Safaris in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park in the north-west of the country is Uganda’s largest national park, and together with adjoining wildlife reserves forms a vast wilderness covering over 5 000 km2. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife, forest primates and 450 bird species.
The mighty Nile, the longest river in the world, flows through the heart of the park for a distance of 120 km, on its 6 500 km journey from Lake Victoria to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The park’s centrepiece is the explosive, 40-metre high Murchison Falls where the Nile is forced through an 8-metre gap in the Rift Valley escarpment. Downstream, the Nile flows quietly towards Lake Albert which it enters through a large papyrus delta. It is this peaceful 40 km stretch of river which provides the park’s prime wildlife spectacle and where we explore.
Chimpanzee tracking in nearby Budongo Forest is available, and definitely worthwhile spending an extra day for, and bird-watchers will be delighted by the variety of localised species including Shoebill Stork. For the fishermen, there is the challenge of catching the massive Nile Perch.
Vehicle Based Safari Drives
Safari Drives are mainly enjoyed on the “Northern” bank of the Nile River. An expansive savannah area cumulating in the papyrus-fringed delta, where the river flows into Lake Albert. A short ferry crossing, or boat transfer from Baker’s Lodge, transports guests to this area where there are chances of spotting; elephant, giraffe, buffalo, lion, leopard, hyena, various species of antelope and a variety of bird life. Recently opened safari trails on the “Southern” bank offer up a different, bushier terrain and can be enjoyed by guests en-route from the lodge to the top of the waterfalls.
Boat Safaris to Murchison Falls
Our fleet of water-craft run scheduled and private trips daily, direct from our private lodge jetty to the park’s centrepiece – the stunning Murchison Falls in Fajao Gorge. An approximate 3 hours on the water offers excellent safari viewing to and from the falls, the boats offering the opportunity to witness up-close the teeming hippo and crocodile populations on the river as well as a plethora of animals and birdlife on the river banks. The cruise can be combined with a safari drive, a hike up the side of the falls, or a sunset cruise.
Boat Safaris to the Victoria Nile Delta
The Victoria Nile delta, a 17km voyage downstream from Baker’s Lodge, is home to rare wetland birds including shoebill and papyrus endemic species. Morning cruises offer a visual spectacle of mist rising off the mirror calm-water as our craft navigate the papyrus channels of the delta. Scheduled and private delta cruises depart from the lodge with a “breakfast on board” option offered in the mornings (subject to minimum numbers).
Top of Murchison Falls Hiking and Walk
Some of the most powerful moving water in the world, the top of Murchison Falls sees the entirety of the Nile River squeeze itself through a mere 8-meter gap; an epic display of nature’s power. The top of the falls is an open area where guests can view the chasm from multiple angles. A trail down the side of the gorge allows guests to hike down to the bottom, an opportunity to see the main falls from different angles and elevations, as well as the second “Independence” falls. The hike can be done in conjunction with our boat trips.
The Nile River at Murchison is famous for its exciting sport fishing. Large, strong Nile Perch living in the turbulent waters below the falls as well as several species of cat fish are fished and a variety of smaller species which are generally used as live bait for the larger fish. Fishing is conducted on a strict “catch-and-release” system and can be done with our experienced local fishing guides; from the shore or from our boats which are ideally sized and equipped to cope with the conditions and accessing the remote riverside pools.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest
A 60 – 90 minute drive from Bakers Lodge is Budongo Forest, home to a community of around 90 wild, yet habituated Chimpanzees whom can be tracked by guests. Tracking is done in the morning or afternoon and generally lasts for half a day. Once located, guests can spend an hour in the presence of the chimpanzees as they go about their daily lives in the forest. Birding walks are also available in addition to Forest walks for children under the minimum trekking age (15 yrs).
Hot Air Ballooning
A relatively new excursion in Murchison Falls, flights depart early morning from the Northern Bank of the river (a boat transfer is provided for Bakers Lodge guests). Depending on wind conditions, guests can witness either the falls or the delta in addition to the sunrise over the rolling savannah of the park. A bush-breakfast is provided upon landing.
Leisure Cruises on The Nile River
In addition to our longer cruises above, our boat fleet is available for shorter “leisure” cruises on The Nile, perfect for the end of the day, or to combine with a longer cruise. Available cruises include sunrise and breakfast cruises on the calm water of the morning, as well as sunset, sundowner or wine and cheese cruises in the orange glow of the evening.