles. There are less than 1000 individuals left on the planet and Uganda has more than half of their remaining population. Tourists interested in Gorilla watching have to obtain a trekking permit from the Uganda wildlife authority. But you do not have to travel Uganda physically to process your permit. Ellington Safaris does the booking of permits for all interested clients upon payment of an initial deposit. The permit will later be handed to you at the start of your trip. Mountain gorillas can also be seen at volcanoes National Park in Rwanda though the cost of permits in Rwanda is 3 times more expensive. Offering more gorilla families, in a more breathtaking habitat at a significantly cheaper cost, Uganda remains the world’s top destination for gorilla tracking. Make your bookings now.
2. Hiking and Birding in the area
Bwindi has enough beauty to mesmerize you for days. After you have visited the gorilla, which is only the starting point of a Bwindi visit, put on your boots once again and get into the woods for a more immersing experience. There are well-paved trails that lead southwards from Buhoma to Nkuringo; crossing the five rivers of the forest, and taking you up to the peaks of its highest hills. Hiking is the perfect time to discover the inimitably stunning bird species of the Park which number 350 and more. Compliment your bird watching experience with game viewing along the trails to Rushura range in Buhoma. Meet beautiful antelopes along the trails, duiker, elephants, bush pigs, and more primates. Follow the trails to Rushura range, the highest hill within the park, for the most magical views. Short hikes range from 1 hour to 3. The longer hikes go up to 9 hours or an entire day. Marvel at spectacular sights of ridges, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and the distant forests of Rwanda, all viewed at a single thrilling moment! You don’t want to miss this!
3. Canoeing; Swimming, and more birding Lake Mutanda
Extend your bird-watching pleasure to Lake Mutanda, Uganda’s most popular destination for canoe trekking located on the fringes of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, about 6Km from Kisoro town. Arrive in time for the sunrise canoe cruise at 9:00am for only USD10. Dugout canoe cruises are also offered at sunset for the same price (5:30 pm). Add even more zest to your trip by embarking on a 4-hour tour of the two islands at the lake. Enjoy, among other things; spectacular views of the Virunga ranges of Congo, memorable nature walks, and cultural encounters at the fishing villages. Highlights on this trip include caves, African rock pythons, otters, and an unforgettable fishing experience. I bet you will ask for more!
4. Nature walks, community tours and monkey watching
There is a lot to see at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, but the most lasting memories will be your encounter with the pygmies of Buhoma village. Spare some time and hike to the villages deep in the forest for an insightful interaction with the charming jungle people. You will have to cross a few ridges and really tough slippery inclines before reaching the villages, but this will pay off in the end. Free primate watching awaits you along the way to Buhoma. The forest connecting to the village shelters beautiful large families of Blue monkey, Black and white colobus, baboons, and red-tailed monkeys.