skip to Main Content

Established in 1952, Murchison falls national park is the largest park in Uganda as it is sits on 3840km2 of land. It derives its name from Murchison falls where Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow. The park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland in northern section whereas the south is dominated by woodland and forest patches. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, lying at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna hosting 76 species of mammals as well as over  species. The park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland in northern section whereas the south is dominated by woodland and forest patches

The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece 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 riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.

What to do in Murchison falls

There is a range of activities to choose from here, the most popular of which are Nile boat trips, wildlife drives and nature walks. Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest Reserve is a highlight.

Game/Wildlife drives

In Murchison Falls National Park game viewing can be enjoyed while on a game drive in several designated game drive areas. On your safari in Murchison falls national park, you will take the game drives in safari vehicles with a pop out roof to enable you spot the animals easily. The game drives take anything from 4 hours to an entire day depending on your interests, amount of time in the park and the different activities you are interested in. Have your cameras to shoot photos of the different animals, birds and landscape but most importantly use the time to enjoy nature. The animals to look out for include; Bushbucks, Waterbucks, hartebeest, Oribi, Uganda Kobs, giraffes, Patas monkeys, Warthogs, Elephants, Buffaloes, Leopards and Lions etc. Those with their own vehicle should definitely take a UWA ranger-guide to boost their chances of sightings. Night drives from 6pm to 10pm enable travelers to see nocturnal animals and for self-drivers staying across the river, take note of the Paraa ferry schedule to avoid missing the last boat back in the evening at 7pm get there 10 minutes earlier.

Launch trips

The launch trip upstream from Paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the Falls. The Nile boat safari is your ultimate experience of water, animals, birds, and great scenery. Here you look out for animals coming to water and those resident/semi residents in water; Crocodiles, Hippos, monitor lizards. Watch out for herds of Buffalo, Elephants and antelopes that come for water. The opportunities for water birds are high as you take this trip. The launch trip happens twice a day with a morning trip starting at 9am and afternoon at 2pm; however, one can rent a boat and take trip at their leisure. For those most interested in bird watching we recommend the boat ride to the delta where you have chances of sighting the Shoebill as it fishes.

Birdwatching

Murchison falls National Park with 450 bird species was named among the best birding spots in Africa by the Africa Bird Guide. Bird watching can be done while on game drive, launch trips and nature walks with a ranger guide. Due to varied habitats, one stands the opportunity of watching forest birds, Savannah, water and a few of Albertine rift endemics. Birds in Murchison Falls national park are easy to find because of the its Savannah grassland. However, some woodlands and forested areas make it difficult but still possible to locate the birds.  The highlights will be the numerous birds by the waters and swamp areas like the; open-billed stork, Red-throated bee–eaters (nests in the cliff by the river), Pied, malachite and Giant Kingfishers, Grey, night, commom Squacco, Striated and Goliath herons, Egyptian ducks, Spur winged lapwings, Intermediate, Great and Little Egrets. While on game drive do not miss the Abyssian ground hornbills, Black and Northern Red Bishop among others.

Nature and forest 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-Lake Albert Delta, two- to four-hour guided swamp walks offer possible sightings of the Shoebill when the water level is low. After an afternoon boating upriver, you can also hike 45 minutes through woodland to the top of Murchison Falls for a completely different experience of this magnificent waterfall. The Hike up the top of Murchison falls is another exciting walk that everyone should take. Once on the boat trip from Paraa toward the ‘Devils cauldron’, stop a few meters from the bottom of the falls and take hike through the vegetation to experience the top the falls. The hike is fulfilling as you watch the waters of the Nile be squeezed through a 7m gorge. This hike takes anything between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the interests of the people and their speed at hiking.

Chimpanzee tracking

Kaniyo Pabidi is a section of Budongo forest located in the boundaries of Murchison falls national park. You can track chimpanzees from Kaniyo Pabidi a section of Budongo forest, which is home to numerous other primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys, lots of rare bird species and big game like Buffaloes, Elephants, and bush pigs with magnificent scenery. The chimpanzee trek normally takes 3-4 hours depending on where the chimps nested the previous night, once located the people are can stay in the presence of chimps for an hour watching them eat, play, rest and groom each other. This needs to be booked in advance with Uganda wildlife authority or Budongo Eco Lodge.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing is allowed on the Nile after obtaining the permit from Uganda Wildlife authority through your tour operator. The waters after the falls on Victoria Nile provide some of the most exciting challenge to anglers with presence of Nile Perch.  The largest Nile perch recorded is 108kg.  Fishing is permitted in designated sites and places which require prior booking. You are encouraged to bring your own equipment.

Cultural encounters

The Boomu women’s Group right outside the park is a worthy visit for someone who wants to engage with the local community. Take the scenic village tour as you learn about the resident’s everyday lives, farming, visit the black smith, demonstration of basket weaving, cooking and visit to a local school. You can choose to stay overnight in this place or just visit for a few hours and continue to the park or when leaving for Kampala. The activities will depend on how much time you have to in the area.

How to get there

You can access the park through air travel by taking scheduled/chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi respectively and land at Paara airstrip organized by Aerolink and Fly Uganda. By road, one drives from Kampala taking approximately +5 hours. The park has access gates from the south for people traveling from Kampala through Masindi or those traveling from Fort portal. It also has access gates in the north for people traveling from Kampala via Karuma or those traveling from Gulu or Kidepo valley national park.

WHERE TO STAY

There are quite number of safari lodges that range from budget to luxury that you can choose from if you decide to take your holiday in the wilderness of MFNP. Eco-friendly campsites and budget accommodations are also available to budget travelers offering excellent services. Among these include the following; Bakers lodge, Chobe safari lodge, Paara safari lodge (Luxury), Pakuba safari lodge Budongo Eco lodge, Sambiya River

Back To Top