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Photo Essay: Murchison Falls National Park Safari (part 1)

There are so many things that come to mind when I think back about my time in Uganda such as witnessing whole families on boda bodas, remembering the rich the taste of baby bananas and my failed attempts to avoid the red, red dirt that seemed to get everywhere. My iPhone ear buds are forever stained. But the chance to experience both a land and river safari is and experience that will never be forgotten.

Which is a really good thing, because apparently I forgot to write about it last year.

My time spent at Murchison Falls National Park was brief (3 days in total) but I was still able to fit in some solid and incredible safari time.

About Murchison Falls National Park & Paara Lodge
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest park in Uganda. It is found in the northwestern part of the country and spreads inland from the shore of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile. The park is home to the famous Murchison Falls, also referred to as the Kabarega Falls, where the Nile River squeezes into a narrow gorge, 7 meters wide before plunging 43 meters below.

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Murchison Falls is best viewed from the top. It’s about a 45 minute walk up from the bottom to the top.

 

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Not a great technical image as my camera misted up once I reached this point but I had to capture what I thought was the best vantage point to view the gorge.

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Not much between this warning sign and the powerful falls!

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A rainbow appears in the gorge.

The park is also well-known for it’s wildlife and is home to the big five but barely. Buffalo, elephants, lions and leopards can be seen in the northern area of the park (above the Nile). But because of excessive poaching, white rhinos which were taken to the edge of extinction are just making a slow comeback due to reintroduction efforts that have taken place since 2005.

In total, this spectacular park boasts 76 species of mammals, 10 species of primates, more than 465 species of plants, 250 species of butterflies and 450 species of birds!

While visiting Murchison Falls, I stayed at the The Paraa Safari Lodge. The Paara is a luxury lodge located within the park and offers an outstanding view overlooking the River Nile. Decorated in safari décor, it is rustic yet surprisingly modern with the exception of course, being the large iron keys required for room entry. The grounds are well-kept and include a lavish pool (complete with swim up bar and hot tub) overlooking the winding River Nile below.

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Entrance to the Paara Lodge

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Sweet pool (overlooking the Nile!) complete with swim up bar and lounge chairs.

The Paraa Lodge offers all-inclusive options and as I enjoyed the views from the comfort of the pool, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at a high-end Mexican resort. It was unexpected but really glorious.

Day one
Two hours of safari prior to entering the park
A group of us that had travelled throughout Uganda together entered Murchison Falls National Park during the late afternoon. Rashid, our guide asked us if we wanted to head directly to the hotel or go for a brief drive around the park before it got dark (which it does very early). Not surprisingly without any hesitation the group unanimously voted for some safari time.

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Rashid our charismatic guide and driver.

I am not sure why but I started recording what animal/bird species I saw followed by the time. Likely for fear of forgetting something. I have a terrible memory. Anyhow, this was my log:

4:00 p.m. Elephant
4:22 p.m. White Browed Coucal
4:25 p.m. Patas Monkeys
4:31 p.m. Giraffes
4:36 p.m. Jackson’s Hartebeest
4:37 p.m. Kob
4:38 p.m. Oribi
4:50 p.m. Abyssinian Ground Hornbilll
4:51 p.m. Waterbuck
5:08 p.m. Guinea Fowl
5:15 p.m. Hippopotamus / Crested crane (Uganda’s National bird)
5:18 p.m. Hammer Cob
5:32 p.m. Cape Buffalo
5:51 p.m. Warthog / Baboons

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The first animal spotted in the park – an elephant. What a great way to start our safari!

So why does this matter? >> 14 species easily identified. In less than two hours. Saying it was incredible to see some of these creatures in the wild is just such a gross understatement. It’s actually very surreal. We had barely scratched the surface and tomorrow would be back for more.

Here are a few of my favorite moments from that day.

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We spotted several Abyssinian Ground Hornbills. They are pretty neat birds. They mate for life and when one partner dies they often team up with another pair, so you often see them in threes.

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The van in front of us stops to photograph a Jackson’s Hartebeest.

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A closer look at a Jackson’s Hartebeeste. Such spooky eyes!

Oh, and the birds. I could have just died right there. I was truly in bird heaven. We saw many more during that brief time but as we were in a moving vehicle I didn’t always get a good enough look at (or picture) to identify the actual species. I was grateful however that Rashid was kind enough to slow down when I would excitedly squeal “bird – big bird/cute bird/cool bird!”

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White Browed Coucal

So that I don’t get off task on bird love, feel free to visit my gallery of Ugandan birds that I posted last year if you so wish.

oribi or cob

One of the biggest surprises during the land safari was to see how many animals seemed to exist together so harmoniously. Behind these kob were giraffes, oribi, warthogs and in the not too far off distance, cape buffalo.

A darling oribi is missing one of it's horns.

A darling oribi is missing one of it’s horns.

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One of the cutest species spotted, a Patas monkey takes a break up in a tree.

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A lone giraffe overlooks the River Nile. Isn’t the landscape just so dreamy?

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Just before sunset, two not so hidden cape buffalo peer at us through the dusky landscape.

After an exhilarating start to the safari adventure, it was back to Paara Lodge for a good nights sleep. But, sleeping proved difficult. I practically vibrated for hours before I finally got some shuteye. The adrenalin of being in the park in the middle of Africa with baboons and warthogs wandering just outside my patio doors was almost too thrilling for this wildlife lover.

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The warthogs wandered all around the Paara Lodge. This one here showed off some of his battle scars.

I hope you enjoyed part one of my safari adventure. It’s really hard to not bombard you with a zillion photos (because I took way too many!). As there is so much to share, this post will be continued next week in Part Two and will include the Nile River safari! Thanks for reading and hoping you will stay tuned for the next chapter …

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7 thoughts on “Photo Essay: Murchison Falls National Park Safari (part 1)
  1. Uganda! Now there’s a more unusual safari destination (more known for the gorillas, right?). Your trip sounds like it was wonderful. Love your animal log! As you know from our blog, we’re still remembering all the wild African animals we saw recently in South Africa and Zambia.

    • Thank you! Yes they are known for their gorillas. Unfortunately I was not able to go gorilla trekking though. It’s definitely know something I want to do in the future.

      I totally understand the ‘remembering’ element. Thoughts of Africa are never far from my mind either.

  2. Pingback: Photo Essay: Uganda land and river safari (part 2) | Travellinlady ~ Jenn Smith Nelson

  3. Hello Jenn Smith Nelson, i like your post. Murchison falls National park is the largest park in Uganda and Paara safari lodge is a nice place to stay. The beautiful safari is Nile River safari. A good photography and pics of animals are marvellous. Thank you.

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