Murchison Falls National Park

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Murchison Falls National Park formerly known as Kabalega National Park a name it inherited from one of the former kings of Bunyoro Kingdom is Uganda’s largest protected area covering an area of 3,893 square kilometres. Wildlife in Murchison Falls is under threat due to the discovery of Oil in the Albertine lift valley since government has place priority on oil exploration and extraction instead of conserving and protecting wildlife.

Located in Northern Uganda, Murchison Falls was first gazetted in 1926 as a game reserve and later graduating to Uganda’s first National Park in 1952. It protects so many wildlife and is home to approximately 76 species of mammals and about 451 species of birds including the rare shoe bill stock that can be spotted in the delta region.

Below is all the information that you need to know before booking your tour to this amazing National park. This article covers costs, activities, when to go among others

Table of Contents

Activities in the Park

This is a three hour cruise from park headquarters to the head of Fajao Gorge at the base of Murchison Falls. The park’s most popular attraction since the 1950s, here is where the force of the mighty Nile River narrows to flow through a seven meter gap, cascading down a forty meter cliff to the vast gorge below. The power of the falls and the scenic views from their base are breath taking. Large resident populations of hippos float in the water along the way, groups of crocodiles bask on the shore, and herds of elephant, buffalos and other antelope can be seen moving along the riverbanks searching for food. The river offers a spectacular opportunity for bird watchers, with a wide range of water birds and vibrant bee eaters nesting in the cliffs along the river’s banks.

Game Drive in Paraa – Murchison Falls National Park

Depart with your guide to the northern sector of Murchison Falls National Park, an area rich in wildlife including lions, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, oribi, hartebeest, and countless reptiles and birds, including one of the park’s more difficult species to spot, the rare shoebill stork. Crodiles are also plentiful in this park.

Water Falls and Sundowners Cruise

You can enjoy a sun downer cruise from park headquarters to the head of Fajao Gorge at the base of Murchison Falls. The park’s most popular attraction since the 1950s, here is where the force of the mighty Nile River narrows to flow through a seven meter gap, cascading down a forty meter cliff to the vast gorge below. The power of the falls and the scenic views from their base are breath taking. Large resident populations of hippos float in the water along the way, groups of crocodiles bask on the shore, and herds of elephant, buffalos and other antelope can be seen moving along the riverbanks searching for food. The river offers a spectacular opportunity for bird watchers, with a wide range of water birds and vibrant bee eaters nesting in the cliffs along the river’s banks. Drift along the Nile while the sun sets with a cold beverage and light snacks.

Delta Cruise on Nile River, Murchison Falls National Park

You can take a half day boat trip into the Victoria Nile Delta, a 20 km cruise downstream from the park’s headquarters. Home to a wide variety of wetland and papyrus endemic bird species, including the elusive shoebill stork, this three to five hour cruise offers a unique opportunity to spot rarely found birds and animals such as hippo, elephants and large crocodiles. Travelling through the center of Murchison Falls National Park, guests can experience the constantly changing scenery of the Nile River as it winds its way to Lake Albert.

Sunset Cruise on Nile River, Murchison Falls National Park

A one and a half hour sunset cruise takes you along the Nile River while you watch the sun slowly disappear behind the escarpments. Enjoy the river’s many animals and birds life while they retreat to their overnight hideaways and listen to the many sounds of the African bush as the animals of the night come to life.

Sundowner Cruise on Nile River, Murchison Falls National Park

This sunset cruise takes you along the Nile River while you watch the sun slowly disappear behind the escarpments. Enjoy the river’s many animals and birds while they retreat to their overnight hideaways and listen to the many sounds of the African bush as the animals of the night come to life. Drift along the Nile while the sun sets with a cold beverage and light snacks.

Nile River, Murchison Falls National Park

This sunset cruise takes you along the Nile River while you watch the sun slowly disappear behind the escarpments. Enjoy the river’s many animals and birds while they retreat to their overnight hideaways and listen to the many sounds of the African bush as the animals of the night come to life. Drift along the Nile while the sun sets with a glass of delicious South African wine and a selection of gourmet cheeses.

Chimpanzee Habituation – Budongo Forest Reserve

If you wish to have more time observing the chimps, it is possible to choose chimpanzee habituation experience.

Your chimp habituation day will start with an early breakfast and after meet up with your guide at 6am. That means you will have to stay at the only lodge in the forest called Budongo Eco lodge.

From there, you’ll be able to see where the chimpanzees last set up their nests on the night before. You will be able to spend the day with the chimpanzees, observing them them in their wild spaces from the time they normally wake up to when its late evenning and they start building new nests to spend the night in.

Habituation experience makes chimps become more used to presence of humans and for tourism purposes. Only Budongo Forest and Kibale National Park can get you closer to the chimpanzee on this unique  chimp habituation experiences.

Murchison falls National Park Hike

Embark on a short hike to the top of Murchison Falls where the force of the mighty Nile River narrows to flow through a seven meter gap, cascading down a forty meter cliff to the vast gorge below. The power of the falls and the scenic views from the top are breath taking. Walk along the top of the falls and feel the spray of the water and bask in the cool mist around you.

Bird Watching – Budongo Forest Reserve

Set out for Budongo Forest Reserve’s Royal Mile, one of Uganda’s most popular birding sites. Skilled guides will accompany you as you search for hundreds of bird species inhabiting the area. This three to four hour walk can be tailored to your individual schedule and interests.

Half Day Forest Walk – Budongo Forest Reserve

You can enjoy a half day walk through tropical rainforest with experienced wildlife guides. Enjoy scenic views, the sights and sounds of the rain forest, ample opportunities for bird watching, Chimpanzee trekking and glimpses of the many monkey species living in the reserve as they move through the forest canopy.

Rhino Tracking – Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

You can visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for a close up encounter with the only rhinos in Uganda. Following their extinction in 1983, local wildlife authorities and international conservationists worked hard to bring the rhino back to Uganda. In 2001 the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre received funding to bring two white rhinos from Kenya to the rescue facility as a start to this challenging process. In 2005, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary welcomed its first four rhinos from Kenya. Through an extremely successful breeding program, Ziwa’s rhino population has since grown to over ten southern white rhinos with two babies born within just the past two years. The success of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary will ultimately lead to a comprehensive reintroduction program allowing rhinos to once again roam wild in Uganda.

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When To visit Murchison Falls Park

Murchison Falls National Park is excellent all year, although December to February are regarded the ideal months to visit. June to September is another excellent time to visit.

Because there is little rain during these months, the tracks connecting you to wildlife on your game drives remain dry and accessible.

The dry season draws animals to water sources, making it easier to identify them on game drives.

The Rainy season

The wet season is March to May and  October to November.  The terrain is at its most magnificent during this season.

Murchison Falls National Park is located in a very dry section of Uganda, thus rain rarely interferes with your safari. However, the neighboring roads may be difficult to travel on during this time and the game trails to the Nile delta can flood making the area inaccessible, hippos come closer to camping sites and so does the crocodiles 

While wildlife can still be seen, they tend to hide and seek shelter during the wet season. If you want to go chimp trekking in Budongo forest, you need wear strong boots because the soil is wet and muddy.

The Busy and Low Tourist Seasons.

The dry season  arrives in June and end in  September, during these months, expect almost no rainfall during your visit but the temperatures are high about (35 degrees celcius ) here since the park is in one of the hottest places in Uganda.  The dry months also collide with in the busy tourism season for gorilla and Chimpanzee and Rwenzori mountain trekking, therefore there are a more tourists than usual.

Because lodges to stay are on high demand during June and July, we recommend booking a lodge, gorilla permits and chimpanzees several months in advance of your trip. Same applies for those on self drive car rental

The low season is March to May, and from October to November. Even though significant rain is unlikely at Murchison the river nile floods at times and cause some lodges to close or you may have issues to access some tacks on your game drives especially those that are near the hippo pool and the Delta track

Because there is more competition for lodges during the low season, it is possible to book a lodge at the last minute and also take advantages of the discounts

When is the best time to visit Murchison falls Park National Park?

December to February are the best when it comes to spotting wildlife in this Park on your game drives.

This is is because the grass is shorter than during the rainy season and the fruits are ripe on the tree for baboons and chimpanzees come along to fee on them, October through January are the definitely the best months for chimp trekking.

We recommend you to visit during the rainy season if you’re a bird lover coming for a bird watching eco-tour. March is the greatest month to see some of the 451 bird species that are resident to Murchison falls National Park

How To Get to Murchison Falls National Park

You can access Murchison Falls National Park through the south by driving from Kampala through Masindi and then to the Park. The other alternative is through the Bungugu gate for those coming from Kibale National Park. This route is very scenic as it takes you through rift valley escarpments and Lake Albert. For those interested in flying to Murchison Falls National Park, there two airfields here. Bugungu Airfield is in the south while Pakuba Airfield in the northern sector. Aerolink operates daily afternoon flights to Murchison Falls National Park while fly Uganda operates charter flights to this park.

Murchison Falls National Park is popular for its game drives in the northern sector known as Paraa where you get a chance of spotting the big five. The high light of activities in this National Park is the 2 hour boat cruise to the bottom of the falls where River Nile squizes itself into a narrow gorge. For kin birder, Murchison falls National park id one of the places where yuo can spot the rare shoebill stork and bird the royal miles as well. There is chimp trekking in Budongo Forest which has the highest number of chimps in Uganda.