Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centrepiece 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 river banks include elephants, giraffes, and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles, and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
The Park at a Glance
Murchison Falls ranked second in holding almost 80% of Uganda’s wildlife and the largest parks in Uganda bisected by the Nile River into the Northern and the Southern sections. It covers a wide area of Size 3,840km2.
Murchison Falls became one of Uganda’s first National Parks in 1952. And at Murchison Falls, the Nile River squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow.
The northern section (Game Drive Section) of the park contains savanna and Borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland and the south is dominated by woodland and forest patches.
The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.
For Birdwatchers who love to hear and see different birds singing, swimming, eating, playing, in nests and relaxing, Murchison Falls is the birding tap.
The climate in Murchison Falls is tropical and hot. Being close to the equator, temperatures are quite uniform throughout the year. The area around Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) has two rainy seasons. These seasons are not as pronounced as they are in more equatorial regions in Uganda. The hottest times are mid-December to mid-February and June-July, tempered by rainy seasons in April and November. The Albert Nile corridor is Uganda’s lowest area (612m at Delta Point) and temperatures can be hot with a mean maximum of 29OC.
Murchison’s Tourist Attractions
Murchison Fall National Park houses a combination of grasslands, wooded savannah, tropical forests, wetlands, and open water covering approximately 39,000 ha at an altitude of more than 600m. The park houses 109 species of mammals including; hippopotamus, antelope, giraffes, hartebeest, oribi and Uganda kob, 145 tree species and 0ver 476 bird species.
The park supports four of the “Big Five”, only rhino being absent. Buffalo and elephant are particularly common. There is a very healthy population of lions that like to prey on the abundantly available Uganda kob. Hyena is present but rare but zebra is absent.
The Victoria Nile is a magnet for wildlife and it hosts one of Africa’s largest density of hippos and crocodile populations. Chimpanzees can be tracked in neighbouring Budongo Forest Reserve. Large herds of the localised Rothschild’s giraffe are found in the park. The rare Patas monkey can sometimes be spotted on the grassy plains.
Murchison a different species of water birds such as the African Fish Eagle, African Skimmer and the rare shoebill stork which can easily be seen on the banks of the river. Other bird species that can be seen include Silver Bird, Blue-napped Mousebirds, Grey-crowned Crane, Bluff-bellied Warblers, Goliath Heron, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Green-winged Ptyilia, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Long-toed Plover, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Saddle-billed Stork, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Spotted and Verreaux’s Owls, Long-tailed and Pennant-winged Nightjars, Standard-winged Nightjar, White-backed Night Heron and Pel’s Fishing Owl.
Murchison Falls (also known to as the Kabalega Falls) white waters rapidly races down 80km before plunging in 40m the centrepiece of the park over the remnant rift valley wall at Murchison Park. These most shocking natural wonders in Africa with a dramatic view of the waterfall is the ‘Top of the Falls’ where the sight and sound of the Nile crashing through a 6m – wide chasm makes an unforgettable sight experience. A trek to the falls is unforgettable lifetime adventure
Main Tourist Activities
The major tourist activities in the park include: – Game Drive Views typically around the delta circuit, Chimpanzee tracking in the Budongo Forest, also Chimpanzee Trekking at Kaniyo Pabidi, Launch Cruise trips along the Nile to the bottom of the falls rewards you with sights of a diversity of bird species as well as wildlife, and there is also an interesting walk to the top of the falls. Sports fishing in the Nile, Guided Nature walks and Bird watching.
Murchison Falls boasts a high number of visitor’s activities Year Out.
Available tourist accommodation includes lodges notably at Paraa Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge, Sambiya River Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, (High-end lodging). Budongo Eco Lodge, Bakers Lodge, Murchison River lodge, Fort Murchison, Budongo Ecolodge (Mid range Lodging) and alternative budget accommodation at Red Chilli Rest Camp(Red Chili Hideaway cottages), Heritage Lodge & Bwana Tembo (budget Lodging).
While in Murchison Falls, comfort is at its best, you can choose your stay offering tourists descent hospitality services
Getting Here: – A number of routes can be used to reach the Nile at Paraa at the heart of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The river is crossed here using a vehicle ferry which runs at roughly hourly intervals throughout the day.
Southern Entrance Gates: – Two southerly approaches to Paraa lead out of Masindi town, which is a 4-hour drive (305km) from Kampala. Along the way to Masindi is the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda. You can track them on foot and support this important initiative to reintroduce rhinos to protected areas. Visit Rhinos In Uganda for more information.
The main route from Masindi enters the Conservation Area through Kichumbanyobo Gate to pass through Kaniyo Pabidi Forest to Paraa (85km).
A longer but more scenic alternative runs for 135km from Masindi to the park’s Bugungu gate, The route includes a passage through Budongo Forest and a memorable descent of the rift valley escarpment with views across Lake Albert towards the mountains of the Congo.
Northern Entrance Gates: –Murchison Falls National Park can also be entered via the Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi gates north of the Nile. These are reached from the Kampala-Pakwach Road which crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge in the northeastern corner of the park, 260km from Kampala. These gates are convenient for a visitor travelling to/from Gulu town and Kidepo Valley National Park.
By Air: – Pakuba Airfield, 19km from North Paraa, can be reached using chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield near Kampala. Other airfields in the park include Chobe to the east, and Bugungu – near Murchison Falls – to the south.
Best time to Visit: – Tourists can visit the park any time throughout the year, although conditions in the park are more difficult during the rainy season and it is usually advisable to use 4×4 vehicles while on your Murchison Falls safari.
You can use us to Seek advice on how best you can access the park as well as how to pay for any of the activities you wish to get involved in. You can also make use of us while booking any of your activities from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices either in Kampala or at any entry points of the park.
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