Murchison Falls National Park. “ The World’s Greatest waterfall “
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest protected area in Uganda with an area cover of 3893 square kilometers lying north of the Albertine Rift Valley in the districts of Nwoya, Bulisa, Kiryandongo and Masindi being the nearest to the park. The park is part of the 5072 square kilometer protected area which incorporates Karuma and Bugungu Wildlife Reserves.
Murchison Falls National Park was gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 and later established as a national park in 1952. The park is intersected by the Victoria Nile that races 80km over water rapids before exploding through a narrow gap over the rift valley wall at Murchison falls, the focal point of the park.
The Victoria Nile divides the park into the park into two comparable areas and that is; the North which consists of tall green grasslands, acacia trees and he south which consists of mostly woodlands.
The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park can be visited at any time of the year but mostly advisable to visit during the dry season because the animals can be seen close to water sources. This is during the months of December to February, June to September.
Attractions in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is home to a diverse number of attractions including several wildlife species such as elephants, lions, buffaloes, hippos, Jackson’s hartebeest, Uganda kobs, warthogs, Oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopards and the park has the largest population of Nubian giraffes in the world and all these animals can be seen while on a game drive.
The park is also known as a birder’s paradise that habours about 400 bird species and some of these include the Black-headed Lapwing, African skimmers, Blue-headed Coucal, Giant Kingfisher, Red-throated bee eater, Black-billed barbet with sightings of a shoebill all of which can be spotted while on a game drive or the boat cruise.
Other highlights in the park include the top of the falls, chimpanzees in Kaniyo Pabidi forest and other primates such as olive baboons, Red-tailed monkeys and blue monkeys.
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are mainly done in the Northern bank which has the highest concentration of animals. This part of the park has several trails rough which you drive to spot different animals. Look out for animals like elephants, Uganda kobs, buffaloes, antelopes and on a good day, you will be able to see lions and leopards while on the game drive.
The 3 hour return launch trip is a highlight for any safari to Murchison. The boat cruise is taken along the Victoria Nile and it gives you excellent game viewing seeing lots of wildlife such as hippos, Nile crocodiles and other animals like elephants may be observed on the shores. The birdlife while cruising on the Nile is remarkable and some of the birds to look out for include; the African fish eagle, Giant Kingfisher, Marabou stork, White-headed Lapwing and many others. The colourful Red-throated bee-eater can be seen nested on the nyamusikili cliff.
Delta boat cruise
This boat cruise is most suitable for bird watchers as it gives the best opportunity to see the rare shoebill, Rock Pranticoles and other bird species.
Birding in Murchison can be done while on a boat cruise on the Victoria Nile and to the Nile delta for magnificent shoebill sightings. Kaniyo Pabidi forest is also an essential birding site in the park with a diverse number of bird species like the Purvell’s Illadopsis, Shinning Blue Kingfisher, and Black-eared Ground thrush.
Hot air balloon safari
Explore Murchison Falls National Park in a hot air balloon rewarding you with spectacular aerial views of wildlife, vegetation plus sunrise and sunset views depending on the time to take it on.
Located South of Murchison Falls National Park, Kaniyo Pabidi is home to habituated chimpanzees. Tracking in this forest is easier since the terrain is flatter with high chances of locating the chimps within an hour. The tracking is done in the company of an armed guide.
Top of the falls
Be sure to visit the top of the falls, an impressive sight where the Nile crashes through the narrow gap in the escarpment with a roaring sound. You may also be able spot troops of baboons while in the vicinity of the falls.
The park has designated fishing points and therefore availing interested visitors an opportunity to take part in fishing and remains one of the key spots where you can fish out the Nile Pearch.
Among other activities in Murchison Falls National Park, is a nature walk and this can be taken within some designated areas of the park. Taking a nature walk in Kaniyo Pabidi, you get a chance to catch sight of primates like monkeys, baboons and several bird species.
How to get to Murchison Falls National Park
The park can be accessed by road or by air
The park has several gates that can be accessed by road both in the North and South of the park.
Murchison Falls National Park can be reached on the North side of the Nile via;
- Chobe – Kampala – Gulu
- Tangi from Pakwach
- Kichumbanyobo. This is the most direct approach to the park from Masindi
- Bugungu or Mubako ( Masindi runs to Paraa passing through Budongo forest into the rift valley with views of Lake Albert)
The park can be accessed by air using a chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Chobe East of the park, Pakuba, North of Paraa and Bugungu South of Paraa.
Accommodation facilities in Murchison Falls National Park
- Red – chilli
- Parkside Safari Lodge
- Pakuba Safari Lodge
- Paara Safari Lodge
- Nile Safari Lodge