Lions in trees at Murchison Falls National Park




Lelwel Hartebeest keeping a lookout for predators



Murchison Falls National Park was created in 1952 making it one of Uganda's first national parks, and it covers 3,840 km2 with a real mixture of habitats including woodland, wetland, savannah and tropical forest. This variety is why the park is home to an impressive 76 mammal species and 450 species of bird, so you can appreciate our excitement to be going on a morning game drive in the park.

One of the park's specialities is its tree-climbing lions, so we scanned every likely-looking tree to see if we could spot any arboreal big cats.


Bushbuck relaxing by the side of the River Nile



Lion-prey seemed to be abundant with plenty of delicate and skittish oribi, masses of Ugandan kob, relaxed bushbuck and lots of long-faced Lelwel Hartebeest.

We saw plenty of warthogs, the particular favourites of Penny in our group, and good numbers of African buffalo too. Some of these buffalo were being ridden by Yellow-bellied Oxpeckers and Piapiacs who were feeding on the ticks and other insects on the buffaloes' hides, or Cattle Egrets who seemed to be taking advantage of the additional height to spot any insects being flushed up from the grass by the animals as they walked.


Piapiacs enjoying a meal on the go



Rothschild giraffe were plentiful too. Our local guide, Crammy, explained that their markings became darker with age, and it was fascinating to compare their different blotchy markings. Watching one take a drink, we were amazed to see how much they co torted themselves to reach down to the water.


Giraffe does the splits to have a drink



Still we scanned the lower branches of all the trees we passed them, and then noticed a car parked under an acacia ahead of us, cameras all pointing upwards. We joined them, and there, right in front of us, was a handsome young male lion, up in the shade of the branches, gripping the trunk with his huge claws. WOW! What a fantastic sight!


This young male lion watched us from his vantage point up a tree



Of course, Murchison Falls National Park is also famous for the River Nile, where the mighty river squeezes through an 8m gorge down into what is known as the 'Devil's Couldron'. We took a boat ride on the river in the afternoon to see the falls for ourselves, and enjoy lots of birds and mammals along the way.


A young hippo watches from the river edge




Elephant family protect a youngster in their midst



The falls themselves were very impressive as the river plunges 45m over the rift valley wall, some 300 cubic metres a second flowing over the edge. Hard to imagine such quantities but it looks like this:


Murchison Falls downstream




Murchison Falls upstream



Murchison Falls National Park was a fantastically exciting place to visit and a real grande finale to our first tour of Uganda. Our next Birdwatching Trip in this wonderful country starts tomorrow so lots more birding adventures to come, so please do check back for more Bird Blogs.



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