Uganda National Park at Glance – Murchison Falls National Park (World’s Greatest Falls)
Sprawling in the northwest, Murchison Falls National Park is the largest of all the ten (10) pristine national parks in Uganda. It covers an area of about 3893sq.kms and forms part of the vast Murchison Falls Conservation Area which also includes Karuma Falls and Bugungu Wildlife Reserve.
The northern section of this park largely comprises of acacia trees, riverine woodland, savanna and Borassus palms whereas the southern part consists of woodland and forest patches.
Murchison Falls National Park is the only park which is set in northwestern Uganda and straddles on the northern end of Albertine Rift Valley. This park straddles between Buliisa district in the west and Nwoya district in northern Uganda.
By road, it is 4-5 hours’ drive from Kampala capital city and it is accessible through anyone of its numerous gates that include Chobe park gate in the northern sector, Wankar gate, Mubako gate, Tangi gate and from the southern section, Murchison Falls National Park is reachable via Kichumbanyobo gate or Bugungu gate.
The Park was established in 1952 which makes it one of Uganda’s oldest parks. In 1926, it was initially gazetted as a game reserve which still rates among the ancient conservation areas.
This park derived its name from Murchison Falls, one of the most thunderous waterfalls on earth which also features as the iconic tourist attraction in this conservancy area.
Popular safari itinerary to Murchison falls: 11 Days Uganda Wildlife Safari
Its establishment was mainly to refuge to biodiversity that today account for over 451 bird species, 76 mammal species and many floral species.
Wildlife species in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls is home to diverse wildlife species. It consists of 4 of the big 5 game; African bush elephants, buffaloes, leopards, lions; hippos, crocodiles, bush bucks, Rothschild giraffes, hartebeests, Oribis, chimpanzees, baboons, warthogs and many others.
The bird species to look out in Murchison Falls National Park include goliath herons, shoebill stork, spur winger geese, blue napped moose bird, spotted morning thrush, saddle billed stork, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black billed barbet, Denham’s bustard, black headed Gonolek, eastern plantain eater, silver bird, red throated bee-eater, white browed sparrow weaver, speckled fronted weaver, African quail finch, African Jacana, sacred ibis, dwarf kingfisher, white thighed horn bill, great blue Turaco to mention but a few. This park also boasts of its distinct vegetation which is characterized by riverine forest, woodland and savanna grassland.
Activities to do in Murchison Falls National Park
A visit to Murchison Falls Park is complete when you include a game drive in your travel plan. A game drive in this park is perfectly done in a good and comfortable 4×4 safari vehicle plus guide which gets you opportunity to look out for variety of savanna dwellers in the northern circuit of Murchison Falls Safari Park.
On a game drive, wildlife species to expect to see in Murchison Falls National Park include warthogs, giraffes, antelopes, buffaloes, bush elephants, lions, leopards as well as bird species.
Hike to the top of Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls is the most iconic attraction that any traveler shouldn’t miss to explore while on safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
It is best explored on a launch cruise which comes with a chance for you to look out for hippos, crocodiles, water birds and then you hike via trail to the top of the falls or drive from the southern section of the park to the top of the falls.
While here, you will witness the thunderous waterfall as it squeezes itself into a narrow gorge of about 7 meters before breaking off to 43 meters down.
A boat cruise in Murchison Falls safari Park starts from Paraa area where River Nile enters into Lake Albert and then you proceed to the bottom of Murchison Falls.
Try this safari (6 Days Big Five Safari) to Murchison
Along the way, you have a great chance to view several hippos, crocodiles, water birds including ducks, kingfishers, bee-eaters, cormorants, fish eagles and many other wildlife species. This water sport can last you about 2 to 3 hours.
With over 451 bird species, this Uganda safari Park is by far a birder’s paradise. Bird watching in this park is a rare experience which gets you a chance to look out for terrestrial, forest and water birds.
The birds to see in this park especially between Paraa Rest Camp and Ferry crossing include Vitelline masked weaver, bluff bellied warbler, blue napped mouse bird, green winged ptyilia, black headed batis, chestnut crowned sparrow weaver, spotted mourning thrush to mention but a few.
If you are interested in nocturnal bird species then do not miss to look out for the nightjars, verreaux’s owls, pennat winged nightjars, long tailed nightjars and many others.
You may also have a chance to spot out the white African fish eagle, long toed plover, gray crowned crane, goliath heron, African skimmer among others.
Nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park are best way for you to get close to nature. There are many trails set for this experience and most importantly, trail at Paraa which takes you via low hills, gullies and forest around the river. You may also embark on nature walk along Kaniyo Pabidi or Rabongo Forest.
Chimpanzee tracking in Murchison Falls National Park is best done in Budongo Forest. This gets you not only a magical encounter at chimpanzees but also bird species such as white thighed hornbill, chocolate backed kingfisher and many others.
Other activities to do in Murchison Falls National Park include sport fishing, hot air balloon tours.
Best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park
Depending on what your travel needs, the Park is open to visitors all year round. However, the dry season is considered the best for game viewing and this is usually in the months of June, July, August, September and December, January, February.
For bird watching, Murchison Falls National Park is ideal to explore while on birding tour in the months of March, April, May and October, November.
Where to stay in Murchison Falls
The available accommodation choices at Murchison Falls National Park include;
Luxury: Chobe Safari Lodge/Paraa Safari Lodge/Nile Safari Lodge
Midrange: Sambiya River Lodge/Murchison River Lodge/Budongo Eco Lodge
Budget: Red Chili Rest Camp/Boomu Women Bandas
Getting to Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is set in northwestern Uganda about 4-5 hours’ drive from Kampala. You can get to this park via its gates;
- From Kampala via Kichumbanyobo gate in the southern route.
- From Kampala to Pakwach via Chobe, Tangi gate, Mubako gate, Wankar gate in the north.
Set off on flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Pakuba, Bugungu or Chobe airfield. Chobe airfield is in east of Paraa; Bugungu airfield is close to Murchison Falls whereas Pakuba airfield is in the north from Paraa about 19kms.