Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marvellous Murchison

Although we'd been to Murchison Falls National Park before, we'd only had a day there, in the middle of working. We'd been for a boat trip to the Falls themselves, however we had never crossed to the northern bank. We'd also roughed it a bit at the Red Chilli Camp. This time we had visitors staying, so we were doing it in style.

'Style' means the wonderful Nile Safari Lodge: luxury tents and cabins looking out over the Nile, with your own private hippos to serenade you in the evening. Forget the Girl Guides, this is camping as it ought to be. Excellent food, friendly staff and a nice little swimming pool to relax in when you return from your safari. Sunset across the Nile from the Lodge's restaurant is a sight to behold.

Having seen the Falls on the day we arrived, dawn saw us up and ready for the ferry to Paraa. Being Ritchies, at 15 minutes to seven o'clock we were the first in line - by a long way.

At one minute to seven, everyone else arrived, although we did have the satisfaction of being first to board.

While our trip was purely pleasure, virtually everyone else had a job to do on the other side.

A five minute crossing, and we were there, with Sam, the Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger in charge of our safari. UWA rangers are superb: knowledgeable,  experienced and keen that you see all the wonders.

And of wonders there are many. The first was grazing at the side of the murram track, a Jackson's hartebeest, long lugubrious face and glorious chestnut coat.

And in no time we were surrounded by antelopes, little oribi, on their own and in groups, and herds of female waterbuck.

On our left was a nursery for giraffes, the babysitter munching placidly a few yards away, and then ambling over to her charges.

Giraffes were everywhere, nibbling bushes, stalking around and sometimes just staring into nowhere particular. They were completely unfazed by interlopers like us.

And, like many of the larger mammals here, giraffes often came complete with a resident bird, perched on their backs - or heads, as here - and pecking away at insects.

Even aggressive-looking buffaloes came complete with hitchhikers, white cattle egrets and small black birds which we couldn't identify.

This warthog trotted along with a veritable flurry of birds swirling around him.

We have been to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki and Ishasha but in none of these have we seen the sheer profusion and variety of animals, wherever we looked. Herds of buffaloes....

... and mixed groups such as this family of warthogs grazing peacefully alongside a male Uganda kob.

A group of patas monkey kept a good lookout.

As did the Ugandan People's Defence Force, for we were within sight of the Blue Mountains of Congo, hovering in the distance beyond the golden grassland.

But before the Congo, there was the Nile, the Albert Nile, this time, not the Victoria Nile which thundered down Murchison Falls, flowing out of Lake Albert on its long slow journey to Alexandria and the Mediterranean. For the first time since the ferry, we saw people, not tourists but people who depended on the Nile for their living. As Sam pointed out, given the proximity of the hippos, the most dangerous animal on the African continent, they were taking their lives in their hands every time they went fishing.

Not that the birds were concerned. For them, a hippo is as good a resting place as anywhere else.

Leaving the Nile behind us, we saw antelopes everywhere. Bush buck....

and Uganda kob...

... some barely visible in the long savannah grass.

More oribi...

... and splendid Jackson's hartebeest.

Just as well there were a lot of antelopes, for where there are antelope, there are lions. Antelope are dinner. You just have to be alert and wait patiently, especially if you have cubs to feed.

True, it does get a bit boring, of course...

... but patience pays.

Something out there on the grassland?

So it seems, but it still takes patience.

Time to get up and check things out.

The Uganda kob stop their grazing, but the lion is unhurried. She moves forward on her stomach, stops and crouches low again, below the level of the grass.

And then she's up and off. A wave of kob flows across the grassland. Will she be lucky or have they got too much of a start on her? We don't wait to see.

Time to return to the ferry, past herds of elephants....

.... and wonderful wonderful giraffes.

Down at the ferry station we meet the resident baboons. 

In comes the ferry.

And it's back to Nile Safari Lodge, for an afternoon swim and our sundowners.

You may also be interested in the following slide show

and our earlier post


  1. Nice post.
    We love it and recommend anyone planning to #VisitUganda this holiday or in the near future, to consider a visit to Murchison Falls National Park - nature, wildlife, birdlife and a great list of activities for the all family.

    See WWW.GUIDE2UGANDA.COM for more info