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.
Species commonly seen between Paraa Rest Camp and Ferry crossing are; Blue-napped Mousebird, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Silver Bird, Bluff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Vitelline Masked Weaver, And Green-winged Ptyilia, this is probably the best site for the localised White-rumped Seed-eater.
Nocturnal species common in this area are: Spotted and Verreaux’s Owls, and a plethora of spectacular Nightjars, such as Long-tailed and Pennat-winged Nightjar (Especially between March-September), The mind-blowing Standard-winged Nightjar(November-February) if you have a portable spotlight, you may be able to organise a nocturnal boat trip on the Nile in search for White-backed Night Heron and Pel’s Fishing Owl.
Other species include: Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Grey-crowned Crane, Long-toed Plover, whilst African Fish Eagle, and African Skimmer. An exciting record was that of a Fox’s Weaver Uganda’s only endemic bird. and many more.
In the cool early morning on the Buligi, Albert and Queen’s tracks north of the river Nile before the sun climbs too high, you will see plenty of game. At Nyamsika Cliffs you can picnic, enjoy the view, and watch elephants and other game on the grassy hillsides and the sand river below. Go well prepared for a four hour drive. Ensure you are accompanied by a guide.
LAUNCH TRIPS ON THE NILE
One of the highlights of a visit to the Conservation Area is the launch trip from Paraa to the foot of Murchison Falls. Hippos and crocodiles are abundant, and you will see elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks and birds like: Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, Bee-eaters, Fish Eagles, Kingfishers, and the rare Shoebill. The trip from Paraa to the Falls and back takes about three hours. A boat trip to the Delta where the Victoria Nile engorges into the Lake Albert leads through papyrus swamps. The trips takes about four to five hours and you will see a similar variety of animals and birds.
Nile Perch and tiger-fish provide an exciting challenge to anglers. Fishing is available in the river above and below the Falls. Do bring your own fishing equipment.
Murchison Falls Conservation Area offers the opportunity to explore the wild on foot.
A trail at Paraa winds through riverine forest, gullies and low hills. Animals, birds and plants can be closely and quietly observed. Nature walks are offered at Rabongo Forest, Top of the Falls and Kaniyo Pabidi.
TOP OF THE FALLS
Trails around the top of the Falls go right up to the water’s edge. You have the opportunity to hike the top of the falls from the boat landing and get close to the narrow gorge through which the river plunges.
Kanio Pabidi is an undisturbed area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve, where you can walk beneath mature Mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzee tracking is the most famous activity. You certainly see many forest birds, including the Chocolate backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill, and Puvell’s Illadopsis found nowhere else in East Africa! Kaniyo Pabidi is on the Masindi – Paraa road, 8 kms from Kichumbanyobo gate. There is a campsite where water and firewood are available. Do bring everything else you may need. Kaniyo Pabidi is privately managed by the Forestry Department.
Rabongo Forest Ecotourism Centre nestles in an island of tropical riverine forest in the south-east of the conservation area. The forest is surrounded by savanna grassland and is one and a half hour drive from Paraa. Guide will help you explore the forest on foot, spotting primates; Black & White Colobus monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Baboons, and occasionally Chimpanzees identifying animals, birds, medicinal plants and trees. You can picnic and camp by the Wairingo River or stay in the well-equipped forest cottages.
Campsites are available at Top of the Falls, Rabongo Forest and Paraa, toilets or pit latrines/showers or bathing shelters are provided at these sites. Traditional and self-contained bandas are available at Paraa Rest Camp. Meals and beverages are offered. In addition, cottages are provided at Rabongo Eco-Tourism Centre. More luxurious accommodation is available at Nile Safari Camp, Sambiya River Lodge and Paraa Lodge Safari Lodge.