Explore Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.
Explore Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda and you are sure to have one of the best wildlife safaris that you have ever experienced in Africa. Murchison falls national park is one of the 12 national parks in Uganda and apparently the largest of all, covering 3,840 square kilometres of Savannah land.
Following its establishment as a national park in 1952, Murchison falls is one of the oldest national parks in Uganda. It is home to the world’s most powerful waterfalls, the Murchison falls, from which the national park derives its name.
The Murchison falls were named by Sir Samuel Baker during his visit to the park. He named the falls after the President of the Royal Geographical Society, Sir Roderick Murchison. In the late 1970s, during the reign President Idi Amin Dada, the falls were renamed as ‘Kabarega falls,’ after the king of the Bunyoro Kingdom. Later in 1979, the falls were renamed as Murchison falls following his forced exist from power.
Murchison falls national park is divided into two sectors by the Victoria Nile; therefore you can explore the southern and northern sectors of the park on a guided game drive. The northern section of Murchison falls national park is characterized by savanna and borassus palms, acacia tree and marshy woodland; while the southern part of the national park is dominated by woodland and forests.
While you explore Murchison falls national park in Uganda, the one of the main highlights of your visit will be a hike to the majestic, stunning and powerful Murchison falls. The falls are literally the centerpiece of the park climaxing an 80km stretch of rapids, which start from the Victoria Nile.
The national park is also home to 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds. There are a variety of wildlife and bird species that you can see while at the park such as; African bush elephants, buffaloes, eland, antelope, hippos, duikers, Nile crocodiles, giraffes and aquatic birds like the rare Shoe bill stock.
Areas of Interest in Murchison Falls National Park.
If you are planning to visit Murchison falls national park in Uganda, you might want to consider these interesting attractions in the park;
These dramatic water falls are one of the highlights of a visit to Murchison Falls national park. The falls are characterized by waters gashing violently through a narrow gorge, thus creating a permanent rainbow. From baker’s point on the southern side of the national park, visitors can view the famous Nile River split into smaller Uhuru Falls. The Uhuru falls were created in 1962 when the river burst its banks.
Murchison Falls national park is the ideal place to be for the best sightings of wildlife animals in Uganda, and any visitor who has been to this national park will attest to this fact. There are over 76 wildlife species that reside within the park and these include; elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, impala, topi, waterbucks, bush pigs, baboons to mention but a few. The park also has over 451 species of birds such as; the Giant Kingfisher, the Giant Heron, Marabou stork, Nightjars, and the well sought after Shoebill stork.
Visitors visiting the national park can explore the Nile River on a boat cruise. The boat cruise takes visitors to the base of Murchison Falls, rewarding cruisers with lovely sights. A boat cruise on the northern bank rewards visitors with stunning views of wildlife animals comprising mammals, birds and reptiles. Visitors can also engage in hiking and nature walks along both the north and south banks of River Nile, as well as do sport fishing and white water rafting activities on the Nile.
The Nile Delta-Lake Albert:
The Nile delta marks the point where Victoria Nile flows into Lake Albert. This area in the national park is a key spot for birders, with its papyrus banks graced with abundant birdlife such as; Goliath Herons, Great Egrets, African Fish Eagles and the rare Shoebill stork among others. This is the place to be for bird lovers. Visitors can also sight wildlife animals in the delta like; elephants, giraffes, waterbucks and even lions if you search carefully.
Paraa is a tourism hub in Murchison Falls national park. The word ‘Paraa’ means home of the hippo in the native Luo language. This is where all boat trips and nature walks in the park start from; using a passenger ferry to link visitors to the northern and southern river banks.
The Karuma Falls are situated in the northeastern part of Murchison Falls national park, and are located in Chobe. The Karuma falls are one of the many roaring waterfalls strategically situated on Victoria Nile. The falls are an ideal spot for sport fishing activities in the park.
The Rabongo forest is one of the attractions in the national park. This forest covers four square kilometers of land, and is considered by many to be a birders’ paradise due to the fact that it shelters many endangered bird species.
Kaniyo Pabidi Forest:
The Kaniyo Pabidi forest is located south of Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The forest has quite a number of tourist attractions such as Black and White colobus monkeys, olive baboons, blue monkeys, a habituated chimpanzee group, savannah elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards among others. The forest also harbors bird species like; the white-thighed hornbill, Puvel’s illadopsis and the chocolate-backed Kingfisher to mention but a few. Kaniyo Pabidi is located on the Masindi-Paraa road, just 8kms from the Kichumbanyobo gate in Murchison Falls national park.
Outside the national park:
There are also other areas of interest outside the national park like; Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Sanctuary which happens to be the only place in Uganda where you can see rhinoceros in their natural habitat. Another amazing place to visit outside Murchison falls national park is Budongo forest, where you can do chimpanzee trekking from. The forest also shelters about 24 mammal species, 465 plant species, 289 butterflies, and over 360 species of birds.
Interesting activities that you can do in Murchison falls national park.
There are quite a number of interesting activities that visitors can do while exploring Murchison falls national park in Uganda and these include;
Visitors can view a variety of wildlife animals while on a guided game drive in Murchison Falls national park. Major sites for game drives in the park include the delta, where visitors have a higher chance of seeing Lions, and at the Buligi Peninsula as well as at the southern sector. Other wildlife animals visitors can view on game drives include; hippos, elephants, antelopes, duikers, impala, zebras, hartebeests, leopards, the side striped jackal and Nile crocodiles among others.
Boat cruises on the Nile River in Murchison Falls national park are a MUST do for any traveler visiting the national park. All launch trips in the national park commence at Paraa landing area. While on a boat cruise in the park, visitors are assured of sighting wildlife animals like; elephants, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, hippos and waterbucks. Visitors who are bird lovers can also use this opportunity to look out for bird species like; the shoebill stork, cormorants, Kingfishers among others. Launch trips in the national park start at 9am in the morning and 2pm in the afternoon. The boat cruises last three hours.
The national park offers visitors boat cruises downstream to the Nile Delta, giving visitors better chances of sight the rare and highly sought after Shoebill stork and other animals like hippos, elephants and crocodiles. A round trip to the Nile delta and back to Paraa takes between 4-5 hours. There are also sundowner boat cruises at 5.30pm offering visitors classic views of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river.
Hiking and Nature Walks:
Travelers visiting Murchison Falls national park can enjoy guided hiking expeditions and nature walks. The park offers visitors guided nature walks to the top of the falls, Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forests. Visitors who wish to explore Rabongo Forest, can visit the Rabongo Forest Ecotourism Center, where you will be given a guide. Guided nature walks in the forest give visitors an opportunity to view wildlife like; the Red tailed monkeys, Black & White colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, birds, tree species and medicinal plants among others. There is also a lot for visitors to see in Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo forests such as; the rare Shoebill stork, chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest and numerous bird species.
Other interesting activities offered by the national park include; Sport fishing, Bird watching, Community Cultural tours, and Hot air balloon safaris among others.
How to get to the Park.
In case you are planning a trip to Murchison falls national park, you can travel to the park by either road or air.
If you choose to travel to the national park by air, you can board a domestic flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield in Kampala to the park. Air transfers to the national park can take 1-2 hours or more depending on the aircraft routing. Trusted aviation companies like Aerolink provide travellers with air transfers to Murchison falls national park and other national parks in Uganda.
Travelling to Murchison falls national parks by road can be quite tedious if you are not used to long road trips. A typical road trip to the national park from Kampala can take about 4-5 hours. While driving to the park, you can have a stopover at Ziwa rhino sanctuary in Masindi. Your long road trip will also be graced with wonderful sights likes the vast savannah landscapes and not forgetting the playful baboons as you approach Karuma falls in Pakwach.
In conclusion: Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is a park not to be missed as you explore the northern part of the country. The park is ideal for travellers interested in viewing a variety of wildlife species in Uganda. Do get in touch with our team of travel experts at Explore Rwanda Tours in case you want to book a tour to Murchison falls.