Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda covering the surface area of 3,840km2.It was gazetted as a game reserve first in 1926 and was upgraded into a national park in 1952. This is one of the most popular destinations in Uganda and many travelers do not miss visiting Uganda’s national parks.
The park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. It hosts over 76 species of mammals and 451 bird species. The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile thus creating the northern bank and the southern bank. The northern bank section of the park contains savanna and Borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches.
The national park ranks high when it comes to wild animals which include: leopard, lions, hyenas, elephants, buffalos, giraffes, Nile crocodile, water buck, bush buck and other different species of antelopes which are found on the northern bank, while the southern bank is mostly harbored by the chimpanzee found in Budongo forest where chimpanzee tracking takes place. Murchison Falls National Park is still surrounded with other game reserves forming Murchison Falls conservation Area including; Bugungu wildlife reserve, Karuma wildlife reserve, Ajai wildlife reserve and East Madi Wildlife reserve.
Best Things to See & Do
There are lots of things to see and do in Murchison Falls National Park. From traditional game viewing safaris to launch cruises along the Nile, there are exciting adventures to do in this amazing safari destination in north eastern Uganda.
Game drive and viewing
Murchison falls national park is endowed with the highest number of wild animals making it a good place for game viewing. Mammals include; kobs, Rothschild giraffes, elephants, buffalos, hyenas, lions and leopards among others. Game drives take place in the northern bank of Victoria Nile that contain savanna and Borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. Game drives start as early as 6:00AM in the morning.
This is also the most interesting activity in this park. The Launch cruise takes 3 hours and goes to either the top of the falls or the delta. However, the famous one goes to the top of the falls where you view the falls in close range and take nice photographs that will give you lasting memories. While on this launch cruise, you will be able to see animals on the shores including buffaloes, elephants, hippos, Nile crocodile and a variety of bird species.
Hiking top of the falls
This is a 45-minute guided nature walk which gives you an opportunity to have a paranomic view of the falls from different points. It also gives you a chance to watch waves of white water of Murchison falls as it forces it way out of the narrow gorge with a thunderous roar. The hike is led by UWA ranger guide and will explain the history of falls and the value attached to it. On this hike, you are likely to encounter reptiles, primates and bird species.
Guided Nature walks
Murchison falls national park has beautiful scenery which can be explored on a guided walk by foot in Rambogo forest and Kaniyo Pabidi which provide sightings of many primates and birds. Most clients are interested on the nature walk to the Nile Delta where the famous shoe bill can be sighted especially when the water levels have reduced on Lake Albert delta. Nature walks can also be done through the forest which is good for botanists and can sight different species of plants.
The park hosts over 451 bird species including; savannah forest birds, water birds, and Albertine rift endemics birds. The main bird that attracts tourists is a shoebill usually seen in dry season from January to March along the delta. Other bird species include; marabou stork, Abyssinian ground Hornbill, secretary birds, black bellied Bustards, widow bird and open- billed storks, swallowed tailed, red throated bee eaters, and kingfishers Bird lovers can enjoy treks from sabiya river lodge or Mubako junction both on the south bank and walk along the north bank from Paraa, passing Emmy river.
This is done on the Victoria Nile where clients are provided with boats to sail themselves to do spot fishing and catch different fish species including; Nile perch, tiger fish, cat fish, electric fish among others. Every year UWA gets sponsors who organize fishing competition and the winners are awarded and others donate gifts to UWA for conservation.
Budongo Forest has both habituated and non-habituated chimpanzees where visitors are able to do chimpanzee trekking. It’s done either in the morning and afternoon.
Hot air ballooning
It takes place in the northern bank where most of the wild animals are found. It takes place throughout the day and it includes; sunrise, post sunrise hot air balloon, bush and breakfast sunset hot air balloon and lasts between 3 to 4 hours. Despite being scarily, it’s an exciting and a unique experience that gives great memories to tourists.