Karuma Wildlife Reserve

Karuma wildlife reserve : is situated in the northwestern part of Uganda in Kiryandongo district, standing at an elevation of 902 metres above sea level and covering an area of 820 square kilometers. It consists of the roaring Karuma waterfalls located on the breathtaking Victoria Nile and not far from Murchison Falls National Park (Uganda’s largest and oldest protected area) along the eastern boundary of the park. The reserve is within the Murchison Conversation Area that consists of other attractions such as the Murchison Falls National Park, the Budongo Forest Reserve, the Bugungu wildlife reserve and the Kaniyo Pabidi Forest.

The reserve derives its name from the famous Karuma Falls that got its name from the local historical legend spirit. It’s said that the spirit contrived the rocks on which the waterfalls are found and this spirit was also known as Karuma.  Karuma wildlife reserve was gazetted in the 1964 purposely to conserve various animals such as elephants, hippos, buffaloes, topis to mention but a few. Another reason was for it to act as a buffer zone between the Murchison falls National Park and the surrounding villages that were in the unconserved area of the region so that there is less conflict and minimal poaching of animal land that was part of the Murchison Falls National Park. However, the buffer zone function of the reserve has been almost rubbished because of the numerous people settlements that have extended into the conservation area and also establishment of the Kiryandongo refugee settlement camp which consists over 7000 people.

Besides flora and fauna, the wildlife reserve is widely known for the roaring Karuma falls found on the beautiful Victoria Nile which is part of the great River Nile, the longest river in the world. Karuma falls lies on the eastern boundary of Murchison Falls National Park which features a thundering roar as the very white-water flow over hard rocks underneath creating a beautiful scenery. Karuma waterfalls consists of cascading interlocking rocks which resembles series of steps heading down to the bottom of the calm waters of Victoria Nile and also boasts over 50 mammal species.

What to do in Karuma Wildlife Reserve

Bird watching

Karuma wildlife reserve is a renowned birder’s paradise because it hosts some of the sought bird species including the endangered shoebill, pied kingfishers, giant kingfishers, secretary birds, martial eagle, sunbirds, swamp flycatchers, cormorants, giant herons and other water birds which makes your experience memorable.

Game viewing

The reserve consists of beautiful landscapes which are covered with short savannah grasslands and forest galleries which are habited with various species of animals such as African cape buffalos, hippos, elephants, leopards, Uganda kobs, Rothschild’s giraffes, topis, oribis, hyenas, waterbucks, warthogs and primates like the blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys and many more. 

Visiting Karuma Falls

Since you are already at Karuma wildlife reserve, you can also take the opportunity to go view the scenic Karuma falls as they flow over the uniquely formed rocks. You will enjoy the sight of the water as it flows over the rocks, the sound of the gnashing water as well as the view of the surrounding flora and fauna.

Nature walks

Since the park consists of splendid landscape dotted with savannah grasslands with animals and birds, nature walks in this reserve are done on foot and guided by a knowledgeable safari guide. The prize of the nature walks ends on Karuma falls which features thunderous roars of water as they flow on a cascade of rocks.

Community visits

Visiting the local communities is one of the must do activities here. More so,  Kiryandongo is home to a number of refugee camps. You can opt to visit this community and learn more of how they survive and live in the camps. As we all know, Uganda has the most welcoming people in the world and this further explains why it has got the largest number of refugees in the world.

Best time to visit

Karuma wildlife reserve can be visited anytime of the year from January to December. However, most people prefer during the dryer months of the year which are between June and September.

How to get there/Accommodation/Related safaris

Contact Information

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