At a size of 3,893 km2, Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s premier destination for Game tracking safaris. It is the country’s largest conservation area protecting variety of wildlife and it’s named after the Nile’s 40 meter drop over the Rift Valley scarp. The park is found in the northwestern part of the country, situated at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, a drive just about 6hours from Kampala city.
Murchison Falls is the country’s oldest conservation area, it was first gazetted as a Game Reserve in 1926 and later uplifted to a status of a national park in the year 1952. The southern part of the Murchison falls conservation area is occupied by Bugungu wildlife reserve and Karuma wildlife reserve making it about 5,072km2. Temperatures are usually hot, rising to 290C during day and dropping to 180C in the night, the dry spell is from December towards the end of February and from June to September.
Murchison Falls national park is interspersed by the dramatic “Murchison Falls” where the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and tumbles 45m over the remnant Rift Valley wall with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron” creating a trademark rainbow. The Murchison Falls are the centerpiece and the ultimate event in an 80km stretch of rapids, they are the highlight of the visits to the park and when Sir Samuel Baker visited in 1864, he described the Falls as one of the most important object throughout the entire course of the Nile River.
The Victoria Nile bisects the national park into two sectors; the Northern and Southern banks. The northern bank is a composition of Savanna and Borassus palms, Acacia trees and Riverine woodland. Paraa is the hub of most of the tourism activities in the park and is found on this sector of the park. The southern bank is dominated by woodland and forest patches with areas such as Budongo and Rabongo Forest eco-systems.
Fauna in the park
Murchison falls national park is home to an impressive list of fauna, with more than 70 mammal species and 450 bird species including both forest and savanna species that can be seen on Game drives, launch trips and nature walks. The northern bank is a prime spot for game viewing and most of the game tracks lead from Paraa through this section. Some of the game you will find on this side of the park include; Lions, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Rothschild’s Giraffes, Cape Buffalos, Uganda Kobs, Jackson’s Hartebeests and many other as well as a number of savanna bird species like the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Palm-nut Vulture.
The stretch of the river offers refuge to various species of wildlife, the banks offer prime sightings of Elephants, Buffalos, Hippos, Nile Crocodiles and water birds while on launch cruises, the Nile corridor has such a good collection of aquatic birds such as the Shoebill Stork seen at the Delta point.
Situated on the southern section of Murchison Falls national park and conservation area is Budongo Forest reserve, a premier site for forest species such as Chimpanzees, Black and White Colobus, Olive Baboons, Pattus Monkeys, Grey Monkeys and many other primates and mammals. Birds are well represented with a count of over 360 species including the rare Puvel’s Illadopsis. With its remarkable bird list, bird watching is a rewarding venture for birders who make it to this beautiful park.
Murchison Falls National park can be accessed through a number of routes by road; the Kampala-Pakwach road leads to the northern sector, a route that crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge in the northeastern corner of the park, the course finally leads you into the park via the Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako or Tangi gates north of the Nile.
The Southern sector can be accessed via Masindi town from Kampala, two gates lead to the park through this section that is; Kichumbanyobo and Bugungu gates. En-route to Murchison Falls National park is the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district, Nakitooma village; this site is home to the only wild Rhinos in Uganda.
Alternatively, the park can be accessed by a chartered or scheduled domestic flight from Kajjansi airfield /Entebbe to Pakuba airfield north of Paraa or Chobe to the East or Bugungu airfield to the South in the park.
Things to do in Murchison Falls National Park
- Bird watching
- Game viewing on safari drives and balloon safaris
- Sport fishing
- Hiking top of the Uhuru and Murchison falls and Nature walks
- Boat cruises/ Launch trips along the Nile
- Chimpanzee tracking in Kaniyo Pabidi- Budongo Forest reserve
Tours to Explore Murchison Falls National Park
2 Days Wildlife Palate to Murchison Falls
3 Days Big Game Encounter in Murchison Falls
4 Days Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo & Game viewing in Murchison
8 Days Uganda Wildlife safari
9 Days Birding, Primate tracking and Game safari
12 Days Pearl of Africa Wildlife and Adventure safari