When you go on a safari in Africa, odds are good you're going to have a favorite spot. That one park that stands out as being leaps and bounds better than the rest.
This is not because the park is actually a better spot, but rather that your experience in the park is the best based on the luck of your itinerary, weather, and chance animal viewings.
While we still did not see the big five (we have never seen a leopard anywhere), we came close, and our animal viewing experience was one of the best we've ever had. Today we wanted to share some of our favorite shots of the beautiful creatures we saw!
During our travels in Uganda, we saw an absurd number of elephants, and during our two days in Murchison Falls, we saw well over 60.
Part of this was luck- we saw three within minutes of driving into the park (quite literally next to the main road on the park's exterior). The other part is because we had a wonderfully sunny day while taking a Nile boat cruise.
You see, Murchison Falls does not have typical watering holes like you'd expect to find in other countries. Instead, the park has the beautiful Nile river running through it. So during the heat of the day animals, like elephants, make their way to the river to drink.
It was our luck that we would be taking a Nile cruise on a hot, sunny day, which ensured that dozens upon dozens of elephants were finding their way to the river to cool off. We weren't quite as lucky at Queen Elizabeth National Park (where it was raining and abnormally chilly), but during the heat of the day in Murchison Falls we had a stellar viewing experience!
Ah, lions! One of the most sought after animals to witness on an African safari.
I was worried during our game drive that we would not see any, as we were getting towards the end of our exploration without having spotted any. But then, with a bit of luck, we spotted a ranger parked near a tree.
As we came over a small hill we saw ears perking up out of the grass. Not one, not two, but three. These were not just any ears, but they were lion ears!
It turns out that there were seven lions in the area, however by the time we had arrived two had moved away and another two were in the process of leaving as well. We were left with three, including two adorable juveniles, that we got to see within just about 20 feet from our car.
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Warthogs are found all over in the national parks in Uganda, but in Murchison Falls we really loved the experience with them as we got an up-close-and-personal experience when we stopped for lunch.
Not in any spectacular way, but only just because they walked quite close to our vehicle when parked. So cute!
Uganda has 29 species of antelope, and during our visit odds are good we saw a good percentage of them.
From the kob and Grant's gazelle, to the hartebeest and waterbuck, you're guaranteed to see these beautiful antelopes in droves.
Out of all of the parks we visited in Uganda, giraffes are only found in Murchison Falls. (They are found elsewhere, but we did not visit those parks.)
So, knowing we had only one shot to see them in the wild, our guide made sure we went over to the section of the park where they are known to hang out.
By the time we arrived it was at the hottest part of the day, so they were mostly off in the distance catching some shade underneath large trees, but even with this limited experience, we saw almost 30!
If hippos are an animal you are desperate to see, a trip to Murchison Falls is a must.
As you can imagine, since the Nile River runs through the park there is a lot of species that take advantage of the water, and this means there are plenty of hippos!
In fact, we saw so many hippos that we lost count. No matter where we looked there would be a pod of hippos ranging from just four or five to twenty or more- including many babies!
If you are a birder, Uganda is the place to be.
From the African fish eagle, to the shoebill, hornbills, kingfisher, and the gray crowned-crane (the national bird of Uganda), you may be lucky to see a number of unique and stunning birds when traveling in the country.
In fact, if you really love birds then taking a tour dedicated to birding is definitely something that should be considered!
For us, we just appreciated all of the birds as they came, and were really blown away with the variety you end up seeing even when not seeking them out!
I can't begin to discuss the varieties of monkeys we saw while in Uganda (and that is not counting gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking, either). They're everywhere!
In Murchison Falls we came across one family that had not one, not two, but three young ones that were quite active and playing with each other right by the road. Perfect for us!
To wind down this list, we finish with the Nile crocodile. These are the kind of creature that you will miss unless you have a trained guide looking out for them (or know what to look for yourself).
The reason for this is because, in most cases at least, a Nile crocodile simply looks like a log. It is almost like an optical illusion as you'll be scanning a scene, see nothing, and then once alerted you realize there were four or five right in front of you the whole time.
Definitely don't want to be too close to these guys at ground level!
Have you visited Murchison Falls? Did you see any great animals? Comment below to let us know!
Thinking of taking a safari in Africa? Check out Churchill Safaris who we used for our own private tour of Uganda. Or, if you're looking to head out with a group to save a bit of cash, check out Intrepid Travel or G Adventures! And since this is an adventure activity, do not forget to pick up travel insurance before you depart as well!
Looking to book your next trip? Check out the following services we use and love or click the previous link to read more!
- AirfareWatchdog to find a cheap plane ticket.
- AirTreks to find more obscure routes / RTW flight deals.
- Booking.com to find a hotel deal.
- Hostelworld to find a budget hostel.
- World Nomads to insure your trip.
- Viator for a stellar day tour.
- G Adventures for a multi-day guided tour.
- Or our gear list to update your equipment!