Murchison falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s oldest and largest Park, located in North west of Uganda, covering an area of a bout 5072 km2, combined with the contiguous Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves that straddles the Ugandan districts of Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo and Masindi. spreading inland from the shores of Lake Albert, around the Victoria Nile up to the Karuma Falls. The Park is bisected by the Victoria Nile from east to west for a distance of about 115 kilometres (71 miles) where the waters of the Nile flow through a narrow gorge only 7 metres (23 feet) wide before plunging 43 metres (141 feet). This 45m plunge drains the largest the last of the river’s energy transforming the torrent into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor towards Lake Albert.

Murchison falls National Park

What to do in Murchison Falls National Park

There are many activities that can done within and around the park which includes; wildlife experience, sport fishing, Launch cruise to the bottom of falls and beautiful scenery. The main animal species include; Lions, African elephants, leopards, Cape buffaloes and so many bird species.

Hiking top of the Falls

Always from the bottom and takes you through the long hike of 45 minutes to 1 hour and its life changing experience. They are characterised by an external struggle between water and the rock, compresses through a narrow gorge, spraying misty droplets along their walls over a 50 m radius, which creates a lasting rainbow over the ground, thus leaving a continuous roar.

Karuma Falls

Located in the northeastern side of the park in the Chobe region. best spot for port fishing in Murchison waterfalls. One of the most stunning attractions while visiting the National Park; there a series of natural good looking rock formations all the way at the base of the Victoria Nile. The falls are located at the place where the main road of Gulu- Masindi crosses the Nile River, about 110 km northeast of Masindi town and 70 km south of the town of Gulu. Chobe safari lodge is the nearby accommodation in the area.

River Nile

The longest in the world and starts its journey from Jinja town flowing. It divides the park into two ie; the northern and southern sector and its home to many aquatic birds, crocodiles and hippos. The boat cruise along the Nile to the foot of the falls s so rewarding for nature lovers, as the northern bank is filled with mammals, birds and reptiles. There are guided walks along the north and south banks as well as sport fishing.

Nile – Lake Albert Delta

A calm stretch of water, where the peaceful Victoria Nile flows into Lake Albert and is a key area for bird watchers. The papyrus lined banks are full with bird life, including Goliath Herons, great Egrets as well as the African Fish eagles. The most sought after species is the rare shoebill.

Paraa

A starting point for the boat safari to the falls, the delta and the sites of the vehicle ferry crossing. This is where the entire park’s access road’s coverage as the northern and southern banks is also connected by a passenger ferry. There are many hotels and safari lodges located nearby. You can find both the museum and gift shop in the northern bank. This region is where game drives; launch trips and nature walks take place.

Buligi Game Tracks

Extends between Victoria and Albert Nile making Murchison falls the most famous safari destination in Uganda. It’s between 12-170 km in length and passes through open savanna grassland, acacia, woodland, as well as riverine vegetation and animals including warthogs, bush bucks, elephants, lions, giraffes, Rothschild’s, bush bucks, buffalos, leopards, hyenas and many more. The most fantastic way of viewing these animals is through taking a hot air balloon safari which will expose you to many wildlife species at the Nile Plains alongside being monitored by their predators.

Fishing in the park

Sport fishing can either be done above and below the fall as visitor come with their own fishing equipment in case interested in fishing activity at a cost. The common fish species found include; Nile perch and Tiger fish.

Kaniyo Pabidi Forest

Located in southern part of the park and its home to the habituated chimpanzees that can be tracked with the experienced guides. It’s also home to blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and olive baboon troops. The other wildlife species found here include; elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards as well as bird species.

Rabongo Forest

A birding paradise owing variety of endangered species including; the yellow footed fly catcher, Ituri batis, and white thatched hornbill. You get to drive through the savannah plains for one and half hours from the lodge in the park to the place where John Speke and James Grant explored. The forest is good for educational safaris and it offers an opportunity of identifying animals, birds, medicinal plants and trees.

Budongo Forest

The forest is one of the key areas that lie southwest of the park with a link to the community, which is adjacent with Kaniyo Pabidi forest commonly known for chimpanzee tracking experience. The forest has 24 species of mammals, 360 birds, 289 butterflies and 465 plant species. It’s also known for its primate population which totals to 800 chimpanzees. The forest walks are possible at Busingiro Ecotourism site on Bugungu – Masindi route to Murchison falls National Park.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo forest

Budongo forest is a good site for tracking the chimpanzees while in the park. The rate of seeing the chimps is high here and only outdone by Kibale Forest. These can be tracked in the morning or afternoon and the activity can be done on the way to or from Murchison falls National Park. The best option is to stay here for a night and have a forest walk at Budongo forest.

Guided Nature Walks

The guided nature walks in Kaniyo Pabidi goes through woodland and savannah terrain. On these guided nature walks, you are able to see elephants, lions, buffaloes, and leopards. The group is always accompanied by a guide and a harmed ranger.

Guided Night Walk

These night walks will introduce to you the sounds and feelings you didn’t know existed. You will be able to meet many nocturnal animals. This usually takes 2 hours and half and you need closed shoes, long pants, water, insect repellent and a flashlight.

Game Drives

Can be day or night game drives; they can be enjoyed early in the morning and in the afternoon or at night. The many animals to be seen here include; lions, hippos, Rothschild’s giraffe, warthog, Cape buffalo, kobs, elephants and many more. When carrying out game drives, you are usually accompanied by a guide and an armed ranger.

Boat cruises

These boat trips start at Paraa landing area where River Nile connects to Lake Albert and cruising up to the bottom of the falls. You will view many animals including; hippos, water bucks, buffaloes, crocodiles, kingfishers, shoebill stork and the bee eaters. Cruise takes place between 9am and 2pm daily. The cruise takes you for 17 km from the bottom of the falls at Paara for 3 hours. The boat cruise from Paara to River Delta is 28 km and takes about 4-5 hours.   

Birding watching

Murchison falls National Park is one of the top areas in Uganda for bird watching. Budongo has got 360 species of birds. Bird species common here include; Vitelline masked weaver, silver bird, Bluff bellied warbler, green winged ptyillia, black headed batis, and the white rumped seedeater. The most common nocturnal species include; long tailed and Pennat-winged night jar, Verreaux’s owls. The other species of birds found here include; white African fish eagle, African skimmer, Goliath heron, and many more.

How to access Murchison falls National Park

By road; there are a number of roads that can be used to reach the park, the park main hub is where vehicle ferry crossing the river at about intervals through the day. This journey to Murchison falls takes you around 5 to 6 hours from Kampala with 305 km. Paara region covers a distance of 85 km from Masindi town by the shortest route.

 By Air

Pakuba airfield is situated in Nwoya district of North West of Uganda serving both Murchison falls and Pakuba. The airfield is 275 kilometres by air from Entebbe international Airport of about 1 hour which is 19 kilometers by road south of Pakwach and 95 kilometers northwest of Masindi town.

There is Chobe airstrip located in north western Uganda in the park around chobe safari lodge and it’s privately managed and owned by Chobe safari lodge. The airstrip is about 2735 kilometres by air from Entebbe and about 1 hour where Airport shuttles are arranged for chobe safari lodge visitors.

Bugungu airstrip is a domestic airstrip located inside the park in the north western part of Uganda at the southern sector of the park with 260 km by air.

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