Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savannah. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area.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 80km 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. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes, and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles, and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
Uganda’s largest National park protects a chunk of untamed African savannah bisected by the mighty River Nile. It is named after the dramatic Murchison falls, where the world’s longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the rift valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below. Wildlife populations have largely recovered from the poaching of the 1980s; in the lush Borassus grassland to the north of the Nile, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and a variety of antelopes are regularly encountered on game drives, while lions are seen with increasing frequency. In the southeast, Rabongo forest is home to chimps and other rainforest creatures.
The Nile itself hosts one of Africa’s densest hippo and crocodile populations, and a dazzling variety of water birds including the world’s most inaccessible wild populations of the rare shoebill stork.
Biodiversity survey of Murchison Falls Protected Area (MFPA – including Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu and Karuma Wildlife Reserves). The survey shows that MFPA is rich in species and biodiversity with a total known list of 144 mammal species, 556 bird species, 51 reptile species, 28 known amphibian species with an additional 23 to identify (51 species), and 755 plant species. This makes this conservation area relatively biodiverse in the region although not as diverse as some of the parks further south in the Albertine Rift, such as Queen Elizabeth and Virunga National Parks which also have savannah ecosystems. These surveys have greatly increased the known number of species for the conservation area, doubling the previously known number of reptile species and significantly increasing the number of mammal, bird, and plant species from previously published lists
Size of Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda’s largest national park covering 3840 sq km and if you add the adjacent game reserves of Karuma and Bugungu the park measures about 5008 sq km bordered by Lake Albert.
Location of Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park sits on the shore of Lake Albert, in northwest Uganda. It’s known for Murchison Falls, where the Victoria Nile River surges through a narrow gap over a massive drop. Park wildlife includes elephants and hippos, and there are chimpanzees in the Kaniyo Pabidi mahogany forest. The Lake Albert Delta is home to rare shoebill storks. There are game fish in the cascades of Karuma Falls.
How to get to Murchison Falls National Park
Traveling to Murchison falls is pretty easy as the road access is more advanced and if you can hit the traffic Jam early you will get there in good time for the evening game drive but clients flying will have more time as the one-hour flight saves a lot.
Getting To Murchison Falls national park can be done by bus from Kampala or by private means perhaps is a self-drive or pickup from Entebbe international airport by the tour company that organized your trip. It is a three (3) hours’ drive of 305 km distance to Masindi town.
Scheduled or Chartered Flights can be booked from Entebbe international airport to Bugungu, Pakuba, or Chobe airstrips respectively
Things to do in Murchison Falls National Park
Regular boat trips to the base of the falls offer fine game viewing and bird watching. Boat trips to Lake Albert delta provide the best chance in Africa of sighting shoebill storks. Chimp tracking in Budongo forest (Kaniyo Pabidi sector) and game drives on good tracks.
Waterfalls boat cruise
The cruise upriver from our jetty at Paraa on the South bank to view Murchison Falls at the head of the Fajao Gorge has been the park’s most popular attraction since the 1950s. We run a scheduled trip every afternoon departing by 2.30 pm as well as in the mornings at 08.30 am and 11.00 am when demands require
Delta boat cruise
The Victoria Nile delta, a 20km voyage downstream from Paraa, is home to rare wetland birds including shoebill and papyrus endemic species. Scheduled delta area cruises with a “breakfast on board” option are offered in the mornings (subject to minimum numbers) departing from our jetty at Paraa on the South Bank at 07.00 am. We can also tailor-make your trip with a private boat and timings to suit.
In Murchison Falls National Park game viewing can be enjoyed while on a game drive in several designated game drive 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 is famously known as the heart of Murchison.
Hiking to the top of falls
Hiking the top of the Falls trail is about 45 minutes from the bottom of the falls. The trail is not so steep so it can be by everyone. The top of the falls hike is some rejuvenating activity, it will help your joints stress out, and it will make your blood run thoroughly through all your veins.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo
Budongo Forest is one of the few places to trek chimpanzees in Uganda. Whereas most of Uganda chimpanzee tours are done in Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo forest offers travelers an experiential chimpanzee trekking experience at affordable rates. The rainforest is located in northwestern Uganda en route to Murchison falls National Park and it spreads over 825 square kilometers of land. Chimpanzee trekking is the major tourist activity attracting a high number of travelers to this rain forest. Budongo ranks as Uganda’s biggest mahogany forest which comprises Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro eco-tourism sites and Busingiro.
Chimpanzee habituation in Budongo
With the Habituation Experience, you will spend an entire day with our ‘cousins’ and learn about their way of life. Chimpanzee Habituation in Budongo Forest started in 1992 with the aim to habituate the chimpanzees to human presence, without necessarily altering their natural behavior. This is a long process and it can take up to 15 years to fully habituate a chimpanzee community. The Habituation Experience offers you the unique experience to join the professional guides on their daily program and follow the chimps during their activities. Since you will be out in the forest from the early morning till the end of the day, a packed lunch can be provided by the lodge. (not available during peak season months July, August, and September)
Walking safaris can be arranged at the Paraa park area to see incredible hippos and sometimes elephants though the real dangerous game approach walking safaris are not yet permitted in the park
Ziwa Rhino sanctuary
Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch located in Nakasongola district is the proud home of the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The Rhino re-introduction project is a project of the Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
We are conveniently located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitoma Trading center). Ziwa is the only place where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild.
Presently the sanctuary is home to twenty-two (22) southern white rhinos. The sanctuary has become increasingly popular with tourists; for Rhino Trekking, Shoebill Trek and Canoe Ride, Bird Watching, Night Walk, Nature Walk, and Relaxation.
Hot air balloon safaris
first established in 2007 and licensed to operate hot air balloon safaris in Egypt. Later expanded operations in East Africa providing hospitality and tour safari services.
Dream Balloons was registered in Uganda in 2011 and fully licensed by relevant authorities to operate hot air balloons. Dream Balloons is the sole provider of Hot Air Balloon Safaris in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
When to visit Murchison Falls National Park
During the day, the temperature is around 25-32°C, making this one of the hottest regions in Uganda. Nights are cooler, dropping to around 18°C, and there is little rain – though when it arrives it can be torrential!
The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry seasons from December to late February and from June to September, as the animals congregate around water bodies making them easier to observe. The best time for bird watching is January-March which tends to have plenty of bird activity with fewer tourists.
Where to stay in Murchison Falls National Park
There are up-market lodges available, luxury tented camps, and simple but comfortable chalets and campsites at Para.
- Nile safari lodge
- Paraa safari lodge
- Chobe safari lodge
- Pakuba safari lodge
- Murchison River lodge
- Fort Murchison
THINGS TO DO
|Safari game drives|
|Hiking to the top of falls|
|Water falls cruise on the Nile|
|Delta boat cruise|
|Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo|
|Chimpanzee habituation in Budongo|
|Nile perch fishing on the Nile|
|Rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary|
|Hot air balloon safaris|
How to get there
|How to get to Murchison falls national park|
|3 Days Murchison falls safari|
|4 Days Fly-in Murchison falls safari|
|5 Days Murchison falls fishing safari|
WHEN TO GO
|Best time to visit Murchison falls National park|
WHERE TO STAY
|Murchison River Lodge|
|Pakuba safari lodge|
|Paraa safari Lodge|
|Nile safari Lodge|