Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is one of the biggest national parks in Uganda with lots of wildlife safaris and tours taking place frequently. The park under the Murchison Falls Conservation Area is the largest protected area in Uganda covering about 5.025 kilometres comprising of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves and in the Southern section, Budongo Forest. The park characterised by beautiful and magnificent Top of the Falls, excellent accommodation facilities or lodges, wild animals and birds plus striking plains that offer nice views during game drive safaris.

In this text, read more about the park accommodations, entrance fee, facts 

Murchison Falls National Park
The Magnificent Top of the Falls in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls is also among the busiest national Parks in the country with numerous Uganda Safaris taking place every day in the morning, afternoon and evening plus boat cruise voyages on the Nile.

At this point, it is where River Nile explodes down to become a placid river whose banks are thronged with buffaloes, hippos, water bucks and crocodiles. The park is identified after the miraculous falls on the river, which meets a constringe cleft in the Rift Valley Escarpment, then it changes into a froth of thunderous white water, a rare site in East Africa. The area flora is defined by nice-looking savanna, riverine forest and woodland.

The Murchison Falls, also known as Kabalega Falls, is a waterfall on the route of the great River Nile. In fact, it breaks the amazing Victoria Nile, which flows across the northern area of Uganda from the large Lake Victoria to the deeper section of Lake Kyoga, proceeding to the northern apex of Lake Albert in the western edge of the great East African Rift Valley. From here it then continues its westward into the stunning Lake Albert.

Species:

Mammals total to over 76 species, which include giraffes, elephants, hartebeests, lions, leopards, chimpanzees, spotted hyenas, kobs, bush buck, water buck, oribis, jackal and many others. There are over 450 bird species.

Activities:

The launch 3-hour trip and back starts from Paraa by the Nile up to the Murchison Falls (17 km), in a move to see elephants, buffaloes, water bucks, bee-eaters, hippos, crocodiles, water birds similar cormorants, pelicans, Kingfishers, herons, Ducks, fish eagle, shoebill stork. Hike to “top of the falls”, to see closer from the top the charging and spectacular Murchison Falls. Game drives north of river Nile and at Lake Albert Delta’s Buligi, Albert and Queen’s tracks. Sport fishing (Nile Perch and tiger fish), in the river Uganda National Parks Nile above and down the falls. “Chimpanzee trekking” and birding in Budongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi Forest Reserve.

Bird Watching 

There are blue-napped mouse bird, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Silver Bird, Bluff-bellied Warbler, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Vitelline Masked Weaver plus the Green-winged Ptyilia are among the many bird species seen between Paraa Rest Camp and Ferry crossing. This is also the best site for the localised white-rumped seed-eater.

Usually the Spotted and Verreaux’s Owls, and a plethora of spectacular Night-jars, such as Long-tailed and Pennat-winged Night-jar (Especially between March-September) and mainly the nocturnal species common seen in this area.

Some other bird species like Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Grey-crowned Crane, Long-toed Plover, whilst African Fish Eagle and African Skimmer are also common in this area. The Fox’s Weaver Uganda’s only endemic bird is also there. The mind-blowing Standard-winged Nightjar (November-February) and with a portable spotlight, one could organise a nocturnal boat trip on the Nile in search for White-backed Night Heron and Pel’s Fishing Owl.

What To do in Murchison Falls National Park

(Left) – Visitors viewing a lion during a Game Drive Safari in Murchison Falls National Park. (Right) – Tourists sailing at the Bottom of the Falls as they see the roaring water falls from a distance.

Game Drive Safaris

In the cool early morning on the Buligi, Albert and Queen’s tracks north of the river Nile before the sun climbs too high, you will see plenty of game. Picnicking, good scenic view and elephant and other game watching on the grassy hillsides and the sand river are some of the activities at Nyamsika Cliffs. You be ready for a four hour drive guided by a professional guide.

Launch Trips on the Nile 

Among the interesting highlights of a visit to Murchison Conservation Area is the launch trip from Paraa to the foot of Murchison Falls. There are many Hippos and crocodiles, elephants, buffaloes, water bucks and birds like; Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, Bee-eaters, Fish Eagles, Kingfishers, and the rare Shoebill. The trip from Paraa to the Falls and back takes about three hours. A boat trip to the Delta where the Victoria Nile engorges into the Lake Albert leads through papyrus swamps. The trip takes about four to five hours and you will see a similar variety of animals and birds.

Sport Fishing 

Tiger-fish and Nile Perch provide an exciting challenge to those fishing with a hooks, lines and rod anglers. Fishing is done in the river above and below the falls and better one carries his own fishing items.

Nature Trails 

Murchison Falls National Park gives one an opportunity to explore and expedite the wild nature while walking. Paraa trailing goes through riverine forest, gullies and low hills. Many fauna and flora species are closely, directly and silently seen along the way. Nature walks are provided at Rabongo Forest, top of the falls and Kaniyo Pabidi.

A visit to the Top of the Falls 

Tourists’ trail is near the falls and right up to the water’s edge. There is a chance to hike the top of the falls from the boat landing and come closer to the narrow gorge via which the river plunges. This is one gives a nice tour experience.

Kaniyo Pabidi

Kaniyo Pabidi is ideal for nature walks and hikes with chimpanzee tracking as the most done. Kaniyo Pabidi is on the Masindi – Paraa road, 8 kilometres from Kichumbanyobo gate. It’s an area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve, ideal for walking beneath mature mahogany and ironwood trees. Besides chimps, one is entertained to watching many forest birds like the chocolate backed Kingfisher, Horn-bill with white thighs and Puvell’s Illadopsis found nowhere else in the East African region except here. Kaniyo Pabidi has a campsite with water and firewood for use as one may wish and the place is privately managed and run by the Forestry Department.

Rabongo Forest 

Rabongo Forest, ideal for walking, hiking and primates tracking is an island of tropical riverine forest in the south-east of the conservation area. It’s encircled by savanna grassland, an hour and a half drive from Paraa. A nature walk in the forest on foot help one spot primates like the black and white Colobus monkeys, the red-tailed monkeys, baboons and chimpanzees plus birds, medicinal plants and trees. At the River Wairingo is a picnic site with a campsite where one can also stay at the well-equipped Ecotourism centre forest cottages.

Guidelines to follow while in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

  • Hike only along designated trails.
  • Drive only between 6:30 am and 6:30 pm while in the park.
  • You should not cut plants, pick flowers or damage any vegetation.
  • Enter the Park via Kichumbanyobo, Bugungu or Tangi gate.
  • Drive only on officially designated roads.
  • Vehicle horn sounds are prohibited within the park.
  • A drive guide must escort guests on game drives and nature walks.
  • Camping should be done only at designated campsites.
  • You are not allowed to enter the park with domestic animals like pets
  • Keep safely with you all the official receipts issued for every park activities.
  • Do not litter park with any wastes or used items but dump them the provisioned trash cans.
  • Fires should be lightened at only the fire rings put at the campsites.
  • Do not enter the park with firearms or ammunition

Accommodation Facilities around Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park has got several accommodation facilities ranging from luxury , midrange to budget lodges and campsites. The park also has traditional and self-contained bandas as well. Prominent at the park is the luxurious Paraa Safari Lodge which offers the best services to visitors at the park.

Accommodation centres include:

  • Paraa Safari Lodge
  • Nile Safari Camp
  • Sambiya River Lodge
  • Murchison River Lodge
  • Rabongo Eco-Tourism Centre (good cottages)
  • Pakuba Safari Lodge
  • Red Chili Rest Camp 

Other National Parks in Uganda

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