Murchison Falls National Park
Crocodiles patrol banks of the Nile, giant specimens guarding springtime nests in one of the largest concentrations in East Africa, largely ignoring launches that glide by en route to Murchison Falls. It is a highlight—one of many—of a trip to this largest Ugandan park, 2,400 square miles (3,840 km2) straddling the Nile above and below its dramatic 150-foot (45-m) drop from roaring rapids through a thundering gorge just 20 feet (6 m) wide. Hippos in great herds bare huge tusklike canines in threat display. Storks of five species fish the shallows, including rare whale-headed or shoebill (best place in Africa to see them). Large flocks of African skimmers, groups of elephants, Defassa waterbucks, and African buffalo wade near Nile perch weighing up to 200 pounds (90 kg). Higher in the woods, chimpanzees forage. Rothschild’s giraffes graze in plains alongside hartebeest and Uganda kobs. Leopards can appear any time at waterside.
The launch trip should not be missed, but there are miles of roads and trails where all the mammals and many of the birds can be seen as well. There’s a comfortable lodge in the park.
ON A QUEST FOR THE SHOEBILL