Murchison falls National Park is Uganda largest conservation area that is located far north of the Albertine Rift Valley in the immense, palm-dotted plains of the Bunyoro escarpment. Murchison falls national park is the oldest conservation area in Uganda that was first established as a game reserve in 1926. The Victoria Nile which plunges 45m over the Albertine Rift valley wall split Murchison falls national Park to create the mighty and impressive Murchison falls.
Murchison falls National park boarders Buliisa, Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts of Uganda. The nearest town to the park is Masindi town with is 72km away from the park. The Kibanda area of Murchison falls national park is approximately 283 km (5-6 hours’ drive) North west from Kampala. Named after the eye-catching waterfalls, Murchison falls national park is where the huge Acholi plains join the vast Bunyoro Escarpments. This must go for Uganda safaris is of no doubt one of the best safari destinations in Uganda. It was first pointed out by Winston Churchill as a grand Kew Gardens combined with wildlife in a confined area in 1907. Murchison falls national park features Kabarega falls-also referred as Murchison falls, 76 species of mammals including Leopards, lions, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos among others and 451 species of birds such as the famous and rare shoebill, the giant kingfisher, night jar, the grey crowned crane, the goliath heron not forgetting the aquatic life in the Victoria Nile which separates the western part from the eastern part of the park for a distance of a bout 115km.
Murchison falls National Park is about 3893 km2 wide and it was established after the British administration established the Uganda National Park Act in 1952.
Attractions in Murchison Falls N.P.
Attractions/what to see/Why should one Visit Murchison Falls National Park on a Uganda Wildlife Safari?
Top of the falls
Murchison Falls National park also called Kabarega National park derived its name from the Murchison falls branded by the eternal water between the rock and water- as the Nile waters pushes forcefully out in a 7meter narrow slit out in the rocks and the water plunges to 43 meters below the booming grumble to form a breathtaking, tremendous and memorable view of the stray water that forms an eternal rainbow. The outlet of Lake Victoria allows over 300 cubic meters of water per second to squeeze through the narrow gorge of just 7 meters wide. This violent water also sprays misty droplets of water above the falls at a radius of over 50 meters. Besides the Murchison falls is the Uhuru falls which was formed in 1962 when river Nile overflew and burst its banks to form another waterfall.
Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park.
At least 76 species of mammals have been recorded in Murchison Falls National Park including four of the African big five animals. These include lions, leopards, herds of elephants and buffaloes. The Park is also a home to the beautiful reticulated giraffes, counts of Uganda Kob, Oribis, waterbucks, Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, olive baboons, warthogs, blue and red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys and patas monkeys. To make the park more special, its adjacent is the Budongo forest with its counts of habituated chimpanzees and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary which is the only home to the white rhinos in Uganda is also adjacent to the park.
Birds in Murchison Falls national park
Murchison Falls National Park features diverse eco system settings from water to forested and savannah which is a home to numerous species of birds. Over 450 bird species have been confirmed in the park and other 19 species that are not yet confirmed but can as well be spotted by keen birders while on a Uganda birding safari. Among other birds that dwell in Murchison falls national park include the rare shoebill stork, Uganda`s largest bird which is the Goliath heron and the national bird of Uganda known as the grey crowned crane. Other species of birds in Murchison Falls National Park include; Blue-headed Coucal, African Jacana, Swamp Flycatcher, Denham’s Bustard, Squacco Heron, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-headed Gonolek, Sandpipers, Black-billed Barbet, Pied Kingfisher, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Weaver Birds, Piapiac, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Silver bird, African Quail-Finch, Speckle-fronted Weaver and Red-throated Bee-eater.
River Nile in Murchison Falls N.P
River Nile which bisects Murchison falls national park to the west and eastern sections features abundant wildlife on its banks that offer a rewarding experience to nature paramours. The northern bank of river Nile is characterized with hippopotamuses, wildebeests, baboons, Nile monitors, giant Vundu catfish, not forgetting other animals like elephants and buffaloes with come to refresh with water from the Nile and the most feared giant Nile Crocodile as well as flocks of over 300 species of birds.
The Nile Lake Albert-Delta
This is a famous birding sport where Victoria Nile pours into Lake Albert. The banks of this delta are lined with papyrus rich with birdlife such as Goliath, Herons African Fish Eagles, Great Egrets and the famous rare shoebill.
The Buligi Game tracks
Game tracks between Victoria and Albert Nile are the most popular safari Destinations in Murchison Falls National Park. The tracks stretch for a bout 120-170km long traversing the open plains, palms, acacia, woodland and riverine vegetation where most of the wild game can be seen mostly in the early morning and evening game drives.
The Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests
Kaniyo Pabidi forest lies 8km after Kichumba gate in Murchison falls National park. The trails through this forest ecosystem offers an opportunity to track primates such as habituated chimpanzees, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and olive baboons. Also, wild animals like Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes and leopards often visit the forest. Kaniyo Pabidi is one off the forests that can potentially reward bird watchers which its commonly residing bird species such as chocolate-backed kingfisher, Ituri batis, Puvel’s illadopsis, and white-thighed hornbill that are only found here in Africa.
Rabongo forest covers a 4km2 and is an ecosystem area with medicinal plants and trees, animals and it is also called a paradise of birds with various endangered species.
Paraa region in Murchison Falls National Park.
Paraa is a tourism hub for Murchison falls national park. The word Paraa is in Luo local language meaning hippo. All the routings to access the park converge from Paraa even the passenger ferry which connects the northern banks to the southern banks. Paraa connects tourists to the northern bank where most tourist activities occur for example game drives, Museum and craft shopping, boat cruise, nature walks among others. It is a center for whatever tourism relation action happens in Murchison falls national park.
Tourist activities/ what to do
Murchison falls national park is a mixture of diverse features each with a distinctive area of impression that can make it a must visit. Because of the parks ecosystem, various tourism activities can be done to explore the beauty of Murchison falls national park. Among these include game driving, boat cruising, visiting the top of the falls, sport fishing, nature walking, birding hiking and many more.
Game driving in Murchison Falls National Park.
The savannah, forested, swampy plains and the waters of Murchison falls national park inhabit a wide range of wild animals including 4 of the big five species, and most of the park’s animals live in large numbers. Over 76 species of animals have been recorded in Murchison falls national park and they include lions, leopards, African elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes, kobs, hyenas, Jackson hartebeests, warthogs, bush backs, baboons a least to say-widely spread in an area of 3840sq Km of savanna grassland landscape perfect for game driving.
The northern bank of the bank is the most ideal for game viewing with high concentration of wildlife in the savannah grasslands than the southern bank. There are chances of exploring the most thrilling action like watching predators as they make move to catch prey. Antelopes are hunted by predators like no other, predators have an adventurous style of catching prey in a silence that even tourists nearby may hardly notice. The grassland of Murchison falls national park is mainly short, so gave viewing can be done all year round but majorly during the dry season, it is most amazing since the grasses and shrubs are shorter and views from a wider distance can also be done.
Murchison falls national park has 3 major game drive tracks that feeds visitors with spectacular views of wildlife. They include; the Albert track, Victoria track and Buligi track. These tracks take you to different wild sports of interest as you traverse through the savannah plains that are as well filled with wild game.
Game views is one of the famous safari activities in Murchison falls national park and it is best done in the early morning hours from 6:30 am, when animals have started looking for what to eat, grazers are grazing and predators are hunting, so amazing! You can also do an evening game drive in the park starting at 4pm when animals have come out to look for dinner before darkness engulfs. This activity is done in the northern sector and for visitors who lodge in the southern, they will be required to transfer in the early morning to the northern bank for better game viewing. The game driving activity takes between 3-4 hours in wild as you explore the real world of adventure, but to enhance your satisfaction, you can ask to extend your game driving activity to 5 hours which will be enough for the game driving safari.
A 4×4 comfortable vehicle with pop-up roof is most advisable for a game driving safari to enable the visitors take photos. But also, other vehicles like coasters and vans for bigger groups are also used. Self-driving as allowed as no matter which car one has., however, for self-driven game driven, it is advisable to hire a park ranger guide to escort you and you are also required to observe the rules and regulations governing the park.
when you are back home.
Boat Launch along the Nile river
River Nile bisects Murchison Falls National Park for a distance of about 115km as the river is taking its way from Lake Victoria to connect to the Mediterranean Sea and in the end, the Nile river divides the park into the southern and northern banks. This long stretch of the Nile river offers impressive chances of a boat launch on the Nile river.
Boat cruise at the Nile river is usually done for two impressive reasons and sometimes, it is done twice or once but to cover the two streams. There’s is a boat launch that is done to the bottom of the world`s most powerful falls (Murchison falls).
Top of the falls.
A visit to the top of the falls is one of the finest rewarding endeavors that one must do while on a Uganda safari. The ground at which this park was named Murchison Falls National park originated from these falls which are located about 15km from the main Paraa-Masindi road, near Sambiya river lodge.
The top of the falls is marked by a foot path that trails down to the bottom of the falls following the staggering Nile crushing its self on these strong impermeable rocks to make its way out with great thunderous roar. The view point also offers another 20-minute stretch to a saddle with sights of Murchison falls and large Uhuru falls to the north. Another foot path runs downhill from the saddle to the gorge base below the main waterfall. Exploring the top of the falls requires two (2) hours and ideally in the afternoon offering opportunity for photography.
A range of tribal groups surround Murchison Falls National Park including the northern Nilotic groups and the southern Bantu groups. The Mubako energetic dancers offer a highlight of local tradition embedded in handicrafts, music, dance and drama. You will also be exposed to the setting of the local community during your village tour.
Hiking and nature walks.
Nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park can be arranged through the Rabongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi as visitors enjoy the sights of birds and primates. The Victoria Nile Delta stretch of a bout 2-4hours also allow the possible sights of the rare shoebill bird. The famous hike to the top of the falls takes about 45minutes starting from the bottom of the falls where the boat stops, enjoy the splendid scenery of the Nile upstream to the top of the falls during this hike. For nature lovers, take on the stretch in the southern section that lasts for about 1 ½ – 2 hours. The Sambiya river lodge stretch is yet another short one, but ideal for birders.
Accommodation/where to stay
Murchison Falls national park features various accommodation facilities that’s suits all kinds of visitors in the park ranging from High-end to Midrange and Budget accommodation.
Some of the High-end accommodation facilities in Murchison falls national park include;
- Chobe Safari Lodge; which is nestled at the banks of the great River Nile overlooking the rush vegetation of Karuma Wildlife Reserve. Chobe Safari Lodge is a perfect escape for honeymooners and other travelers since it is one of the most comfortable lodges in Murchison Falls national Park. It is a Five-star facility in Uganda`s crown of tourism destinations. The lodge allows spectacular views and sound of River Nile designed to offer visitors the park an adventurous experience that will amaze even the shrewdest of visitors. Chobe safaris lodge has 21 luxury tents, 36 elegant guest rooms, 4 presidential suits and cottage. The lodge also has support facilities like swimming pool, business Centre, restaurant and cuisine, Bar, gift shop and conference facilities. It is an ideal lodge for visitors in Murchison falls national park.
- Paraa Safari Lodge; this is a five-star lodge located on the shores overlooking River Nile in Murchison Falls National park. Paraa safari lodge has 54 private ensuite rooms, each with a spacious balcony where visitors can relax from as they enjoy the sights of the Nile river and animals that occasionally visit the lodge. It has a luxurious swimming pool with spectacular views of the Nile and its is also a scene where the famous Hollywood Movie-the African Queen was shot. A variety of choice of accommodation is available at the lodge from family cottages, suites, twin, double and single. Some of the facilities at the lodge include; Swimming Pool, Bar, Business Centre, Restaurant & Cuisine, Gift Shop and conference facilities.
Other accommodation facilities in Murchison falls national park include;
Bakers lodge, which is also a luxury facility, Sambiya River lodge, Fort Murchison lodge, heritage safari lodge, Pakuba safari lodge, Red chili rest camp, Geo lodges shoebill campsite, UWA bandas, Yebo safari Camp, among others.
From Kampala-Uganda’s capital, Murchison Falls National park can be accessed using two routes. From Masindi, it is about 2-3 hours drive (85km) via the Kichumbanyobo gate and the other route is the Albertine rift which is about 135km but rewards with the spectacular views enroute.
It is also possible to connect to the park from the northern side using the Karuma-Pakwach road which branches off from the Kampala to Gulu main road, just a few kilometers from the Karuma bridge. By the use of this route, one can reach Murchison through; the Tangi gate which is 110km west of the Karuma Bridge, Chobe gate which is 2km north of Karuma bridge, the Wankwar gate is 10km off the main road.
Domestic flights like Aero link operates scheduled flights from Entebbe international airport to Bugungu airstrip and Pakuba airfield. There are other charter flights from Kajjansi airstrip in Kampala that can also take you to the airfields of Murchison falls national park, upon demand.