Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls national park “The world’s most powerful waterfall”: Standing at the northern part of the Albertine rift is Murchison falls that consists over 76 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and many other stunning attractions that make it the best and most visited savanna park in Uganda the pearl of Africa. Murchison falls national park as stated harbors the world’s most powerful waterfall which is the yet the major tourist attraction of this savanna park that sees a water forcing itself out through a tiny hole with a thunderous sound offering a stunning and fascinating experience to the travelers. Murchison falls park lies along the shores of Lake Albert and is situated in the northwestern part of Uganda the pearl of Africa where it covers a land area of about 3,893 km² within and can be accessed from Kampala the capital city of Uganda.
Murchison falls national park thrills with plenty of wildlife species including the big 4 game of the 5 since the 5th is only seen in a sanctuary at Rhino Sanctuary in Masindi at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary. Apart from animals, Murchison falls national park is as well a home to primate species including chimpanzees in Budongo forest and Kaniyo pabidi.
Murchison falls Park is one of the 10 national parks under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority and together with the Karuma wildlife reserve and Bugungu wildlife reserve forms a great Murchison Falls Conservation Area. Which has an adjacent Budongo forest reserve that harbors over 76 mammals, 450 birds species and many other fauna species that thrill in the budongo forest.
Back in brief history, Murchison falls park was visited by 2 explorers that is James Grant and John Speke back in the years 1862 and later on Baker and Samuel also explored the park from 1863 to 1864. Baker then named the waterfalls as the Murchison falls in honor of the Roderick Murchison who was a geologist and from 1907 to 1912, the place was hit by the tsetse flies which saw evacuation of several inhabitants leaving an area of 13000 km2. In the year 1910, the area in the south of River Nile in Bulisa, Masindi and Kiryandongo district became Bunyoro Game Reserve which later on extended the boundaries to the Northern part of the River to Nyowa district in 1928 and at this time, it was a game reserve until it was gazette into a national park named as Murchison falls national park under the management of the British administration in the year of 1952 making it the largest national park occupying a land area of about 3893 Square Kilometers and yet the oldest national park in Uganda where one is capable of spotting the big 5 game as long as they stop over at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary.
The northern part of Murchison falls national park thrills with the most stunning savanna vegetation of both grassland and woodland including acacia trees as well as the riverine. It is in the northern part of Murchison falls national park where most of the game drives are conducted. The southern part of the park on the other hand comprises of mainly savanna woodland.
Major attractions/ Area of interest in Murchison falls
The Murchison falls
Murchison falls are the major attractions of the park and almost any tourists on a Uganda safari to Murchison falls can never miss out on this breath taking the experience of watching these waterfalls. While at Murchison falls national park, tourists are rewarded with a stunning view of the waterfall forcing itself through a tinny gorge with thunderous roar leaving the viewers mesmerized as they view a rainbow and listen to the sound of the waterfalls.
The Nile River
River Nile is as well a significant tourist attraction with in Murchison falls national park especially for nature lovers. It’s on river Nile while all boat cruise safaris in Murchison falls park are conducted both Upstream to the waterfalls and downstream to the Lake Albert delta. The most rewarding experience is when one takes a boat cruise upstream to the base of the waterfalls which offers a clear view of the waterfall as well as a variety of wildlife along the shores including the mammals, birds and the stunning flora of the park. One can as well take a guided walk along the river banks with a golden opportunity of viewing as many wildlife species as possible. It’s along the Nile River again where fishing is conducted.
Nile Albert delta
This stretch is one of the major birding spot in Murchison falls national park and it offers a golden opportunity of spotting some water birds including the Rare shoebill stork, Goliath Herons, African Fish Eagles and many more.
The Buligi game tracks
These are stretches that lie between Lake Albert and Lake Victoria taking a trail through open savanna vegetation including both savanna grassland and woodland. These Buligi tracks are the major trails used for game viewing in Murchison falls park offering several encounters with fauna and flora of the park.
This is situated in the Northern part of the park and it is in this area where most of the accommodations thrill and most of the roads to the park converge in paraa area. Paraa is situated in the northern part of the Murchison falls park where most of the park activities including game drives, boat cruise, hot air balloon and walking safaris are conducted. Even tourists who reside in the southern part of the park have to cross over to the north paraa for most of the park activities.
Kaniyo pabidi forest
Kaniyo Pabidi forest is situated just outside Murchison falls national park and is one of the best spots for primate viewing in Murchison falls national park. Some of the primate species that thrill in Kaniyo Pabidi include Chimpanzees, Olive baboons, black-and-white Colobus moneys and blue monkeys among others. Kaniyo pabidi as well is a home to other wildlife species including mammals such as Elephants, Lions, buffalos, leopards and abundant of birdlife making it yet one of the important birding areas in Uganda.
This is yet another stunning birder’s haven and the best destination for camping and picnic. The forest thrills with stunning fauna and flora species surrounded by a beautiful savanna vegetation. Rabongo forest is also a best place for student tours who wish to learn about different wildlife species including the endangered species. Rabongo forest is a small forest covering about 4 square kilometers of land but worth visit while on a Uganda safari.
Budongo forest is a stretch of Kaniyo Pabidi forest with a very stunning and diversity of over 24 mammals, 360 bird species, 290 species of butterflies, over 460 plant species and many more making it one of the best place to explore while on a Uganda safari to Murchison falls national park. Budongo forest is the best destination for Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison falls national park with a troop of over 800 chimpanzees and as of now 2021, chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest costs $90 per person. Budongo forest is as well the best birding destination as well as walking safaris.
Mammals in Murchison falls national park
The national park, the oldest and largest park in Uganda is a home to over 76 species of mammals including the big game such as Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Buffaloes and the Giraffes which are only found in Murchison falls national park and Kidepo valley national park. Only the Rhinos are missing on the list of big mammals in Murchison falls national park as they are only being protected in a sanctuary at Ziwa rhino sanctuary where they were re-introduced into the pearl of Africa in 2005. Other mammals in Murchison falls Murchison Falls include Hippos, Crocodiles, waterbucks, Uganda kob, Jackson’s hartebeest and many more.
Primates in Murchison falls national park
The national park comprises of the best vegetation of mixed savanna grassland and woodland and for this reason it is a habitat of several species of wildlife. Amongst the primates seen in this park include the Olive baboons that usually parade along the road waiting to hijack food stuff from the passing vehicles. Ensure that your car windows are raised as you approach these primates. Otherwise, your lunch will be gone. Other primates include chimpanzees that reside in Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo forest. Other primates include Blue monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white Colobus monkeys and Patas monkey.
Birds in Murchison falls national park
The national park is not only the largest park in Uganda but as well a home to over 450 species of birds making it one of the top birding spot in Uganda. The park harbors a variety of species of birds including water birds, forest birds, savanna birds, endemic species to Albertine rift and many more. A list of these bird species in Murchison falls national park includes Rare shoebill stark, Crowned Cranes, Goliath Heron, Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Black-headed Gonolek, Black-billed Barbet, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Squacco Heron, Weaver Birds, Speckle-fronted Weaver, African Jacana, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Red-throated Bee-eater and many more.
Tourist activities done in Murchison falls national park
As mentioned earlier, Murchison falls conducts boat cruise along the Nile River both upstream and downstream commencing from Paraa. A boat cruise upstream to the foot of the waterfalls offers scenic views of several wildlife species along the shores. While a boat cruise downstream to Albert delta in the morning best for birding while an evening tranquil sundowner boat cruise offers a stunning view of the sunset over the horizon as it reflects on the Nile River. Boat cruise upstream departs daily at 9am for morning boat cruise as well as 2 pm for afternoon boat cruise lasting for about 2-3 hours while a cruise downstream to albert delta takes about 4-5 hours and finally an evening cruise starts at 5:30pm for the sundowner or sunset cruise all setting off at Paraa jet.
With over 450 species of birds that thrill in Murchison Falls national park, birding is amongst the major tourist activities enjoyed in Murchison falls national park. It is very easy to combine game drive with the birding since the park thrills with abundant of birdlife that are seen at any given period of time with in the park. However, a birder can as well opt for a birding safari to fully watch as many bird species as position since we have birding guides who well know the best trails for birding in the park. The major bird specie to search for in Murchison falls national park is the rare Shoebill stork which is only seen by taking a delta boat cruise downstream and is mostly seen during dry months when the water levels in the swamp are minimal thus there is food. Other bird species can as well be seen during the game drive and boat cruise. Other bird species seen in the park include Secretary Birds, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Marabou Stork, Open-billed Storks, Black-bellied Bustards, Swallow-tailed Bee eater, Giant and Malachite Kit, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Pied kingfishers, Grey heron, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, plovers, geese and many more. Birders are advised to carry a pair of binoculars for easy bird watching.
Game drive is the best way to enjoy wildlife viewing in Murchison Falls National Park. The park thrills with several designated driving trail where tourists are able to drive while watching lots of mammals, birds, butterflies and many other park dwellers among others. The major area for game drive in Murchison falls national park include Delta where Lions are easily spotted targeting their next meal as mammals head to the delta to quench their thirst, Buligi Peninsula is as well a common track for game drive in Murchison, and finally the heart of the park.
Guided nature walks and hiking
Murchison falls national park has some walking trails where travelers can be able to explore the best of Murchison falls national park and the surroundings on foot. For instance, taking a forest walk through Rabongo forest and Kaniyo Pabidi rewards you with an encounter with primates and bird species that thrill in these forests. There is yet a 45 minutes top of falls hike that is enjoyed right after the afternoon boat cruise. There are other walking trails in Murchison falls national park including a short walk from the Mubako or Sambiya river lodge.
Murchison falls national park is one of the best parks in Uganda the pearl of Africa where sport fishing tournament are organized to enable tourists participate in this fascinating sport activity with a golden opportunity of landing onto a Nile perch, Cat-fish, Tiger fish, Tilapia and Ngara. A permit to enjoy sport fishing on Murchison falls national park costs $50per person per day while for those who wish to fish for 4 days pay $150 per person exclusive of park entrance fees.
There are various routes used to access Paraa in Murchison falls by road either via the southern gates or northern gates. However for those who wish to cross the river have to use the ferry which is the shortest distance possible to crossover from one side of the river to the other.
Accessing Murchison falls park through southern gates,
Southern gates are the best options for travelers from Kampala since they are easily accessed from masindi town with an enroute stopover at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary (optional). This route leads to Kichumbanyobo entrance Gate via Kaniyo Pabidi Forest. Another entrance gate used from the south is Bugungu gate that runs via Budongo Forest.
Accessing Murchison falls park through Northern gates,
From the southern part of the park, tourists access Murchison falls from Pakwach road via Nile River at Karuma Bridge and finally access the park via either Chobe gate, Wankwar gate, Tangi gate or Mubako gate.
By air, you can access the park from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi air field to any of the airfield including Pakuba Airfield, Chobe and Bugungu.