An exciting destination in Uganda with adventurous highlights including wildlife and one of the biggest water falls. Murchison Falls National Park is a worthy attraction you will be ready to explore, discover and make memories while on your African Safari.
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savannah in North-western Uganda. It was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, and also the 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 center-piece 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. At Murchison Falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow.
The Victoria Nile has one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles which include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
ATTRACTIONS IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
This park is characterized with eternal war between rock and water. The water violently compresses through a narrow gorge spraying misty droplets creating a rainbow. From the southern side, you are able to see the Nile splitting into smaller Uhuru falls. Murchison is one of the best destinations in Africa and has a number of attractions that visitors would love to explore & they are listed below;
One of the best rewarding experiences in Murchison, is a boat trip upstream the nile to the foot of the falls. This is a great deal for nature lovers and you will come across a good number of mammals, birds and reptiles. The Ambience itself while on the boat trip creates an unforgettable and memorable experience.
THE NILE DELTA (Victoria Nile – Lake Albert)
One of the key areas for bird watchers is the point where the calm Victoria Nile flows into Lake Albert. Its papyrus lined banks are bursting with bird life including the Goliath heron, Great egret, African Fish Eagles plus many other wetland migrants. This is also where you get to spot the most sought after bird species, the rare shoebill.
Paraa means the home of hippos in the local Luo Language and is known as the park’s tourism hub. All the park’s access roads converge here as the northern and southern banks are linked with a passenger ferry. You will find a number of accommodation facilities (safari lodges) here ranging from the budget type to Luxury. Once at any of these lodges, you can get up early morning for a game drive in the park, or a nature walk and alternatively take an afternoon launch trip. In Chobe – north eastern sector of the park, is where you will find the Karuma falls. Paraa is an Ideal place for spot fishing, game viewing and bird watching & it’s a place where two eco-systems converge.
BULIGI GAME TRACKS
The Buligi game tracks stretch between the Victoria Nile and the Albert Nile and are the most popular safari destination in Murchison falls national park. This part is comprised of open savannah grassland, acacia, woodland and riverine vegetation. Some of the wildlife seen at this part of the park include Elephants, Rothschild Giraffes, buffaloes, lions, hyenas and a lot more. They can be seen during early morning or evening game drives.
KANIYO PABIDI FOREST
This forest eco-system contains a number of primates including black and white collobus monkeys, blue monkeys, olive baboons and a habituated group of chimpanzees which can be tracked. Bird watching is also common here since it’s easy to see some forest birds including chocolate-backed kingfisher and the white-thighed hornbill.
Another birders paradise is the Rabongo forest surrounded by savannah and covers about 4 Km2. A lot of endangered species are found here including the African finfoot. The rabongo forest is a good place for educational tours as it gives an opportunity for visitors to identify animals, birds, medicinal plants & trees plus more.
ACTIVITIES IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
BIRDING / BIRD WATCHING
Both the game drives and the launch trips in Murchison falls national park offer an exciting opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemics. The park’s main birding attraction is the Shoebill, best sighted in the dry season from January-March. Other rare bird species can be seen on the game tracks and in rabongo forest.
A perfect way to enjoy this park is through a game drive around the Buligi game tracks on the northern bank. Of-course with a trained ranger guide, you will have chances to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the Nile Valley. Your guide will have a good idea where the lions are hiding, and you may even spot a leopard at dusk. Murchison Falls Park has a big number of wildlife attractions and since it’s the biggest in Uganda, visitors often come here all year long to discover and explore.
HIKING AND NATURE WALKS
The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding Conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forests provide sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile Delta, 2-4 hour guided swamp walks offer possible Shoebill sightings.
The launch trip upstream from Paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the Falls. Recommended for birders is a morning cruise downstream to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta. Alternatively, a tranquil sun-downer cruise offers the classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river.
The banks of the Nile below Murchison Falls provide exciting challenges to anglers. Living within strong currents and highly oxygenated water is the Nile perch. There is the chance to land a massive catch – the record is 108kg!
Energetic dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk. Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the realities of life in this rural community.
There are a number of routes which 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 www.rhinofund.org for more information.
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 visitors travelling to/from Gulu town and Kidepo Valley National Park.
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.