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Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is the biggest park in Uganda, covering 3840 square kilometers. It's a great place to go on safaris and explore. The park gets its name from the Murchison Falls, where the powerful River Nile flows through a narrow gorge, dropping 7 meters into what's called the ‘Devil's Cauldron’, making a rainbow that you can see all the time. An explorer named Samuel Baker thought these falls were super important and named them in 1864. The park is just 4 hours away from the capital, Kampala, and has lots of cool things to see, making it perfect for an exciting safari in Uganda.

You'll find different habitats in the park, like forests, savannas, woodland along the river, and lots of different kinds of trees. The park is in the north part of the Albertine Rift Valley, which means you get really awesome views of the plains, forests, and the Victoria Nile that flows into Lake Albert. The lowest part of Uganda, at 612 meters above sea level, is in the Albert Nile Corridor, right where the Nile flows into the delta.

You can see the falls from above as the Nile goes through the gorge, or from below while you're on a boat safari on the Victoria Nile. Taking a boat trip on the Victoria Nile is a bit like being in the 1951 movie "The African Queen," which is pretty cool!

  • Wildlife
  • Birding
  • Things to do
  • Access to Murchison Falls National Park

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park has 76 species of mammals that call this their home including four of the big five. To have a complete big 5 list, you would need to pass by the Rhino Sanctuary on the way to the park.

Animals are often seen while on a boat safari and during game drives in the park. The more common animals often seen are; Elephants, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Bushbucks, Jacksons Hartebeests, Oribi, waterbucks and warthogs to mentions but a few. The big cats of Leopards and Lions have higher chances of being seen when you early morning for a game drive before the sun is too much to force then into hiding. It is also home to several primates including Baboons, Patas monkeys, Blue monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys and Black-and-white Colobus monkeys and Chimpanzees are found in the forested area of Kaniyo Pabidi which is part of Budongo forest.


Birds in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls national park has varied habitats for birds making bird watching a famous activity in this park which has over 450 species of birds. The park is home to many migrant birds and those that are there all year round.

The park has forested, swampy areas, riverine woodland, Savannah and acacia trees which all provide habitats for the birds. You will enjoy the waterbirds when you take a boat safari towards the delta or towards the Murchison falls. Some bird species found here include; the elusive Shoebill, Swamp flycatcher, papyrus Gonolek, Goliath Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Northern red bishop, Squacco heron, Red-throated Bee-eater and African-Quail Finch etc.

Things to do

Things to do in Murchison Falls National Park

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has designated tracks on the northern bank of the river Nile for game drives. During your safari in Murchison Falls National Park, you'll take game drives in custom-made tour vehicles with open roofs for easy animal spotting. Everyone should have access to a window for better viewing.

The duration of game drives varies from 4 hours to a full day, depending on your interests, time in the park, and other activities. Make sure to bring your cameras to capture photos of animals, birds, and landscapes while enjoying nature. Animals to look out for include bushbucks, waterbucks, hartebeest, oribi, Uganda kobs, giraffes, patas monkeys, warthogs, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and lions.

Boat safaris on the Nile /Launch trips on the Nile

Boat safaris in Murchison Falls National Park take you on the Victoria Nile towards the falls, offering an ultimate experience of water, animals, birds, and scenery. Keep an eye out for animals like crocodiles, hippos, and monitor lizards along the water's edge. You'll also have excellent opportunities for bird watching during this trip. The launch trip happens twice a day, but you can also rent a boat for a more personalized experience. For bird enthusiasts, the boat ride to the delta offers a chance to spot the elusive Shoebill as it fishes.

Chimpanzee tracking at Kaniyo Pabidi in Budongo Forest

Kaniyo Pabidi is a section of Budongo forest within Murchison Falls National Park boundaries. Here, you can track chimpanzees along with other primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and blue monkeys, along with big game like buffaloes, elephants, and bush pigs. The chimpanzee trek usually takes 3-4 hours, and once located, you can spend an hour observing them in their natural habitat. This activity needs to be booked in advance with the Uganda Wildlife Authority or Budongo Eco Lodge.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing is permitted on the Nile after obtaining a permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority through your tour operator. The waters below the falls on Victoria Nile offer exciting challenges to anglers with the presence of Nile Perch, with the largest recorded weighing 108kg. Fishing is allowed in designated sites, requiring prior booking, and you're encouraged to bring your own equipment.

Birdwatching in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park, with its 450 bird species, was named the No. 9 best birding spot in Africa. Bird watching opportunities abound during game drives, launch trips, and nature walks with a ranger guide. Due to the varied habitats, you'll have opportunities to spot forest birds, Savannah birds, waterbirds, and a few Albertine rift endemics. While some woodlands and forested areas might pose challenges, birds are relatively easy to find in the Savannah grassland. Highlights include various water and swamp birds like the open-billed stork, red-throated bee-eaters, kingfishers, herons, ducks, lapwings, egrets, Abyssinian ground hornbills, and Northern Red Bishop.

Nature and forest walks

Most nature walks take place through forests like Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest, offering opportunities to spot primates like chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and diverse bird life. Another exciting walk is the hike up to the top of Murchison Falls. Starting from the boat trip toward the 'Devils cauldron,' the hike through vegetation offers breathtaking views as you watch the Nile waters squeezed through a 7m gorge. This hike usually takes between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the group's interests and hiking speed.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

The Boomu Women's Group, located just outside the park, offers a chance to engage with the local community. Take a scenic village tour to learn about everyday life, farming practices, visit the blacksmith, witness basket weaving demonstrations, cooking sessions, and visit a local school. You can choose to stay overnight or visit for a few hours, depending on your schedule. Activities vary based on available time.

Access to Murchison Falls National Park

Access to Murchison Falls National Park

You can access the park by taking scheduled/chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport or drive from Kampala, which takes approximately 5 hours. The park has access gates from the south for people traveling from Kampala through Masindi or those traveling from Fort portal. It also has access gates in the north for people traveling from Kampala via Karuma or those traveling from Gulu or Kidepo valley national park.

Popular Safari in Uganda

Check out these popular safaris in Uganda! They're just a few examples of what you can do. You can use these plans to get ideas or start planning. When you're ready, reach out to us, and our team of experts will help you create the perfect safari experience for you