Overview – Murchison Falls National Park
This should be high on your bucket list. Here, the historic Murchison Falls are coexisting with an amazing wildlife. Named after the dramatic Murchison Falls, Murchison Falls National Park is the country’s largest protected wildlife sanctuary in Uganda with a wonderful artistry of natural landscapes awaiting visitors in the park.
You can make the best memories from this amazing destination with a perfect blend of rivers, great Savannah woodlands, grasslands, plains and forest making it a number one place to go for the purpose of just appreciating nature and biodiversity. Here the mighty Nile River bisects the flourishing vegetation before bursting through a chasm in the Rift Valley escarpment to form the raging Murchison Falls.
The Murchison Falls is a waterfall found on the course of the great Nile breaking the stunning Victoria Nile from the vast Lake Victoria to the deep Lake Kyoga and continuing to the northern tip of Lake Albert within the western arm of the great East African Rift. Here the waters of the Nile force their way through a small slit within the rocks, which is just 7 meters and topples to 43 meters with a thunderous roar forming a residual water stray that forming a breathtaking beautiful rainbow as it continues westward draining the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert.
Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park
The park is blessed with several attractions including over 76 mammal species with four members of the big five, the lion, the leopards, the elephants, and the Buffaloes. Other species include bushbucks, Uganda kob, waterbucks and warthogs, giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, hyenas etc. As you walk through the shores of the Nile, you set sight on lots of hippos and crocodiles among other resident creatures. There also several primates in the Murchison falls national park including baboons and several monkey species.
The park is Uganda’s largest national park is also home to over 450 recorded birds species including the rare shoebill stork with 23 Albertine rift endemics given its location in the western arm of the east African rift valley.
Attractions in Murchison Falls National Park
Although almost everyone desires a photoshoot or view of the magnificent and scenic Murchison Falls, many other interesting tourist attractions exist in the park which include:
With 76 species of mammals in the park i.e huge herds of buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions, giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, jackals, Uganda kob, waterbucks and warthogs. Crocodiles and hippos are found along the river alongside over 800 chimpanzees in Budongo Forest and other primates including: Olive baboons, Blue and red-tailed monkeys and black-and-white colobus can be seen and appreciated in the forested sectors.
The park is blessed with a range of bird species, with over 451 species recorded which include the rare Shoe-bill Stock that can be spotted at the banks of Nile-Lake Albert Delta, the Goliath Heron and pairs of elegant Grey Crowned cranes, Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Horn-bill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Piapiac, Silver bird, Weaver Birds, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Red-throat Bee-eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver and African Quail-finch.
This is the main attraction of the park from which its names after as well as river Nile with crocodiles and hippos at the river banks. The most memorable view of the water falls is on the top of where the sight and sound of the Nile roaring through a wide. This site can be reached either by car and a 30 minutes climb or leaving the Paraa launch boat cruise.
It lies on the escarpment North East of Lake Albert with a bio-diversity with 24 mammal species, over 360 birds, 289 butterflies and 465 plants. Budongo Forest is well known for its former abundance of East African Mahogany trees with an exceptional large Mahogany tree is still found in Budongo forest and it is more than 80 meters tall and 20 meters in circumference.
Buligi Game Tracks
The Buligi region is well known among the major game viewing safari Uganda with its Savannah grasslands give a perfect place to enjoy this African wilderness and the attractive sights of the great East African rift valley on top of Lake Albert just adjacent to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Karuma falls are found in Chobe in the North-eastern part of the park.and areabout an hour drive from the district of Gulu in North Western Uganda. The Karuma Falls are made up of a number of natural rock formations which causes the waters to ripple giving them a white foamy appearance with roaring sounds on the Victoria Nile.
Nile- Lake Albert Delta.
The Nile- Lake Albert Delta is a stretch of water where the tranquil Victoria Nile pours its water into Lake Albert. This waters violently compressing through a narrow gorge, spraying misty droplets along their wake over a 50m radius which creates a permanent rainbow over the battlefield and causes a continuous roar. From Baker point on the southern side, you can also view the Nile splitting into the smaller Uhuru falls created when the river bursts its banks.
One of the most intruiging places in Murchison Falls National Park with activities likegame drives, launch trips and nature walks in Paraa.
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the most frequented park after Bwindi Impenetrable National Park due to its diverse wildlife and the majestic Murchison Falls, they are so many activities to engage in including;
These take place early in the morning and a tourist is able to see plenty of game including the lions, hippopotamuses, Rothschild’s giraffe, warthog, Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, Jackson’s-hartebeest and elephants. At Nyamsika Cliffs is where one can enjoy a picnic, the view and gaze at elephants and other wildlife on the green grassy hillsides and river below. Game drives are exquisite when accompanied by a tour guide.
Boat cruise to the bottom of the falls
The Launch trip begins at Paraa landing area at the point where river nile enters into Lake albert and takes you 17Km from the bottom of the falls at Paraa for 3 hours. While on the cruise you will sight hippos, waterbucks, crocodiles, buffaloes and elephants alongside water birds such as cormorants, Fish eagles, ducks, Kingfishers, bee-eaters and the shoebill.
Hike to the top of the Falls
The hike to the top of the magnificent Murchison fall is combined with a boat cruise on the Nile to the base of the falls. The boat lands at the base and you hike up for a 45-minute guided hike. While on this hike, you will have a great time admiring rolling hills, varied vegetation, birds, and getting a closer view of the narrow gorge.The Hike up the top of Murchison falls is another exciting walk that everyone should take.
Boat Cruise to the Delta
The cruise from Paraa to River Delta is 28 km and takes about 4-5 hours with fishing opportunities in the river above and below the falls.
Murchison Falls National is one of the best birding spots in Uganda due to its vegetation diversity. Bird Species commonly seen are; Spotted Mourning Thrush, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Silver Bird, Bluff-bellied Warbler, Blue-napped Mousebird, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaverBlack-headed Gonolek, Green-winged Ptyilia, Black-headed Batis, White-rumped Seed-eater.
Verreaux’s owls, amazing standard-winged nightjar African Skimmer, White African fish eagle, long-toed plover, Gray Crowned crane, Goliath Heron and many more.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest
Budongo forest is located in the boundaries of Murchison Falls National Park where chimpanzees can be viewed and trekked by travellers alongside numerous other primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys. The trek normally takes 3-4 hours depending on where the chimps nested the previous night, once located the people are can stay in the presence of chimps for an hour watching them eat, play, rest and groom each other.
The waters after the falls on Victoria Nile provide some of the most exciting challenge to anglers with presence of Nile Perch with fishing permitted in designated sites and places which require prior booking.
Most of the nature walks happen through the forests, Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest where you have opportunities of watching the primates such as Chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkey, and numerous bird life.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
Conduct a scenic village tour as you learn about the residents livelihood, farming, visit the black smith, demonstration of basket weaving, cooking and visit to a local school.
Hot Air Balloon
Hot air ballooning is perfect for those on a honeymoon, adrenaline junkies and those seeking a once in a lifetime adventure. The scenes up there are spectacular and the air is fresh and soothing.
Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park
The park has various lodges in and around it since it is the largest game reserve and one of the most frequented destinations in Uganda. The safari lodges range from budget to midrange to luxury and the choice is made by the client in accordance to their budget to spend.
- Paraa Safari Lodge
- Bakers Lodge
- Chobe Safari Lodge
- Murchison Tree House
- Pakuba Safari Lodge
- Murchison Safari Lodge
- Nile Safari Lodge
- Amuka Safari Lodge
- Boomu Women’s Group Bandas
- Budongo Eco Lodge
- Bwana Tembo Safari Camp
- Fort Murchison Lodge Heritage Safari Lodge
- Kabalega Wilderness Lodge
- Nile Safari Lodge
- Parkside Safari Lodge
- Red Chilli Rest Camp
- Shoebill Campsite
- Uganda Wildlife Campsite
- Yebo Safari Camp
- Ziwa Rhino Camp
The Best time to go to Murchison Falls National Park
The park can be visited at anytime of the year as Uganda is located within the equatorial region and is blessed with a relatively stable climate.
The dry months of December to February and June to September are the best time to visit the park since it is easier to spot the animals as they gather at water points for a drink, with the roads passable for the tour vehicles
The rainy seasons of March to May and October to November make the roads muddy, slippery and sometimes impassable however there are those who might find driving through the mud filled routes and dense vegetation exciting, adventurous and even refreshing.
How to go to Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest game reserve with a lot of exploration to offer the travellers.The park can be reached either by road or by air according to the client’s time of travel and intended budget.
- Kampala is 305 km from Murchison Falls National Park taking 4-5 hours with the distance from Masindi town at 85 Km, crossing through the Kaniyo Pabidi forest to Paara.
- The Bugungu Gate is 135 km from Masindi passing through the Budongo forest with impressive views of the Albert mountains in the Dr Congo.
- From the Northern gates, the park can be accessed through Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi gates north of the Nile. From the Kampala-Pakwach Road which crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge and is 260 km from Kampala.
Pakuba Airfield is 19 km from North Paraa and can be reached using chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield near Kampala. Other airfields in the park include: Chobe to the east, and Bugungu to the south near Murchison Falls