Murchison Falls National Park, Location, Activities, Lodges & More

Murchison Falls National Park also known as Kabalega National Park deriving its name from the world’s most powerful waterfall it harbors. It is the oldest and largest national park in Uganda, spanning over four districts that’s   Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Masindi, covering an area of  3,840 square kilometers, bisected by R.Nile from the east to the west covering a distance of 115km.

The park is located in the northwestern regions of the country, stretching from the shores of Lake Albert to the Karuma Falls along the Victoria Nile. It was established in 1952 following its earlier designation as a game reserve in 1926.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is featured with a rich biodiversity holding over 73 mammal species inclusive of the Big Fives except rhinos namely elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, different antelope species, a variety of Rothschild giraffes, bush kobs, waterbucks, warthogs, hippos and crocodiles, among others. It is home to a variety of primates holding about 610 chimpanzees olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black and white Columbus monkeys, and vervet monkeys.  It is a birding haven holding over 451 bird species, inclusive of 23 species of  Albertine rift endemics and notable species such as the Shoebill stork, Goliath heron, African fish eagle, and the majestic grey crowned crane.

It has a variety of tree species riverine forest, and woodland, providing habitats for an array of plant species. The Borassus palm and acacia trees dominate its landscapes.

Must-see attractions in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls

Murchison falls

The spectacular Murchison Falls, where the Nile River explodes through a narrow gorge, is a must-see attraction for all travelers to this destination. Here, the Nile River narrows from 50 meters to a mere 7 meters as it plunges 43 meters down, creating a thunderous roar and a stunning spray of water. This natural spectacle is one of the most powerful surges of water in the world.

 

 

 

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary 

The sanctuary was established in 2005 by the Rhino Fund Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Authority to reintroduce and protect rhinoceros which had been severely poached during the 1990s due to depletion from their natural habitats in Murchison Falls and Kidepo National Parks where they are currently found. The sanctuary currently holds 22 southern white rhinoceros.

Wildlife

The park’s varied habitats which are featured with lush Savannah, riverine forests, woodlands, and wetlands support a variety of animal species namely giraffes, buffaloes, cheetahs, hyenas,  bush-kobs, Hartebeests, lions, elephants, leopards, Rothschild giraffes, among others. Bird species sighted at the park include African jacana, Abyssinian ground hornbill, pitta, malachite kingfisher, shoebill stork, the Goliath heron, the yellow-footed flycatcher, pied giant and so much more adding up to about 451 species.

Top 9 Things to do at Murchison Falls National Park

 Boat Safaris

The boat cruise at the park takes place at the Nile River and Nile Delta. Boating cruising on the Nile to the base of the falls offers magnificent views of hippos, Nile crocodiles, and numerous wading bird species. The Nile delta where the river Nile meets with Lake Albert offers scenic views featured with a variety of bird species.

Bird Watching

Best experienced during guided nature walks, the park has diverse bird species adding up to about 451inclusives of the Albertine rift endemics and the rare species such e Shoebill stork, Goliath heron, African fish eagle, and grey crowned crane making it a birder paradise for spotting different bird species.

Game Drives

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are one of the most popular activities enjoyed by travelers to this destination, providing them with opportunities to encounter the park’s wildlife up close. During the drives, different animals are spotted grazing on the savanna plains. Game drives are best done in the early when the animals are very active within their habitats or in the afternoon.

Hiking and Nature Walks

The park is comprised of several well-maintained trails which enables exploration of its diverse ecosystem on foot. Travelers hike to the top of the falls for panoramic views of the park and the falls, feeling its power up close.

They also trek through  Rabongo forest or  Kaniyo Pabidi forests to catch glimpse of different birds, primates, small vertebrates, flowering plants, and majesty trees, among others making it a very rewarding activity.

Hot Air Balloon Safari

The park offers a hot air balloon safari experience, offering visitors panoramic views of the park’s wildlife, the falls, forest canopy, beautiful landscapes and so much more.

Chimpanzee Tracking

The main area for chimpanzee tracking in Murchison Falls National Park is the Budongo Forest Reserve, located in the southern part of the park.it is a large mahogany forest and a biodiversity hot spot, making it an excellent habitat for chimpanzees and other primates.

They are best seen during guided treks in the morning offering visitors an extraordinary experience, as they hear their loud calls echoing through the forest, and watch them interact, feed, play, and groom each other, among others.

Cultural Experiences

The park offers opportunities where visitors to engage with the local communities around the park to learn about their traditional lifestyles and cultures. While there, visitors enjoy captivating dances, songs, and poems from the local cultural performance groups making it a very rewarding experience.

Launch Trip

This is a 2-hour experience beginning at Paraa offering visitors opportunities to see various water wildlife which includes  giant hippos, large numbers of Nile crocodiles wading birds, wildlife by the shores, and stunning views of the falls

Sport Fishing

The Nile River offers visitors amazing sport fishing opportunities, particularly for Nile perch,  whereby they try catching mighty fish with their hands and other species with the help of local fishermen offering them the best and most unforgettable experience.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry seasons, from December to February and June to September. During these periods, wildlife is more easily spotted as animals gather around water sources, and the roads are more accessible.

How to Get To Murchison Fall National Park

The park is accessible by both road and air transport.

By Road: From Kampala, it’s about a 5-6 hour drive (approximately 305 kilometers) to the park via the Masindi route. The roads are generally good, but a 4×4 vehicle is recommended, especially during the rainy season.

By Air: Domestic flights are available from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Pakuba Airfield, Chobe Airstrip, or Bugungu Airstrip within the park from where to catch a ride to the park headquarters or to your lodges.

A flight from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi to the airstrips is only an hour making it an ideal choice for those travelers who don’t want to spend much time on the road.

Accommodations;

Murchison Falls National Park offers a range of accommodations suiting different budgets ranging from standard to luxurious lodges.

Luxury Lodges include Paraa Safari Lodge and Chobe Safari Lodge

Mid-range Lodges include Murchison River Lodge and Pakuba Safari Lodge

Budget Lodges and Campsites include Red Chilli Rest Camp and UWA Campsites