Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the oldest and yet the largest national park which was established as a game reserve in the year 1926 and was later on gazette in the year 1952 as a national park covering an area of 3893km2 under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), an organization responsible for the management of all protected areas in Uganda. The park is famously known for existing of the most powerful waterfall that forces its self through a tinny gorge of approximately 7m and falls at an elevation of 43m high offering a stunning and eye catching view while listening to its tremendous sound. The park is situated in the northwestern part of Uganda close to masindi city and is the only destination where tourists get an opportunity to encounter all the big 5 game in just one safari with a stopover at Ziwa rhino sanctuary to track white rhinos. National park covers the most fascinating and adventurous things ranging from the Murchison Water falls, Rabongo forest, Lake Albert, River Nile, Buligi game track, and Kaniyo pabidi, and stretches to budongo Forest.
Wildlife in Murchison falls national park
Mammals: This park is a home to over 76 species of mammals that thrill with in the savanna vegetation of the park and the nearby budongo forest. Amongst the mammals spotted in the park include; Lions, Buffaloes, Elephants, Giraffes, Uganda kob, warthogs, Leopards, Crocodiles, hippos and many more that are seen while on a wildlife viewing safari.
Birds: The Park is also a home to 450 species of birds including the water birds, migratory birds, forest birds and the birds endemic to Albertine rift. Some of these birds seen in the park include; Shoebill stork, King Fishers, Hornbills, turaco, weaver birds, fly catchers, Bee eaters, Crown cranes and many more that are seen while on birding safari in the park.
Primates: Murchison falls park is yet a home to several species of primates such as chimpanzees that are found in the forest parts of the park such as in Budongo forest, Kaniyo pabidi forest and Rabongo forest. Other primate species in park include the baboons which usually parade along the road waiting to grab food staffs from the tourists that are entering the park. There are also Patas monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys , red tailed monkeys and blue monkeys making Murchison falls national park the best destination for primate viewing. Most of the above mentioned primates are usually spotted in the forested areas with exception of Patas monkeys which reside in the savanna areas of the park.
Tourist activities in Murchison falls national park
Game drive in Murchison falls national park: Being the largest national park in Uganda, Murchison falls national park offers the best game drive safari in different part s of the park with the opportunity to view the largest population of mammals. The best at areas for game viewing in Murchison falls national park include; The southern part also termed as the heart of Murchison falls national park where tourists have a chance to encounter several wildlife species a huge population of Uganda kob, Lions, as well as giraffes that were introduced in the park in 2016. Another area for game viewing in Murchison falls national park is the Buligi Peninsula where a huge population of Elephants, Buffaloes, and other herbivores are seen grazing and visiting the river for water as the king of the jungle watch over for the next target to consume. The remaining parts of the park are easily explored on a hot air balloon safari.
Boat cruise in Murchison falls national park: Murchison falls national park offers two boat cruise trips one upstream while the other one downstream. A boat cruise upstream to the bottom of the water falls is such a thrilling and adventurous activity enjoyed by several tourists on a Uganda safari to Murchison. The cruise offers a clear view of different species of wildlife along the shores including the mammals such as elephants, buffaloes and plenty of bird species. The upstream boat cruise is done twice a day one in the morning at 9:00am and afternoon at 2:00pm. On the other hand, the boat cruise downstream takes tourists towards the Albert delta for a golden opportunity to spot the shoebill stork thus the best choice for bird lovers.
Top of fall hiking: This is the most tiresome activity done in Murchison falls taking tourists from the base of the water fall to the top while of a 45 minutes ascension on foot. However much hiking to the top of falls is tiresome, it rewards hikers with a memorable experience as the watch the entire park from above and enjoy the thunderous sound of the water fall. To participate in top of falls hike, one needs to be physically fit and in good health.
Birding in Murchison falls national park: Plenty of birds are easily encountered while on game drive and boat cruise safaris with in the park however, tourists can also opt for a birding safari to watch more birds in different parts of the park including the areas near the rivers, lakes, forests and many more. The commonly seen birds include the Grey hero, Cuckoos, ducks, Malachite kit, billed stork, secretary birds and many more. However, an encounter with the rare shoebill stork is the most interesting moment of the birder and they are only found along the Albert delta where they are visible during the dry months when the water levels are low.
Nature walks in Murchison falls national park: Murchison falls park has some well designated walking trails that take tourists to different destinations while sighting several attractions such as primates, mammals, birds, among others. These walks are usually conducted with in the forest thus can be termed as forest walks with in Kaniyo pabidi, and Rabongo forests alongside armed rangers for protection against wild mammals.
Hot air balloon in Murchison falls national park: One of the most fascinating thing to do while in Murchison falls national park is taking park in hot air balloon safari carried out to explore the northern and western parts of Paraa. The sunrise hot air balloon comes with the bush breakfast upon landing and a game drive back to the lodge after viewing the wildlife and the park from above. The hot air balloon experience is conducted by the dream balloon Uganda.
Cultural encounters in Murchison falls national park: During the cultural tours in Murchison falls park, tourists visit the local community members with in the villages nearby the park such as Mubako village where you encounter with the Mubako cultural group known for their thrilling cultural performance. There is also a great encounter with the Boomu Women’s group found in Kihanguzi village that came together and started their group in order to fight poverty and even educate their children. Proceed with the cultural tour with the visit to the local schools, churches, hospitals and support some children.
Sport fishing in Murchison falls national park: Amongst the enjoyable activities at Murchison falls national park is sport fishing that is done in well designated fishing spots where tourists are in position to catch the Nile perch, Tilapia, Tiger fish, genus Alestes. This sport fishing can be done half day or full day or even more days depending on the choice of the angler.
Note: there is also an option of white rhino trekking on the way to or from Murchison falls park.
Getting to Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls national part is strategically located thus it is easily accessed by both road transport and air transport.
By road: There are various gates used by tourists to enter into Murchison falls national park some are situated in the southern region while the rest are situated in the northern part of the park but which ever gate used, tourists get to the heart of Murchison falls national park at paraa.
Southern entrance: Tourists who wish to use the southern entrance gates have two options which include the drive from Kampala to Masindi and finally to the park via Kichumbanyobo gate that connect to Kaniyo Pabidi and finally to paraa the heart of Murchison falls national park. There is yet another scenic route in the southern entrance that includes driving from Kampala to Masindi and then reach the park via Bugungu gate that takes travelers to a long drive passed budongo forest and rift valley region in Congo border. The southern entrance is more fascinating and offers a stopover along the way at Ziwa white rhino sanctuary for rhino tracking on the way to or from the park.
Northern entrance: The northern entrance has several gates that can be used by several Travers by car. From Kampala, the journey takes 260km via Pakwach and then to the park gates. Some of these gates in the Northern entrance include Tangi gate, Mubako gate, Chobe gate and Wankwar gate. This is yet the best option for tourists from Kidepo valley national park, and other destinations in Gulu region.
By air: There are chatter flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi airfield that take tourists to Pakuba airfield, Bugungu air field and Chobe air field all in Murchison falls.
Accommodations in & Around Murchison falls national park/Where to stay
There are several accommodations both inside the park and around the park where tourists can sleep while on a safari to Murchison falls national park. These accommodations include both Luxury, Midrange and budget to meet the needs and expectations of every traveler. Some of the accommodations are found in Masindi town, Kaniyo Pabidi, Northern part of Paraa, Eastern part of the park and some of these accommodations include; Court view hotel, Masindi Hotel, Budongo Eco lodge & Bomu Women’s group Bandas, Chobe safari lodge, Geo lodges shoebill campsite, Mweya safari lodge, Sambiya River lodge, Geolodges Nile safari lodge, Para safari lodge, Chili Rest Camp, Yebo Safari Camp, Murchison Safari lodge and many more that offers the best amenities.
When best to visit Murchison falls park
The Park is visited all year round depending on the choice of the tourists and what they intend to see since Uganda has two seasons both wet season and dry season.
For instance, the dry months of December to February and June to September are always the best time to visit the park and any national parks in Uganda the pearl of Africa for animal viewing due to the fact the trails in the park are always dry and the vegetation cover of the park is minimal offering the best sighting of mammals.
However, the best months for birding in the park are during rainy season where the park has plenty of bird species.