Situated in Kiryandongo district (former Masindi district) in the western side of Uganda is Karuma and stands at an elevation of 902 meters/2959.32 feet above sea level. What makes this spectacular wildlife Reserve stand out is the roaring Karuma waterfalls located on the breathtaking Victoria Nile and makes it a must see attraction on a Ugandan Safari. The fascinating waterfalls are situated not far from Murchison Falls National Park-Uganda’s largest and oldest Protected Area/National Park along the Eastern edge of the National Park and only one hour’s drive from Gulu district. This Wildlife Reserve is located within the Murchison Conservation Area that consists of the Murchison Falls National park, the Budongo Forest Reserve, the Kaniyo-Pabidi Forest and the Bugungu Wildlife Reserve.
There is a local legend that the Rocks that form these Waterfalls were contrived by a powerful traditional spirit called “Karuma”, and it is from it that the waterfalls acquired their name. When travelling to Northern Uganda districts, you will not hesitate but get impressed by the breathtaking appearance and the sounds of these powerful waterfalls. The appearance is more mind-blowing during the rainy seasons where they appear as white as snow.
Karuma Wildlife Reserve extends over an area of 820 square kilometers/317 square miles and was established into a Wildlife Reserve in 1964. Initially, it was established to act as a buffer zone between the Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding Villages in addition to other un-conserved areas. However, throughout the years the Karuma Wildlife Reserve has slowly lost its significance of protection against wildlife intrusion from the National Park to the surrounding areas and now looks to be a buffer for the Park against human population pressure instead. The outcome has been tremendous encroachments of the local communities into the Wildlife Reserve. The establishment and existence of a Refugee settlement in Kiryandongo where more than 7000 people have been relocated has contributed to extreme impediment on the tourism resources of the Wildlife Reserve.
Karuma Wildlife Reserve under the Protected Areas predominately lies in Kiryandongo district and was traditionally an extensive area for large animals such as the elephants, buffaloes and hippos in addition to the smaller wildlife species.
Wildlife Species within the Karuma Wildlife Reserve
Some of the notable Wildlife species to look out for in the Karuma Wildlife Reserve include the Cape Buffaloes, the Elephants, the Uganda Kobs, the Rothschild’s giraffes, the vervet monkeys, the Olive baboons, the Black and white Colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, the Topis, the Hippos, the Oribis, occasionally the Lions and the Leopards among others.
Besides the Wildlife and bird species within the Wildlife Reserve, it is widely known for the roaring Karuma falls on the Victoria Nile and is perfect for sigh seeing. This waterfalls is not very far from the powerful Murchison Falls, hence can enjoy two of the greatest waterfalls in Uganda while on a safari.
Where to stay within Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserve
Unlike other Wildlife Reserves that have no accommodation facilities, tourists visiting Karuma Wildlife Reserve are sorted with the Red Chili rest Camp, the Karuma Falls Campsites and other Campsites perfect for camping safaris.
How to access Karuma Wildlife Reserve
The Wildlife Reserve is found on the Masindi-Gulu highway that crosses the Nile River, at about 110 kilometers/68 miles drive North-west wards from Masindi Town and only 70 kilometers/43 miles drive south from Gulu Town. Public buses to Gulu can be boarded from Nakivubo Bus terminal, and cost between Shs 20,000 and Shs 25,000.
In conclusion, the Karuma Wildlife Reserve is one of the most interesting places you can visit for a wildlife safari with the interesting wildlife species such as the Uganda Kobs, lions, leopards, Buffaloes and Elephants that call the Reserve home.