KARUMA WILDLIFE RESERVE.
Karuma wildlife reserve was previously a controlled hunting area, located in western Uganda, adjoining Murchison falls national park to the north, named after the Karuma falls. It was established in 1964 to create a barrier between Murchison falls national park and the surrounding villages that were poaching in the park. It’s an area of gentle relief crossed by watercourses south of Victoria nile. The reserve is dominated by elephant grass Pennisetum and hyparrhenia rufa. Karuma wildlife reserve has isolated forests and savanna trees representing remnants of former forest cover. It is situated in kiryandongo district covering an area of 317 square miles. The reserve is found in the eastern part of Murchison falls national park and located with Murchison falls conservation area. The area consists of kaniyo pabidi forest, Bugungu wildlife reserve, budongo forest and Murchison falls national park. the reserve was a hub for the big five animals which included buffaloes, leopard, elephants and other animals which include zebras and antelopes.
Activities in Karuma wildlife reserve
There are a lot of animals you will see when on a game drive in Karuma wildlife reserve. These include; leopards, elephants, impala, topis, oribi, Uganda kobs, giraffes, hippos, cape buffaloes, primates like olive baboons, vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys, l’hoest’s monkeys among others.
These are located in the eastern part of Murchison falls national park. the falls got their name from a Luo word meaning “great spirit”. It is believed by the local people that, it’s the spirit that placed the rocks where the water flows from. It’s a good location for photography and relaxation.
Karuma wildlife reserve is one of the best places in Murchison falls national park where you can spot different bird species. These include; pied king fisher, sunbirds, swamp flycatchers among others
The Murchison falls.
As early noted, Karuma falls are within Murchison falls national park. Murchison falls are the park’s main and most sought-after attraction and the most powerful falls in East Africa. They can be hiked to the top, you will see water struggling with the rocks to get away and pour into Nile, the battle creates beautiful but thunderous sounds around the falls and water drops that may fall on your skin when you come nearer. You can opt to use a launch trip to the bottom of the falls, this is the best and most amazing moment as you sail on the Nile viewing crocodiles, birds, hippos and so many others, not forgetting the beautiful flora and fauna. The waterfall has rocky banks with the best romantic view seen while on a boat cruise, it’s the perfect time to pull out your camera and capture the water while struggling through the rocks, the nile and the falls will act as a backdrop for your launch trip picture moments.
The river Nile
River nile is the longest river in the world, getting its source from Uganda flowing to Sudan and then to Egypt, the river flows through Murchison falls national park, the nile in the park harbors water animals like the giant crocodiles, snakes and hippos. The nile moves through north east African up to the Mediterranean Sea, having three streams; the blue nile, the white nile and the Atbara, experience the world you have never seen while on a boat cruise on the nile at the bottom of the falls. Apart from seeing water animals, a boat cruise on the nile lets you spot different birds like the shoe bill stork, sandpipers, weaver birds, goliath heron, silver bird, squacco heron, swamp fly catcher, African Quail, African jacana, piapiac among others. The boat cruise takes about 3-4 hours, it starts in the morning at around 900 hours and the one that starts at 1400. It’s a great experience sailing on the longest river in the world.
Top of the falls viewing.
This is an experience like never before, you get to see the falls as water splashes on your skin, a big rainbow on top of the falls is seen while at the top. It is also a great hiking spot that takes you to the fort baker trail.
Buligi game area
This area is located in the north of river nile banks in Murchison falls national park. The area is home to a number of animals like the hyenas, leopards, Rothschild giraffes, hippos, lions, buffalos, elephants and so many others. Apart from animals, buligi area harbors a number of birds some of which are migrant birds while others are endemic to the area, these birds include the flycatcher, African fish eagle.
Paraa area is found near the banks of river nile, it is home to many hippos that’s where it got its name paraa which means ‘home of hippos’. Apart from the hippos you can watch birds or decided to do a nature walk, boat cruise, visit the museum, go for fishing trips, and community visits to the Luo people. Paraa is located on the southern bank of the Victoria nile, it can be accessed through kichumbanyobo gate or you can use a ferry if you are coming from chobe.
Kaniyo pabidi forest
This is a mahogany forest which home to a lot of chimps and primates, located north east of budongo forest. While in pabidi expect to see primates like black and white colobus monkeys, the blue monkeys and the olive monkeys. There is also a wide range of birds for example the lturi batis, white-thighed hornbill, yellow-footed flycatcher, zoothers, little green sunbird, white thighed hornbill, neutropause Cassini, fistulator, white spotted fluff tail, yellow and grew hornbill, ceratogymna, camarones among other, there are also other animals like elephants, lions and buffalos in kaniyo pabidi forest. It’s an 8km drive from kichumbonyola gate near masindi paraa road.
Kaniyo pabidi forest can be visited all year round but the best time is to visit in dry seasons when its not slippery and muddy. For those on a birding safari, its better to visit in rainy seasons when birds are settled in their nests.
The forest is found in the southwestern part close to Murchison falls national park and part of Murchison falls conservation area famous for chimpanzee trekking.
Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison falls national park is done in budongo forest, kaniyo pabidi forest and rabongo forest with over 600 chimpanzees and about 100 habituated ones. The trekking is done in groups of 6 done in two sessions, morning session which starts at 7am and afternoon session which start at 2pm, the journey Lasts for about three hours depending on the chimpanzee movements. A full day habituation experience is also available.
The best time to track chimpanzees in budongo forest is between May and August, this is quite strange because it’s a rainy season, but in dry seasons chimpanzees tend to move further in search for food which will cost you more hours while trekking them. The trek is done October to December, February and June to September
Budongo forest has over 800 chimpanzees and other small chimps like white and black Columbus monkeys, olive baboon, blue monkeys, red monkeys which are habituated and found in kaniyo pabidi.
You can also do birding and nature walks. The forest has over 300 bird species, 400 tree species, and over 287 butterfly species.
Cultural visits are also available in Murchison falls national park. You can visit BOOMU WOMEN’s group and be taken through cooking their traditional food, make their hand crafts and so many others, cultural activities entertainment like dances are also available.
WHAT TO PACK ON YOUR TOUR TO Karuma wildlife reserve.
A tour to Karuma wildlife reserve will reward you with great memories that will stay with you forever, to capture these moments, don’t forget to come with a camera, enough storage and good lenses, comfortable safari clothes not brightly colored, bright colors scare away animals, pack long sleeved shirts to protect your skin from being scratched by tree branches or thorns, don’t forget your scarfs and trousers. Protecting your skin from sun the is more important, don’t forget your sunscreen, a cap or a hat and sun glasses. Come along with durable water proof boots that are sturdy enough to support you on slippery trails. If you are coming for bird watching, don’t forget to come with a pair of binoculars and a birder’s guide book and a chimpanzee trekking permit if you are coming for chimpanzee trekking. The permit can be got straight from Uganda wildlife Authority offices or through ENGAGI SAFARIS.
WHERE TO SLEEP WHILE IN Karuma wildlife reserve
There are a lot of accommodations in Karuma wildlife reserve, ranging from luxury, mid-range to budget, be assured of the best services where ever you choose to stay. Accommodations include, chobe safari lodge, nile safari lodge, fort Murchison lodge, red chill rest camp, yebo safari camp, park side lodge and so many others. Some are situated with in the park while others are outside.
Other accommodations include;
BOOMU WOMEM’S group bandas
Mama Washindi lodge.
Mama Washindi Lodge is set in Pakwach East and has a restaurant and a shared kitchen. The lodge has scenic fantastic river views both Wi-Fi and private parking free of charge.
A terrace can be found at the accommodation, along with a garden. The lodge is supper clean with a family room, swings for kids and more other accommodation amenities.
Murchison falls Bamboo village
Murchison Falls Bamboo Village is situated in Murchison Falls National Park, it has a restaurant, room service, bar, garden, garden views and terrace. Both Wi-Fi and private parking are accessible at the lodge free of charge. All of the staff are hospitable, welcoming and helpful. The accommodation ensures that you get everything you need and is very organised. In the evening, the mosquito nets are provided for you and the rooms are cleaned on daily basis.
Fort Murchison lodge
Fort Murchison Lodge under the ownership NATURE LODGES is situated in Pakwach East and has river views, a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, bar, garden, year-round outdoor pool and terrace.
A balcony with garden views is offered in all units. Rooms are clean with nice views over the river.
New Court view Hotel
Set in Masindi, New Court View Hotel has a restaurant, bar, garden, and free Wi-Fi, with a 24-hour front desk, the hotel also provides guests with a children’s playground. There is free private parking and the property offers paid airport shuttle service.
Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast. Rooms are comfortable and staff is supper excellent, welcoming, friendly and helpful.
Heritage safari lodge
Heritage Safari Lodge has a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and garden situated in Pakwach East. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Tangi safari lodge
Tangi safari lodge has a restaurant, shared lounge, a garden and a bar. Its is found East of Pakwach. The lodge has family rooms, the lodge also provides guests with a terrace.
Global village hotel
Global Village Hotel has a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and garden in Pakwach East. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free Wi-Fi. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet or a Full English/Irish breakfast.
Kalalo cottage inn
Kalalo Cottage Inn has a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and garden located in Pakwach East. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free Wi-Fi.
The accommodation offers a buffet or Full English/Irish breakfast. Location is off main highway so it’s quiet.
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