It is possible to stay at a resort inside Murchison Falls National Park, but it is cheaper (and, I am told, a bit more fun) to stay at one of the many lovely lodges outside of the park, so that’s what I did. The trade-off, though, is that you have to carefully plan your trip and wake up really early. There are no bridges across the Nile at this point, so to get into the park proper you have to take a ferry. The ferry operates from 7am to 7pm, and it only holds eight cars at a time. And because it is dry season, the animals are going to spend most of their day in the shade and out of sight, so if you want to see one, you really have to be on the 7am ferry. Which means you have to wake up early, have breakfast, and make sure you are there in time to be one of those first eight cars to go across.

Since I am a maniac, I woke up at around 4 and grouched at everyone in my party to get in gear so that we could leave on time. As it turns out, ours was the second car to get to the landing point, and I felt my grumpiness vindicated.

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The ferry awaits.
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All aboard.
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It’s a short ride. This is the other side.
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The mysterious Nile at seven in the morning.

 

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And right away it returned full of people who had spent the night in the park and were eager to get back.

Once inside, the cars all scramble to get away from the dock and head into the park itself. Since there are only so many cars crossing the river, and only a few more already inside the park, once the scramble is over you kind of have the place to yourself. Although the paths are limited, so you and the others will cross paths from time to time, it is mostly a relaxed, secluded drive.

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It doesn’t take long to find animals. They don’t seem afraid of the cars; in fact, they don’t even seem to notice.

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I think waterbucks are really attractive. Look at this lovely lady.

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This dude, however, is super ugly. I belive it’s called a topi. It’s ugly, whatever it is.
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This buffalo is called a loser. Because he couldn’t get any girls. All around the park you find bunches of male buffalo just standing around being like, “What does it matter? There are no girls here.” I’m sure his mother just thinks he hasn’t find the right one yet.

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Much more charming are these tiny gazelles, which bop around the park like happy little fairies. I believe they are called oribis, but I could be wrong about that. I am a terrible travel guide.
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I sometimes think that these parks hire elephant welcoming committees, because I always see some right away.

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Look at this guy. “Aren’t I cute?” he says.
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Cape buffalo indie rock band?

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Some smashing views of the river below.

We came across some lions keeping cool by the road. Of course I and everybody else wanted to take pictures, but the driver—who probably knows more than I do about how safe it is to be near a couple of mamas and their babies—kept pleading for me to hurry. My autofocus wouldn’t cooperate so a lot of the pictures came out blurry. Still pretty awesome, though.

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I don’t care for fishing, but I can watch fishermen go about their business for a while. And I did.

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It’s dangerous work, though. Hippos are mean, and good at hiding.
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These fishermen have a much safer technique, and a better vantage point.

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Having reached Lake Albert (and all the other cars on safari) we turned around and headed back. It was getting hot and the animals were all ducking under shade, so there wouldn’t be much to see from here on out.

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I expressed mild disappointment that, once again, I hadn’t seen any giraffes up close, and then the park gods heard me and sent me all the camelopards I could possibly want.

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It was lunch time now, and I was ready for a nap. The last things I saw were these little cuties, and a very happy elephant enjoying a meal with some friends.

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One thought on “Murchison Falls game drive

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