Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls derives its name from the point at which the world’s longest river, the river Nile is channeled through a narrow gorge within the Rift Valley, descending almost 50 metres below. This make Murchison Falls National Park the best and most visited game parks in Uganda and it is located in the Murchison Conservation Area where we also find the Bugungu and Karuma wildlife reserves.
As the majestic Murchison Falls are formed as the Nile River squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow proceding to inland deltas of the Victoria Nile which is clogged with myriad bird species giving birders a perfect view.
Murchison Falls National Park is the only park which has all Big five including buffalos, elephants, lions, leopards are best to be seen in the northern part of the park. With the rhinos being bred in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary south of the park in Nakasongola that will soon be released into the wild and in the southeast and Rabongo Forest which is home to chimps and other rain-forest creatures.
Murchison Falls National Park is cut across by the great River Nile running from the east to the west and dividing the park into the northern and southern areas. The river-crossing made it really challenging for poachers who were mainly coming from the south to go to the northern sector of the park.
The northern sector of the park is gifted with many wild animals in comparison to the southern part which suffered severe poaching. The Nile itself hosts one of Africa’s highest hippo and crocodile populations, and an immense variety of birds including the world’s most accessible wild population of the rare shoebill stork.
The park is home to 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.
Along the shores of the Nile and within the waters you will see 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 Murchison falls, Uganda’s largest national park is also home to over 450 recorded birds species including the rare shoebill stork and home to 23 Albertine rift endemics given its location in the western arm of the east African rift valley.
The bird species such as the Shoebill Stork, the Goliath Heron, Grey Crowned cranes and along the Nile and on the nature walk you will enjoy views in the Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, Piapiac, Silverbird, Weaver Birds, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-Eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver and African Quail-Finch.
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
- Game Drives: This park is an amazing destination from where to experience the African Wildwhere you will enjoy views of the endangered Rothschild Giraffes, large herds of Elephants and Buffaloes, antelopes, lions, the stealthy leopards, warthogs, Savannah birds and more.
- Boat Cruise to the Bottom of the falls: The launch trip up stream is very interesting and offers magnificent views of the falls and several wildlife like Buffaloes, Hippos, elephant, Crocodiles
- Hike to Top of the falls: Disembark at the bottoms of the falls and hike up to the top of the falls, the waterfall hike is a guided hike
- Boat Ride on the Delta: Take a boat ride down the River Nile as the boat trip extends through the extensive papyrus delta through which the Victoria Nile flows into Lake Albert
- Nocturnal Game Drives: While on this game drive you can view the predators of the night out on the prowl such as Lions, Leopards, Hyenas, serval cats and is one of the highlights of this park
- Murchison Falls Hot Air Balloon Wildlife Safaris: Enjoy the sun rise and then glide over the park above the tree tops and enjoy views of most wildlife down below.
- Birding Safari: The Park is a must visit for birders as they enjoy the delight in the wide variety of birds here, the Savanna Birds, Water Birds and various species of Forest Birds including; the Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill.
- Hiking in Murchison Falls Park: This is a perfect destination to hike in Murchison Falls National Park where you can view a variety of wildlife, monkeys, and birds.
- The Scenic Drive to or from Murchison Falls Park: Enjoy the views of the Blue Mountains in the Congo and see the Western Rift Valley Escarpment as you take opportunities for amazing pictures.
- Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo Forest: This is a perfect destination for chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habituation experience, birding and hiking and nature walks.
- Rhino Tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary: Ziwa is the only place where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild and presently the sanctuary is home to 22 southern white rhinos.
Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National park has various accommodations on both sectors of park that range from luxury accommodations to mid-range accommodations to the budget accommodations according to the visitor’s budget
- Baker’s Lodge: This is luxury lodge that is situated along the River Nile where you will enjoy amazing views of the splendid River Nile, wildlife and birds.
- Chobe Safari Lodge: This is a five star Lodge offers breathtaking panoramic views, coupled with the sounds of the River Nile’s magnificent rapids.
- Paraa Safari Lodge: This is a luxury lodge overlooking the River Nile, on its journey from its source at Lake Victoria to join Lake Albert
- Nile Safari Lodge: This is a midrange establishment that is situated on the southern banks of river Nile and surrounded by the papyrus forest with a perfect view of the River Nile
- Pakuba Safari Lodge: This is a midrange that is strategically situated at the foot of the Albertine rift valley while overlooking the splendid Lake Albert.
- Fort Murchison: This is a midrange lodge that looks out on the majestic Albert Nile revoking the idea of a well maintained isolated outpost.
- Bwana Tembo Safari Camp: This is an entirely Eco-friendly located next to Murchison Falls that enjoys walk-ins from the four legged gentle giants-the elephants
How to Get to Murchison Falls National Park.
The park can be accessed easily by road or air, depending on your itinerary, resources and time.
- If you travel by road,you require around 5hours from Kampala with about 305 km with Paara covering a distance of about 85km from Masindi town as the shorter route and the direct longer route covering an area of about 135km. Paara is accessible from the north through Chobe Gate, Karuma Falls along with Tangi.
- The Masindi-Paraa-Pakwach road runs south-north through the Conservation Area connecting to the Nile, which flows across the park from east to west, is crossed at Paraa using a regular vehicle ferry.
Murchison Falls National Park can be accessed by flying in to Pakuba or Chobe or Bugungu Airfield by chartered or scheduled aircraft service from Entebbe International Airport by Aerolink or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala by Fly Uganda
Climate and best time to Visit
The best time to visit Murchison Falls National is all year round, with the dry seasons from December to late February and from June to September, while the animals congregate around water bodies making them easier to observe being the best time. The best time for bird watching is January-March which tends to have plenty of bird activity with fewer tourists.
Location: Shore of Lake Albert, in northwest Uganda
Best Time to Go:
December to February (Easier to spot animals)
June to September (Peak time for Uganda)
Size: 3,840km² / 1,483mi²
Altitude: 615-1,187m / 2,018-3,894ft