We went to Murchison Falls National Park last week, which sits on the Nile River at Lake Albert in the northwest of Uganda. Murchison Falls contains a powerful waterfall, where 300 cubic meters of water flow per second through a 7 meter-wide gap in rocks. During Idi Amin’s regime in the 1970s, Murchison Falls was briefly renamed Kabalega Falls after a Ugandan king who resisted the British, but the name Murchison was reestablished after Idi Amin’s downfall. The waterfall itself is beautiful—the power of the water crashing through the rocks causes a mist to fly. We hiked to the falls, and we were able to get close enough to feel the mist. It was so refreshing on a hot day.
After our hike to the falls, we went to our camp for the evening. The camp is full of tents for sleeping, and there is a restaurant and bar overlooking the park. Warthogs, baboons, and hippos may wander through the campsite freely. Thankfully we saw only warthogs and baboons in the camp, because hippos cause more tourist deaths than any other large animal. While hippos look like big, jiggly cows, they are actually aggressive and can run over 20 miles per hour.
The next day we did an early-morning game drive, and we got to see all of the big animals—lions, giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, and most exciting for me, elephants! We did not get very close to many of the animals, but it was still a pleasure just to get to see them in their natural habitat. Coming from a place where we really only see these animals in zoos, it was surprising to me to see many of them interacting with each other.
On our way back to town we stopped at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Ziwa is home to 14 of the few rhinos in this endangered species. There are something like 80 park rangers who guard the rhinos 24 hours per day. We trekked out to see Malaika and another rhino who were napping in the shade. We were accompanied and observed by at least 3 of the park rangers. We were instructed to be as quiet as possible and not get too close, both for our own safety, and so as not to disturb the rhinos, which Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is hoping to breed up to a larger population.
The weekend at Murchison Falls National Park and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was the perfect last full weekend of my summer here in Uganda. I could not have asked for a better, more relaxing weekend.