Murchison Falls National Park is one of the leading wildlife tour destinations in Uganda. Located in Northwestern Uganda, Murchison Falls NP has its area stretch covering the shores of Lake Albert to the Karuma waterfalls. It is the only park that is found in Northwestern Uganda and also, the biggest of the 10 safari parks in the Pearl of Africa.
Murchison Falls National Park is under Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) management and it was formed in 1952. It is an extensive and savanna-dominated park with land area of 3840sq.km, lying in the 4 districts in Northwestern Uganda: Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo and Masindi. It is separated into 2 by the Nile River, creating the Northern and Southern sections.
This park falls under the vast Murchison Falls Conservation Area and this protected area also covers the lush Budongo Forest, Bugungu Wildlife and Karuma Wildlife Reserve. It has many wildlife habitats where the park’s animals reside and originally, it was created as Kabalega National Park.
Murchison Falls National Park is where the powerful Murchison Waterfalls is located, one of Uganda’s natural wonders. Getting to the spectacular Murchison Falls NP requires Uganda safari travelers to drive for over 300km.
Wildlife of Murchison Falls National Park- Uganda
A diversity of wildlife habitats exist in Murchison Falls National Park. The park supports a huge concentration of primates, savanna, aquatic and bird species in its varying habitats: wetlands, open plains, grassland and open plains. The primates to encounter on a Uganda tour in Murchison Falls Park include; vervet monkeys, chimpanzees, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys. These are part of the park’s 76 mammal species.
Other amazing wildlife to expect to come across on a tour in Murchison Falls NP include lions, leopards, buffaloes, hyenas, warthogs, hippos, striped jackals, monitor lizards, crocodiles, elephants, Uganda Kobs, Oribis, bushbucks, Bohor reedbucks, waterbucks, hartebeest, and others. This is the only park in Uganda where you have a higher opportunity to encounter the Big Five especially with a stop over at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary enroute to Murchison Falls National Park.
Tourist Activities to do in Murchison Falls National Park (Uganda)
Visit the top of the Murchison Falls
Visit to the top of the Murchison Falls is one of the must-do things on a safari in Murchison Falls National Park. Two options are available leading to the top of the falls; you can drive direct or take a boat cruise hike from the bottom of the falls for 45 minutes. Hiking to the top of the falls may depend on the water levels and at the top, you will be observing how the Nile River is forcing itself into a narrow rock of about 8m and cascading 45m below.
Game drives offer a lifetime opportunity to you to enjoy the sight of diverse wildlife species. There are 76 species of mammals in Murchison Falls NP and on a game drive, expect to come across large herds of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, warthogs, spotted hyenas, antelopes: bushbucks, Uganda kobs, Bohor reedbucks, waterbucks, hartebeest, oribis and more.
Boat/launch cruise in Murchison Falls N/Park is a remarkable recreational activity and it takes place starting at the Paraa Jetty on the Victoria Nile to the base of the falls. It is 2-3 hours adventure that comes with astonishing sights of aquatic birds, hippos, and the Nile crocodiles while they bask on the river banks. Other than the Victoria Nile boat cruise tour, there is also opportunity to indulge in a boat ride on the Nile Delta taking guests to a point where the Nile River meets Lake Albert.
Sport fishing in Murchison Falls NP is done in 2 areas- at the base of the falls and Karuma. It is amazing sport activity that lets enthusiastic anglers a chance to challenge themselves with heavy Nile Tilapia.
Murchison Falls National Park is one of the favorite birding spots in Uganda, home to over 451 bird species. There are plenty of bird watching opportunities to explore on Uganda safari in Murchison Falls NP. The various birds of Murchison Falls National Park include bar breasted fire finch, Abyssinian ground hornbill, eastern grey plantain-eater, African fish eagles, Abdim’s stork, grey-headed shrike, shoebill stork, pennant-winged pytilia, African darters, African quail-finch, African jacana, blue-napped moosebird, African skimmers, long-toed plovers, black-headed gondola, black-billed wood-dove, fawn-breasted waxbill, Northern carmine bee-eaters, gray crowned cranes, blue-headed coucal, martial eagle, malachite kingfishers;
Red-throated bee-eaters, rock pratincole, speckle-fronted weaver, long tailed nightjars, Senegal thick-knee, pel’s fishing owl, swamp flycatcher, swallow-tailed bee-eaters, veracious doves, spotted mourning thrush, sulphur-breasted bush shrike, bluff-bellied warblers, saddle-billed stork, white-browed sparrow weaver, yellow-throated greenbul, white African fish eagle, standard-winged nightjars, sandpipers, verreaux’s owl, yellow-fronted tinker birds, white-backed night heron, weaver birds and others.
Forest/nature walks are perfectly done in Budongo or Rabongo Forest. These forest reserves offer the best of a guided foot walk experience with opportunity to enjoy the sight of diverse primates such as vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, pottos, black and white colobus monkeys; birds and flora.
Tracking chimpanzees in Murchison Falls NP is carried out in the Budongo and Kaniyo-Pabidi Forest. Over 820 chimpanzees reside in Budongo and treks start in the morning and afternoon. Many primates can also be encountered while searching for chimpanzees including the blue monkeys, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, etc.
Cultural encounter and camping are some additional activities that guests visiting Murchison Falls National Park can engage in. Boomu village is a renowned local cultural group you shouldn’t miss visiting on a Uganda safari.
Best time to visit
Wildlife trips to Murchison Falls National Park can be conducted at any time but the dry season offers more favorable weather conditions for game viewing safaris. The long dry season/months; June, July, August to September while the short dry season runs from December to February. The low/off seasons occur from March, April to May and October to November.
The accommodation facilities in and around Murchison Falls NP exist in 3 areas; the Paraa, Albert Nile and Victoria Nile. Other lodging options exist along the Masindi and Kaniyo-Pabidi route. The lodges in and around Murchison Falls NP include Chobe Safari Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Twiga Safari Lodge, Baker’s Lodge, Budongo Eco Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge, Red chili Camp, Sambiya River Lodge and more.
How to get there
Getting Murchison Falls National Park is possible by road or air travel. By road, start your trip from Entebbe or Kampala-Gulu highway, about 6 hours’ drive, it is easier if your hire a car and driver to drive you to the park. Access gates to Murchison Falls Narional Park Uganda include; Chobe Gate, Bugungu, Tangi, Kichumbanyobo, and Mubako. By air travel, set off from Entebbe Airport/Kajjansi airfield in a scheduled/chartered flight to Bugungu, Chobe and Pakuba airstrips.