Peaceful Safari in Murchison Falls National Park

Few things can harsh your Zen while travelling worse than dealing with massive crowds. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s lesser known answer to the more crowded parks in east Africa so we were keen to add it to our East African itinerary. 
After a long drive from Entebbe, which included the requisite car troubles leaving us stranded in sleepy Masindi for a couple hours while our driver sorted things out, we finally arrived at our place to stay for the night just outside the park. 

 Warm Boomu welcome
photocredit: www.boomuwomensgroup.org
The Boomu Women’s Group is a women-led camp close the Murchison Falls National Parks gate. 
We were warmly welcomed, shown our room in a thatched banda and advised what time we could expect dinner. One thing I learned while working in West Africa, is although cold showers are offered, they are not the only way. Uganda despite being tropical, is very mountainous and can be quite cold at night, so I asked if a warm bucket shower could be arranged. Much to our delight, it could but we would have to wait until after dinner. 

Bandas at Boomu
photocredit: www.boomuwomensgroup.org
After spending almost an entire day in the car and teeming with excitement from our close encounter with two rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary earlier that day, we had some energy to burn. We started walking to a nearby village when our driver Bosco joined us. As we walked the sky darkened both from diminishing daylight and storm clouds so we decided to run back to camp. It was a funny scene, the three of us jogging in flip flops in the dark under a light drizzle. It was a good thing that we picked up the pace too, because it started pouring hard right when we returned to camp. 
Our dinner of warmed beans, rice and roasted cassava was very welcome once the chill from the rain set in, as was our warm bucket shower. We retired early that night, and were up on the sun with the hundreds of noisy weaver birds that call the Boomu camp home.

Weavers, hundreds of weavers.
Photo credit: www.scienceblogs.com
After a simple breakfast of tea, bread and eggs, we bid adieu to the ladies and noisy weaver birds at Boomu and headed to Murchison Falls National Park for our first safari. When we arrived at the gates, Bosco hopped out to pay he entry fee and we were excited to see some baboons running down the road right by the gate. This was before we knew what baboons were all about; more on that later.

Baboons, while we were still excited to see baboons!
The park is lush, green and positively teeming with giraffes, ungulates, baboons, monkeys, elephants, many different birds, cape buffalo, lions, hippos and even the very rare leopard. After a short drive in the park, we took a ferry across the Nile to see more animals on the other side of the park.

Giraffe party 
Cape buffalo love to stare at you
As do Jackson’s hartebeest

We had our fill of  big game animals and thanks to Bosco’s persistence, we were able to see lions…lions (!!!). Noticeably absent from MFNP were crowds. Compared to the massive clusters of white safari vans than indicate an animal is nearby in other parks in East Africa, such as Masai Mara, Murchison Falls was refreshingly quiet. There were times where ours was the only vehicle on the track for as far as the eye could see.

Lioness posing for her glamour shot
Elephant strutting in the park
Elephant becoming a bird perch just outside of the park

We were amazed at just how many animals there were in the park and at how knowledgeable our Bosco was. After a long day of driving through the park, we arrived at the stunning Fort Murchison camp which overlooks the Albert Nile just outside of the park.

There we enjoyed a big, tasty meal and watched the sunset from the roof with a few lukewarm Nile Specials and retired early. Little did we know, our second day in the park would prove to be very eventful. Keep reading in the next post!

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