Visiting Murchison Falls

This weekend was my last in Uganda for the next few weeks, so Niamh and I wanted to spend it outside of Kampala. For both of us, it’s been a while since we visited a wildlife park, so we decided to head to Murchison Falls national park, north of Kampala, on the shores of lake Albert. Marlies joined us on the drive up north.
The park, also known as Kabarega (or Kabalega) Falls national park, so named during Idi Amin’s reign and after a local king, has now mostly recovered from raids by poachers and soldiers, during the Last King of Scotland’s time as Uganda’s dictator and is part of the 5300 square kilometers Murchison Falls Conservation Area. Murchison Falls National Park, itself over 3500 square kilometers, is the largest national park in Uganda.

The Nile squeezes through an opening of seven meters before dropping 43 meters to create the thunderous falls after which the park has been named. It ain’t no Victoria Falls, but it ain’t half bad either
The park itself is home to four of the big five, after rhinos became extinct in 1983. They can now be seen at a rhino sanctuary some 70km south of the park.

The northern half of the park, where most of the wildlife can be found, is pretty, with its savannah and softly rolling hills. Sadly, we missed out on lions and leopards, driving around for four hours, but seeing elephants, several deer, hippos, giraffes and buffaloes.
The cost of visiting the park aint too low, with particularly the daily park entry fee of 35 USD being a bit steep, with many of the activities requiring additional payments. Reasonable enough budget accommodation with excellent food at reasonable prices were had at Red Chilli.
Surprisingly, it was the pork sausages with mash and gravy that was by far the best dish being served. But all the food was pretty good. An achievement, considering pretty much all ingredients have to come from far away.

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And, at Red Chilli, there’s occasional free wildlife viewing, with semi-wild warthogs occasionally stopping by for a snack. I tried patting one, but was rudely snorted away when it became clear I wanted to right the pig.

On the way to the park, we stumbled upon a real find, Kabalega Diner. 165km from Kampala on the Kampala-Gulu highway, this halfway house serves rather excellent foods in a pleasant setting with good service at affordable prices.