Murchison fall national park gets its name from Murchison falls named after SirRoderick Murchison.
This area was gazetted in 1952 as a protective are for wildlife.
At Murchison Falls national park, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow.
The northern section of the park contains savanna and Borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches.
The national park
The Murchison Falls also referred to as the Kabalega Falls, is a waterfall found on the course of the great river Nile. It actually breaks the stunning Victoria Nile, that flows across Uganda’s northern region from the vast Lake Victoria to the deep Lake Kyoga and continuing to the northern tip of Lake Albert within the western arm of the great East African Rift, the waters of the Nile force their way through a small slit within the rocks, which is just 7 meters or 23 feet wide, and topples to 43 meters or 141 feet below with a thunderous roar forming a residual water stray that forms a beautiful rainbow; the view is very breathtaking! From here it then continues its westward into the stunning Lake Albert.
Murchison Falls Conservation Area ( MFCA ) comprises of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves. This is where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river whose banks are thronged with hippos and crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. The vegetation is characterised by savannah, riverine forest and woodland. Wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribis, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species.
Naming of the National park
Named after Murchison falls, the conservation area which is made up of Bugungu game reserve, Karuma game reserve, and Murchison falls national park. Murchison falls is where the River Nile squeezes through a 7meter gap, exploding into episodes of powerful waves falling 40meters below. It is at the bottom of the falls that the beginning of the Victoria Nile is. A boat safari starting at Paraa (meaning the place of hippopotamus in Luo) takes 2 hours up the river and brings you to see the falls from the bottom.
This national park being the largest of all the national parks Uganda has, travelers will find a variety of wildlife animals such as elephants, lions, leopards, african buffalo, antelopes, giraffe, hippos, hyenas, jackals, birds, forests and many more including reptiles such snakes as well as crocodiles.
There several lodges within and around the national park where travelers can stay during a safari visit. Activities such as game viewing, boat ride, walking safari, chimpanzee watching, bird watching will give a safari traveler a memorable experience.
While visiting this game reserve it is also very possible to combine with a visit to the ziwa rhino sanctuary hence completing the tradition big five African safaris.
Altitude: 1,160m – 2,607m above sea level.
the Bwindi forest was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.
April 1993 the Mubare gorilla group was the first for tourism in Uganda.
Spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys, Bwindi is the source of five major rivers, which flow into Lake Edward.
Bwindi forest national park is located in the southwest of Uganda on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bwindi forest was gazetted as a reserve in 1932 today it is a world heritage site recognized by UNESCO for Mountain Gorilla tracking safaris. Bwindi impenetrable forest ranges at an altitude of 1,200m and 2,700m above sea level. The Bwindi forest national park covers a series of steep ridges and valleys that form the eastern starting point of the Albertine rift valley. With annual rainfall on average at 1600mm supplying five rivers that flow into Lake Edward as a source since it is a catchment area.
More than half the world’s wild mountain gorilla population is resident in Bwindi forest national park. Estimated at 540 individual gorillas in Bwindi forest, living in separate 23 families.
Though the focus is mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest, there are a staggering 93 mammal species living in this forest more than any other national park in Uganda except Queen Elizabeth national park.
Although the list of mammals consists of mainly small ones such as rodents and bats, you will find chimpanzees, varieties monkeys with common viewings of the blue monkey and black-and-white colobus.
Occasionally forest elephants can be spotted or heard, there are six species of antelopes; the bushbuck and five types of forest duiker.
For bird lover, the impenetrable forest has 23 particular species characteristic to the Albertine Rift with 14 species found nowhere else but Bwindi forest, among them the African green broadbill, white-tailed blue flycatcher, brown-necked parrot, white-bellied robin chat and Fraser’s eagle owl.
Bwindi forest national park is also home to roughly 300 butterfly species.
Gorilla tracking in Bwindi forest national park is conducted in four main sectors namely Ruhija, Buhoma, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.
Gorilla tracking in buhoma will bring you to either one of the following gorilla families Rushegura, Mubare, Katwe, habinyanja.
The Ruhija sector is located east and it has the following families Ruhija, Bitukura, and Kyaguriro.
While Rushaga located south of has Kahungye, Busingye, Nshongi, and Mishaya.
Nkuringo is in the southwest with two families the Nkuringo and Christmas gorilla families.
When to go
All year round you can visit, although the heavy rains are seen in the months of April, May, June, October, and November.
Private tour operators, public transport and self drove are options
Where to stay
There is a span of accommodation standards and campsites.
How to get a gorilla permit
Visiting the Gorillas of Uganda require that you get a tracking permit at a cost of $ 600. Here are some guidelines to follow
Gorilla Habituation process may take from anywhere between two to three years to be completed and during this time
With only two gorilla families available for the habituation experience in the medieval Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. You will journey through thick undergrowth searching for a particular gorilla family as your expedition will be fronted by experienced forest guides from the Uganda wildlife authority carrying with them AK47 guns for protection. They use their timely developed skills to picking up clues left behind along the trail through the forest.
After a challenging trek through the foliage you will eventually reach the gorillas that will be on the forest floor either feeding or grooming. The guides will lead you as you approach the gorilla family so as to avoid sudden charges from the protecting silverback male. Gorilla habituation is a process where wild mountain gorillas are tamed to get used to people (Not actual definition). Gorilla Habituation process may take from anywhere between two to three years to be completed and during this time, researchers keep on visiting an identified Wild gorilla family on a daily routine. They get to learn more about individual gorillas and the way they behave. With time, these gorillas get used to these researchers and in the long run, each individual gorilla is given a name. Once researchers are sure that these mountain gorillas can be trekked, they then introduce a mock exercise where some few people who may include scientists, journalists start visiting it. Once such a gorilla family has passed mock exercise, then it is opened for trekking.
You will stay amongst the gorilla family, watching as they slowly relax to the presence of humans. Still not fully habituated, it is only through this time-intensive approach that they will eventually become fully comfortable in the presence of humans.
With hours to watch and listen to the gorillas as they eat, play and groom one another, this is a fantastic opportunity to sock yourself in their world. Watch the intricacies of the social hierarchy unfold; see surprisingly human patterns of behavior develop and observe the unending consumption of plant matter that is necessary to sustain these powerful creatures.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest has about eleven habituated gorilla families which include Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura in the Northern section of the park called Buhoma, then Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro in the Eastern Part of Bwindi in Ruhija, Nshonji, Mishaya, Busingye, Bweza, Kahungye in Rushaga and then Nkuringo Gorilla Family all in the south. At the moment, eighty eight gorilla permits are available for purchase from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Two gorilla families have been put aside for gorilla habituation experience and are located in the Nkuringo and Rushaga side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
REASON FOR GORILLA HABITUATION
Unlike the usual gorilla trekking, the gorilla habituation experience offers something far more immersive, complex and powerful. The unrushed nature of the habituation trek allows for a far more relaxed appreciation of the everyday gorilla-family scenes that unfold amongst the trees of Bwindi. But it also presents photographers with the time they need to capture the perfect shot, making this ideal for those seeking to photograph gorillas.
4 days mountain gorilla habituation safari Uganda.
Day 1: Entebbe to Kampala
Meet and greet then travel from the Entebbe International Airport and brought to Kampala City. You are then taken to your hotel to rest or take a trip around Kampala and visit places the Uganda Museum or head to the market to do some shopping.
Accommodation: The Kampala Sheraton Hotel, the Kampala Serena Hotel, Malakai Eco Lodge.
Day 2: To Bwindi forest national park
Early after you’ve had your breakfast, you are transferred from Kampala to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There is not much you can see on this day but you may perhaps make a few stopovers and later in the evening after arrival go for a nature walk.
Accommodation: The Chameleon Hill Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort.
Day 3: mountain gorilla habituation safari Uganda
After your breakfast head for Rushaga where you are to have your Gorilla Habituation Experience and also other activities that are optional. Later on, head back to your hotel for meals and relaxation.
Day 4: Travel back to Kampala
Travel from Bwindi back to Kampala for your international flight.
What to bring
Long sleeved comfortable shirts and trousers.
Sturdy gardening gloves and a hat.
Water proof backpack.
Snacks, lunch and enough drinking water.