The Morning Game Drive
Morning game drives start pretty early as this is when the animals are most active. Ideal safari time in the mornings is from sunrise to 10:00 am. We started our morning with a delicious breakfast at the lodge at 5:45 am with a departure time of 6:30 am. We needed to make sure we got to the ferry crossing at the Nile River for the 7:00 crossing.
We were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise over the Nile. As you can see, the ferry is not very big and we had two vehicles to get on there. We just made the cut as the last two vehicles on the ferry for the 7:00 crossing.
As soon as you cross the Nile River you’ve entered Murchison Falls National Park and the safari begins. This national park has many animals and bird species and is the largest national park in Uganda. With our type of safari vehicles, the top pop ups so you can stand up to view and take photographs. Our guides did a great job spotting wildlife and allowing us the opportunity to observe and snap great photos.
Right away we spotted the Ugandan Kob (antelope), the Waterbuck (antelope), Hartebeest (wildebeest like), and Cape Buffalo in great numbers all grazing in the vast savannah. It was very picturesque and exactly what you imagine the African savannah to be. There were many examples of land management where certain areas are burned off periodically and new growth comes back within a couple of weeks.
One of my favorite animals, the giraffe, made its appearance next. Giraffes seem like such gentle creatures and just do their thing of grazing and socializing with other giraffes. They’re such majestic and unique creatures.
Further along we came across a lioness stalking her prey, a Ugandan Kob. We stopped and watched as she got closer and closer to the kob. Eventually we saw there were other lions hunting with her as is common with lion hunting techniques. I’m no lion expert but I’ve been told females lions do most of the hunting and they do it together by approaching the target from different angles. That way, no matter which way the prey runs, it will be greeted by a lion. When on safari, people hope to see a “kill” which may sound horrible but it’s also just witnessing raw nature and sometimes you just don’t have a choice as a “kill” happens regularly to keep lions alive. We didn’t see the “kill” this time, but we did hear it happen as the lioness had its success behind some brush blocking our view. The screech of the animal was piercing.
Later on we saw a leopard relaxing in a tree and a couple of jackals resting in the shade of the bush. Leopards can be hard to spot. This photo of the leopard was zoomed in a lot but you can make out the spots.
As the morning waned, there was much less activity from the animals and so only the grazing animals were mostly seen like the Ugandan Kob, Cape Buffalo, and Hartebeest. We were lucky to see the Patas Monkey which is a land loving monkey and avoids the trees. We also saw an interesting lizard.
We completed the morning safari and headed to a nearby lodge for lunch before heading out on our afternoon water safari.
Safari from the Nile River
Shortly after lunch we headed to our boat on the Nile River. I must say I was a bit taken back when I saw that we’d be taking a pontoon boat on the Nile River where many dangers exist (aka crocodiles and hippos). It turned out to be a nice cruise and since there were only 10 of us, the pontoon boat allowed us to get up close to the animals without causing a lot of commotion. Water safaris are common in Africa and are a great way to see the wildlife come down to the water (elephants) and see the wildlife that need to be by the water (birds, hippos, and crocodiles). Once we got the weight in the boat balanced out, we were off on our water safari (me and Bruce in the back).
Right away we saw many pods of hippopotamuses with many youngsters amongst them. Hippos are always awesome to watch but they’re also one of the most dangerous animals to humans if they feel threatened by humans. One bite from a hippo can be the end of you. It’s best to observe them from a distance, especially when you’re in a pontoon boat on the Nile River… we don’t need a tipping of the boat.
Next came the crocodiles. We were lucky to get some action shots of the crocodiles as I think they were a bit startled by us and ran for the river.
You’re probably wondering where the elephants are. There were plenty of elephants on the banks of the Nile. Such majestic creatures…
A safari wouldn’t be complete without the birdwatching. Uganda has some great bird species. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of birds but I do enjoy photographing them as it’s a challenge and the variations in colors are amazing. A few of my favorites are the Fish Eagle, King Fisher, and Bee-Eater.
As we continued down the Nile River towards Murchison Falls, we were delighted to see the black and white colobus monkeys hanging out in the trees.
The pinnacle view of the safari was that of Murchison Falls which we had been at the top of the day before. For such a big river as the Nile, it’s amazing to see it narrow to only 8 meters across and the volume of water that must pass through these falls. A couple of interesting facts about the Nile is that it flows north to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt and is the longest river in the world.
Later back at the lodge…
After a fantastic barbecue by the lodge chef of beef, chicken, goat, and pork, we were treated to a traditional dance and story by the local people of the village.
Today was a very long day with lots to see and experience. It was quite a warm day as well. When you go on safari in Africa, it was the perfect day of land and water safaris with a lot of animals to see. Murchison Falls National Park is a “must see” if you go to Uganda.