Murchison Falls National Park is the largest of all Uganda’s national parks measuring approximately 3,893 square kilometers (1,503 sq mi). The park is believed to be the oldest national park and having the largest number of Rose child giraffes in the entire world, first gazetted as a game reserve in 1926. Murchison Falls National Park is now the only park in Uganda where you can have a chance to see all the big five during your safari game drives in Uganda, with on foot rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80 km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains 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. The Murchison Falls, also referred to as the Kabalega Falls, is a waterfall found on the course of the great Nile. The powerful falls is where the park got its name and most known of, as you hike to the top of the falls to see this amazing waterfall.
Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda and managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is in north-western Uganda, spreading inland from the shores of Lake Albert, around the Victoria Nile, up to the Karuma Falls. The vegetation is characterized by savannah, riverine forest and woodland. Wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribis, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species to mention but a few.
Together with the adjacent 748 square kilometres (289 sq mi) Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the 720 square kilometres (280 sq mi) Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the park forms the Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA)
Most of the visitors to this great park often come from various destinations to trek the gorillas within this very country but in another park called Bwindi. If you have more days to visit East Africa, A Tanzania safari can be combined with Rwanda safari & gorilla trekking. Most safari companies offer packages that include various destinations within the great lakes East African region.
MFCA and the adjacent Bugondo Forest Reserve have 76 species of mammals as well as Uganda’s largest population of Nile crocodiles. 450 bird species are present ranging from easy variety of waterbirds, including the rare shoe-billed stork, Budongo’s 59 “restricted range” species, dwarf kingfisher, Goliath heron, white-thighed hornbill and great blue turaco.
Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit. Number of lions can easily be sited here.
Activities To Do In Murchison Falls National Park
Lots of activities can get you busy on your visit to this great park, a few of them include;
The launch trip upstream from Paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the fall. Recommended for birders is a morning cruise downstream to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta. Alternatively, a tranquil sundowner cruise offers the classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river. Numbers of boats are available including private boats for your private charter group. You can book in advance for easy reservation. For large group, UWA boats and Marasa boats are available to carry even more than 50 people per trip.
In Murchison Falls National Park game viewing can be enjoyed while on a game drive in several designated game drive routes and areas. The main areas are the Delta where there are great chances of seeing the Lions in wait for prey as they go to drink, the Buligi Peninsula and the southern sector famously known as the heart of Murchison. You can visit Pakuba old lodge to spot some cats like the leopards as well.
You will see a number of animals with in this park in great numbers as you would not imagine, as this park is the heart of the savannah parks in Uganda, alongside Kidepo National Park in North East which is untouched. Explore Murchison in a 4×4 safari vehicle with a pop up roof for a great view of the wildlife.
Both the game drives and the launch trips offer an opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife, including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemics. The park’s main birding attraction is the Shoebill, best sighted in the dry season from January-March. Over 450 bird species are present ranging from easy variety of waterbirds, including the rare shoe-billed stork, Budongo’s 59 “restricted range” species, dwarf kingfisher, Goliath heron, white-thighed hornbill and great blue turaco.
The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding Conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forests provide sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile Delta, 2-4 hour guided swamp walks offer possible Shoebill sightings.
Hiking to the Top of Falls
You can disembark the boat and hike up to the top of the falls for the 45 minutes to 1 hour climb to the top of the fall and there after the tourists can walk back to the boat. However, you guide can pick you up, from the top of the falls, as you had a great time to view the whole falls from the start to the top. Its amazing hike, you can have chance to spot some wildlife, monkeys and birds as well as you have a stunning view of the falls through the trail
Energetic dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk. Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the realities of life in this rural community. Visit these communities and have a truly African feel, as you interact and share with them.
Hot air balloons Safari
Hot air balloons is one of the most interesting, exciting and memorable activity one would love to participate in because it’s the best experience at the Murchison Falls National Park. It’s also the only way to sight the animals at the park well and also its incredible landscape. The maximum capacity is 8 persons. It approximately lasts for one hour with bush breakfast inclusive. Don’t miss out on it. You will fly on tree top level, as you take a wonderful photography of what comes your way and seem pleasant to you. It’s amazing, as you feel fresh in air.
Spot Fishing at the Nile
The banks of the Nile below Murchison Falls provide exciting challenges to anglers. Living within strong currents and highly oxygenated water is the Nile perch. There is the chance to land a massive catch – the record is 108kg!. You can book your fishing adventure in advance and find all the fishing gears and boats well arranged for you.
You’re looking for where to spend a night. Lots of accommodations do exist both within and outside the park on side of Parkwach. Number of luxury lodgings does exist such as Paara safari lodge, Chobe Safari lodge, Pakuba lodge, Bakers lodges and number of midrange lodging do exist as well such as Murchison River lodge, Simbaya River lodge, and budget as well as camping facilities. You need not to worry, the budget belongs to you, however you cannot fail to get where o take arrest. For student, Paara hostel do exist at cheap price.
A number of routes can be used to reach the Nile at Paraa at the heart of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The river is crossed here using a vehicle ferry which runs at roughly hourly intervals throughout the day.
Southern Entrance Gates
- Two southerly approaches to Paraa lead out of Masindi town, which is a 4 hour drive (305km) from Kampala. Along the way to Masindi is the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda. You can track them on foot and support this important initiative to reintroduce rhinos to protected areas. The main route from Masindi enters the Conservation Area through Kichumbanyobo Gate to pass through Kaniyo Pabidi Forest to Paraa (85km).
- A longer but more scenic alternative runs for 135km from Masindi to the park’s Bugungu gate, the route includes a passage through Budongo Forest and a memorable descent of the rift valley escarpment with views across Lake Albert towards the mountains of the Congo.
Northern Entrance Gates
Murchison Falls National Park can also be entered via the Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi gates north of the Nile. These are reached from the Kampala-Pakwach Road which crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge in the northeastern corner of the park, 260 km from Kampala. These gates are convenient for visitor travelling to/from Gulu town and Kidepo Valley National Park.
By Air : Pakuba Airfield, 19 km from North Paraa, 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 – near Murchison Falls – to the south.