Murchison Falls National Park – Uganda

murchison-falls-national-parkMurchison Falls National Park in the northwestern part of the country and the biggest park and one of its very best; animals here are in plentiful supply and the ranging Murchison Falls is an incredible sight. Sir Samuel Baker who was a British explorer and mostly remembered as the discoverer of Lake Albert named Murchison Falls in honor of the president of the Royal Geographical Society and the national park was therefore named after the falls. The Victoria Nile River flows through the national park on its approach to Lake Albert.

murchison-fallsDuring the 1960s, Murchison Falls National Park with the adjoining Bugungu and Karuma wildlife reserves was among Africa’s most popular national parks; as many as 12 launches filled with eager travelers would buzz up the river to the falls every day. Murchison Falls National Park also hosts some of the biggest concentration of wildlife in Africa, including about 15,000 elephants. Lamentably, poachers and troops wiped out practically all wildlife, with the exception of the more various (or less sought for after) head species. While its rhino population was entirely killed by poachers and hunters by 1983 but were re-introduced into the country by Rhino Fund Uganda in 2005 and white rhinos are now being bred again in the 7,000 hectares Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which is found in 70 kilometers, south of the park. Other wildlife is just recovering in the park and you can discover a good number of elephants, Rothschild giraffes, lion, Ugandan kob, waterbuck, buffaloes, hippos, and crocodiles these days. Sitatunga, leopards and spotted hyenas may also be seen. The park is also home to over 460 bird species, including quite a few shoebill storks.

murchison-falls-boat-rideIn spite of the fact that wildlife is recovering, don’t come to the park expecting a scene from the Serengeti. That said, regardless of the possibility that there were no animals, the amazing force of Murchison Falls would make this park worth visit.

As of late, oil exploration inside the national park has caused concern in some quarters. In 2010 phased drilling started however at present the drilling is confined to areas of the park far from game drives. Developments through the next few years will be telling and are being watched carefully by conservationists around the world.

For more travel and important information about Murchison Falls National Park, pick up a copy of Murchison Falls Conservation Area Guidebook (2004) by Shaun Mann at the park headquarters.

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