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Home » 10 National Parks of Uganda: Uganda National Parks: National Parks in Uganda » Murchison Falls National Park Uganda, Wildlife safari in Murchison Falls Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park Uganda, Wildlife safari in Murchison Falls Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park is marked by rolling savannah combretum with patches of borassus palms, acacia woodland and riverine vegetation along the banks of River Nile.

The southern sector of the park is more forested with thicket for example there is Rabongo forest which has got a closed forest canopy.

Murchison Falls National Park has 76 mammal species that include; bushbuck, defassa buck, bohor reedbuck, side-striped jackal, warthog, and oribis not forgetting vervet monkeys and olive baboon.

The rolling savannah plains of Murchison are ideal for spotted hyena, leopard and the localized patas monkey.

The Rabongo forest shelters populations of chimpanzees, black and white colobus and other primates. The park also contains 460 species of birds with other 19 species unconfirmed.

The banks of Nile River contain the rare and endangered shoe bill stork between the Nile Safari Camp and Lake Albert estuary. The species of raptors counting to 53 species have been recorded.

Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952 and it is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the north west of Uganda at the tip of the western rift valley also known as the Albertine rift, Murchison Falls National Park is in a distance of 311km about 5 hours’ surface drive from the city of Kampala.

The national Park covers a surface landscape of 3,440km2 while the wider Murchison Conservation Area which embeds Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves combine to cover 5,308km2.

The Murchison Falls National Park is closer to Masindi town 85km about 2- 3 hours’ of surface drive. The Park is bisected by the River Nile which is the longest river in the world as it makes its way from Lake Victoria to Mediterranean Sea leaving a natural wonder famously known as Murchison falls which is the most powerful waterfall in the whole world.

The feature derives its nomenclature after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of the Royal geographical society at the time of its discovery by Sir Samuel Baker.

This feature is among the hotspots in Murchison National Park thus should not be missed while on safari in Uganda as it squeezes its self to make the way through an 8m ravine before plummeting 43m below to what has been termed as the devils cauldron forming a plume of spray surrounded by a thunderous roar and marked by a trade mark rainbow.

Besides, the Murchison Falls, the park is a habitat for big five of the land animals except the Rhinos that dwell in the adjacent Ziwa Rhino sanctuary 135km 2 – 3 hours’ drive pending re-introduction after they got extinct in 1983.

Among the Big five present include; the lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. Other wildlife species include giraffe, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, bushbuck, oribi among others.

The Murchison Falls National Park is standing at an elevation of 619m and 1,292m qualifying it as low-lying considering the geography of Uganda.

This largest savannah park is the second most visited in Uganda after the National Park of Queen Elizabeth.

The park’s average rainfall is 1,085mm which relatively low in comparison with the rain forest protected areas of south western Uganda though it is with in the same range with other savannah protected areas of East Africa.

Murchison Falls National Park Uganda


Tourist Activities in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

7 Days Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari, Chimpanzee, Scenery & Wildlife TourMurchison Falls National Park has numerous counts of wildlife ranging from lions to buffaloes, Rothschild giraffes, elephants, Kobs, water and bush bucks, Jackson’s hartebeests, warthogs among others that in turn makes it ideal for wild game viewing and wildlife safaris to Murchison Falls National Park.

The thrilling game drive is conducted in the northern sector of the park shaped by rolling savannah grassland which attracts a range of grazers and animals that predate on them and it is short during dry seasons posing a good ground for viewing wildlife.

During rainy seasons, the grass becomes too tall and thus becomes difficult to view wildlife clearly. The tracks in the northern side like the Buligi track Albert track and Victoria track are designed to expose you to wild game of your interest.

The game viewing is best done between the Paraa – Pakwach road and Victoria Nile Delta. The Buligi sect is 7km in the north of Paraa and a right turn leads you to Wankwar gate and eventually Chobe.

The cliffs of Nyamsika offer good counts of buffalo and lions. The Nyamsika gorge contains water that draws most of the drinking animals while the cliffs are habitats of bee-eater birds.

The shallows give great opportunity for viewing Egyptian plover. The southern sector has dense vegetation which not favorable for wildlife viewing though the open ground along Sambiya – Karuma road offers sights of Kobs, waterbuck, Jackson hartebeest, baboon and oribi. The lions and elephants are encountered in the area but on rare occasions.

The game drive activity is best done in the morning 6:30am and 4:00pm in the evening local time. It is important to note that you need to cross by ferry at 7am if you spent in the south of the Nile. The game drive tends to stretch for 3 – 4 hours.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park has 451 species of birds thus it an ideal place for birders on Uganda safari. Although birding in Murchison can be arranged as a single activity, the activities like game drives and launch cruise also offer birding opportunities.

The birds dwell in the savannah landscapes, water logged areas along River Nile and Rabongo forest. The rare and endangered shoebill stork thrives along the banks of the Nile River and is best encountered in January – March.

Other bird species include; the grey crowned crane, Abyssinian ground horn bill, White headed vulture, Senegal thick- knee and Black headed lapwing among others.

The plains of Murchison contain birds like; Marabou Stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Secretary Birds, Open-billed Storks, Black-bellied Bustards and Window Bird.

Birding encounter can also be condicted in Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests with chances of spotting; Giant and Malachite Kingfishers; Swallow-tailed and Red-throated Bee-eaters – particularly in the Nyamusika Cliffs; Woodland, Pied Kingfisher, Grey heron; Hornbills, Francolin, Hamerkop, Flycatchers, Cuckoos; Woodpeckers, Crombecs and Warblers. The riversides contain geese, ducks, plovers and stilts.

Launch trips in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

The Nile River is the world’s longest river and it traverses Murchison Falls National Park bisecting it into two parts.

This forms a good ground for a launch cruise activity. The launch cruise commences at Paraa and is perfectly done in the afternoon at 2:00pm taking 3 hours stretching up to the bottom of the falls.

This activity was also done by the Queen Mother of England in 1959 to inaugurate the new launch. The River Nile stretch presents a relaxed environment marked by borasus palms, stands of mahogany and acacia wood species.

The Nile crocodiles and counts of Hippos accompany you throughout this activity. The wild game tend to drink on the riverside featuring herds of cape buffaloes, waterbucks, kobs and rarely giraffe, black and white colobus and the bush buck which gives you impressive wildlife viewing on your soothing Nile waters.

The elephant species might be seen playing in the Nile waters while the riverine vegetation offers counts of birds including the rare shoe bill stork, the saddle billed stork, African fish eagle, Goliath heron, pied and malachite kingfishers, African jacana, piacpiac, African skimmer among others.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) launch has for long navigated these waters with experienced team that will equip you with everything that you would wish to explore on this safari in Uganda.

Other private boats are available and can be hired to explore the Nile on this activity.

Top of The Falls in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Wild life safaris ugandaThe trek to the top of Murchison falls is a rewarding encounter worth undertaking while on safari in Uganda.

After a launch cruise to the bottom of the falls, the guests have the chances of getting off the launch and hike up the falls following a narrow and challenging path to the top.

The top of the falls offers impressive scenic views of the Nile River as it squeezes itself to pass through an 8m gorge plummeting 43m below the devils cauldron soaked by a plume of spray marked by a trade mark rainbow which is ideal for photography.

Alternatively, the top of the falls can be reached by taking 15km drive branching off from the Masindi – Paraa road in close range to Sambiya River Lodge.

The road requires careful drive as it has steep slippery surfaces. Upon reaching the picnic site, you can follow a foot path that stretches to the bottom of the falls following the staggering Nile River hitting the corners of impermeable stones as it plummets 43m below.

The 20 minutes’ walk from the central view point exposes you to a saddle which rewards you with a combination of Uhuru falls 100m to the north and Murchison falls.

The exploration of this waterfall site requires a minimum of two (2) hours and is best done in the afternoon when the sun is in ideal position for photography.

Cultural Encounters in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Different communities and tribal groups surround Murchison Falls National Park from different directions.

These can be encountered to explore their traditions such as music dance and drama and arts and crafts.

The Mubako energetic dancers have impressive performances, and they usually perform at guest lodges. You can also take a village walk to explore the local traditions in detail.

Sport fishing. The Uganda safari undertakers who are fans of sport fishing can encounter Murchison Falls National Park.

The Nile River presents an opportunity to catch the gigantic Nile perch on the River banks and rocky surfaces that front the bottom of the falls.

The fishing encounter can be done throughout the year and is best done when the waters are clear and at low levels. The Nile River Nile is usually clear and low in water volume between Mid – January to Early April.

Hiking And Nature Walks in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Murchison falls National Park can also be explored on foot in detail.

The hiking trails pass through Kaniyo and Rabongo forests taking you through the offers of the jungle including primates and birds, the 2 – 4 hour Nile – Albert Delta walk exploring the swamp birds such as the shoebill stork.

The top of the falls hike exposing you to the scenic views of the powerful Murchison falls.

Other treks include the short treks from Sambiya river lodge or the Mubako Junction or a hike along the northern bank beginning from Paraa passing by the Emmy River which takes1 ½ – 2 hours.