Murchison Falls National Park at 3840km2 is the largest park in Uganda and is named after the Murchison falls where the mighty river Nile is forced through a narrow gorge of 8m into the ‘Devils Cauldron’ creating an ever present rainbow. Samuel Baker the explorer considered the Murchison falls as “the most important object of the entire course of the river” named the waterfall in 1864. The park is only 4 hours away from Kampala the capital and with all the attractions is a destination for a weekend gate-away. The habitats range from forest, savanna, riverine woodland, borassus palms, and several acacia trees.
It lies in the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley giving it great views of the plains and forested areas and the Victoria Nile that pours into Lake Albert. The Albert Nile Corridor is Uganda’s lowest area at 612m at the Delta. You have opportunity to view the falls from both up as the Nile squeezes through the gorge and from below while on the boat safari on Victoria Nile. The Launch trip on Victoria Nile gives you an opportunity to experience the Nile like the actors of the 1951 film “The African Queen.”
Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park
Animals in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls NP has 76 species of mammals that call this their home including four of the big five. The more conspicuous mammals are; Elephants, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, and Bushbucks, Lions and Leopards, Jacksons Hartebeests, waterbucks and warthogs to mentions but a few.It is also home to several primates including Baboons, Patas monkeys, Blue monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys and Black-and-white Colobus monkeys are found in the forested area. Kaniyo Pabidi in Budongo forest host a number of chimpanzees.
Birds in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls national park has varied habitats for birds making bird watching a famous activity in this park which has over 450 species of birds. The park has forested, swampy areas, riverine woodland, savannah and acacia trees are home to different bird species including the elusive Shoebill, Swamp flycatcher, papyrus Gonolek, Goliath Heron, Abyssinian Ground hornbill, northern red bishop, Squacco heron, Red-throated Bee-eater and African-Quail Finch etc.
Safaris and Activities inMurchison Falls National Park
Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda Wildlife Authority has demarcated tracks on the northern bank of river Nile for game drives. You take the game drives in the custom-made tour vehicles with open roof and everyone has access to a window. Your tour guide takes on the demarcated game tracks on the northern bank with a fantastic way to watch and photograph the park scenery and wildlife. The animals to look out for include Bushbucks, Waterbucks, hartebeest, Oribi, Uganda Kobs, giraffes, Elephants, Buffaloes, Leopards and Lions.
Boat safaris on the Nile /Launch trips on the Nile
The boat safaris in Murchison Falls national park are on the Victoria Nile. The Nile boat safari is your ultimate experience of water, animals, birds, and great scenery. Here you look out for animals coming to water and those resident/semi residents in water; Crocodiles, Hippos, monitor lizards. Watch out for herds of Buffalo, Elephants and antelopes that come for water.
The opportunities for water birds are high as you take this trip. The launch trip happens twice a day with a morning trip starting at 9am and afternoon at 2pm; however, one can rent a boat and take trip at their leisure.
Chimpanzee tracking and habituation at Kaniyo Pabidi in Budongo Forest
You can track chimpanzees from Kaniyo Pabidi a section of Budongo forest, which is home to numerous other primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys, lots of rare bird species and big game like Buffaloes, Elephants, and bush pigs with magnificent scenery. The trek normally takes 3-4 hours depending on where the chimps nested the previous night, once located the people are can stay in the presence of chimps for an hour watching them eat, play, rest and groom each other.
There is also an opportunity for a full day Chimp habituation experience, which has to be booked prior to your safari. This offers one time watching the chimps and following them along throughout the day for them to get used to humans.
The waters after the falls on Victoria Nile provide some of the most exciting challenge to anglers with presence of Nile Perch. The largest Nile perch recorded is 108kg, what a catch! Fishing is permitted in designated sites and places which require prior booking. You are encouraged to bring their own equipment and secure a permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls NP with 415 bird species was named No. 9 best birding spot in Africa by the Africa Bird Guide. Birding is can be done while on game drive, launch trips and nature walks with a ranger guide. Because of the varied habitats, you have opportunities of watching forest birds, savannah, water and a few of Albertine rift endemics.
Birds in Murchison Falls national park are easy to see, look out for open-billed stork, Abyssian ground hornbill, Red-throated bee –eaters, Pied, malachite and Giant Kingfishers, grey heron,
Nature and forest walks
Most of the nature walks happen through the forests, Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest where you have opportunities of watching the primates such as Chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkey, and numerous bird life.
The Hike up the top of Murchison falls is another exciting walk that everyone should take. Once on the boat trip from Paraa toward the ‘Devils cauldron’, you stop a few metres from the bottom of the falls and take hike through the vegetation to experience the top the falls. The hike is fulfilling as you watch the waters of the Nile be squeezed through a 7m gorge.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
The Boomu women’s Group right outside the park is a worthy visit for someone who wants to engage with the local community. Take the scenic village tour as you learn about the residents everyday lives, farming, visit the black smith, demonstration of basket weaving, cooking and visit to a local school.
Routes to Murchison Falls National Park
You can access the park by taking scheduled/chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport or drive from Kampala, which takes approximately 4 hours. The park has access gates from the south for people traveling from Kampala through Masindi or those traveling from Fortportal. It also has access gates in the north for people traveling from Kampala via Karuma or those traveling from Gulu or Kidepo valley national park.
Murchison Falls National Park Safari Lodges and Camps
In the park
- Paraa Safari Lodge
- Red Chili Rest Camp
- Pakuba Lodge
- Murchison River Lodge
- Bakers Lodge
- Fort Murchison
- Court View Hotel
- Masindi Hotel
- Paradise Hotel
- Global Village Guest House